ANGELS IN HELL'S KITCHEN by Tom McConnon

ANGELS IN HELL'S KITCHEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To say that this personal reminiscence of a childhood in Hell's Kitchen is a nostalgic book is an understatement. Essentially the book is a cliche: that, somehow, poor is better than rich. But at the same time its tone is so good natured and unaffected that one cannot help but be touched by its simplicity. The author, his younger sisters, his widowed mother and his married half-sister, Mamie, moved in 1898, from Broome St. in lower New York City to 39th St. and Tenth Ave. because Mamie felt the need of some excitement and noise. The two families lived on the fifth floor of a decayed tenement amidst the smell of the slaughterhouses, breweries and the occasional dead horse left in the street. They had five rooms each for which they paid $6.00 a month rent. There's a multitude of recollections of incidents and practices which have now passed into social history -- from the Election Night bonfires to the lamplighter's ritual but there is the remembrance too of terrible squalor, drunkenness, ruthless police, wretched poverty. What saved the author's family from desperation? Mamma -- who emerges here as someone not quite real, a pillar of wisdom and inner strength and, it must be said, a sainted Mother Machree. It's on the occasion of her 75th birthday when the family had long since moved away from Hell's Kitchen, that the author ends his story.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1959
Publisher: Doubleday