Americana: The Monkey Man

Stories about shabby beggars who hoard secret fortunes are commonplace enough, but Eddie the Monkey Man, who died in his sleep last month at the age of 79, was unique. The son of a Jewish immigrant peddler in Pensacola, Fla., Eddie Bernstein lost both legs at the age of twelve when a train ran over him. He began riding around in a goat cart, selling newspapers. In the mid-'30s, he left the Depression-ridden South and moved to Washington, D.C., where he established himself on a wooden platform on F Street between 12th and 13th Streets. He joked and chattered and begged...

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