Daily News from New York, New York on August 10, 1975 · 307
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Daily News from New York, New York · 307

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 10, 1975
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ffcEDOPtt by JACK GASNICK One need not be so old to remember the slaughter and meat-packing houses on First Ave. where the United Nations now stands. Among the giants of the industry Swift and Armour and U.S. Dressed Beef was a small one-story stall run by A. Cucuzzo. He did not handle lambs, calves or even chickens. He dealt only in rabbits, living and dead, and sold them to the French and Italian residents of the neighborhood. His little van also made deliveries to the German housewives in uptown Yorkville. My pop had a hardware store on Second Ave. and, since we were the closest source . of cutlery such as boning knives, meat sheers and hacksaws, we did a steady business with the packers. Mr. Cucuzzo was my favorite customer for he would give me rabbit feet, which I distributed among my friends. They told me how lucky it made them at stickball, dice, school tests and even getting a girl to smooch. I soon learned that I could sell them to the kids and Mr. Cucuzzo, what's more, gave me the sole monopoly. One day, feeling especially inventive, I capped the rabbit's feet with metal umbrella thimbles, pierced them through and inserted beaded chains with tiny couplings. Pop displayed them by the key machine and we sold many of these lucky key-rings, so many that the novelty jobbers on downtown Allen St. heard about them and came up to see us. They bought them by the hundred. They would card and resell them to candy and stationery stores as "Chains of Good Fortune." Alas, there was Froelich & Son, nearby to the rabbit vendor. The son had noticed the goings-on with the feet with envy, and he prevailed upon Cucuzzo to sell him some also and soon he became a bitter rival in the business. He stole a march on me by selling them with metal key-tags upon which would be punched the buyer's initials. Bless my dear mother. Pop had bought her a little mink scarf since the hardware business was zooming with everybody trying to build on Third Ave. Momma said to me, why shouldn't you dye the feet like brown and walnut and chocolate, just like the baby minks. I did even better. I dyed them in our bathtub brown, pink and chartreuse. They made the strangest minks ever. I would pin them to a board and place on each a label, "Think Mink." I sold them to the candy shops and my classmates were my agents. Young Froelich eventually got out of the industry but when I was 16 years old the fellows took to bikes, motorcycles and jalopies and so I extended my line to fox-tails, beaver-tails, tails from wolves and tails from coyotes. I bleached them, dyed them, puffed them and curled them and marketed my wares via "Think Mink." Just before World War II, T-shirts became the vogue and so were sweat shirts. I talked W. T. Grant into putting out their shirts emblazoned "Think Mink." When the war was over, I came back to find my best friend not so lucky as me. I gave him my "Think Mink" copyright and trademark for token royalties. He was to become the famous Mr. Big Button. It was his best-selling button, so successful, indeed, that the Wall Street Journal front-paged it as the major selling slogan of the era. Ah, my rabbit's foot. Such a long stride.. "Think Mink" is listed in "The Guinness Book of Records" under "Slogan, most successful." My picture is there also. I am holding the world's biggest""Think Mink" button. I have notified the editors many times; they put me down as eight years too old. Please, Messrs. Norris and Ross McWhirter, I was born in 1918 and not in 1910. 1 have already enough poor rabbits on my conscience without your making it more.' ILLUSTRATION BY MARGERY CRAWFORD 13

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