Bernie - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner


Photo used under a Creative Commons license from flickr user Jasperdo

 In the 1970s, I was living in Waverly, near the old Memorial Stadium. The city neighborhood was nearly all white, working class. I had just moved from Southwest Baltimore where endless lines of row homes were circled in broken concrete and rutted tar. Waverly’s trees and yards and better-maintained streets were welcoming. But danger lurked beneath the new façade. Across the street, a mother of eight, done with abuse, shot her Army colonel husband point-blank range as he tried to come in through a window she had locked. And just down Homestead St., Bernie, a shopkeeper, who strode around his store with a 38-caliber pistol holstered on his belt, was held up, shot dead. (The Hebrew is the words of the Mourner’s Kaddish).


Corner store Jew,

piece on your hip.

John Wayne-style,

crackin’ the whip.


Your mindin’ your cash,

thug appears in a flash,

the dude’s on the nod,

but he pulls his rod.


Seeing your gun,

that cat could run,

but it’s him or you,

He shoots the Jew.


Neighbors cry,

Why’d he have to die?

Man lent me money.

That guy was my hunny.


Yis-gadal v’yis kadash sh’may-rabo


B ol mo di vro chir’u-say,


Why’d Bernie have to die this way?


Handfuls of sand,

We gotta take a stand.

Ain’t it a pity,

What goes on in the
















About the author

Len Shindel

Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a father of three and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he and his wife, Maxine, live in Garrett County where he enjoys writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his grandchildren and their generation Contact the author.

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