The Reporter

He had become a legendary figure in the annals of Philadelphia journalism …

One day, armed with information from some of these complaints, Harry Karafin dropped in on the then-chief of the Department of Licenses and Inspections, Barnet Lieberman. Karafin suggested that Lieberman really ought to do something about some heating firms who might be violating fire laws. He said that the firms were advertising that they cleaned furnaces but, he claimed, they didn’t have the proper equipment with which to do so.

Lieberman promptly wrote a letter to the firms, warning them of this possible violation. Before it was delivered, an article written by reporter Harry Karafin appeared in the Inquirer. It contained all the details of the warning and named the firms the letter had been sent to.

One of the firms was also run by a former Holland executive named Thomas Shea. When Shea saw the article in the Inquirer he immediately went to his competitor, Bernard Bobst, whose own firm had received a letter.

What Bobst told him, he says, is that the whole matter could be “ironed out” for $8000.

Shea refused to pay, instead went to a lawyer, the late Tom McBride, with the problem. He says McBride took care of the matter and he heard nothing further about it.

But why had Shea gone to competitor Bobst when he read the Inquirer article?

Because, he says, he knew of Bobst’s “friendship” with Karafin.

It was more than a friendship. Bobst was actually paying Karafin for “public relations” services.

Bobst, who has a nervous habit of yawning when he is lying, last month denied he had ever paid Karafin. Currently he is running something called Comfort Heating, on Lebanon Avenue near 63rd. Questioned there, he said (in one cascading yawn) that he dissolved Consumer Engineering in the fall of 1962 and that he couldn’t have paid Karafin a cent in 1963. He may have just forgotten.

Cancelled checks, signed by Bobst, indicate that Harry Karafin was paid close to $4000 by Consumer Engineering.

Bobst’s former partner, Ralph Anthony, who is still in the heating business with his own firm, admitted that even he has continued to pay Karafin “$75 here and $100 there.”

“He has done a good job for me,” says Anthony.

IT’S AMAZING HOW good a job Harry Karafin has done for so many people with such a variety of “public relations” problems. There just doesn’t seem to be any limit to the types of businesses the veteran crime reporter thought he could help, image wise.

In the fall of 1964, for instance, a sad little man named Edward Williams decided to use part of his $25,000 inheritance to fight off the loneliness he’d know most of his life. He saw an ad in the paper and called the National Dance Club on South Broad Street.

There, over a period of less than three months, he signed for nearly 1000 hours of dance lessons, costing more than half his inheritance.

There was, perhaps, nothing unusual in a 51-year-old bachelor deciding to blow a pile of money on dance lessons. But Edward Williams wasn’t a usual 51-year-old bachelor. He was a man who, through the in equities of birth, had the emotional and mental outlook of a child. In addition, he was severely crippled by arthritis and diabetes and could barely stand unaided for more than a few minutes at a time.

Eventually, the cold brazen manner in which her boss was milking the poor old guy, led a dance instructor at the Club to take Williams to a lawyer and the District Attorney’s office.

And that is how Harry Karafin found out about Edward Williams and the National Dance Club.

When Williams’ attorney, Norman Zarwin, filed a suit against the Club to recover his client’s investment in "self-confidence, poise and popularity," Karafin wrote a story that appeared on the split-page of the Inquirer.

It was a good news story, sharp and well-reported, but it lacked a few details. Among them was the fact that National Dance Club and its immediate successor, Holiday Dance Club at 1522 Chestnut Street, were owned and operated by something called National Creations. And National Creations was the brainchild of James Frederick Schad, who was then — and still is — operating a wig parlor called "Nu-Hair Creations by Jim Schad." It is at 1521 Sansom Street, the rear of 1522 Chestnut. 

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