FIORELLO LAGUARDIA

When my critique group was discussing my submission, the first introduction of LaGuardia, several individuals remembered how he used his radio program to read the funnies to children during the deliverymen’s strike or hopped on fire engines heading to an emergency. A smattering of people described notable deeds of the flamboyant Mayor (several were transplanted New Yorkers). I didn’t remember much more. Here’s a bit of background.

I know now what a talented and complicated man he was. At age 18, he had a job with the American consulate in Budapest, a testament to his linguistic skills which would later charm New Yorkers. When LaGuardia moved to New York to attend law school, he became a translator for the U.S. Immigration Service. In his law practice, he attracted immigrants — with little money—but a range of problems..

Tammany Hall, the Democratic party’s political machine, known for its graft, controlled New York City. So, in 1916, he ran for Congress as a Republican and won that election and the next one. In 1932 he ran for Mayor for the second time, and this time he won. Known as the first Italian Mayor, LaGuardia rarely spoke of his Jewish roots, although in Jewish neighborhoods, he delivered his speeches in Yiddish. In the 1930’s he began speaking out about the crazy man in Germany,

After many years of Tammany rule, or mis-rule, the new Mayor had much to do. His actions and bountiful energy charmed New Yorkers who called him their “Little Flower”, .When the War began, he was restless, feeling much of the important work in New York City was done. Although he tried to win an appointment in the War effort, for complicated reasons, FDR ignored LaGuardia’s requests.

Many of his accomplishments are alluded to or amplified In LOVE SARAH, where they fit or advance the story, a minuscule view of a heroic man.

Barbara Gilvar