Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Miracle On 51st Street/A Chicago Newsstand Christmas Story…Book Review

Note to my readers: Stephanie Sweas, a significant and imaginative writer in the Chicago-area, recently reviewed my 5th book:

A Chicago Newsstand Christmas Story:Miracle on 51st Street  

by Robert M. Katzman                                            

which has never been reviewed before, is about a true Chicago incident which occurred on Christmas Eve, 1977, which relates a story which defies belief, involving eighteen Christians of all denominations–and one Jew.  It is only available from me at my store in Skokie, Il. and has been gradually selling for years. It is a story I will never read in public.  Here is Stephanie’s concise review: 

On the way back from your museum/store in Skokie, after purchasing a copy of your book:      

A Newstand Christmas Story/The Miracle on 51st Street,

I wanted a ‘setting’ to sit down and read it for the first time.  I chose the lovely, awakening-to-Spring, ‘Marjorie Weinberg’ rotunda garden (@NWU), wherein I imagine, even Shakespeare would have lazily reclined.  I wanted to set the mood.  I wasn’t disappointed– by venue, nor by story that unfurled before my eyes (and yes, they were glistening when I closed the cover).  So, this is my applaud:

by Stephanie Sweas

Although this story plays out in one Christmastide years ago, echoing from Bob Katzman’s mind and heart–he has the knack for time-travelling back into a treasure-trove of hard-won life experience and ingeniously tapping a rich vein of memory, conveying it into the here-and-now in a ‘tribute-tory’ way–where it flows on, timeless and true Bob has squeezed a lot of juice out of this one.

So, the story takes place ‘at his place’– a street corner at 51st and Lake Park, in Hyde Park, in Chicago, one Christmas Eve, when he was then already, a 27-year-old veteran bossman of a long-running newstand.  Yet, struggling, as always…

And as hardened by the Chi-town din as any street-survivor could be, nevertheless what happens to Bob that Christmas Eve and Day, is enough to prove that any hard-edged city-dweller, hard-ass ‘tude, hard-scrabble life, can be rendered soft, surrendered, humbled, before the might of generous hearts.

Hearts in this case, encased in mere teenagers at the time– and one old man–not the makings of ‘a Dream Team’ by today’s standards.  One, supposedly the most egocentric age-group in human existence–and the other, the most curmudgeonly, respectively.  Why, teens uh’ll do in their own parents– what of a stranger?!  And a crotchety geeser– of what use is he anymore?  

”Stuck” with such employees (or not?), with the prospect of delivering a mountain of newspapers on a super-bustling holiday (not to mention the promise of super ass-busting labor), what should anyone expect but freakin’ disaster-on-the-job?  

Forget a silent night….

Yet, Bob, the Jewish boss of this rag-tag loose assembly,  receives quite a few stunning presents that Christmas Day in 1977. You too will be richly gifted in the reading of this tale….Keep kleenex handy.

And believe….


(If anyone wishes to comment, please do so only in the space provides below this article.)

About Robert M. Katzman and his other life in Skokie, Illinois:

Bob Katzman’s Magazine Museum: 100,000 periodicals back to 1576!
Wall of Rock: 50 years of cool Rock periodicals on display & for sale
4906 Oakton St. (8000 north and 4900 west) Skokie, Ill 60077
(847)677-9444 Mon-Fri: 10 am to 5 pm / Weekends: 10 am to 2 pm

Katzman’s Publishing Company site: www.FightingWordsPubco.com
Katzman’s online non-fiction stories: www.DifferentSlants.com

DePaul University Film School & Columbia Film School documentaries are at: www.Oldzines.com

Poetry? For me, writing poetry is not an option.
It’s a response to emotion. Like cigarette smoke,
it’s fast-flowing, shapeless and with little time to capture it.
Writing poetry in an imperative. I say what I feel compelled to say.

I sell my five published books via mail order and accept major credit cards.
I don’t use PayPal. I just talk to people on the phone.
Fast, reliable service. Read my stories and see what you think.
I’m also available for hire to read my true Chicago stories to organizations
and answer all questions. I autograph my books when I sell them.

I am currently seeking an agent to do more readings.
Feel free to call me at the number above.


Comment by Bill Skeens

March 23, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

Hi Bob:

I take great pride in being your first “Newsboy” hired at the famous original Bob’s Newsstand. When you needed more help, I was able to recruit more of my buddies from the neighborhood. Charlie, Todd, Calvin, Jock and Ross. All with goodguys with good work ethics and all successful today. I can’t help believing some of our success today started at that unique business at 51st and Lake Park. Thanks for all you taught us about the life of a business and the business of life.
Bill Skeens

Comment by Bruce Matteson

March 23, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

Stephanie is a top-notch writer, reviewer, and I happen to know, poet. This is some more excellent work!

Comment by J Steve Adler

March 23, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

I am glad to see more interest in your writings. You are still your best pitchman, even when reaching out to others. In addition, this really demonstrates the timeliness of you stories is unending.

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