Meyer Shussett, “Suspicion”, 14 January 1933

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Meyer Shussett

Meyer Shussett was a fifty-two-year-old salesman from Pittsburgh who had lost a lot of money in the depression. He took a train to New Castle on a January weekend in 1933 and spent Saturday night walking from bar to bar with boxes of counterfeit Pollock cigars, which he sold cheap until he was arrested by a patrolman. The mayor fined him $20.

Later—after the depression, after the war—he managed a variety store in Pittsburgh. One morning in 1951, he had just opened the store when a man walked in and asked for a T-shirt. When Meyer turned to get a box down from the shelf, the man hit him on the head with a brick. After finding only a few dollars in the register, the man hit him with the brick again and left the store.

Meyer went home. His family took him to the hospital, where he was given fourteen stitches to close his wounds.

There is no further record of his life.

Sources: New Castle News (16 January 1933, “Pittsburgh Man Pays Heavy Fine”; 9 October 1951, “Thug Uses Brick”); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9 October 1951, “Thug Beats Up Storekeeper”.


  1. Hello! I am currently obsessed with this website! I can’t stop reading. I wanted to ask you, because I couldn’t find it when I searched…on the Square America photos posted from this same series, there were a bunch where the crime was describes as “lodger” Do you know what that means?

    Also I wrote about your site today on my blog, I’d link to it here, but I think that would seem spammy

    • Hi Claire – thanks for writing! It’s not spammy at all to link to your post, but I can see what you mean, so I’ll do it for you:
      I’m glad it had such an effect on you. I’ll try your eggplant croquettes – hope I like them as much as you liked Small Town Noir.
      As for your question, I’m pretty sure that those lodgers you saw on Square America were arrested while patronizing what were called disorderly houses – that is, they were “lodging” in a bed in a brothel when it was raided. There seems to have been a $10 or $15 fine for that. And, of course, the shame, the shame!

    • Hi, Paul. Thanks for getting in touch, and even more thanks for writing that very generous post about the blog. I’m blown away by your Permanent Record project and am about to embark on a few hours of catching up on it. Can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before…

      • Hi, Diarmid … Great to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words about PermaRec — much appreciated.

        Slate has gone through at least two redesigns since the original 10 articles ran, so — as you may be discovering already — some of the photo-lightbox functionality is now a bit wonky. Apologies in advance.

        Like you, I’m a huge fan of *Least Wanted,* and I’ve occasionally written about old mug shots on the PermaRec blog. If you look at the entries from this past February, March, and April, you’ll see that I also delved into a related realm: old employee photo i.d. badges.

        Would love to talk more — ideally without the web interface. Feel free to contact me directly at your convenience:

        All best,

  2. pauline says

    I found out about your website reading Courrier International ! I like the way you describe the facts and give just enough details to picture the context !

    I also liked the fact you gave back the mugshot as a birthday present to the 95 years old man ! What was his reaction ?

    Thank you for your work, entertaining and well written !

    • Thanks so much – very kind of you. The old man was pleased to have the picture, but I can’t say he was too excited about it. He glanced at it, nodded his head and slipped it into his trouser pocket without saying any more about it. He was much more interested in telling me about his recent solo trip to Borneo, and the previous year’s solo trip to Greenland. He’s quite a character. He’s just finished a memoir of his life, which will feature the mug shot as a minor point of interest among all the many fascinating things he’s done.

  3. Lynda Fernandez Stones says

    OMG! Meyer Shussett is my great grandfather. This is so interesting to me!

    • Well I’m glad you came across this entry, Lynda. Sorry it’s one of the shorter ones, but I really couldn’t find out much about Meyer. It would be good to know more…

      • Lynda Stones says

        I wish I knew more. He was married to Lena Krieger. They had 3 daughters, Jean, Belle and Shirley. Belle was my Grandmother. I can’t find and more info on Meye Shussett.

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