Along with pinball, Fiorello LaGuardia disliked organ grinders. In his effort to clean up New York City, he banned them from public performances in 1936. His reasons ranged from traffic congestion, so-called “licensed begging”, and even connections to organized crime. Most of all, LaGuardia resented the stereotypes against Italian immigrants. LaGuardia had himself been bullied in his childhood with racist taunts and comparisons to the street performers.
Stenholm portrays the organ grinder and his monkeys entertaining strolling bystanders, including the smiling policeman with his club. The smaller monkey with earmuffs seems to be playing another bell or drum. In the left background under a tree is a dark red statue (or ghost?) from the Union army looking on. There is no similar statue in the real Central Park. Unusual!
- Melissa Harmon
Donated by: Larry Zartarian