Ruling the Roost- page 2 | People & Places | Smithsonian
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Ruling the Roost

Before the advent of factory farms and supermarkets, the self-made kings of New York City's butter and egg trade lived extra large

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Herbert Weinberger also recalled how the older butter and egg men did not heed his warnings about how the business was changing; men had prospered in the traditional ways since the mid-19th century, the older men said. So Herbert quit to become a commodities trader. By the late 1960s, the butter and egg market was gone.

I do not know who took this picture. It hangs in my office, where I sometimes catch myself staring at it, rapt. In this picture Harry Ackerman is younger than I am now, his 50-year-old grandson, who gazes at him from time to time imagining the pleasure he is taking in this night.

My uncle Herbert became a social worker. My uncle Arthur, an accountant, took a position with the Internal Revenue Service and, after my grandfather died, moved his family into the big house in Brooklyn that my grandfather had bought for my grandmother many years before—a monument to what he had made of himself selling butter and eggs.


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