Monday, August 7, 2017

Pete Hamill: David Berkowitz was the phantom without a face

Sometimes the roads took him to work. He was a postal clerk in the Bronx General Post Office, a great, ugly building on the top of the slope at 149th St. and the Grand Concourse. In the wake of the killings, when murder fever was running through the city, David Berkowitz would sort mail in the bowels of this large, ugly building. He must have gone out to eat, but nobody remembered him.

I Never Seen the Guy

“I herd he came in here,” said a guy at the bar of the Glenroy Lunch & Tavern, across 149th St. from the Post Office. “But I don’t really know. I hear Tony seen him, inside there in the cafeteria. Ask him.” Tony was behind the counter in the cafeteria in the next room. “No,” he said. “I never seen the guy. I looked at the picture but I never seen the guy.”

It was the same in the Concourse Caffe and the gas station up the street. In Reed’s restaurant, the booths were crowded with young girls. Pretty girls. Girls with dark hair. But nobody who worked there remembered seeing David Berkowitz.

“Hey, listen,” the countermand said, “to me they’re all ham and eggs.”

David Berkowitz has a biography, of course, and there will be few secrets left about his life in the days to come. But when you rummage around the edges of his life, you see how little impact he had made on ordinary people in the ordinary course of his days. He was a zero. A zip. The cops have another word for him, that starts with an “s,” but it can’t be printed here.

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