Life in Manhattan: the story of one man’s effort to survive

A Damoclean Drama by Gerald Williams

Pamphlet by Gerald Williams about life in his New York City co-op.

One of the grand things about being a printer/publisher is the marvelous collection of people you meet, many of whom, if I hadn’t chosen this work, would never have entered my life.  In fact, meeting these people has been one of the principle un-taxed riches I have enjoyed.  When I bought my first press and started publishing my little magazine and then, later, got into publishing books, I never imagined that strangers from around the world would become friends and associates.  I count these people as a genuine profit center of my work.

From time to time I hope to tell a bit about some of these characters.

This go around I will focus on Gerald Williams, an 81-year-old friend from New York City who once upon a time ago worked for Readers Digest.  Gerald, though feeling the aches and pains of his mature years, reports he is at the gym regularly running on the tread mill to keep fit.  He continues his writing work and has several manuscripts out to publishers for consideration.

Gerald entered my life years back when he sent me a manuscript for a short book on Johann Georg Elser, a would-be assassin of Adolf Hitler.  I loved the work and offered to print it into a small book.  He was kind enough to agree.  Over the years he shared others of his writing projects, including an account about life in his co-op condominium in New York City.  I didn’t want to impose on his good humor, but I couldn’t resist asking permission to publish that short piece.  After some objections, he finally agreed, and “A Damocelan Drama” came from my press.

For over 30 years Gerald had rented his studio apartment, but about ten years earlier the Manhattan building that had been his castle for a couple decades had been converted from rentals to condominiums. Tenant-owner relationships in the building following the conversion had been dicey and several veteran residents, encouraged by lucrative financial offers, had sold out and moved.  Now it was Gerald’s turn to decide.  The pressure to get him out began to escalate and became an open secret among fellow residents.  On an elevator ride a neighbor lady whispered to him “They don’t want you here.”  And they didn’t.  The war others had faced now came roaring into Gerald’s life as the harassment began.  The struggle was fueled by   rumors which spread easily. “In some way, rumor mongering is a game or sport–one that’s enjoyed by those who are least in danger of becoming victimized,” Gerald wrote.  Besides the rumor mills, there was another shady reality that gripped the building: “Nowhere are death’s visits more noticeable than in an old apartment complex.  Corpses are hauled out with a regularity that vies almost with that of people moving in or out.”  It’s all part of the Damoclean Drama in full regalia for residents.  And it’s the stuff of Gerald’s pamphlet.

For more information about either Blowing Up Hitler: A Life Of Johann George Elser, Would-Be Assassin or A Damoclean Drama, just click on these links.

As with many of my books and pamphlets, this story was hot-metal typeset and letterpress printed.


Until later . . .


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