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Pictures dated c. 1907 and 2007
Click images to enlarge
Abingdon Road
The view is looking west on Abingdon Road past Brevoort Street. (1907 image courtesy of the Man Family.)  [Read more.]

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 ]
October 2007 Guest Book

The Rockin' Chairs
October 27, 2007
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Hi Joe,
I wonder if anyone remembers The Rockin' Chairs ? The posted record was recorded around 1958 and was popular locally but never received national attention.The Rockin' chairs went on to record Please Mary Lou and Girl Of Mine. I joined the group around 1960 and recorded You Mean Everything To Me. The group changed it`s name to Bob Gerardi and The Classic 4, played local clubs for a while and eventually broke up. We were all from Queens but I was the only one from Kew Gardens. Roger Sabo
[To contact Roger Sabo, click here]

October 22, 2007
Dear Joe and fellow Kew Gardens comrades:
    I ordered the Last Stop Kew Gardens CD and couldn’t wait for it to arrive. When it arrived Friday, I couldn’t wait to pop it into the CD player to share my childhood memories with my husband. I must say I was sadly disappointed and found it to be an insult to our community and our webmaster: Joe De May, who has been an inspiration to us all.
    For those new to this amazing site:
    Kew Gardens was a utopia for immigrants seeking refuge and a new beginning. It resembled an old European village, nestled in the borough of Queens, with close proximity to Manhattan. Its tree lined streets of oak, maple, sycamore, weeping willows and Tudor and Dutch inspired colonial homes and well manicured lawns. Its people were primarily German, but also home to other Europeans, a sprinkling of Asians and other nationalities. What made Kew Gardens a wonderful place was the fact that we all came from different nationalities and religions and we coexisted harmoniously. We were primarily Jewish, Catholic and Protestant and we all had great respect for each other.
    I was born in Brooklyn in 1954, where my parents originally settled, then moved to Kew Gardens shortly after. My parents, as well as other parents in the neighborhood, wanted a better life for their children. Most of the children were 1st generation Americans and our parents assimilated and eventually became citizens. English was spoken 1st and foremost and education was of the utmost importance.
    My father was Chinese and escaped China in the early 40’s; he served our Country in WWII and traveled with General Douglas MacArthur in the South Pacific. Unfortunately for me, this is all I know about my father’s past. In an attempt to research my genealogy, I came upon the oldkewgardens website.
    PS 99 was the cornerstone for the community of children and I thank all of my teachers for all their hard work and I hope and pray that all my old friends are doing well. As 1 of the only Eurasians attending PS 99 at the time and being Catholic at that, I can recall as a young child noticing the brand on one of my friend’s parents arm. I didn’t ask any questions. When I got home I had asked my father what it was. He said we should never speak of it. It was something very very bad that happened. I would never bring the subject up again. This along with other things we shouldn’t do as kids, such as ever go into someone’s refrigerator… and so on – you know the drill. There were a lot of rules we followed without asking why? It would be many years later that these questions would be answered, but the questions about my father’s past unfortunately will always be a mystery. I must say we were very protected and sheltered as children. We were overachievers as mentioned in the film, not because we were from Kew Gardens, but because we wanted to make our parents proud… for all they endured in the past that we were sheltered from. In the film Mr. Lieberman couldn’t wait to get out of Kew Gardens. I too left Kew Gardens in 1973, not for the same reasons he had. I left because I needed to fulfill a promise to my parents to somehow fulfill the American dream and find someway to make them proud. I moved to California where I would eventually work on the Space Shuttle and GPS program, but returned in 1981 where I met and married my Jewish husband. Today, we live in Rockland County New York. Once a year we make the pilgrimage to Kew Gardens so I can visit my father’s grave site at Maple Grove, but it’s not the same. The landscape has changed and its people have changed, but my heart remains there. Kew Gardens is the Promised Land for me and when God calls me that is where I’m going – so Mr. Lieberman Kew Gardens will be my last stop!
    By the way Joe – in my private email to you here is the definition of a Mensch:
Mensch (Yiddish; also mentsch, mentsh, mensh, or mench, plural: mentschen, German plural: Menschen) is a German noun meaning a "human".
    In Yiddish (from which the word has migrated into American English), mensch roughly means "a good person." A "mensch" is a particularly good person, like "a stand-up guy," a person with the qualities one would hope for in a dear friend or trusted colleague. According to author and Yiddish popularist Leo Rosten,
    Kudos to you Joe from the bottom of my heart!
    Laurie Fessler (in her April 2007 posting) summed it up well.
[Name withheld]
[To contact this poster, click here]

Bill Klenowsky
October 20, 2007
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Hi Joe,
I wonder if Bonni remembers Bill Klenowsky ? I have posted his record recorded around 1960. He lived on Lefferts Boulevard, played the piano, composed and recorded. He also made an unsuccessful attempt to run for Mayor of NYC.
Roger Sabo
[To contact Roger Sabo, click here]

October 19, 2007
    Great to have found this site.
    My name is Tom Manfredi and lived at 85-24 Abingdon Road. From approx. 1957 to 1974. My parents Joe and Dot moved to California to be near the children in 1975. They settled in Ojai California and had a wonderful life in the rural yet close to LA area for 30 years. Both continued to work part time, my mom not retiring from being a Registered Nurse until she had 63 years under her cap. When we finally convinced them to sell the house in 2005 they ended up moving to my sister Jeans house in Simi Valley California. My father passed away on March 8, 2007 at the age of 94. He was truly at peace with his life and was sustained during the last months solely by his enormous faith in god. My Mom still lives with my sister jean and is 90. She is in good health but her short term memory is not what is used to be.
    I currently live in Ojai California with my wife Jill and two children Joe Manfredi 16 and Isabella 13.
    Jean lives in Simi Valley with her husband Gerald Demill and two children John and Allison.
    Jeff lives in Calistoga California (Napa Valley) and is a potter with his wife Sally and two grown children Livia and Hannah.
    Karen lives in Hidden Hills with her husband Phil Kay and has two grown children Jason and Lauren.
    Feel free to contact me and I will forward messages to my brother and sisters if you wish.
    Thanks for the trip down Abingdon Road and all the wonderful memories of Kew Gardens.
Tom Manfredi
[To contact Tom Manfredi, click here]

Music and Poetry
October 19, 2007
Hi....just to let you know that the next music show is scheduled for Thursday, November 1st at the Theater Cafe, 106-03 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, beginning at 7:30 P.M.
[To contact Aaron Adler, click here]

October 17, 2007
Hello-my name is Norman Wasserman and I own FRIEND ENTERTAINMENT. We are an entertainment company that produces Oldies, Doo-Wop. Motown R&B, Disco musical events. We do all the Oldies shows at Colden Center, Queens College and at Queens Theater in the Park.
Thanks You,
Norman Wasserman

October 16, 2007
Someone mentioned a doo-wop concert in Boston. You might want to let your readers know about this website: www.friendentertainment.com I was recently at Queens College for a great performance with Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge, Little Anthony & The Imperials and Kenny Vance and the Planatones. Became friendly with the organizer (Norman Wasserman) and The Duprees and Kenny Vance will be in my area (Rockland County in March of 2008) and hubby and I will be the next performance at Queens College in December of this year and the oldies cruise in May of 2008.
Dianne Freiberg
[To contact Dianne Freiberg, click here]

October 14, 2007
I want to thank Roger for all the pictres that send us down memory lane. It is great to see that someone saved all those times in pictures and then was able to find them to show us. Thank you very much Roger.
Linda Widder Wiesner
[To contact Linda Widder Wiesner, click here]

The Changing Face of Kew Gardens
October 13, 2007
Click on thumbnails to view enlargements.
Editor's Note:  When I began this web site almost 7 years ago, it told the story of what we had. Now, increasingly, it tells the story of what we have lost. The latest loss is a Victorian house on 84th Avenue at 121st Street.

The Roomates - Continued
October 13, 2007
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Three of the four Roomates went to Forest Hills High School. Here are their 1960 yearbook pictures Many thanks to Bonni, Rob and Linda for your recent postings.
Roger Sabo
[To contact Roger Sabo, click here]

Center at Maple Grove
October 12, 2007
Editor's Note:  "House and Garden" takes a look at the new Center under construction at Maple Grove Cemetery.

Click here to read the story.

October 8, 2007
    Another follow-up to the Cathy Jean and the Roommates thread.
    I just attended the 'Ultimate Doo Wop' show in Boston on Saturday night, and the first group on stage was indeed Cathy Jean and the Roommates!! They sang several songs, including of course 'Please Love Me Forever'. I understand that these aren't the original Roommates, but Cathy Jean sounded phenomenal, and still has an absolutely amazing voice. The concert also included performances by Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners (Since I Don't Have You, This I Swear), The Contours (Do You Love Me?,Shake Sherry), The Crystals (Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me), The Marcels (Blue Moon, Heartaches), The Reflections (Just Like Romeo & Juliet), and The Shades of Blue (Oh How Happy). As a replacement for Maurice Williams (who was to appear with The Zodiacs, but was in bed with the flu), they flew in Al Rappa, an ORIGINAL Comet (a la Bill Haley), who, at over 80 years old, brought the house down with 'Shake, Rattle, and Roll', and of course 'Rock Around The Clock'. It was a great concert, and there's talk about another one in the Boston area in the near future! I'll be there!
Rob Freundlich
Lived in Kew Gardens 1954-1976
[To contact Rob Freundlich, click here]

October 8, 2007
My name is Fulton Sandler. I think I graduated from PS99 in 1937. My Email address is marco1401@aol.com. I am particularly interested in finding acurrent address for John Connors, who was a classmate of mine.. I would appreciate any help you might offer. Thank yo.

October 7, 2007
It was great reading the input from Bonnie about the Roommates. I keep in touch with Jack Carlson who is living out west. He goes under the email of doowop and sometimes we talk about the old days and the guys. They were the big news in Kew in the 60s and everyone knew them. What a great trip down memory lane. Thanks to Roger too.
Linda Widder Wiesner
[To contact Linda Widder Wiesner, click here]

Cathy Jean and the Roommates - A followup to Roger's post
October 6, 2007
    Thanks to the hit "Please Love Me Forever," Cathy Jean and the Roommates were perceived as friends. The truth was that the Roommates and Cathy Jean recorded "Please Love Me Forever" without ever meeting each other.
    From Kew Gardens, Queens New York, the Roommates were fifteen year old Steve Susskind and Bob Minsky of Russell Sage Junior High. Susskind originally sang with a local quartet called the Sparklers, but in 1959 he and Minsky became a duo. Later that year they took second place at a Forest Hills High School competition losing to Tom and Jerry who would later become Simon and Garfunkel.
    Deciding to become a group several members came and went until the 1960 members included Steve Susskind (lead), Jack Carlson (first tenor and falsetto), Felix Alvarez (second tenor) and Bob Minsky (bass).
    The group practiced after school and began writing songs. Realizing the songs weren't good enough they began going through their 45s to find workable material coming up with "One Summer Night" and "The Glory of Love." The group often sang in the lobby of the Forest Hills apartment building where Jody Malis lived. Malis was the record librarian at WMGM radio, which had one of the nation's first top 40 formats. Along with her husband Gene she signed them to a management contract.
    The Roommates first single was a country hit from the '50s "Making Believe". "Making Believe " received some airplay, but soon disappeared.
    On May 3, 1960 the Malis' recorded another new single for their recently established Valmor label. The singer, fourteen year old Cathy Jean, recorded the ballad "Please Love Me Forever." Feeling that something was missing the Roommates were brought in and overdubbed the harmony parts. Cathy Jean had already left the studio by the time the Roommates recorded so they never met her. Feeling that if they had a hit they would have two acts, the Malis' credited both on the label.
    "Please Love Me Forever" won Murray the K's Boss record of the Week on WINS in New York City in late 1960. On February 27th it entered the Billboard Hot 100 and by April it was at number twelve, reaching number two in New York. None of Cathy's follow-ups sold many copies.
    As a reward for their part in "Please Love Me Forever" The Malises gave the Roommates a free session at the Regent Sound Studio. That night, November 25, 1960 they recorded "Band of Gold," "Glory of Love," and "My Foolish Heart." "Glory of Love" entered the charts and rose to #49. "Band of Gold," made it into the top twenty in New York, but failed to chart nationally for a technical reason.
    Before Valmor Records closed down in 1962 a Cathy and the Roommates album was issued. George Rodriguez was added to the Roommates. Versions of "Gee" and "A Sunday Kind of Love" were recorded, but no one was buying. In the spring of 1965 the Roommates disbanded.
    Cathy later got married and quit the business. With her children grown Cathy is back. As Cathy Jean Ruiz she sings with a new version of the Roommates and has hosted a Saturday morning talk show on WNYG in Long Island, NY.
    1n 1991, Cathy recorded her first single in thirty years. "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" was released by Cure Records a New York label.
ForestHillsHS@aol.com or ForestHillsHS@Gmail.com

October 6, 2007
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Hi Joe
    I was cleaning out my basement when I came upon two old Roomates records which probably date back to the early 60`s.
    Three of the Roomates were from Kew Gardens (Bob, Jack and Felix) and one was from Forest Hills (Steve).
    I wonder if anyone other then Lenny Schneir still has these records ?
Roger Sabo
[To contact Roger Sabo, click here]

1st Annual Kew Gardens Pumpkin Carving Contest
October 6, 2007
    If you're looking to spend a Saturday evening in a slightly different way, please join us for the 1st Annual Kew Gardens Pumpkin Carving Contest at Maple Grove Cemetery (corner of Lefferts Blvd and Kew Gardens Road). on Saturday, October 13th. At 6:00 there will be a Flashlight Tour of the Cemetery. Be prepared to hear some pretty macabre stories (are they true? You decide). Adults and children ten years of age and older are welcome to take the tour. Please bring along your own*. Adults and children of all ages are encouraged to bring their carved pumpkins which must be lit inside with a candle. Prizes will be awarded for best, funniest, scariest, most original (and any other categories we invent) pumpkins. If you are not inclined to bring along a pumpkin, please come for the viewing. The pumpkins will be judged and awarded prizes at 8:00. We will also have a 7:15 reading of the Headless Horseman and other scary tales. A night not to be missed! Hope you can make it!
    * Please note: Alternate vegetables will be considered for judging. Suggestions: eggplant, water chestnuts, endive or any other carved vegetable.
Carol Lacks
[To contact Carol Lacks, click here]

Posting Messages Here
October 1, 2007
[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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