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Pictures dated c. 1925 and 2005
Click images to enlarge
82nd Road at Austin Street
To read more about the house shown in these photographs, click here.

[Sepia toned image from the Queens Borough Public Library, long Island Division.]

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.

[JPEG - 240kb]
[PDF - Hi Resolution, 379kb]
[PDF - Low Resolution, 97kb ]
January 2006 Guest Book

January 30, 2006
    Certainly, kudos go to Community board #9 for renaming 124th Street ‘Bernie and Claire Levine Street’ in honor of the owners of Bernieland, which was a long time watering hole for ice cream lovers in old Kew Gardens. My only problem with the new name is that it sounds rather sappy. It would also be difficult to say and understand and would unquestionably be too long as part of a return address on an envelope (I believe there are Postal regulations that dictate the maximum number of characters in any address line).
    Not being one to criticize without a viable solution at hand, let me throw in a few alternates that might be easier to say and remember. What about ‘Bernieland Lane’?, ‘Levine Lane’? or even ‘Levines’ Parkway’? (Frankly, I favor ‘Bernieland Lane’ myself).
    Any one of the above would do justice in honoring a couple who helped to make our memories of old Kew Gardens as vivid as they are!
A. Linsky
[To contact Al Linsky, click here]

Maple Grove Cemetery Slideshow
January 29, 2006
Editor's Note:  I am putting together a slideshow about Maple Grove Cemetery for one of the weekly Featured Photographs. If there are any graves you would like to see displayed - whether of a loved one or someone else - let me know by Feb. 5th and I will include it in the slideshow. Let me know, also, if you would like to be identified as the requester.

January 28, 2006
    I am Catharine Coffeen Haley: Class of Jan.1939 at P.S. 99 and of the Jan.1943 class at Richmond Hill High School. I lived in KG from 1932 (apt. house at the corner of Metropolitan Ave. and Audley St.) to 1934; then in the Parc Chateau Apts. (What a name!) on Talbot St., which may have changed it's name to a number by now. It was the first street below Kew Gardens Rd. off of Lefferts Blvd. and the back apartments looked out on KG Rd and Maple Grove Cemetery. I moved to Manhattan after I was married in 1946 and have lived there and in CT and NJ since.
    I have some class pictures from PS 99 and yearbooks from RHHS. I can't get at them right now, being in AZ for the winter, but I'll bookmark your interesting site. I kept up with several Kew Gardens and Forest Hills friends over the years. Some of us are still alive [g]. My sister, Ann, was graduated from 99 in, I believe, 1945. She went on to Berkeley Institute in Brooklyn for her h.s. years.
    You would probably be wise not to list my e-mail address on the website, although I would be tickled to hear from anyone from my years there.
Catharine Coffeen Haley
[To contact Catharine Coffeen Haley, click here]

January 28, 2006
This is for Ellen Goldberg. I was wondering why you were looking for the Magid boys? I went to FHHS with them. In fact, Michael was in my music class. I was wondering how they are as I have not seen them since high school. What site did you find them on?
Linda Wiesner
[To contact Linda Wiesner, click here]

January 27, 2006
I am old enough to remember Sam Levine and his wife (we always called her Mrs. Levine), Bernie Levine's parents who originally ran the store "Bernieland". They were wonderful people and the store really took off after Bernie took over. I recall many years that I bought school supplies, etc. there and GREAT EGGCREAMS. If you couldn't find what you needed, Bernie would always go into the back somewhere and come out with the perfect thing. How wonderful that they had enough of an impact to make memories for so many Kew Gardens dwellers.
Carol Widder Rubinoff
Lived in KG 1938-1987
Graduated PS 99 June 1952
Graduated FHHS June 1956
[To contact Carol Widder Rubinoff, click here]

A well deserved honor
January 25, 2006
Editor's Note:  Here's an item I missed from the May 19, 2005 issue of the Times Newsweekly newspaper. Thanks to Rob Freundlich for the heads up.
"With little or no opposition, [Community] Board 9 endorsed the following street renamings: . . . 'Bernie and Claire Levine Street' for 124th Street between Metropolitan and 85th avenues in Kew Gardens. This would honor the deceased owners of Bernieland, a long-time mom-and-pop store that anchored the local shopping area for many years. It was famous for its egg creams."
Click here to read the full article.

January 25, 2006
Wow, the site looks terrific. Its been a few years since I checked in here. The pictures of the old Kew Gardens look wonderful. I have learned a great deal about the old neighborhood from this site. I still live here with my wife and two kids by the way. OldKewGardens.com just reminded me how much I love the place. Thanks.
Edward Brandwein
PS99 1977, Russell Sage 1980, Bx Science 1983

The December 2005 Transit Strike
January 22, 2006
Click on thumbnail to enlarge.
CLICK TO ENLARGE.Editor's Note:  Thanks to Peter Hack for these photographs of the Kew Gardens Long Island Rail Road Station taken on the first day of the New York City transit strike last December. To view them, click on the image above.

January 20, 2006
    I am one of those "old" Kew Gardens people who discovered this interesting site quite by accident, and -- for whatever reason -- find a certain fascination in looking backward to the way things used to be. In that respect, certainly, the editor's desire to make the site "upbeat" is right on the mark, because , as adults, I believe we want it that way. Life is complicated enough under the present circumstances. Yearning for the simplicity and fun of yesterday is often one of the factors in our lives that keep us going day to day.
    I suppose, in all honesty, if Kew Gardens were the Garden of Eden, most of us would not have exiled ourselves and settled elsewhere when we "grew up." Not being there now, however, allows us to see and enjoy it as it was then, through the eager eyes of children to whom all the world was a stage for adventure.
    It's refreshing to me, strangely enough, to read the reports of people I never knew, reminiscing about people I never met or stores and experiences that came into being after my time in Queens. There is a wonderful sense of excitement generated as these once-children-in-Kew Gardens relate funny incidents, favorite hangouts, zany people, long-lost friends and teachers they will never forget. It is particularly exhilarating not because it is necessarily "true" down to the last detail, but because it stands in such contrast to what we often read in today's news about those who blame their later life on a bitter, disappointing childhood, a dysfunctional family, an abusive relative, etc.
    Childhood was not perfect in Kew Gardens. Growing up -- particularly during the Great Depression and war years -- was not always a walk in Forest Park. But at the very least we had a real sense of a cohesive neighborhood, with expectations of behavior for those who lived in it. My neighbors were among the most generous people I have met or resided near anywhere else in this country. Many had little, but gave abundantly of their time and effort. One of the hardest things to swallow about the Kitty Genovese case, I feel, is that it was actually so atypical -- so tragically out of character -- with the community we remember, even with all its warts, its droll characters, its middle-class limitations, etc. To suddenly find Kew Gardens held up as a poster child for what is perceived as the "uncaring" inner suburbs of a big city is almost as difficult to comprehend as the young woman's brutal death.
    We may be strapping on the rose-colored glasses as we peer back somewhat myopically on our days in Kew, but a little nostalgic glow never hurt anyone! It might actually even help us appreciate how truly lucky we were to begin our life's journey in that particular place.
Doris Schaffer O'Brien
KG resident 1933-54 (Eton Hall)
PS 99 '46. FHHS '50
Now living on California's Central Coast
[To contact Doris Schaffer O'Brien, click here]

Music and Poetry at the Bliss
January 20, 2006
This is to let you know that there will be another music and poetry night at the Bliss on Friday, Feb. 3rd, beginning at 7 P.M. (or thereabout). If there are any comedians out there who would like to do their thing, please contact Aaron.
[To contact Aaron Adler, click here]

January 16, 2006
Damian Marley, son of Bob Marley shot a music video in Kew Gardens on Queens Blvd, in the correctional facility as well as right across the street from the courthouse, where Pizza Hut use to be which is now blocked up and right in front of the Silver Towers Queens Blvd. entrance. The name of the song is "Road to Zion", which is about, as quoted by Damian Marley from mtv.com "The track is "about this road that has a lot of stumbling blocks and struggles [and still] keeping your head up," The rapper Nas, who is from Queensbridge, is also featured in a guest appearance in the song and video. The rapper Game also makes a video cameo. Here are some pictures of the video where u can vaguely tell it is in Kew Gardens. Click here. here is a link to the video itself: Click here.

Editor's Note:  The link to the "Road to Zion" video works fine if you are using Internet Explorer as your browser. However, for some reason I cannot figure out, trying to access the video using the Firefox browser causes you to be redirected to another page.

January 10, 2006
    My daughter, Laura (Smyth) Watson found this WONDERFUL website 'surfing'. She attended K-2 from 1975 to 1978. We lived in Richmond Hill on 123 Street but she attended the gifted program at PS 99. Will be looking for old photos to submit. This is a wonderful site.
    I remember the name Linda Gottlieb. Age? Sadly can't remember if it was my daughter's friend or mine :) Aahh age :) Does anyone know if there is a similar website for PS 54 on Hillside Avenue?
    Can't wait to forward this to friends and family.
    Thanks for the hardwork - brings back lots of memories. You may email me if you like with any info
Dottie Pfisterer Smyth
[To contact Dottie Pfisterer Smyth, click here]

January 9, 2006
    Mr. Stuart was great, used to drive us to school, never did see him play the saw though.
    There was another driver named Mr. Waxman, anyone remember him? Used to drive us to the nursery school at the park house across from Jackson Pond. I have some 8mm video of my graduation from that nursery school, maypole and all, I also have the video my brother's graduation. It had to be around 1964 for mine, '59 for my brother's.
    The super at the Arden Terrace in the 60's was a guy named John Jakabowski, the porter was a guy named Tom who only shaved once in a while, so he was a hairy porter. We used to torment him by yelling umdidee-umdidee tommy toodeoooh over and over again whenever we saw him. He'd get really angry and chase us. Never caught us though.
Ron Signore
[To contact Ron Signore, click here]

January 8, 2006
    I remember Rufus, who worked the buildings closer to the Metropolitan/Lefferts intersection (like the Devonshire) than at the 118th St. area where I grew up. As a boy, I never knew how he had lost his fingers and had a hard time not staring at them, so I always tried to look him in the face when I said hello. Nevertheless, even then I was amazed at how he could do everything by himself and not ever ask anyone for help.
    There were two porters who worked the buildings near our corner. The first was Richmond or Richie, who was a slightly heavy set man with coffee-colored skin and greying hair, which was usually hidden under an old brown felt hat. Richmond would wash windows, wax floors and do odd jobs around our apartment like install and remove the air conditioners every spring and fall. He even once helped my father and grandfather put up a fence at our summer house upstate, and was much better at digging post holes than anyone I've met since. I don't think there's anyone else around in my family who can verify this story, but I believe Richmond also brought my mother to the hospital (Kew Gardens General) when she went into labor with my older sister, Bonnie.
    The second gentleman I remember was called Garfield. Garfield was a thin man with very dark skin and a strong southern accent. I always found him hard to understand. Garfield used to help Richmond with big jobs, and probably had a few jobs of his own nearby, but he wasn't as permanent a fixture in the neighborhood as Richmond.
    My favorite porter, however, was Mr. Stuart from the Georgian house on 84th Avenue. Stuart would run a shuttle to the subway and to P.S. 90 in the morning in an old blue station wagon, and every now and then he'd let me thumb a ride. He had a smile that literally went from ear to ear, and knew the names of every kid he ever met. He was kind, patient, and always had a story to tell. But most of all, Stuart played the saw! He would pick up this old rusty tool, run a bow against it, and you'd hear the most supernatural-sounding music imaginable. I remember cutting through the Georgian House garage after a piano lesson and hearing that sweet yet eerie sound reverberating off the concrete. It was like being stuck inside an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Andy Semons
Resident of Eton Hall
[To contact Andy Semons, click here]

January 6, 2006
I remember an African-American gentleman named Chick (or Chickie). He delivered groceries for MANY years for the Key Food on Metropolitan Avenue (across from Eton Hall), and everyone in the neighborhood knew him.
Rob Freundlich
Lived in Kew Gardens 1954 - 1976
[To contact Rob Freundlich, click here]

January 6, 2006
    I have no recollection of Rufus, who was, as it were, after my time. However, I have enjoyed reading the "digital" discussions taking place between those who do. Back in the 40s, the only black person I can remember in Kew Gardens was a man we referred to as "Willie the Window Washer," who lived in Jamaica and plied his trade in Kew. He was a stringy, affable, garrulous guy, who sort of swaggered around with his trademark bucket, and was not at all hesitant to climb onto the window sills of apartment buildings. Does anyone out there remember him?
    Once during an election year, Willie came by to leave my mother a message. My brother, a history-in-the-making buff, answered the door, but was too absorbed with tabulating the results of one of the political conventions being broadcast on radio, to register anything Willie said. Later he told my mother that Willie had come by, but he hadn't the foggiest idea why he did! My brother Howard's interest in history and politics continues to this day. But I don't know whether he "does" windows!
Doris Schaffer O'Brien
In KG '33-'54
P.S. 99 class of '46
[To contact Doris Schaffer O'Brien, click here]

The Featured Photographs
January 4, 2006
Editor's Note:  I'm afraid I'm going to have to scale The Featured Photographs back to once a week. For more than 8 months, I've changed the features twice each week without repeating anything, and at that rate I will soon display everything I have before I am able to replenish it with fresh images. At some point, I will have to begin recycling everything because there are only so many images to be had. I'd like to see if I can run the string out for at least a year before I am forced to go to reruns.

January 4, 2006
Do your historians mention the private home with empty lot across the street from the Curzon House in the 1940's was owned by a Mr. Breckenridge (or someone with a similar name)?
Harold Zeckel
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

Editor's Note:  That would be the Brackenridge House which you can read about by clicking here and here.

January 4, 2006
    Your memory of Rufus is a bit more acurrate than that of Harold but please allow me to put my finger on the issue.
    Rufus was originally the Superintendant of that buiding but after a tragic fire accident, lost all of his fingers on both limbs and was reduced to the role of handyman.
    These facts have be verified by two local historians, Dr.Eric Dubow of Ohio, and Professor Howard Osterman of New York.
    Hope all is well & belated Happy Holidays,
[To contact Rioux, click here]

January 4, 2006
No dim memory here. I can remember Rufus as the janitor at The Kew Lefferts (83-26 Lefferts) when I was a kid. He would mop the floors and lug the garbage cans to the curb using just his thumbs (that's all he had). This had to be early 60's. He was followed as janitor by Deacon William Harrison, known to all as just Deacon.
Jim Callen
83-26 Lefferts Apt 2E 1955-1980
[To contact Jim Callen, click here]

January 3, 2006
Ron, Now that you mention it, I have a dim memory of his missing digits. But I can't be certain.
[To contact Harold Zeckel, click here]

January 3, 2006
    I stand corrected, Rufus was the janitor of the apartment building directly ACROSS Metropolitan Ave. from the Alt Green Towers.
    A mystery surrounds the fact that Harold Zeckel makes mention of Rufus' palms, yet not of the missing digits. So assuming the two Rufus', or Rufi so to speak, are one and the same, the change in his manual dexterity may have lead to the job transfer. Perhaps Mr. Zeckel can lend a hand in clearing this up.
Thank you,
Ron Signore
[To contact Ron Signore, click here]

January 1, 2006
    Looking for classmates in the following classes that had Mrs. Berman(4th grade); Mrs. Greenberg(5th grade) and Mrs. Silbert(6th grade).
    My name is Lorraine Berger( married name is Herzog) and I lived in Kew Gardens from birth until May 1976. I graduated from P.S. 99 in June 1966.
    Anyone who wishes to contact me can reach me at kewten@yahoo.com.
    Michelle Lewengood told me about this site.
    I do have some interesting old photos of Kew Gardens to be sent at a later time - I have to connect my scanner and forward them to you.
Lorraine Berger- Herzog

January 1, 2006
    My name is Ellen (Goldberg) Kaye and I grew up in Briarwood (1958-1967), and as I am sure you know, it "kisses" Kew Gardens. I lived on Burden Crescent, corner of 84th Drive, just up the street from Queens Blvd. where the old SAS Building used to be. I attended P.S. 117 (2nd half of 6th grade) and then Jr. High 217 (Van Wyck) and attended Jamaica High, graduating in 1964. I found this site by "Googling" the Magid triplets and then this site popped up. What a terrific surprise! You may certainly publish my email address...I am extremely nostalgia-oriented...planned my 40th class reunion from Jamaica High a year ago October. We had it at The Swan Club in Roslyn...it was a terrific turnout and I hope to do it again in a few years. I am now living in Coral Springs, FL for the past 4 months after 30 wonderful years in Marina del Rey (L.A.) California. I'm sure there are a lot of ex-Kew Gardens/Briarwood people down here and I would love to hear from anyone who lived there and/or who attended the schools I did.
    Thanks so much for what you do. Keep the spirit alive!
[To contact Ellen (Goldberg) Kaye, click here]

January 1, 2006
leonard schneir
ps99 class of 1954
[To contact Leonard Schneir, click here]

Bigger Images
January 1, 2006
    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
January 1, 2006
    Editor's Note: As of February 1, 2005, 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
January 1, 2006
[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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