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Pictures dated 1943 and 2005
Click images to enlarge
Queens Boulevard at 80th Road
If you have pictures of yourself showing any Kew Gardens locale in the background, email me high resolution jpegs and I will post them here as space permits.

To download a copy of the Queens Courier's Sept. 2003 article about Old Kew Gardens.com, click on one of the following links. Turn off your browser's auto-resize if the JPEG text appears too small to read.

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[PDF - Low Resolution, 97kb ]
December 2005 Guest Book

December 29, 2005
My PS 99 graduating class would've been 1950, but my family moved to Manhattan in 1947. I don't remember dog tags and I don't remember "evacuation drills". I do remember bringing in saved up papers and magazines which the teacher would weigh and keep an ongoing record of how much each student brought in for the war effort. I do remember the tin foil balls. I remember the victory gardens. I remember those stamps you could buy with the minuteman on them, which you pasted in a small booklet and when the booklet was full you could exchange it for a liberty bond. Does anyone remember the pickle pins of the 1939 World's Fair? I remember playing "Territory" and flipping my knife into the ground. I remember playing marbles and the different types of marbles: Kaboulders, steelies, and purees. I remember trying to identify the airplanes by their silhouettes. I remember the A,B, & C stickers on the windshields of the cars, which told how much gasoline they were allowed to buy during the rationing. I remember kids standing on the "running boards" of the cars. Scooters were popular also. Metal-wheeled roller skates which you tightened with keys, as someone on this site mentioned. I remember how grown up I thought I was when I first started wearing corduroy knickers. I remember "cream soda" (I think you can still get it). At assemblies in PS 99 we always seemed to start out with the Pledge of Allegiance and the 23rd Psalm. We often used to sing "Old Black Joe". And there was "recess" where we would stand in line to go to the bathroom and then sometimes dance in a circle holding hands or eat lunch; I was fascinated with those thermos bottles and black lunchboxes. My mother used to play "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" on the piano and we all used to sing "Four leafed clover", "Shine on Harvest Moon", "Slow Boat to China", and "Zippety Doo Dah", the last one when we were walking together to see the ?matinees (serials and short subjects). The newsreels always scared me because they were about the war. I remember the newsreels showing all the emaciated bodies of people being freed from the concentration camps. I remember the 1943 "white pennies". My mother would give me a tablespoonful of Cod Liver Oil every morning. If you said a cuss word you would have to have your mouth washed out with soap. Not like today! Do you remember "Sweater Girls"? It was considered so risque for girls to wear a sweater. In some ways those times, though so different, don't seem so very far away.
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

December 29, 2005
    Does anyone out there remember the "dog tags" we wore around our necks as children during WWII? They were round and made of some sort of plastic material. I suppose we wore them in case we were lost or separated in an emergency situation, since they stated, among other things, our name and address. I also recall having " evacuation drills" in PS 99 during the conflict. We were marched in groups from the school to our homes. Among the things we did for the war effort were make tin foil balls, knit afghan squares, and collect newsprint. We also sold raffle tickets for bonds door to door. I remember one woman who. declining to buy a ticket, said to me, "I buy my bonds as they come."!
    How about games we played in the 30s and 40s? I remember hopscotch, which we called "potsy," and a game with a pen knife called "territories." My husband, who grew up in rural Oklahoma, played the same game but with a different name, something like "mumblypeg". It required a piece of dirt into which players threw the small knife, and then carved up the "land." It never occurred to me that the game could, in fact, be potentially dangerous. Those were simpler, less threatening times, when kids made their own amusement, rather than watching other people on TV.
    There was a concrete "playground" behind our apartment house, where kids played handball and other games. When we got too noisy, a lady named Mrs. Mooney on the top (fifth) floor would fill a paper big with water and throw it down on us. Once, the superintendent of the house accidentally dropped an awning rod into the area. It struck my brother on the head. He was lucky to survive without any impairment, though the doctors made him stay in bed for a number of weeks.
    While he was missing school, the rest of us were being taught by a dedicated bunch of teachers at PS 99. I remember the following: Miss Wahl, Mrs. Levenis, Mrs. deGroot (kindergarten) and Miss Goldberg (math). There was another teacher, Miss Grady, who wore a wig, and the story goes that one of the smart-alecky "pupils" in her class took the window opener -- the long-handled object used back then -- and used it to remove the teacher's wig! Mrs. Levenis had two class pets (Claire Weiss and Diana D'Arienzo) who routinely stuffed kleenex down her back in hot weather. Miss Wahl was tall and thin, and very organized. One day a bunch of us got hold of one of those "ink spots" made of metal and placed it on her record book. She thought the roll book was ruined and was understandably very, very upset. Relief was mingled with anger when we removed the "spot". Miss Goldberg gave us a wonderful foundation in math. She was a slight, small woman who resembled Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- bun and all. Principal Henrietta A. Oliver used to visit classrooms and never failed to point out to me that I was holding my pen "wrong," using an extra finger with which to grip it. Since my penmanship didn't suffer, she let it go.
    We made our own "fun" back then, and sometimes it required a bit of imagination. Not a bad way to learn.
Doris Schaffer O'Brien
in KG 1933-1954
PS 99, class of 1946
Forest Hills HS, class of 1950
[To contact Doris Schaffer O'Brien, click here]

December 26, 2005
Click on thumbnail to enlarge.
CLICK TO ENLARGE.Editor's Note:  Thanks again to Harold Zeckel for two then and now photographs of himself in 1945 and 2004.

December 24, 2005
Click on thumbnail to enlarge.
CLICK TO ENLARGE.Editor's Note:  Thanks again to Harold Zeckel for these three c. 1945 photographs.

December 22, 2005
    First of all, let me wish you and yours a most joyous holiday season and much happiness in the new year.
    I've been thumbing through recent Guest Book references to the Austin Theater all of which seem to indicate that the movie house started as an 'art' theater.
    If double features including "Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein" and all the serials that we saw on Saturday afternoons (for 12 cents) in the 40's could be considered 'art' then I guess it was an 'art' theater.
    I would say though that until at least the late fifties the Austin was family oriented and showed mostly first rate Hollywood pictures.
    It then became a 'Cinema' offering very fine foreign films including all of Bardot's works (with English subtitles).
    At the time the Austin gained a marvelous reputation and people came from as far away as Manhattan to enjoy its more sophisticated fair.
    The 'pornographic' portion of the Austin's life arrived after we left and is a sad note in its history.
A. Linsky
[To contact A. Linsky, click here]

December 22, 2005
In the pictures (posted April 25, 2004) of the Temple Isaiah Demonstration Seder in Kew Gardens, NY - 1947, the middle picture showing the table on the stage, in the foreground the second boy from the left looks like one of the Morgenbesser brothers and the boy furthest on the right whose face you just see half of looks like Tommy Stevens. In the other picture with the table on stage and the girl with her back to the camera on the right end, the boy sitting on her left looks like Michael Stevens. The Stevens brothers lived in the Curzon House as did I. My brother remembered that the girl who lived in the apartment just above us was named Rosemary Boylin (?sp). Another boy that lived their and was a friend was named Randy Rosenheimer and in the opposite wing of the building lived Gerald Sternberg who had the first TV set. Gerald used to invite us over to watch Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob, & Claribell on that tiny black and white screen. My brother remembers that the superintendent's daughter was Nancy Black. We both remembered the janitor, who was black (and I was surprised that his palms were white) who was named Rufus. I've never met anyone named Rufus since. I seem to recall that the lot across the street from the Curzon House belonged to the owner of the large private house to the lot's left (looking from the Curzon House) named Mr. Breckenridge. Can anyone confirm or refute this? On Curzon Road lived a good friend named Patrick Carl - anyone know what happened to him?
Harold Zeckel - Anyone remember me?
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

Barry Lewis in The Daily News
December 21, 2005
Editor's Note:  Click on the link below to read an op-ed article in today's edition of The New York Daily News by architectural historian, PBS commentator, and Kew Gardens resident, Barry Lewis, on the current trend of turning front lawns into concrete parking spaces.

Click here to read the Barry Lewis article

Featured Photographs Hiatus
December 21, 2005
Editor's Note:  The bi-weekly Featured Photographs changes tonight with a reprint of Diana Shaman's 1985 New York Times article about Kew Gardens - accompanied by present day photographs. The Featured Photograph specials will take a two week rest during the holidays. The next change will be Wednesday evening, January 4th. Diana's piece will remain posted until then. For those who missed it, there is a link at the bottom of the article that will take you to the Dec. 14th Featured Photographs of the old XXX-rated Austin Theater and a 1977 New York Times article on that subject also by Diana.

December 20, 2005
Thanks again, Doris, for bringing back the visceral memory of the Chinese Laundry on Metropolitan Avenue between 83rd and Audley. I too can still hear the slapping sound of the slippers and smell the starch. As a boy, I was charged with dropping off my dad's shirts and picking them up when I walked the family dog on the weekend, so I remember it well. I believe the gentleman's name was Toy Sun, but, as was unfortunately the custom of those years, everyone called him "Charlie."
Andy Semons
Resident of Eton Hall 1957-1971.
[To contact Andy Semons, click here]

December 19, 2005
[Message removed on 11/19/08 at poster's request. ~Ed.]

December 19, 2005
[Message removed on 11/19/08 at poster's request. ~Ed.]

December 19, 2005
A fond hello to Peggy Berlin and Steve Simon from Steve Simpson. I lived downstairs from you, Steve, when we were in B building at Kent Manor. I always enjoyed listening to your family's string quartet through our ceiling. We both worked for Walter Harris for a couple of summers. Peggy, did'nt you go to PS 90? I wish more people from PS 90 participated in this site (or knew about it) so that I could go on a nostalgia binge, as all the PS 99 people do.
Steven Simpson
[To contact Steven Simpson, click here]

December 18, 2005
    I grew up in Kew Gardens, as did my husband, Steve Simon, and we both have vivid memories of those years. Steve rode his bicycle to deliver meat for Bauer's Meat Market on Lefferts Blvd. when he was around thirteen. We both lived in Kent Manor, and after we were married we lived in the Roger Williams on Austin Street for several years.
    In response to Doris O'Brien's letter about Mrs. Levitow. I remember her well! The shop was the KGO Shop (Kew Gardens Outlet). They sold a little bit of everything, and my mother was a frequent customer there. Mimi's Candy Shop was not part of the Levitow family, but was owned by Mimi Fleischmann, a German refugee. Her son, Paul, became an accountant and moved to Sarasota, Florida. By strange coincidence in early 1971, Paul advertised in The New York Times for an accountant to join his firm in Sarasota, and my husband answered the ad. At that time, we could see Paul's mother Mimi's apartment on Talbot Street from our kitchen window. This Kew Gardens connection was very strong, we took the job, and have been living in Sarasota ever since.
    In an age when most of American shopping neighborhood's are lined with Pottery Barn and the Gap, I realize how fortunate we were to grow up in an area where the local merchants were our friends and truly cared about us. When my father passed away in 1973, many of these kind business people attended his funeral. On a lighter note, I was amazed when Irving the Butcher, from the Colony on Metropolitan Avenue personally delivered our meat in a snowstorm because I was home with my sick little boy.
    No wonder we are all so nostalgic. It was a wonderful life.
Peggy (Berlin) Simon
[To contact Peggy (Berlin) Simon, click here]

December 18, 2005
Talking about remembering stores, I recall a shoestore across the street from Conti's barbershop and close to Bohack's. The proprietor looked like Ed Wynn to me. The shoes when new were always uncomfortable to me. But most of all I recall an Xray machine in the store where you could stand and stick your feet in and see the bones of the front of your feet and the outline of the shoes, so that you could see if the shoes were big enough. Many years later I learned that exposure to the Xrays of these machines was dangerous.
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

Kew Forest School Class of '58
December 18, 2005
With two years to go for our 50th class reunion, we are missing the locations and addresses of many of our class mates. The few members of the class whom I have contacted are looking forward in 2 years to seeing one another again. In the hopes that this message reaches some of you that we cannot find, please contact me with your email address or a phone number in order for us to accumulate all the names of our class mates. Any help will be appreciated.
Thanks & regards,
Ken Onish
P.S. 99 - 1954
Kew Forest School - 1958
[To contact Ken Onish, click here]

December 18, 2005
Dear Joe:
    Several of your readers have made reference to stores that "used to be" in Kew Gardens. While for obvious reasons, I never darkened the door of a local barber shop, there are some stores and shops I remember vividly from the late 30s and 40s. Perhaps they will ring a bell with some of you this holiday season!
    On Metropolitan Avenue between 83rd Ave. and Audley St. there was a very popular Jewish bakery named "Scheiman's," that turned out the most delicious cakes, rolls, breads and other goodies. My favorite was a small cake-like cookie, with chocolate icing on one half and white icing on the other. There is a name for this goody -- perhaps "pareil" Mrs. Scheiman bustled around the premises, presiding over everything and making small talk. While she ran a tight ship, she was not beyond occasionally giving a cookie to some child who had behaved properly in her store.
    A few doors south was a bone fide Chinese laundry, operated by a squat, sullen immigrant from Canton, who padded around in backless slippers that made a soft slapping sound. The little store always smelled of heavy starch and steam heat from the irons in use. The experience of retrieving a bundle of shirts or whatever (always wrapped in butcher paper and tied with white string) was a bit daunting for a kid, because the owner rarely spoke except to communicate the amount owed. He even more rarely smiled, perhaps because his teeth were blackened from perpetually chewing some kind of Oriental nut (e.g. beetle nut). He was hard-working, kept long hours, and was scrupulously honest.
    Up in "the village" on Lefferts Blvd., a few doors south of the movie theater was a general dry goods store owned by Mrs. Levitow. I believe her daughter, Mimi, also worked there, and possibly opened a chocolate shop nearby at some point (called "Mimi's"). Levitow's had a little something for everybody, from tea-towels to gabardine pants.
    When I was still quite young -- perhaps in the late 30s -- I came down with a severe case of pneumonia. I was burning up and had hallucinations, maybe a mixed reaction to a 105 degree fever and aggressive treatment with the first family of sulfa drugs, which had severe side effects. I remember feeling that the sun was chasing after me and I was being crushed like a toothpick under a tremendous force of flesh. When I began to recover, something else alarmed me. It was drawing close to Mother's Day, and I had planned to go to Levitow's to buy my mother an apron: a very feminine, frilly one, hopefully, with lace around the borders. Since I was not well enough to do that, I called my father into the bedroom and confided in him my wishes to get an apron. He promised, and took off on the "mission," -- but when he returned, he had with him a hum-drum "industrial" type apron, spun of a rough fabric with black and yellow checks. Never trust a man to shop for women's clothes, even aprons! I was heartbroken, but the deed - well-intentioned, to be sure -- had been done. I never forgot the incident, or the ugly apron.
    There were several good restaurants in Kew Gardens during the time I grew up. Our favorite was a converted private home near the subway station. We went there occasionally for Sunday dinner, which was served in one of several small dining rooms throughout the attractive house. There was also a Chicken House on Lefferts Blvd. And somewhere -- I can't remember its location -- there was a Chinese restaurant that served good cuisine, but whose waiters must have just gotten off the boat, because they knew nothing about the manners of American dining. After customers were seated, they literally threw the cutlery down onto the table. My brother and I thought this was hilarious, and sometimes imitated the practice when setting the table at home. My mother, however, was not amused.
    For a while, there was another bakery, a wholesale operation, on Lefferts, near Beverly. This place made baked goods to be sold and consumed elsewhere. As children we would peer into the window and watch the various operations. Once we noticed that a brush the baker was using on his cutting board had shed some bristles. They looked like rat hairs. My little friends and I had a pretend fit, gagging, screaming, etc. I think we may even have reported the incident to our parents. In any event, the next day we noticed that the owner had painted the window so nothing was visible to anyone anymore!
    I suppose there are many who remember Rosen's candy shop in the attractive small brick-facade building on the corner of Metro and 116th St. Years later, the Metro Soda Shoppe would recapture the spirit of Rosen's, but now it is a chain: Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin Donuts. It's called progress.
Doris Schaffer O'Brien
PS 99 '46
Forest Hills High 1950
[To contact Doris Schaffer O'Brien, click here]

1949 Photograph
Editor's Note:  Click on the link below to view a 1949 photograph of the southwest corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue published by local historian, Ron Marzlock, in the latest edition of the Queens Chronicle newspaper. The link will open in a new window. Close out the window to return here.
Click here to view the photograph

December 16, 2004
    I responded to Dorothea Smith's post of March 4, 2003, but apparently her address has changed, so I will add it here: March 4, 2003
    Anyone ever heard of the Old Clothes horse-cart guy? I moved to KG in '45. The first few years there, I recall an old horse drawn, junk-cart that regularly passed by my Metropolitan Avenue building in the direction of Jamaica. The driver aways shouted, "Old Clothes, I buy old clothes; Old Clothes, I buy old clothes..." He also used a cow bell to draw attention. I loved hearing his horse clip-clop down the street.
    I just came upon this site recently. I remember this guy. To me it always sounded like he was calling, "I buy ye kayken", so I never understood quite what he was saying. I also recall a truck coming with ice and a fellow taking an ice pick and breaking it up, so he could take the tongs, grab a big cube of ice, put a piece of burlap over his shoulder and so carry the piece of ice by the tongs on his shoulder. That Old Clothes guy with the junk cart has always struck me as a curious memory. I lived at the Curzon House on 118th street until 1947.
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

Kitty Genovese
December 13, 2006
[Editor's Note:  This message has been moved to the Kitty Genovese Message Board.]

Good Luck, Lenny
December 13, 2005
Lenny Schneir was my very first web site visitor and over the years he has become a good friend and advisor. If I had a web site related question or a problem, I could always go to him for common sense advice and he never steered me wrong. (In fact, the Guestbook and the P.S. 99 Class Photos were his idea.) He's been a fount of knowledge about a community that no one ever loved more than he has. Tomorrow, after a lifetime in New York, Lenny heads south to Florida where he will look for a place to live out the rest of his life. I wish him all the best.

December 12, 2005
    On Dec 9, Al Linsky added to Harold Zeckel's memories of Kew in the 40's. To continue a good thing, here's some more:
    I also remember Conti's Barber Shop. But that wasn't the one I went to. In the 40's & 50's, mine was Frank Faciola's, right across the street from the Austin Theatre. There were two Barber Shops on the Bridge. The Barber Shop provided two "Rights of Passage" for a little boy growing up in Kew. The first was when the Barber told you that you had grown so much that you didn't need to sit on the board across the armrests any more. You could sit right in the chair itself. The second was when you were allowed, more like told, to go to the Barber Shop all by yourself to get your haircut.
    Faciola's was more than just a barber shop. He also had a manicurist; a beautiful lady in a white dress with a tray full of exotic tools and lotions. And a big smile. I had no idea what she did. I mean, all you really had to do was pick your own nails yourself.
    The radio was always on at Frank's. There were only two types of programming, one of which was Opera. These guys just loved to listen to Opera. Part of my musical education, right there in the barber shop. The second thing I didn't understand at all. A voice, without inflection, intoning string of numbers; race results without the excitement of the race. The barbers and patrons provided the exitement. Shaving stopped and money changed hands. Faciola's was Kew Garden's precursor to an OTB parlor.
    At Jahn's I remember the "Kitchen Sink" as being the biggest ice cream dish. I'm not certain if it really was, but I do remember the menu saying if you could finish one by yourself, it was free.
Jay Rogers
[To contact Jay Rogers, click here]

December 12, 2005
[Ed. - This message has been removed at the poster's request.]

December 11, 2005
Click on thumbnail to enlarge.
CLICK TO ENLARGE.Attached is a picture of the entrance to the Curzon House at 83-80 118th Street during the big snow storm of 1947.
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

December 9, 2005
    In a December 4th. Guest Book letter Harold Zeckel writes of some wonderful memories of Kew Gardens (circa 30’s and 40’s).
    I remember Conti’s Barber Shop very well being that I was a customer for so many years. John Conti, an Italian emigrant who dressed to the nines and spoke an extremely broken English, was a rags to riches (and then back to rags) story.
    Before the fire that nearly consumed all the shops on the North side of the Ponte Vecchio, and subsequently closed the businesses over several months, John had a thriving four chair shop (with manicurists). In fact, his was the only tonsorial establishment in upper Kew Gardens (I use the term ‘upper’ only in a geographical sense).
    During the months of reconstruction John’s chief assistant Morris opened his own salon at the corner of Beverly and Lefferts taking with him most of the customer base, and John never really recouped.
    I certainly remember the Metropolitan Avenue trolleys that used to whisk us all the way to the Valencia Theater (169th. and Jamaica Avenue) in Jamaica. The Valencia had a very memorable ceiling in the main theater on which moving stars were projected.
    Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor (Myrtle and Hillside next to the Keith’s Theater) featured many outrageous concoctions and certainly Mr. Zeckel’s ‘Tall in the Saddle’ was one of them. But the biggest (and I mean enough for four people and even bigger then the ‘Kitchen Sink’) was the ‘Boiler Maker’!
    Not many people are aware of the fact that Henrietta A. Oliver (P.S.99 Principal of the era that we speak of) was an accomplished pianist and composed the piece that she played personally each time we would enter the auditorium for assembly.
    Mr. Zeckel’s memories of the blackouts during WWII are accurate. Not only did we have to close all our curtains (which were designed with special linings) but we were supplied with pails of sand and hoses for our attics in the event that we were hit with ‘buzz bombs’ (whatever they were).
    I was too young to remember the 39/40 World’s Fair in Flushing but my parents did take me so that I could eventually say I was there!
A. Linsky
[To contact Al Linsky, click here]

December 7, 2005
    Hi--- We don't get too much of a chance to find out anything about Kew Gardens kids (back from 1957 to 1964 ) who went to schools in Richmond Hill-- like P.S. 90 and Richmond Hill High School----who hung out at Forest Park during the summer and played softball and touch football in the fall......... We would go to the rko keith and austin theatres--- and on jamaica avenue the valencia and right across the street the rko alden......... We had ice cream sodas and malteds at Morris Givertz Candy store on 116st..and Metropolitan Ave--- There was another luncheonette across the street---- There was also a Key Food and of cause Wonderland( i did see the picture)
    Every now and then go to kew gardens and it still is great........... Jahn's is still there-- Keep up the good work because this website is exceptional and you deserve awards
Chris Clarke
( Richmond Hill High School Class 1964)
[To contact Chris Clarke, click here]

December 4, 2005
I just posted something on here so I will continue by mentioning some of my memories of those days: Mr. Conti, the barber, across the street from Bohack's. I remember the trolley tracks on Metropolitan Ave, but I don't remember being on a trolley there. By the way The Trolley Song was popular when I lived in Kew Gardens. Does anyone remember Jan's Ice Cream Parlor, next to the RKO Keith's where they had all those big ice cream dishes; I just remember one called 'Tall in the Saddle'. I had a collection of baseball cards, but they were a little bigger than a postcard; you could buy them for a penny. I used to flip them with another guy and either lose mine or win his. I had a big collection of them. They also were of the movie stars. I remember the first day at PS99. My mother took me, and when I entered the classroom it seemed like all the kids were crying, "I want my mommy!", so I sat down under the blackboard and started doing the same thing. I think the principal was Henrietta Oliver. She would start Assemblies off with our all reciting the 23rd psalm. Once when we were saying, "...my cup runneth over...", Robert Moseman, in front of me, added, "drip,drip,drip" after which I couldn't stop laughing. I was called into the Principal's office once because I couldn't control my laughing. On 118th St near Metropolitan Ave there was an abandoned house and we all used to go in there and play. I took envelopes with old stamps on them as I had a stamp collection. We also used to go into the basements of the apartment buildings and collect the empty soda bottles and bring them to the store to get the deposits - 1 or 2 cents each. I remember the 1943 "white" pennies. Every Saturday morning a bunch of us would go to the RKO to see the serials and short subjects. I remember the Air Raid drills when we had to turn out all the lights. I even remember the 1939 World's Fair which I think was close to Union Turnpike. Anyone remember those little green pickle pins from the fair? Sometimes I think maybe some of my memories are things which never happened and I just made them up, it was so long ago. I remember a girl in my class named Evelyn Nuisance; anyone remember her or know what happened to her?
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

December 4, 2005
I just happened upon this site and saw a picture of one of the PS 99 classes and I recognized Leonard Lyon! I lived at the Curzon House at 83-80 118th St from about 1940 to 1947. Briefly prior to that I lived at the Rosesmith Apts not far away. I went to PS 99 but left before graduating as my family moved to Manhattan. Someone mentioned Mr. Ellenport; his daughter, Thea, was in the same class as I. One of my friends who lived across the street from me was Bruce Kretshmer. And in my class at 99, Claude Offenbach(?er) was a good friend. One of the people on this site had a last name, Hack. Are you related to the Mrs. Hack who was one of my teachers at 99? I have some old pictures somewhere, but I would have to do a lot of rummaging to find any of them. I remember taking a picture with my Brownie Box Camera of Edward Thomas, a friend. I wonder what happened to him. As for me, I am now a semi-retired psychiatrist, living in Lexington, MA.
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

The Killer of Kitty Genovese is up for Parole
December 3, 2005
[Editor's Note:  This message has been moved to the Kitty Genovese Message Board.]

December 1, 2005
    How truly astounding it is to see how this site has grown over the past year! I'm responding to something that Doris Schaffer O'Brien has written, even though we haven't met. My name is Andy Semons, and I guess you could say that my sister Bonnie and I were the third generation of Semonses to live in Eton Hall. My grandmother, Miriam (Mugsie) Semons raised my dad, Steve Semons, who you mention, in apartment 6H. My dad married a Kew Gardens girl, the former Shirley Silberman, who lived on Metropolitan Avenue. Her parents owned Siltro's Luncheonette (subsequently Leo's Lunchonette) and stayed in Kew Gardens until they retired in 1975. My family lived for a short time in apartment 3M, and a few years after I was born (1957) we moved to apartment 5G, the former Erenhaft apartment (I remember the big grand piano Mrs. Erenhaft had in the living room), which was two flights above your mother and father, who I remember fondly. We left Kew Gardens in 1972 for a private home in Forest Hills, where I lived until my college years.
    Throughout my childhood, I heard stories about you, Johnny Stol, and Alfie Loidl, who's dad was the super of the building when I was growing up. Before Alfie moved to Tasmania he lived in the building with his wife (Margaret?), and his daughters Becky and Victoria, who were our playmates. I didn't know that John Keeshan was an Eton Hall resident, but as I currently live on the East End of Long Island, I'm aware of John Keeshan Realty. Montauk's a small town and I'm sure I'll run into him one day. Now, thanks to you, we have something more in common.
    I have wonderful memories of my childhood -- the trips to the Wonderland toy store on Metropolitan Avenue, playing with my friends in the courtyard of Eton Hall (much to the annoyance of the first floor tenants), and hamburgers, fries, and chocolate malts at Betsy's Luncheonette at the corner of Met and 83rd Avenue. As Tom Mariam mentions, PS 90 was my school, so most of my friends lived on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue. I consider myself lucky to still have Tom as a friend, as my memory seems to be eroding at a faster rate than his.
    Congratulations to you, Doris, to seeing your mother all the way through to her 101st birthday. She was truly a remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable woman. I remember some of the other ladies of her era on the third floor -- Mrs. Koeppel, who used to bang on the wall when Bonnie and I made too much noise in our bedroom, and Mrs. Skouras, a Greek woman who would bake some of the most amazing sweet cookies that I've ever tasted.
    We were truly blessed.
Andy Semons
[To contact Andy Semons, click here]

December 1, 2005
Dear Joe,
    It will be interesting to see whether the documentary sheds some light on what the everyday life was like for those living in Kew Gardens during WWIi. I was avout 8 years old when the war began, and I can still remember my father rushing through the apartment shouting that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.
    I was really too young to remember much of those war years , except the victory gardens, rationing, shortages of certain foods and materials, and various patriotic efforts made on the home front, such as selling war bonds, and activities like rolling tinfoil balls from the lining of cigarette packages. (I imagine cigarettes were also rationed, though nobody in my family smoked. ) Kids also knit squares, which, when sewn together, created an afghan for some G.I. Meat, margarine, soap powder, nylon stockings and other commodities were in short supply. The nylon was obviously used for parachutes.
    When word got out that a shipment of these coveted goods had arrived in the markets -- one in the village and the other on Metropolitan -- the word spread quickly. There was only one to a customer, and only a parent (usually the non-working mother) was allowed to procure the item. I used the word "procure" rather than "secure" for the reason that my mother worked at times during the war, and when the goods came in during the day, she was not around to get them. So -- and here comes a confession of which I have been mum all these years! -- as a child I would dash down to the market, get one of the desired articles ( say, a box of Oxydol ) and hide it behind some other store items (say, a tower of canned peas) until such time as my mother could "procure" it on her own. When she dug out the rationed goody and put it in her basket, the other store customers would go wild, wanting to know how they could get some, too.
    Generally, those on the home front sacrificed, and willingly. It was not at all like any subsequent "military action," such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc.That may have been because America was not as prosperous back then. We had no sooner dug out of a Great Depression than we were hit with the necessity of retooling our industries for the necessities of war.
    We had air raid drills, and "wardens" assigned to various areas of the town. The City of New York was always presumed to be a possible target for enemy attack. Those of us at PS 99 practiced evacuation drills, and wore a sort of round plastic "dog tag" around our necks, identifying us and our address. I wish I had kept one of those.
    A number of young men from Kew were in the armed services during WWII. Bob Welch down the hall from us in Eton Hall was a POW for a number of years. It was a very worrisome time for his mother, Grace, and sister, Virginia. My piano teacher's son, Donald Sussman, died in a military hospital from a disease he contracted during the fighting. He was a handsome guy who had played rugby at Cornell. We had very little "access" then to what was actually happening on the front. The only "embedded journalists," like Ernie Pyle, wrote for newspapers. The only grainy visuals we could catch were shown at the local theater.
    Some of your viewers who were a few years older than I might remember more about those war years. One thing I recall was that when I first went to high school, girls were encouraged to make a dress from a single yard of jersey purchasable in various colors. The pattern was a simple "sack" -- ala potato -- with holes for head and arms. The bare-bones dress was gussied up and individualized by a belt or costume jewelry or whatever.
    As for the picture you kindly sent me of the bachelor brothers' house adjacent to Eton Hall, I sent it to my brother. He could not verify it, but presumed that the house in the photo looked smaller to me only because when we were kids, and living in a small apartment, the house probably seemed a lot bigger than it really was. At some point in its existence, the house was painted a yellowish shade. Of that I have no doubt.
    Thanks, as always, for the memories.
Doris Schaffer (O'Brien)
PS 99, class of 46
Resident of Kew Gardens 1933-1955
[To contact Doris Schaffer (O'Brien), click here]

Bigger Images
December 1, 2005
    Editor's Note: Since more people now have broadband connections and higher resolution screens, I am beginning to bump up the size and resolution of the images I display here. So, instead of averaging 20 - 35 KB, images will start to average 60 - 80 KB. If enough dial up users find these file sizes make viewing the web pages too slow, let me know and I will reduce the file sizes.

Get a Gmail Account Free
December 1, 2005
    Editor's Note: As of February 1st, Old Kew Gardens [.com] got a new email address with Gmail, which is the Google web based email service. You've probably heard that Gmail offers two gigabytes [2,000 MB] of free storage. It's free, but available by invitation only. Invitations are so sought after that they are being offered for sale on eBay. I have invitations I can distribute to friends. I'm not selling them, I'm giving them away. They are available on a first come first serve basis. Just send me an email telling me you'd like one.
    Update: Unless I know you, your request must come from a bona fide working ISP email address. To prevent abuse, email requests coming from free web based email services like Yahoo or Hotmail will not be honored.
    Update: I will remove this post when I run out of invitations. If you're reading this, then there are still invitations left to give out.

Posting Messages Here
December 1, 2005
[Ed.'s Note: The reason each guest book posting does not appear here immediately is that I review each message individually before posting to eliminate spam or unwanted adult content. Email me if you want to make a correction to a message you have already posted or if you would like a message removed.]

How to contact Guestbook signers

Some Guestbook signers choose not to publish their email addresses. If you wish to contact one of them, send me an email identifying the guestbook signer you wish to contact and giving me the date his or her message was posted. Your email to me must contain your full name, and may also include anything else you wish to tell the signer. I will forward your email to the Guestbook signer you wish to contact, but with no cc or bcc to you. It will be the signer's decision whether or not to make contact with you. Any emails which contain spam, adult content, or appear suspect for any other reason will not be forwarded. ~The Editor.

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