Rise and Fall of Newark Underworld Character During Longy Zwillman Era

As told to Nat Bodian by Myron Sugerman


Max "Puddy" Hinkes was a young thug who spent most of his early like in Newark's old Third Ward neighborhood.

The only act of justification on the face of this earth was that he participated in the melees with the Nazi Bunds during the 1930s when Franz Kunze showed up at the door step of the Jewish neighborhood in Newark for the purpose of stirring up anti-semitism amongst the American-German communities in places like Irvington and Union.

Max took both pride and pleasure in cracking heads. He and the others of the "Minute Men" -- the name that the Jews under a former prize fighter, Nat Arno, called themselves, who were remarkably effective in making the Jewish neighborhoods safe from Nazi harassment.

It was Max's one great act of redemption for what was otherwise an early life dedicated to high jacking, burglary, breaking & entry, stick ups, extortion, shake downs, and working both sides of labor disputes as an enforcer. Max was loyal only to money.

Becomes Numbers Boss

"Puddy" as he was called, a name given to him by his brothers for some reason Max couldn't remember but which stuck with him for life, ended up being the Numbers Boss of Newark.

During the time that Abner "Longy" Zwillman controlled the rackets, Puddy was the guy who collected from the numbers guys to deliver the bag to City Hall to keep the Mayor and his cronies happy.

Naturally, he took generously for himself out of the bag before he delivered the package to the politicians and the cops.

For those of you who don't know what "Numbers" are, it was the street name for today's lottery which is run by the State. Before it was legal, it was illegal.

It was, as it is today, very popular with the masses. Government went into the business of numbers because it was so lucrative.

Quincy: Local Power Broker

Max was the disciple of David "Quincy" Lieberman.

Quincy was a local power broker whose connections extended from gangsters to the cops on the beat, to the local ladies of the night, right up to the office of the Mayor.

There wasn't a soul that Quincy couldn't reach. He spent a lifetime in Newark's barrooms, saloons, goulash houses, whore houses, police precincts, and political clubs, expanding his network of contacts.

He was a night owl. He hardly went home before daybreak. Everybody knew Quincy. His pockets of money were nothing less than a repository for a hand out. He started the day with pockets full. He came home empty.

When he died, you couldn't get near the Temple on Clinton Avenue for the funeral.

For some reason or other, Quincy took a liking to Puddy. Puddy had been an amateur boxer. He was a neighborhood beau vivant. Puddy was slightly taller than average, thin built, and as he grew older, there were still remains of what must have been a rather good looking guy in his youth.

As he grew older, he wore horn-rimmed glasses, so with the remains of hair which were combed straight back, he looked like a retired accountant.

But Puddy was far from being an accountant or coming close to appreciating the value of money. For as quickly as Puddy made a dollar, that's how fast Puddy spent it.

He did a couple of "bits" in his life. When he talked about his life in jail, he claimed he was deprived of no earthly pleasures when he did "time," that they, the Mob, had the Warden on the "pad" and that Max was eating steaks, drinking whiskey and even enjoying the pleasures of a warm body that was sent down from the Fleshpots out of Newark.

Had Protected Rumrunners

Puddy had supplied protection to the trucks on the road for Longy, Doc (Stacher) and Niggy Rutkin during Prohibition. He did have a few run-ins with other mobs in his life. But he stood well not only with Quincy, but with Longy as well.

Longy was his Man and he was loyal to perfection with Longy, that when Longy allegedly hung himself, that Puddy was out with Longy that night before in the Westwood Restaurant on Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange.

Puddy's World Comes to End on February 26, 1959

The death of Longy brought Puddy's world to an end. Puddy operated under the long arm of protection of Abe, as he was called by the people that knew him, Abe for Abner, and that when Abe passed away Puddy's 'umbrella of protection' was removed and he found himself in a rainstorm without coverage.

The numbers business was taken away overnight. Puddy, together with two others from Newark, were ducking a subpoena and ran to New York City to hang out all night at the "shvitz," the Luxor Steam Baths on 46th Street in Manhattan.

Puddy and his two compatriots were ducking a subpoena that the numbers business, which heretofore had been his domain, was no longer his upon his return -- that it had been cut up like a pumpkin pie on the Thanksgiving dinner table. And there was no more pumpkin pie for Puddy.

* * *

Max Hinkes died April 8, 1995 at the age of 84 in the Meridian Nursing Home in Westfield.

Three years earlier, in 1992, Hinkes had been honored at a special tribute by the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah in Livingston. It was for his leadership participation, decades earlier, in the organized attacks by Jewish "Minutemen" on Hitler-era pro-Nazi sympathizers active in the Newark area.

The Star-Ledger carried a report of Hinkes death in the issue of April 9, 1995.



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