On Sunday Thou Shalt Rest, Merchant!


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December 2, 1959, Vol. V, No. 6

Police Enforce Sabbath-Law

MacDougal Street artisans and merchants are up in arms this week over a Police Department crackdown that threatens to force them to close their shops on Sundays.

Conrad Gersuny, owner of the Conrad Shop, at 119 MacDougal Street, received a summons last Sunday afternoon from a Sixth Precinct patrolman for allegedly violating the Sabbath Law.

Mr. Gersuny expects to plead “Not-Guilty” when he appears in Magistrate’s Court on December 3. Yesterday he told The Voice: “I have a right to practice my craft and profession in such a way, time, and place as I please and find necessary, as long as I don’t interfere with another’s rights and creative processes.” He sells his own hand-wrought jewelry at his shop.

Many of the small merchants feel that they will suffer a disastrous loss of revenue if the crackdown continues, since they depend heavily on week-end business.

Israel G. Young, proprietor of the Folklore Center, expressed bitterness at the allegedly preferential treatment give the Times Square area. “If religion is demanded on MacDougal Street,” he said, “I insist on it for 42nd Street.”

Referring to the fact that essential businesses are exempt from the Sabbath Law, David Weingarten, owner of the Book Cellar, asked: “Are barrooms, auto laundries, theatres, and pool rooms essential?”

Several merchants complained that efforts to enforce the Sunday-closing law are only pressed during periods of peak business. “We are never bothered during months when we have trouble meeting our bills and paying taxes.”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]