Sometimes You Find Neat Stuff if You Just Look Up

When you live in NY, you’re taught to keep your head  straight. Never look down, never look distracted or you’ll end up getting mugged or something. But sometimes, you have to just look up if you want to see the cool stuff – ghosts of New Yorkers that just stand above our heads day in and day out and we never, ever realize that they’re there.

What the hell are you talking about? is what you’re saying but see, there are still lots of buildings left, hidden on side streets, that have names on them. I don’t mean names like the Elizabeth Apartments and stuff, I mean names of men who were kind of big deals for a short while. And because of this, I always look up, especially while my husband is driving. I don’t do it while I’m driving, what kind of a yutz do you think I am?

Anyway, to get on with this “ghost” I’m babbling about, we were coming home from Greenpoint (where I lived in the 70’s, where I could never afford to live now) and the husband took some side streets cause the BQE was a parking lot as usual. While he was using insane amounts of profanities, none of which I can repeat here, I saw this building at 548-550 Union Street and it said George F. Driscoll. It’s next to The Brooklyn Casket company. Just sayin’ cause I’ve never actually seen a casket factory is all.

Ok, so big deal. Some dude has his name on a building. What? You wanna freakin’ prize or something? No, I don’t, I want coffee but am too lazy to get off my fat ass and make it. So why don’t you read a little and learn a little, ok? Wow.

George F. Driscoll probably built this here building because he was a building contractor. He was born in New York in 1871, most likely the youngest son of Thomas and Eliza. According to the 1870 census, Thomas owned an “Eating Saloon” in NYC.  George was only nine years old by the time his mom died, sometime between 1877 & 1880. Eventually he took on the trade of bricklayer and in 1892 can be found living in Brooklyn with his big brother, William the plumber. By 1901 he had gotten married and started his own company which was incorporated in 1911.  And so on it went until George passed away in 1941. From what I can tell, the business continued until at least the 1950’s, possibly run by one or all of his sons.

I know this isn’t ridiculously exciting, I mean a building contractor built a building and slapped his name on it. Whatevs. But, his company built some very cool stuff and put tons of folks to work during the depression winning the bids to construct many of the schools we NYC kids went to. The earliest reference I can find is from 1922 when he built the 21 room addition to PS72 in Maspeth which I believe is now Martin Luther HS. In 1926 he started work on PS208 in Brooklyn and PS117 in Queens. In 1928 there was  PS12 at 72nd St. in Winfield, now Woodside, Queens and then PS106 in Edgemere/Rockaway.

In 1930 it was a brand new high  school in Queens called Grover Cleveland – the one the city almost shut down and which happens to be the one I graduated from over twenty years ago. He later went on to build Andrew Jackson HS also in Queens. Now that I type this, I can swear a teacher once told me that they were built by the same person at the same time and looked exactly the same, inside and out. But this was over two decades ago, and I may just be making stuff up.

In 1931 he got the contract for the enormous postal facility at 29th street and 10th Ave in Manhattan. He also built Abraham Lincoln HS in Brooklyn and several bank buildings in Long Island – although I suspect they meant Queens since parts of that borough were still referred to as Long Island back then. After his death, his company built the “new” Brooklyn Red Cross Center on a plot of land bounded by Washington, Old High, Nassau and Adams streets in 1954.

So there you have it, a blue collar Joe who worked his way up to getting his name on his very own little building but who built some very big, important buildings. I can only hope they don’t tear this one down and replace it with some ugly glass box full of tiny apartments where the rent is too high and there are too many bicycles lined up in front of it. It isn’t the most architecturally fascinating spot in Brooklyn, but if you went to a NYC public school, there’s a good chance that the plans for it were started in that space and that one little thing connects many of us in a neat, little, unexpected way.

So remember, when you walk around this big city, look down on occasion so you don’t step in anything, look around so you don’t get into trouble and don’t forget to look up every once in awhile. You may discover someone interesting looking down at you.

P.S. I got all of this info from the census records which you can search for free at and from old newspaper articles on Just givin’ props is all 🙂

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Honey, I Think it’s Time to Get Some New Furniture!

So, I haven’t posted anything in a while, I know. It’s not that I no longer lament the New York that once was or suddenly have some new affinity for the hipster menace – oh God no! I’ve just been busy. See, I’m a mom with a job and I have shit to do other than pen these simply fab essays that you all wait for. Oh… you don’t really care? Fine.

So, like I was saying, I was sitting on the SI Ferry thinking about how I’ve been a big, fat slacker when it came to my blog when suddenly I got a media message from my brother-in-law. Hmmm… I was kind of afraid to open it. See, he has, more than once, sent mail to me that was supposed to go to the husband – the kind of mail that should not be opened in a public place, especially in these “politically correct” times we’ve been thrust in to. But I said “to hell with it!” I was gonna be a risk taker, and if some nosey schmuck gets offended then he shouldn’t be lookin’ at my stuff. So this is what I got:

 This fabulous picture is of a building in Middle Village off of Metropolitan Ave. that’s having new siding put on it. Well, when they stripped it, revealed was this most awesome ad for John A. Schwarz furnishings.

John was born in New York about 1859 to German immigrants Stanislaus and Sophia. He began his foray into the furniture business first as a clerk for a furniture store and then in 1876, he opened his own place at 838 Broadway in Brooklyn. According to an ad from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1921: “A story of years of energy which ended in success. Founded in 1876 by John A. Schwarz… His congenial disposition won the hearts of all he knew, and when he opened his own little 20-foot store in 1876 on the original site – 838 Broadway – his friends were eager to patronize him. Generally his business grew until he was compelled to take over the entire building, and then the building next door. Finally, in 1900, the entire place was remodelled into a modern structure. The next step forward was the opening of the new store in the uptown shopping district, March 6, 1910, at 1321 Broadway, and the enlarging to 1319 Broadway. The same policy has always been carried out during these 45 years by “The Oldest House on Broadway,” namely, “A Pleased Customer is Our Best Advertisement.” John,Sr. actually died in 1906, possibly from injuries he sustained from a car accident he was in on Eastern Parkway a few years before in 1903. The business was taken over by his sons, John Jr., Edward and Frank. I discovered that they opened the store at 334 Livingston Street in 1922 and 16601 Jamaica Ave (the address is behind the dumpster in the first pic) around 1925. The opened another store in 1926 at 1535 Broadway when the took over Phelan’s Furniture. That would make our newly uncovered treasure date to about 1925. Why there are only 3 addresses on there, I couldn’t say.

In 1935, the Schwarz boys ventured into the Men’s Clothing business at their 1295 Broadway location.

But, if it’s furniture you want, it’s furniture you could have, my friend – at bargain prices t00! An ad from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1925 says I can get me a Side-Icer Refrigerator for only $23.89. Oh! But what about a new living room? It costs $149.50 and that’s a pretty penny these days. Don’t worry ma’am – you can use the “John A. Club Plan” and after a few monthly payments, it’s all yours. 

I don’t know what happened to all of the Schwarz stores or when the chain finally closed.  I haven’t been able to find an ad for them after 1936. The store at 340 Livingston became Fox Furniture by 1940, so I suspect all of the stores were liquidated about that time.

I did find the ad for the grand opening of their Livingston Street location from 1922 – it was a big deal too.

All three of their stores were having special deals and they were giving away all kids of prizes and stuff, just like nowadays.  When I went to the grand opening of the big Old Navy in 6th Ave in 1994, I got me a free pair of jeans! I think they were stone-wash, possibly with pleats.

If you go to street map on Google, you’ll see that the building is still there   but all of the hoopla is gone. Such is life, I suppose.  I believe the original store at 838 Broadway is now a liquor store, I leave that to you to look up.

So there it is, a little piece of history uncovered in a little old neighborhood where I used to live in Queens. If it were my house, I think I might try to preserve the not-so faded ad but alas,  it is not. At least we have this cool pic to remember it.

As for my bro-in-law, I suppose I can now forgive him for eating all of the pigs in blankets and Swedish meatballs at my wedding reception. I was really looking forward to them, ya know.

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Experimental Baking: Candy Corn Chocolate Cookies

First of all, I am NOT a professional baker, I’m just bored, so if this recipe sucks for you, I don’t wanna hear about it. That being said, here we go.

It’s January, Halloween is long gone but I still have a ton of candy corn.  Why? It’s cheap and I like it. Also, there don’t seem to be as many trick-or-treaters around these parts as there used to be. I always get too much candy and always have it sitting around ’til Easter.

So, what shall I do? I can’t throw it away, that would just be wrong. It is snowing out, and so I should be baking something, right? Hows about chocolate cookies with candy corn instead of chocolate chips?I guess it could work,  I mean, they’re just corn syrup and vanilla for the most part. And so I check the web figuring that there has to be an abundance of recipes out there, but I find that I’m wrong. I find recipes where the triangular bites are placed atop the cookie and a few where the cookie is kind of flat. Hmmm… I was hoping for something that uses them like chips or “baking bits” and are a little puffier or chewy even. I guess I have to experiment, so here I go.

El Recipe para Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies (like the Espanol? I know, right?)

¾ C butter – room temp, so it mixes nice

¼ c shortening

1 C sugar

½ C dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 C flour

2/3 C cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 1/2 C candy corn, cut in halves – no more or the cookies fall apart

Ok, sit down and using a sharp knife, cut all of your candy corn in halfish – you want them to be close to chip size. At least that’s what I did. I suppose if you have one of those fancy choppy machine thingies you could use that, but I do not. I ended up using about 16 of the little bags from the giant bag. Next, cream together the sugars, butter and shortening. Add your eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine your flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add your candy corn and then combine all of this with your buttery sugary mix AKA your wet ingredients. After it’s all mixed nicely, put it in the fridge while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees and clean up the mess you’ve made. All done? Good. Now, plop your batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

How big? I dunno, I didn’t really measure. A good spoonful I guess – you want them kinda big because if they’re too small, they kind of fall apart when they’re done.

See – over there on the right? That’s what happens when you don’t use enough batter and you’re impatient about getting them off the trays 😦

What have I learned from this? Well, I’m not sure if chilling the dough is really necessary, but it’s what I always do when I use a cookie recipe with butter in it. I read somewhere once that they don’t flatten as much. I also always use bleached, all-purpose flour and wipe down my cookie sheets in between batches as greasy sheets tend to lead to flat cookies. Also, too much candy is not good or they won’t hold together.  Because your cookies will continue to ooze candy corn as they after they come out of the oven, you really have to  let them cool for at least 10 minutes before you pry them up.  You may want to use parchment paper if you don’t have non-stick sheets. Oh, and make sure the edge of your spatula is clean (no cookie stuck to them from the last batch) or you won’t be able to get under them nicely.

And finally, to be honest, the candy corn lends pretty much nothing at all to these cookies. This is probably the reason there aren’t many recipes for such a thing. Duh. BUT, the cookie part is awesome! At least to me it is. They taste like brownies, but in cookie form, no chips necessary. So, in the end, it was not really a waste at all, I done made myself my very own cookie recipe and that is kinda cool.

If by some miracle a skilled baker comes across this post and has any pointers, please feel free to comment.  🙂

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The Terminal Lunch

Once upon a time, not too long ago really, New York was a mecca of industry, shipping and manufacturing.  Just look at the panoramic openings of old movies and you’ll see docks and smoke stacks framing the islands of this fair city. Heck, if you’re from here all you have to do is think a little and there they are. But alas, they are gone. The factories have morphed into luxury condos that none of those blue collar folk could ever afford or storage warehouses. The only clues left that there were bustling piers are what remains of the pylons that peek out of the water at low tide. It’s a sad state of affairs, if you ask me, as many an honest family made an honest living at these places for a couple hundred years or so but alas, that is another story and not the one I am planning to tell here.

Bay and Edgewater Streets 1931

This essay is about a joint called the Terminal Lunch.  I found a picture of it on NYPL, where I find most of my old pics and was quite excited because I knew exactly where this was. I went straight to my usual resources and found… nothing. Oh. Fine. Here’s the deal: According to a 1917  issue of the Engineering News Record, Vol. 78, page 285 back in 1917 some dude named Alonzo B. Pouch bought three piers in Staten Island for shipping, receiving, etc. and I am guessing that the establishment Terminal Lunch came from that since according to a map from 1917, there was nothing  there – note it says VAC and RUINS .  Whether or not some local took advantage of the new industry to make some money from the freshly deposited dock workers and factory gals that would be visiting the neighborhood, or if it was Pouch himself who had the place built so he could get some of that weekly paycheck back from his employees, I could not say. But in any case, there it was and they sold Reid’s Ice Cream too, which was made in Brooklyn and Manhattan and had a warehouse in Long Island until about 1950.

Bay and Edgewater Streets 2011

Now, one of the reasons I couldn’t find anything special about Terminal Lunch was because that was pretty much the name for any number of cafes, diners, coffee counters or other eateries that were located near a transportation terminal be it bus or train in any part of the country. Pouch Terminal was located right next to the Clifton Ave Station of the SIRT. It was like calling a restaurant “Joe’s” or “Mike’s” or calling a cafe on Main Street “The Main Street Cafe”. You get the picture. And no, I could fund nothing on O.A.K Cigars and I promise I tried.

But, I did find a recipe for something called The Terminal Lunch. It was in the 1915 issue of The International Confectioner on page 37. Hmmm, now I had a challenge. See, I’m always goin’ on about how I wish I lived in the old-timey times. The question is, could I? Could I really? Aside from no decent bathrooms and other modern conveniences that I truly appreciate, I would have to eat the food that was popular back then. Is that something I could do? I’ve read recipes from the old days and have never had the balls to make any of them. I should do this. Why? Honestly it’s really just because for some reason I bought coffee syrup and have never had a reason to use it and this recipe calls for it. Yep, that’s pretty much it – I don’t want to throw out something I bought on a whim and haven’t used.

The recipe goes like this: “Into a mixing glass draw one ounce of chocolate and one ounce of coffee syrup; into this break an egg; add 2 ounces cream a little ice and 2 teaspoonfull of malted milk. Shake thoroughly and fill with carbonated water then pour into a clean 12-ounce glass.” So, I arranged my mise en place (I got all my stuff out) and here it is. Yes, I’m using half and half because I have no other use for cream so I’m not gonna buy it because it will just go bad. As for the malted milk, the closest thing I could think of that would work was the Ovaltine. As for the ice part, it didn’t specify crushed or cubed so I’m using cubed as a way to agitate everything before I pour in the seltzer.

Alright, here we go…ya know what?

It’s pretty good! It’s kinda like an egg cream, only an egg cream doesn’t have any eggs in it. Hmmm… maybe I could live back in the old days. But then again, I don’t know what this is gonna do to me come sunrise.

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I Wish You a Merry Christmas

Yes, that’s right, Merry Christmas. And I’m not even religious, but I have been celebrating Christmas since I was a child and so has everyone in my family and that is what I am going to say.

Ya wanna know why? Cause I don’t believe in all of this watering down of holidays to make everyone feel better. Frankly, I think it’s insulting. If you celebrate Hanukkah, then please, by all means, wish me a Happy Hanukkah. I appreciate that you have shared your seasonal festivities with me, thank you. I’ll take a Blessed Yule too. No one, of any religion, should  feel required to say Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to somehow make everyone feel included. On the contrary, I think it makes people feel like they have to hide their beliefs somehow, almost as if they should feel ashamed and that’s just plain ridiculous.

If we should all have a better understanding of each other and our cultures, then we need to stop trying to make everyone exactly the same because we are not and that is a fact. We don’t raise our kids the same, or eat the same or even have the same moral values. Isn’t that a good thing? I mean, not one of my Jewish, Wiccan or Muslim friends has ever told me I couldn’t take part in their traditions – on the contrary, they have wanted me to learn more about them. I have never, ever been insulted when some threw me a Blessed Be or lit a Menorah in my presence.

If you feel all left out or insulted because someone says Feliz Navidad or asks you to spin a Dreidel, then maybe you are the one who needs to simmer down – these people want to share their joy with you, NOT exclude you. I mean honestly, is seeing a Christmas tree or a Menorah or a Pentagram that horrible? When someone gives me treats for Chinese New Year, I don’t go “Oh, no, that’s wrong – in America we celebrate it on January first.” On the contrary, I think it’s pretty cool that they thought of me, a non-Chinese person. At this rate, we had better take down all the jolly Holly, cause the Wiccans think it’s sacred. “Oh,” you say, “but what about all these public displays? That’s the problem.” Really? What specifically is the problem? Has any town ever checked everyone to see what religion they were before they their kids were permitted visit the dude dressed like Santa? Did they ever force their citizens to take part in the lighting of a religious symbol? No? So, I don’t get it, what’s the issue? If public display itself is the problem, then  I guess we need to ban Muslim girls from wearing head-scarves because it’s a “public display” of their religion? Tuck all the Star of David’s and Crucifixes in our shirts too? We have to ban the sale of looped pretzels in all publicy owned and operated facilities too, rod form only please, because as we all know the design for  yummy, soft giant looped pretzels were created by an Italian monk to reward Christian children for saying their prayers .  Come on, keep it going, I’m sure we could make a list a mile long.

If we are all supposed to be about “one race, the human race” and embrace each other’s traditions, etc., etc., then how about we stop trying to make everything generic which is boring and dull. And don’t we have better things to do than to constantly worry about than whether or not the tree in front of some public building is called a Holiday Tree or a Christmas Tree? Do you really think a sick child or a hungry person really gives a *&$% or do you think they’d rather just get better and have something to eat regardless of what the thing with the lights on it is called?

If you don’t wish to partake, simply say “thank you” and be grateful that someone thought of you, but don’t get all uppity about it. And for the rest of you who are worried about being PC  – screw that! You need to own your religion and if someone doesn’t like it, then that’s their problem.

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A Short Little Walk through a bit of Rosey Rosebank

So, Texas Sally (she knows who she is) was all like “You have to write another blog.” and I was all like ” I guess, but I’m busy, whine, bitch, moan…” and then my mom, who coincidentally lived in Texas for a while was nagging me too – WTF?!? So, fine, I suppose I can scribble up a little something to get you people off my back.

Lyric Theater, Rosebank 1931

Our first stop is on Tompkins Ave. near Clifton. This storefront currently for rent was once a hoppin’ joint called the Lyric with John Russo your friendly neighborhood blacksmith on the corner. He lived around the block on Clifton Ave. The Lyric was a movie house and from what I was able to figure out it opened around 1927.  On the Cinema Treasures website, someone said that in 1940 it had become a restaurant. When I moved to town it was an electronics place and it’s now up for grabs.

No more movies, sorry folks.

I searched and searched all my websites and haven’t been able to find any reference to it – sigh. If someone with better eyes than me can figure out what was playing when this pic was taken in 1931, please let me know.

Next we have 1364 Bay Street. This fine three-story home was once owned by John Larkin way back when Bay was called New York Avenue ( I like that name better, don’t you?). He was originally a stone mason who came here from Ireland when he was a wee lad of only 2 or 3.

The Larkin family house, April 1931

He and his wife, Elizabeth had ten kids, but by 1900 only seven were still alive. Still living here with them were Mary, William, James and Rose. John and the wife seem to have died sometime before 1910 and by 1930, William and sister Mary were the only ones left there. The building is still there, but as you can see has undergone some major changes. In the past year, it was purchased by the Chinese restaurant two doors down, which used to be at 1372 (you can see they didn’t change their awning). This picture taken from the opposite view shows the new storefront added to the ground floor and the stoop has been encased in some odd way.

Old Larkin home, November, 2011

Now, when you go the old pic it will say this is 1370, but the census’ from 1900 through 1930 say this is 1364 as do Bing and Google maps.

If you walk further down Bay Street on the same side, you will find number 1212. This very square edifice was once home to Rosebank’s very own Engine Co. 202 which opened in 1905. It was renumbered  to Ladder 152 in 1913 and the fire company moved to Hylan Blvd. sometime before the end of 1930.

Rosebank Fire House in 1930

Not a fire house anymore

 Hagstrom’s Atlas and Official Postal Zone Guide from 1966 claims that this address was the home of the Rosebank Post Office.  Today if you need to visit our local postal facility, you’ll find it down the block from the old Lyric Theater.

Now, that billboard next door  to the old firehouse is for Fahy Brothers Coal and they were over on Lyman Avenue (all private homes now) and if you were cold, all you had to do was “Fone Fahy for Fuel”. Well, you could have up until about 1944 or so when Mr. Fahy and another member of his firm were indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government. See, according to Aug 24, 1944 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the diverted over 800 tons of government owned coal that was intended for Halloran General Hospital and sold it to their private customers, keeping all of the money for themselves. Well,  alrighty then.

Cuthbertson House and the Cuthbertson Cow 1924

As you walk further down, on the opposite side of the street you’ll get to a typical shopping plaza where you can get your nails done, a sandwich, some coffee and maybe some toiletries. But there was once a time where all you were gonna get here was the odd look from a cow or maybe a chicken.

This peaceful little place was once home to a merchant named William D. Cuthbertson, his wife Julia and their children Emily, Julia, Elisabeth, Marion, Alice, Frank & John. It looks like they moved to Rosebank from Castleton sometime between 1840 and 1850 – I figured this out from old census records, if you were wondering. I don’t just make stuff up. Go, check, if you don’t believe me. Anyway,  according to “Staten Island and it’s People: a  history , 1609-1929”, Vol. II, page 884, “This family have resided on Staten Island since 1852 or earlier. William D. Cuthbertson was in business at 110 Front Street, New York, in 1859, and his home in the northeast corner of Clifton Avenue and Bay Street was long occupied by the family.” By 1900, William, Sr., and Julia are gone, Emily, daughter Julia and Elisabeth have probably married  but the rest of the kids are still here.  By 1900, William is gone but Frank, John, Mary and Alice are just hangin’ on. In 1920 it’s just sisters Marian and Alice, 81 and 76. Both girls died after this picture was taken, Alice in 1925 and Marian in 1929 at the ripe of age of 89.

Where on earth did that cow wander off to?

I can’t even find the home on the 1930 census, I guess Marian was the end of the line. Unfortunately, I would think, the building fell into disrepair and eventually became what you see here, courtesy of Google maps:

So there you have it, a very short little tour of just a couple of blocks in Rosebank, originally knows as Peterstown and once part of Southfield. There are at least a couple more things I can write about, I suppose, but I’ll save them for the next time you people start nagging me. You people meaning Texas Sally and my mom.

And if anyone trips across this page and can add more stuff, please do. It’s nice to see that not everything from days gone by has vanished. If you look hard enough in your own nabe, I’m sure you’ll see it really hasn’t all been torn down and replaced, it’s just hiding waiting for someone to find it again.

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The Original South Beach – Staten Island

from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 1st, 1913

New York City is composed of a bunch of islands – Manhattan, Long and Staten just to name a few. Once upon a time it was quite fashionable to “summer” at one of the many beach resorts located on these islands. They were chock-full of bungalows, hotels, restaurants, summer cottages, etc., etc. and the regular folk and well-to-do would flock to them every summer. Society columns in papers from NY and NJ would always have mentions such at “Miss Gertrude Soandso has been spending the week with Miss Harriet Whosawasit in The Rockaways,” and I believe that’s where the 1984 film The Flamingo Kid was supposed to have taken place too.

Back in 1935, part of South Beach, Staten Island looked like what you see in this fabulous picture from the NYPL Digital Collection. You are standing on Sand Lane with Oceanside Avenue on your left and straight ahead is Seaside Boulevard, now known as Father Capodanno Blvd.

In the distance you will find Jaeger’s Steam Baths and Beer Garden and to your left are the bungalows that were so prevalent in beach communities at the time. The next picture, also from NYPL, is the beachside view of Jaeger’s from 1929.

I tried to make the pictures larger, but if you click them, you’ll be transported take to NYPL’s page and you can them zoom in and out on your own. They’ve all but  disappeared here in South Beach yet some have held on in other places. If you ever get a chance to, you should really check out a documentary called The Bungalows of Rockaway where you can see some of what has remained and what it was like to live there.

Obviously now, my next step was to find out who this Jaeger fellow was. I scoured the 1930 census and could find no one named Jaeger living in Staten Island who owned a hotel or a beer garden or a steam bath and no Jaeger living in this part of Richmond county. Sigh. I also realized that the 1930 census was taken in April, at least a month before resort season, so he was probably at his regular residence which could be anywhere, even in NJ. I then found a snippet from an obit published in the NY Times in 1951 that mentioned that a Joseph Jaeger of Staten Island had  owned a lot of property in South Beach, so maybe it was him. But if I wanted to read the whole thing to find any other clues it would cost me $3.95 and they’re not getting my cash.

But this Jaeger dude wasn’t the only person in South Beach area and as I looked through each page a little grouping of Greek musicians caught my eye. They are Kostas & Marikas Papagikas and their nephew Angelo Greggo. Mary sang and Kostas played the cimbalom. They came to America in 1915 and had a club over on 34th between 7th and 8th. If you search for Marikas on the internet, you should actually be able to find lots of stuff, even some of her songs I believe.  Their club, named after the lady of the house,  closed in 1930 after the stock market crash – I wonder if  that’s when they moved to Staten Island? Maybe they worked the beach clubs? They lived in Arrochar, about a 10 minute walk from where our pictures are and Marikas died in Staten Island in 1943.

Peter Bessi owned one of the gajillions of hotels on South Beach from at least 1910 until his passing. According to his obituary from the October 1st, 1928 edition of the New York Evening Post, he came to America in 1882 and originally owned an alabaster and marble place on the island of Manhattan over on 14th and Broadway. It mentions that he entertained many Italian notables visiting from overseas. He died from asthma at the age of 72. Interestingly enough, after some rummaging around Fulton History, I discovered that the Bessi hotel lived on in the 1940’s but in another popular resort destination – The Poconos! This ad from 1942 informs us that the full staff of Bessi’s On The Boardwalk, formerly of Staten Island,  was ready to take care of you.

Other places you could have stayed if you decided to go on a vacay to good ol’ SB were J. Boeger’s Hoffman Island Hotel, the Eureka Hotel and Chowder Fred’s Famous Chowder House owned by H. Loesch. John Gebhardt’s Hotel was touted as the oldest hotel on South Beach. There was Nunley’s Railroad Hotel and Casino, The Naphtha House, Peerless Hotel and The Victoria to name a few. You could also visit Skinner’s Toboggan Carousal and MME. Elbner, the renowned Egyptian Palmist and Card Reader.

Over the years, South Beach and it’s hotels, amusements and bungalows, along with so many others in NYC,  fell victim to fires, floods, urban renewal, neglect, gentrification and the simple fact the things change. But there are plenty of new entertainments at these places, and even though you can’t go to a casino, you also don’t have to wear one of those old-timey bathing costumes.

from The Evening Leader, Corning NY, July 9th, 1920

The history of NY’s beaches is vast and you can find tons of stuff just about the amusement parks alone – South Beach had Happy Land which opened in 1906 and  Bachmann’s, probably owned or named after the brewer from Clifton, SI.  I won’t tell you about all of them, you’ll have to find them on your own. I can’t do all the work ya know!

Anyway, this is what Sand Lane from Oceanside towards the formerly named Seaside Blvd looks like on an August afternoon in 2011. Even though all of the resort stuff is gone, it’s a nice beach all the same.

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Carpe Panis!

Seize the what? Seize the bread it what it’s supposed to mean. Cause, check it out, this here blog is about carp fighting over various types of bread that people throw at them – so, Carpe Panis! Get it?

Anyhoo, there I was in Ohio chillin’ with my sis on a pontoon boat while the husbands attempted to catch some fish in Lake Pymatuning. She asks me if I want to go to Linesville. I have no idea what she’s talking about and she informs me that if we venture there I will spy something I have never spied in all my 39 years. Now, really. How amazing can this sight really be? I’m a native NYer for heaven’s sake! I’ve seen people dressed like carrots giving away juice at Grand Central. I saw a dude dressed like the Ranch1 Chicken, covered in filth walking down 17th street with his chicken head under his arm looking like he was about to go kick someone’s ass. I even saw, I swear to God, a bunch of people dressed like Santa and Mrs. Claus, in Bryant Park, dancing on and around a GIANT bowl of Chex cereal. No lie.

So, what could this thing be out here in nice, peaceful PennaOhio that was so friggin spectacular? Well, I guess we could go, we had nothing else to do and the fish in Pymatuning were being total jerks that day. So, off we piled into the car and drove a bit to The Spillway in Linesville, PA.

First amazing thing there? A tourist site with free parking and free “admission”, not even a box with a sign for a suggested donation. No cops, no security guards, no one checking your purse or your pockets. That in itself was worth the trip. I know right? How crazy is that?

Alright, back to my story. What on earth can be so darn special? Lemme tell you: fish. Big, fat, slimy carp battling it out for pieces of bread, bagels, rolls and muffins being tossed at them by thoroughly amused children and grown up New Yorkers. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but just look at them. That’s just a few, there had to be thousands, dropping the big elbow on each other, pushing & shoving just to get stale and sometimes moldy bread. You can bring your own or for a dollar or two, get some from the little stand that also sells ice cream. At first you just throw some in, then you realize that they are actually paying attention to you. You can dangle a dry old piece right above them and they’ll all look up at you, their big mouths opening and closing in desperation, making these weird sucking noises. If you wave a slice back and forth they all follow, simply mesmerized by its green, fuzzy goodness. Then throw it in and it erupts into carp chaos!

All the while, the ducks, who are said to walk on them to casually steal a bialy, stare at both the tourists and the fish like we are just schmucks. I sincerely think they were mocking all of us.

But how did this wacky yet wonderful American tradition come to be? Well, to begin with, Lake Pymatuningwas not always a lake, it was a swamp and according to the Feb., 23rd 1930 issue of the Springfield Republican it was a “wasteland infested with creeping things, wild animals and ‘spooks’.”  The article goes on to tell of a mysterious ship that had been stuck in the swamp for maybe over 400 years. The thinking was that it may have been part of DeSoto’s fleet that went up the Shenango River back when it was still wide enough to accommodate such a vessel, and it attacked by the local Indians. There was also the story of an Indian girl who, after refusing the advances of her boyfriend, was taken out to a sandbar in his canoe where he left her to her demise.  Neither of these tales or any other mysteries were enough to stop anyone from filling the swamp, I don’t believe any archaeologists were there to investigate the area or put a halt to anything. The good folks of OH and PA had been waiting for this darn dam since 1913 and by gum, they needed their fresh water and jobs.

From the 10/26/1931 edition of the Omaha Herald

Finally, on October 6th, 1930, Gov. Gifford Pinchot, using a silver plated shovel, turned the first clump of earth and officially began construction of the Pymatuning Dam in Greenville, PA.

Now I know you’re wondering what the heck does any of this have to do with bread eating carp? Patience, people. A little bit of American history never hurt anyone – sheesh! Fast forward to 1934, the dam is done and the Spillway opens – huzzah!  A spillway, which from what I have been able to figure out via the internet, naturally attracts fish for some reason and this one attracts oversized carp. So what’s the dealio with the bread? Well, from a column in the October 13th, 1935 issue of the Ohio Plain Dealer, it’s quite a simple tale. Someone dropped a piece of his sandwich into it and the fish went crazy. All the other folks noticed and started throwing bread from their lunch baskets in too and have been doing so since 1934.

So, it’s maybe 1952. You and the wife and kids are all dressed up because that was what you did back in the old days when you went on any sort of excursion, and watching all these fish eat is making you hungry. What to do, what to do… I know, you can head about two and a half miles down the road to the Linnwood Restaurant.

They opened a few years ago, around 1949 or so and it happens to be Thursday so you can get the Threshermans dinner. Nice. “Hey, Pop,” asks your son Johnny, “What’s a Threshermans dinner?”

“Why son,” you say, ” a Threshermans dinner is an old tradition among the farming folks around these parts. You see every summer all the farmers would get together to help each other cut and gather the grain and put in threshing machines which separated the parts we can eat from the parts we can’t. It was very, very hard work and while the men did that, all of the women folk  prepared a huge meal for them. At the end of the day, everyone gathered together for a great, big dinner.”

“That sound’s fun, Pop! Did they have pie?”

“I bet they did son, ” you say as you tousle his hair. “Now why don’t you go get your Mom and Sally and we’ll just go see about that pie.”

So off you go to the Linnwood over on the Spillway Road, and eat until you’re sleepy. Their slogan is “Where the Ducks Walk on Fish”, a phrase I have found to be attributed to one Alpine McLane or MacLaine. According to the 1930 census, Alpine was born in DeSoto, MO around 1893 and lived in Linesville where he owned a hardware store. I haven’t found any indication that he or his family owned The Linnwood and if there’s someone out there who knows, please tell us.

And that’s it, the end. Is that all? Honestly? There’s no folktale where maybe the spirit of that poor Indian Lass who was left to drown needs to be appeased, or that it brings good fortune or improves your catch the next time you’re out? You mean these carp aren’t the doomed souls of DeSoto’s crew? Nope. Carp like bread is all. But who cares? It’s 10 minutes of honest, pure, clean fun and although The Linnwood is no more, I’m sure there are plenty of other awesome joints around. You should ask the locals about the Lake, maybe they’ll have more tales to tell.

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Gentrification Project Update

This draft memo was discovered on the men’s room floor in an eatery near city hall.

September 1st, 2011  CONFIDENTIAL DRAFT

From:   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

To:       To Be Determined

Subject: Update on Gentrification and Re-Colonization of New York City

This memo is a follow up to the Update… of February 15th, 2011.

The City’s plan to Gentrify and Re-Colonize Counties 1-5  is progressing on schedule at this time.

Since we have raised or added taxes and fees on just about all city services including parking, licenses, etc. and have given our blessing to various utility companies and transit monopolies to raise rates,  many so-called “native” City Residents have been forced to leave. This has also resulted in landlords being required to raise their rents which in itself has been a major boon to our campaign as it has forced common “natives” to re-locate to areas such as Counties 3, 4 & 5 (please refer to your map)  allowing more wealthy and upper class denizens to fill their places in County 1 and especially in County 2.

We have had major success in either displacing or eliminating industries that have been in The City for far too long.  By allowing old warehouses and other manufacturing facilities to be turned into luxury condominiums, high-priced lofts, gourmet bakeries, etc. the blue-collar individuals have  almost all disappeared as they can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods they were born and raised in.

Backing projects for various parks and other recreational areas has also pressured other established businesses to shut down as they no longer “fit” into the new neighborhood dynamic.  We have waited a very long time for this to come to fruition but we are closing in on the end result and hope to have completed gentrification of these areas by the end of 2013.  A partial list of established business that have either been forced to shut down or opted to leave of their own accord is provided at the end of this document.

“Hipsters” have become a blessing in disguise, if you will. As discussed during previous meetings, we were unsure if they would help or hinder our  progress. Although they rarely work and contribute little it seems the have been quite useful. They have chosen to settle mainly in County 2 much to the disappointment of the natives there. They patronize the newer, trendier businesses that are willing to pay exorbitant rents and fees just to say they are part of The City and they pick up trash for their “art”, taking the burden off of city sanitation. They have taken it upon themselves to move into less expensive, more urban neighborhoods in Counties 1 & 2, even giving some of them nicknames i.e., East Williamsburg, The Third Ward and Little Wisco  thus making them more attractive to new residents who are willing to overpay to reside there. They seem to view these hipsters as less of a threat than homeless people and possibly find them amusing.

Hipsters have attempted to put down roots in Counties 3, 4 & 5 but appear to be having a difficult time. This may be a result of natives who cannot afford to leave The City altogether who are relocating to these areas. We suspect that in time the hipsters will indeed establish themselves there, paving the road for further gentrification, it will simply take longer than expected. For now, Counties 1 &2 are approximately 85% homogenized.

The City is also entertaining  several  new resources for revenue, but they will be discussed at our next meeting. The legal department is still ironing out details and it would be imprudent to address them at this time. Rest assured, our staff is working diligently on this project and at least two should be on the books by the end of the year.

Below is a list of some of the businesses that have or MAY close in the future:

Philip’s Candy

Ruby’s Coney Island

Brownfeld Auto Service

Antiques Garage in Chelsea

Various remaining meat packing plants in said district

Andrew’s Coffee Shop – one of the last two?

Jade Mountain

There are many, many more including Mars Bar, Film Center Café,  P&G Bar,  Olympia Garage, Bialystoker Nursing Home, Galaxy Diner, Chelsea Hotel,  Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor, Durrow’s of Glendale, Moondance Diner,  Coney Island Bialys & Bagels, CBGB’s, etc., etc. We will not list links to articles here but you may search the internet for them and others on your own. It is  indeed true that some of these establishments closed because times have changed, our administration can’t take all of the credit, although we’d like to.

If you are aware of any other businesses/buildings that have been shuttered or destroyed completely in the past 10-12 years, please feel free to list them.


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Things to Ponder While You Enjoy Your Mattar Paneer

I was thinking to myself that I haven’t written anything in a while and I really wanted to, but had absolutely no idea what to write about. I could pen something about knitting or baking or maybe some observation about my kid, but the title of my blog has nothing to do with any of that. Sigh. Well suddenly, that same day (which was yesterday, in case you care) my old friend Greg posted a new post on his Brooklyn’s Fat Guy Eats Out blog, a link to which you can find over there on the right. Found it? Good.

Now wait, before you back off of this here page, Greg is a food blogger, yes, but NOT some pretentious hipster douchebag foodie. He’s just a regular guy who likes to eat regular food that makes him full and happy. And I’ve known him for a long-ass time so be nice and go read his stuff.

What does any of this have to do with what’s going on here? I’ll tell you. I went and searched my old timey newspaper site for the address of my friend’s latest dinner venue and discovered that 651 Manhattan Ave, which is currently the Bombay Garden restaurant,  previously the Socrates Deli, has been in the paper a handful of  times over the past 100 years or so. This gave me the idea that I could kind of piggy-back off of his blog. He tells you if it’s worth it to drop your cash there and if you do, you can think about all the people who used to live there and maybe what it looked like way before you showed up to eat some Reshmi Kebab.

The first story I could find of any interest that had to do with 651 was about the untimely demise of one George Galbraith. The article is from the August 28th, 1898 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. George was born in Scotland about 1850, a  machinist by trade,  who was employed at the Jackson Brother’s Foundry in Greenpoint. He and his wife, Agnes, took the trolley to see the “electrical display at the fountain” in Prospect Park.  As they were leaving the park, there was a rain storm. The couple was walking near the lake, George was behind his wife. Agnes turned around and he was gone. She told a patrolman who told her he may have simply lost his way and that she should go home, he’d probably turn up. But, alas, he did not and after days of searching he still didn’t arrive home. It was suspected that he may have wandered off of the path and fallen into the lake and drowned.  According to the NY Times obit page, he died on August 28th, the same day he disappeared. His children were Willie, David, George and Lizzie. Agnes doesn’t appear to have remarried, and she and the children eventually moved to Meeker Ave.

According to the 1900 census, and every census after, this building was just packed with people. You will find Rudolph Norek and his family, Betty and Alfred. Rudolph was a baker who came here from Poland in 1888. Their neighbors in the building are Charles and Charlotte Brogman and Chuck is a baker too, but he’s German. Living in the same apartment are his wife’s brother and mom, Phillip and Charlotte Zimmerman. Phillip is a butcher and in 1902 he places several ads in the local papers looking for work of any kind.  Next we have a painter named Lathrop Wolber (or Wrogler, hard to read) and his wife Elizabeth.  Oh, we aren’t done yet. We have Harry Murray, our Irish “express man” – that means he delivered stuff. He resides here with his wife Annie and son, Harry Jr. along with his mother-in-law, Bridget McKenna AND his nephew and nieces John, Mary, Kate and Annie McCusker. Then there are Henry the machinist from England, with his wife Minnie from Germany and their daughter, Lillian and finally the widow Kate Fitzpatrick who makes her living doing laundry.  According to the papers from 1901 and 1902  listing places to go and vote, this address was home to a Barber Shop.  Rudolph Norek declared bankruptcy in 1901 and eventually moved to Leonard St. where his new occupation was as a house builder.

In 1910 there is 80 year old Luke Kerrigan with children Joseph, Luke and Mary “Mamie” Beynnon.  We have the famiglia Colamino – Domenico, Gertrude, Theresa, Albina, Nicola and Andesco. Dom  came to America in 1899 and was a barber. Hyman and Nettie Posner were here with their daughters Rebecca, Gussie and Celia. They were Poles from Russia and all came here in 1905 except for Celia who was born in New Jersey and Hyman owned a dry goods store. Then there’s Charles and Rebecca Tuch with sons Bernard and Harry. Austrian carpenter Johan Wrick is married to Pauline. His brother Rudolph is a harness-maker and Johan’s kids are Valerie, Victoria, Charles, Mary, Stephen and Edward. William & Mary  Cassidy are from Ireland and daughter Marion has a job as a stenographer. Ann and Harry Murray, Jr. are still there, Harry Sr. has since passed away.  They take in boarders, which was quite common, and the fellows living with them are George Belz and Rudolph Landberg.

In 1912, 17 year old resident John O’Hagan was arrested for stealing two horses from the stable of Joseph Josephs on India St. He told the cops a stranger gave them to him to hold so that he could march in the Carpenter St. parade. The cops didn’t believe him.

Between 1911 & about 1914, 651 Manhattan Ave was one of nine Infant Milk Stations in Brooklyn. They were run by nurses and desperate mothers could bring their sick babies there for treatment and advice on how to care for their children. The stations were painted blue and white and had drawn white curtains. Each window displayed a sign which read “Department of Health Infants’ Milk Station, open 8 A. M. to 1 P. M.”  Three doctors were responsible for managing three stations each, the one on Manhattan Ave was run by Dr. Joseph Weinberg. Each station had one nurse and one nurses assistant and a clerk whose job it was to dispense the milk. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from 1911, there were classes where they taught new mothers how to modify the milk depending on the needs of their baby, adding barley water was one example of this. Children are brought in once a week and examined and weighed, their ages ranged from a few weeks to two years but the average age was nine months.

In the 1920’s, you could no longer get milk here, but the kids who had gotten some a decade earlier could go to this same spot for dad  and pick up some “Genuine Radiotrons R. C. A. Tubes”  at the Brooklyn Radio Centre. By the mid 1940’s it had become Manhattan Radio Sales and then simply Manhattan Sales, where in 1949, in an offer made exclusively to Brooklyn Daily Eagle readers, you could get yourself a fabulous 111 piece dish set. The pattern was China Bouquet and it was edged in 22 karate gold! Your first unit of 3 ten inch dinner plates would cost only 79 cents (plus 1 cent tax) with your coupon. You could always just get the whole set at once for $38.95 – no C. O. D.’s please.

On the 1920 census we have Max and Etta Wasserman and their daughter, Helen. Max came here from Romania in 1903 and Etta was from Russia and spoke Yiddish. Sharing the building was the Irish lass, Delia Knee and her kids James and Anna. In 1926 James will marry Elizabeth Brophy who lives at 26 Newel. Joseph Kerrigan and his brother and sister Luke and Mary Beynnon are still there, but the patriarch of the family has died. Next is the Cassidy clan, still there since 1910.  Mary will die in April of 1925. According to her obit she was born in Williamstown County  in Galway and her daughter married John McLaughlin. Their neighbors here were mom and daughter, Mary and Elisa Shepard who have boarders, 18 year old Patrick and 8 year old Alise McVicker.  After that is Nichola DeFuria the Italian who married a Polish gal named Mary and had Jennie. Nick was a barber.  John Rouse and his son John Jr. are there too. I believe it was his son Henry who  served in WWI and was listed in several 1918 papers as being among the injured, but I don’t know if he ever came home. They have a housekeeper named Mary Brush. John and the boy were solderers in a tin shop. And finally, we have the Ceramis(?) family from Italy – Joseph, Rose, Michael and Angela. Joe is a barber just like his friend Nick.

In 1930, the widow Mary Pietrcyh lives there with all of her daughters – Irene, Jennie, Helen, Wanda and her only son John.  Mary doesn’t speak English and her oldest daughter supports the family as a telephone operator.  In the same building are construction worker Patrick Meenie and his wife, Anna;  widower Benjamin Meiners and his son Edwin; widow Mary Sheppard with daughters Eleanor and Alice and finally the German widow Mary Sahulka. Their rent was $23 a month.

In 1952 the property was sold to settle an estate. It was described as having two stores with six apartments which brought in $5,316 a month. After that, I couldn’t say what happened until the 1980’s when it became the Socrates as I mentioned earlier. I was probably in there once or twice,  I don’t remember and now it is the Bombay Gardens.

So if you ever go to Bombay, while you’re dining, you can put your smart phone aside and think about the souls that walked in and out of the place you’re chillin’ at. Was the table you’re sitting at now where a barber chair once was? Did any of the young mothers there take advantage of the free services at the milk station downstairs and was everyone excited when the radio store opened up?  Maybe they  saved their meager wages from their factory jobs to get a fancy new radio or phonograph. I wonder if any of them got the China Bouquet dish set or if the women in the building sent food over to the widowed John Rouse and his son – Jennie Rouse died  sometime after 1910. I wonder if Henry ever made it back from the war. Did all of these Russians and Irish and Italians get along or did they whisper behind each others backs or did the widows and widowers that filled the place in 1930 gather together in the halls and talk about the good old days? Maybe if you concentrate hard enough you can channel the ghost of Mary Cassidy over coffee and dessert  – I bet she never had Galub Jamun. I wonder if she would like it?

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