I’m having such a great time rereading Harry Golden’s three books Only in America, For Two Cents Plain, and Enjoy! Enjoy! I thumb through them, like reading the I Ching, and pick up all kinds of little nuggets of wisdom.
These books are just full of amusing anecdotes from Aaron Burr’s trial for adultery at the age of 80 to Alexander Hamilton’s dalliance with the infamous Mrs. Reynolds.
In response to New York Daily News columnist John O’Donnell’s call for a system of prolonged torture for convicted kidnappers and murderers, in Yankee Stadium before national television camers, Golden observes that severe punishments do not seem to deter crime.
“A murder was committed outside the death house at Sing Sing,” he writes, “and the murderer was the trusty who polished the electric chair before each execution.”
“William E. H. Lecky in his History of European Morals, writes that in old England when they hanged pickpockets, all the pickpockets of the country would come to ply their trade among the folks whose attention was diverted.”