THROWBACK THURSDAY: BEFORE THE WEST SIDE RAG, THERE WAS…

wisdoms child

Wisdoms Child was “the original rag-a-muffin of West Side news” back in the 70’s, says longtime Upper West Sider Arlene Kurtis, who edited the paper and sold ads for a while too. She sent us the copy above. It started around 1970 and ended in the late 70’s or early 80’s.

She explains more below:

We were located above the Olympia Theater at 106th Street and Broadway. We set copy on a electric typewriter that justified the type after each line was re-typed, a very tedious process. One day, I came in early to find the sheetrock wall between our offices, and the one next door, with a big hole ripped into it that a man could get through. Our typewriter was gone and our photographer’s cameras. A setback, but we recovered.

Our selling point was that we mailed copies to over 70,000 residents on the West Side free. It was tough covering the mailing costs at the beginning. A big help to us was John Catsimatidis, a young stout supermarket owner of the Big Apple on 96th off Broadway. He took full page ads and paid promptly.

Our reporters covered the local police station by interviewing patrolmen on the beat; we launched a drive to teach supers how to use their heating equipment more efficiently; reviewed local theater plays by Lanford Wilson and had a column, West Side Heavies, famous folk who lived among us.

In 1973, the Olympia Theater let us put New Year’s Greeting from Wisdoms Child on their marquee.Later, I left the paper to work for John Lindsay. WC expanded until it expanded out of existence.

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HISTORY | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Roseann Milano says:

      Having lived around the corner from the Olympia Cinema I know it was on the corner of 107th St and Broadway.

    2. Howard Freeman says:

      can you ask Arlene: did she ever meet my mom, Beverly Freeman, who also worked for Lindsay as well as Jacob Javits?

      • Sorry Howard, I didn’t know your mom. I worked for the City Record, in the General Services Administration- – we did the Green Book, and
        building code reprints. Arlene

        Since Roseann lived near the theater, I bow to her personal knowledge.Arlene

    3. dannyboy says:

      i enjoyed the read, pre-blogs.

    4. Sally F says:

      Aw, I remember Wisdom’s Child – haven’t thought of it in years (decades?)! I remember liking it very much – just as I now like the WSR very much!

    5. Jean says:

      I remember this.

    6. Barbara Michalak says:

      “Dining Spots for Under $5.00” !!

    7. Joe Crocitto says:

      The guy on the right is too tall to be Johnny Dag. Looke more like Jerry Rubin

    8. Steve Burzon says:

      I was the founder and owner of Wisdoms Child. Founded around 1970. By the end of the decade we were out of business. We did over expand and got into trouble as a result. Sometime you win and sometime you lose. BUT the experience of the paper was fantastic. And the experience set me up for a great career in major magazine publishing. Now we live in a bucolic part of Vermont. I own a landscaping business and still talk online and sometimes in person to some of the delightful characters that were the soul of Wisdoms Child. Remember Margaret Libbin, Sally Newberth, Carolyn Jabs, David Zamichow?

      My wife and I get back to the Upper West Side often and of course it has changed; but it is still so very like it was in many places and on many streets.

      What a great surprise to see the post. Write to me and I’ll tell you more.

      Steve

    9. Matthew B. says:

      Great article. Wisdom’s Child was my father’s paper. I love hearing about his stories as a young entrepreneur.