THE ANGEL OF HELL'S KITCHEN by Bernice Offenberg


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The Angel of Hell's Kitchen might well have been called The Perils of Saint Pauline. In Bernice Offenberg recounts her real-life adventures as a Welfare agent during the late thirties and early forties: a blonde wisp of a girl from Scranton Pa. who works pertinanlously on more than 5000 cases for the city, state and federal boards. Filled with breathless humpy humanity and a rosy brew of miraculous rehabilitations, the book traverses all the crumbling alleys, rumbling streets and asphalt rat holes peculiar to that 67th West side stretch of Manhattan. And it doesn't stop hoodland, one finds, is only the back door to other ministries: the Bowery, Harlem, San Juan Hill Yorkville and the district dubbed Tenderloin. Page after page ignites and instructs: bookies and B-girls, dregs and delinquents, immigrants and illiterates, gangsters and addlepated grandmas all wander through for examination and exhortation. Little Barnice, who speaks 8 languages, even helps the FBI crack the famous ""House on 92nd Street"" spy ring. In between, romance: a sweetheart dies in a New Year's eve smash-up just when she meets the dashing young pharmacist who devotedly waits many years to make her his own. Also, wily Chief Chassen who keeps telling her not to carry the world on her shoulders, and friendly Father Scully who pays her tuition for graduate work at Fordham. Miss Offenberg writes simply, sincerely of an exciting and exemplary career in the slums. If after awhile it all has the air of an endless array of unforgettable character reminiscences from the Reader's Digest, that shouldn't put too many off. Inspirational literature has always been popular here. The events are incredible but true; the ninety-pound heroine ingenuous yet undaunted.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1961
Publisher: Bernard Geis