Friday, November 29, 2013


In September of 2011 I told the story of Louis Lakin, Tuley High School basketball star who was shot and killed trying to "crash" a dance at the Herzl Community Center in 1932. 

When I related that story I didn't know that during Lakin's funeral procession to Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, a young classmate of Lakin's was killed after her car was forced to leave the procession and was hit by a coal truck.  To find out what happened, we turn to the Chicago Daily Tribune of January 20, 1932:

Car Forced Out of Line by Union is Hit by Truck
Nine Students Hurt in Accident.

One young woman was fatally injured and nine other youths and girls were hurt, two of them seriously, yesterday afternoon when their automobile collided with a coal truck after they had been forced to leave a funeral procession on orders of a hearse driver.

The hearse driver was enforcing the new rule of the livery chauffeurs' union that no privately driven automobiles may take part in a funeral procession.

Funeral for Slain Athlete.

The funeral was that of Louis Lakin, 18 years old, captain of the 1931 Tuley High school basketball team, who was shot to death on Sunday night when he and other youths tried to "crash" a dance at the Herzl Community center, 1335 North California avenue.

Witnesses of yesterday's rites said the union chauffeurs  made it their business to see that the hundreds of persons who wished to follow Lakin's body to the grave did so under difficulties.  Besides the accident, the funeral procession was interrupted several times by union warnings.

Nine Injured in Crash.

The collision of the automobile and the truck occurred at Division street and Pine avenue when the car was hurrying to reach the cemetery in time for the burial.  The young woman who died as a result of the accident was Shirley Pearlman, 17 years old, 2057 North Sawyer avenue.  She was a Tuley High school student, as are all those injured. They are:

Dolly Rand, 17 years old, 1350 North Leavitt street, who was thrown through the windshield and suffered a skull fracture and internal injuries which may cause her death.

Harry Sandman, the driver, 19 years old, 1319 North Irving avenue.

Molly Mines, 17 years old, 3226 Potomac avenue

Jennie Ram, 17 years old, 1432 North Artesian avenue.

Adele Kroon, 16 years old, 2725 Crystal street.

Phyllis Malman, 3232 Crystal street.

Max Holtzman, 17 years old, 2068 North Western avenue.

Harry Slotsky, 17 years old, 2744 Division street.

Inquest Will Be Today.

Coroner Frank J. Walsh ordered the body of Miss Pearlman taken to the county morgue, where an inquest will be held at 2:30 p.m. today. All the witnesses to the action of the hearse driver and the union chauffeur of the first limousine in the cortege, as well as those who saw the crash, have been summoned.

The accident and the interruptions of the Lakin funeral procession were the only serious troubles that occurred during the many funerals yesterday.  The union drivers were able to inflict their rule upon other mourners.

The Lakin funeral had many more difficulties than that.  Young Lakin lived at 1206 North Kedzie avenue.  The funeral services were held in the William Hartman & Son mortuary at 2018 Division street. Thousands of persons had gathered, and there were scores of privately owned automobiles ready to take the friends of young Lakin to the Jewish Waldheim cemetery.

The hearse and the first limousine in line are owned by a livery concern in which the Hartman mortuary is interested.  Milton Jaffe was in charge of the hearse and Carl Adams of the limousine.

Police Captain Keeps Order.

Traffic was blocked at Division street and Damen avenue, when, according to witnesses, Jaffe in a pleasant manner advised the mourners not to join in the procession.  The order was not obeyed but there was no disturbance, Police Captain Patrick Collins keeping order at this point.

One block to the west, the hearse and the first car were pulled up to the curb.  Jaffe and Adams climbed out to the sidewalk and waved to the following automobiles to go ahead.

"Pull on by," he shouted.

Apparently his orders were not obeyed with sufficient promptness.  The halt and the arm waving were repeated at Claremont avenue, at California avenue, and at Kedzie avenue.  There was still another halt at Homan avenue, where the hearse was turned south.  Here Sandman, at last obedient to union dictation, kept on west with the car containing the young friends of the dead Lakin.  

Car Collides With Truck.

As Sandman and the others were approaching Pine avenue, hurrying to reach the cemetery in time, a truck owned by the Lund Coal company and filled with five tons of coal turned into Division street.  Sandman was trying to pass another automobile and his car and the coal truck collided head on.  William Rous, 1739 North California avenue, driver of the truck, was unhurt.

All those in Sandman's car were injured.  The automobile burst into flames a few seconds after the accident while the persons in it were being extricated.  John Robertson, attendant at a nearby filling station, ran to the car with a fire extinguisher and succeeded in putting out the flames before any further casualties occurred.

The injured girls and youths were taken to St. Anne's hospital, where Miss Pearlman died.  Word of the accident reached the cemetery and there was danger of violence, but Driver Jaffe succeeded in calming those persons who were talking of retaliation.  Jaffe said he and his fellow drivers were merely obeying union orders and should not be held responsible for what had occurred.

A tragedy, to be sure.  Let's see what we can find out about the young girl killed as she attended the funeral of Louis Lakin:

Shirley Pearlman was born June 5, 1916 in Bialystok, Poland to Louis Pearlman (1885-1959) and Rebecca (1893-1980).  The Pearlmans had one other daughter Julia (b. 1924).  According to their naturalization papers, Louis and Rebecca were born in Poland - the family name was originally "Pewrko."  Louis came to the United States in 1906.  He was a carpenter by trade.

Here's a photo of the building where the Pearlmans lived (2057 N. Sawyer, Chicago):

2057 N. Sawyer, Chicago

The accident that killed Shirley Pearlman took place near the intersection of Division Street and Pine Avenue in Chicago.  Here are two different views of the intersection:

Here is the interim Death Certificate which allowed Shirley's body to be buried:

Here's her death notice:

From the Chicago Daily Tribune of January 21, 1932:

Crowd Aroused at Inquiry Into Girl's Death.

Grand jury action was ordered yesterday by State's Attorney Swanson when the funeral disturbances caused by the livery car chauffeurs' union brought an outburst of public indignation during the inquest into the death of Miss Shirley Pearlman, 17 years old, of 2057 North Sawyer avenue.  Miss Pearlman, a student in Tuley High School, was fatally injured on Tuesday when an automobile in which she was riding collided with a coal truck after the car had been forced out of a funeral procession in compliance with a union edict.

Mr. Swanson directed Assistant State's Attorney Charles J. Mueller, head of the racket bureau, to present evidence to the grand jury and ask the indictment of union officials and livery car owners on charges of conspiracy.  The union's order to the public to keep private cars out of all funeral processions is a crime, the prosecutor declared.

Crowd Attends Inquest.

The inquest room at the county morgue was filled when Coroner Frank J. Walsh convened the hearing into the cause of the death of Miss Pearlman.  Nine other high school boys and girls were riding in the car with her when the accident occurred.  They had attended the funeral services for Louis Lakin, Tuley high school athlete, and were hastening to the cemetery after leaving the funeral procession when their car collided with the truck.  All nine of the passengers besides Miss Pearlman were injured.

Attorney William A. Cunnea, appeared at the inquest representing the union.  He declared that the union was not involved because the accident occurred away from the other cars in the funeral.

"If the union rule had not forced the automobile out of the line, this accident would not have happened and the girl would be alive," Deputy Coroner Jacob Schewel retorted.  In a a second the room was in an uproar, the crowd shouting approval of Schewel's statement.

Two Funeral Drivers Testify.

Milton E. Jaffe, 3021 Lawrence avenue, manager of the Active Auto Livery company, was called as a witness.  He was the driver of the hearse in which Lakin's body was taken to the cemetery.  Many of the mourners said Jaffe halted the funeral procession several times, motioning the persons in privately owned automobiles to get out of the line.

Jaffe declared he had not ordered any cars out of the funeral procession.  To a direct question as to whether he had not been instructed by union officials to prevent mourners in their own cars from following the hearse, Jaffe replied that he had not.  Another union driver, Carl Adams, 1110 North Christiana avenue, made the same answer when called as a witness.  He, too, denied that any automobiles were barred from the Lakin cortege.

Tells of Mystery Men.

Arthur Stearn, 5036 Ridgeway avenue, testified that he had attended the Lakin funeral, driving his own car.  He declared that the union drivers and two men in a roadster which drove alongside the cortege had repeatedly motioned those in private automobiles to get out of the line.

He said his car as well as the car in which Miss Pearlman was riding did get out of the procession on the orders of the two mysterious men and were proceeding to the Jewish Waldheim cemetery at the time Miss Pearlman was killed.

Frank Tomaso, 1311 North Kedzie avenue, testified that he drove his own automobile to the Lakin funeral, was forced to go to the cemetery by a route different than that taken by Jaffe on the hearse, and that his car was immediately behind the one in which Miss Pearlman met her death.

Harry Sandman, 1319 North Irving avenue, driver of the car in which Miss Pearlman was riding, was unable to testify because of injuries, and the inquest was continued pending his recovery.       

The story was still making headlines the next day.  This is from the Chicago Daily Tribune of January 22, 1932:

Report Six Named in True Bills

Three blows were received yesterday by the livery car chauffeurs' union in its attempt to compel mourners to ride to funerals in hired automobiles:

Private Autos Follow Hearse.

No union livery cars were hired for the funeral of Miss Shirley Pearlman 17 year old high school girl who was killed in an accident on Tuesday after the automobile in which she was riding to a funeral was forced out of the cortege by union orders.  The driver of the hearse that carried Miss Pearlman's body to the cemetery was warned by law enforcing officials to make no hostile or dilatory move and the cortege of private cars followed the hearse in defiance of the union edict.

Court to Hear of Tactics.

The death of Miss Pearlman is to be called to the court's attention, it was announced.  testimony was given at the inquest that she and others were compelled to take their cars out of the cortege following the body of Louis Lakin, an incident that was followed in a few minutes by the fatal accident, when the car in which Miss Pearlman was riding collided with a coal truck.  Lakin, a high school youth, was killed by a watchman.

Nearly 1,000 persons attended services for Miss Pearlman in the undertaking rooms of Weinstein Brothers at 3556 Roosevelt road.  Rabbi Goldstein of the First Rumanian congregation officiated, but in his talk said nothing of the cause of death of the girl.

Mrs. Beckie Pearlman, mother of the dead girl, had to be carried away from the coffin.  Weeping was heard throughout the services.  The family had decided not to employ union cars, but of necessity had to have a hearse which had a union chauffeur.

"Let me alone," was all this driver would say when asked his name and what orders he had from his union officials,  Prosecutor Mueller and Investigator Roche told him they would permit no trouble and if he attempted to do anything to block the funeral or embarrass the mourners he would be locked up and a policeman would drive his hearse.

Six girl friends of Miss Pearlman were pallbearers.  They were Ruth Sinow, Ethel Menna, Ida Fink, Hilda Gordon, who is president of the Jovials Social club of which Miss Pearlman was a member.  The girls were students at Tuley high school, which Miss Pearlman attended, and of which Lakin had been a student.

Following a religious custom, the mourners followed the hearse for two blocks on foot before entering their automobiles.

Then, with no effort on the part of the driver to comply with the union order, or any interference, the privately owned cars lined up back of the hearse and the procession proceeded to Jewish Waldheim cemetery.  Sixty-one private cars were in line, among them being several cars of policemen and representatives of the state's attorney.

The story was "wrapped up" by February 28, 1932 as indicated by this small item in the Tribune:

Here is the "Final" Death Certificate with the Coroner's finding of "Accidental Death:"

Shirley was buried at Gate #111 of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery "Lomzer" - a burial society for those who came from Lomza, Poland:

Shirley Pearlman - a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her - struck down because a union tried to dictate who could ride in a funeral procession.  On her way to the cemetery to bury a classmate, Louis Lakin, who died because of an error in judgement, Shirley's death just compounded the loss. 

May she rest in peace.

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