Slain Racketeer Goes to Bleak Grave in Rain with Family as Only Mourners
Curious Crowd Looks On – Former Friends are Not Among 200 Who Watch Simple Interment Without Church Ritual.
(Maspeth, L.I. – New York Times December 23, 1931) Jack (Legs) Diamond was buried yesterday in a bleak and obscure corner of Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Maspeth, Queens, in a grave into which a hundred rivulets of muddy yellow water ran as the rain beat down from a leaden sky. He had no church service not even a ritual at the grave.
The only religious note was the prayer offered up beside the coffin by Marie Hart of Philadelphia, cousin of the gangster, just before the body was carried into the street from the second floor of 53-72 Sixty-fifth Place, the home of Mrs. May Schiffer, Mrs. Diamond’s sister, four blocks from the cemetery.
Of the 200 or more persons who sloshed around in the clay and the miserable downpour as the casket was let down on the straps, only a handful were mourners – Mrs. Diamond, her sister, an aunt, three nieces of the dead gangster and three or four friends. All the rest had been drawn to the spot by curiosity.
There was no turnout of underworld characters to witness the burial. Two detectives who stood in the mud with the rain pouring from their hat brims recognized no known criminals. A cab driver said he had seen Owney Madden, but there was only his statement for it.
The decision to bury Diamond in the single graves section of Mount Olivet was made at the last minute, after the church had refused to admit the body to consecrated earth. When the mourners drew up to the gate four dungareed gravediggers were just completing the excavation.
Mrs. Diamond, a figure in black, her face concealed behind a large silk handkerchief under her veil, was led under the dripping canopy that had been erected between the grave and picket fence. She was weeping. The three little nieces of Jack Diamond, daughters of Mrs. May Schiffer, were crying softly. The aunt, wearing dark glasses, pressed a black-bordered handkerchief to her eyes.
There was a moment of awkward silence. The crowd waited expectantly for some one to read the burial service. The man in charge waved at the gravediggers as they strained at the lowering straps and the coffin began to sink.
“Good-bye, boy, good-bye.”
It was a woman’s voice, under the gloomy canopy but it was impossible to tell who had uttered the quavering words. Some said it was the widow, but it seemed to come from the aunt.
It took less than ten minutes to fill the grave. The floral offerings – bleeding heart, the chair of roses and carnations and seven other pieces – were distributed on the sodden mound before the mourners turned toward the gate. Mrs. Diamond still clutched in her left hand a rose.
Another ten minutes passed and then all the crowd was gone. The curious tramped away in the downpour with the mud clinging to their boots.