Eagle: The Henry Street Resident Who Got Hitler’s Autograph

The Brooklyn Eagle writes about Francis X. Harwin who lived at 62 Henry Street and asked for and received Adolph Hitler’s autograph in 1936:

Brooklyn Eagle: The photo and the secretary’s letter became a matter of news four years later, after Harwin entered them in an American Hobby Show in Manhattan, but the hobby museum quickly withdrew the exhibit “for fear it might cause a disturbance.” The withdrawal was reported October 31, 1940, on the front page of the New York Journal and American, and was followed by a profile of Harwin in the Brooklyn Eagle.

The Eagle reported that Harwin’s hobby of collecting autographs from prominent people (including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and the right-wing radio commentator Father Coughlin) resulted from an inborn “inquiring mind and an alert interest in all that goes on.” It cited a 1924 Eagle article, treasured by Harwin, that told how “A small boy of 5, with great blue eyes and a winning smile, entered the Eagle Building yesterday and addressed himself to an elevator operator,” saying, “I have come to see the eagle.” He was taken to the seventh floor, where he evidently expected to see a menagerie but instead found himself in the city room, where a female staffer took him in hand.

The Eagle adds that a reader recently purchased Mr. Harwin’s autograph collection at a flea market.

Did anyone here know Mr. Harwin?

Brooklyn Eagle photo

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  • my2cents

    Wow, that is really interesting!

  • Publius

    What a coincidence–I also happen to be a collector of sociopathic murderous dictato”s autographs, and have Pol Pot’s, Stalin’s and my prize possession, Gengis Kahn’s mark hanging on the bulletin board next to my bathroom.

    Will the Brooklyn Eagle run an article about me? (And will the BHB parrot it?)

  • http://loscalzo.posterous.com Homer Fink

    He also got that despot Richard Rodgers’ autograph:

  • nabeguy

    THis id definitely one of the most bizarre posts I’ve encountered on BHB for so many reasons. Yes, I did know of Francis Harmin, as I’m sure every boy in the north Heights did during the 50’s and 60’s. He happened to be the local “masher”. And how did he entice boys back to his apartment on Henry Street? The Hitler autograph. Somehow, I managed to escape his notice, but I know of some people, including my own brother, who he approached with the line “would you like to see my Hitler autograph?” Not quite the same line as the proverbial etchings, but enough to fire up the imagination of a young kid. As I recall, he was a rather charming man, with perfectly coiffed and pomaded hair but with a air of tragedy about him, reminiscent of James Dunn in “A Tree Grow in Brooklyn”

  • David on Middagh



  • AEB

    Ah, the old Hitler-autograph come-on! That’s so over! Like the Bee Gees.

  • Eddy de Lectron

    Ah, and what did Mr. Harwin do to said boys after he lured them up to his lair whit the Hitler photo?

  • AEB

    Eddy, he instructed them in astro-physics with special use of his own personal refractor….

  • Jim

    Does anyone know when Mr. Harwin passes away.

  • nabeguy

    Eddy, he used the Himmler maneuver on them. Actually, from the tales that I’ve heard, he would start with a kiss and, if there was no resistance to that, he would move on to the low lands.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Publius: I want you to take back what you said about Genghis Khan: http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/2006/11/genghis-khan-first-liberal.html

  • nabeguy

    Okay, get where you’re coming from Claude. But would you really bu him a cup of coffee?

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Heck, I’d buy him a shot of Laphroaig, but he probably wouldn’t like it as much as fermented mare’s milk.

  • Publius

    @Claude: I think you’re confusing Genghis Kahn with Genghis Cohen, his first cousin, who lived on the UES, donated substantially to charities, and would hold talks at the 92nd Street Y on ethical humanism.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Publius: I’m referring to the Genghis Kahn whose interview with the late James Reston of the Times is mentioned in this article:

    “’Frankie Fitzgerald called me to come over one night,’ recalled Kevin Buckley, who had been a correspondent in Vietnam for Newsweek and was then the editor of New Times. He conjured an op-ed column in the manner of the longtime columnist James Reston, an interview with Genghis Khan — ‘not such a bad fellow’ — that had originally appeared in October 1241 and was being rerun as the author’s favorite. It evoked a conversational tone with the powerful. ‘ ‘How are you, Scotty?’ asked the Khan, gnawing on a Kurd’.”