A celebration of neighborliness
by Michael Perlman
Jul 23, 2014 | 1653 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On a mild summer evening last week, nearly 60 residents of Forest Hills South and staff members attended the annual summer garden party, celebrating their community that is a hidden gem.

And as the sun set, residents enjoyed Camila Meza Trio’s fusion of jazz and Brazilian folk elements in the company of their neighbors.

Jane Lau and her husband Victor Lau were newcomers in 2008, and have since added a 15-month-old daughter to the Forest Hills South family.

“Forest Hills South feels suburban, but it is right in the city,” said Jane. Victor added, “as soon as you enter, the garden is very relaxing and I can say I’m finally back home.”

Another perspective was offered by a pair of close friends, 17-year resident Jean Solomon and 65-year resident Sherry Shrage.

“In the nicest buildings on Queens Boulevard, residents don’t know their next-door neighbor,” said Solomon. “This is not an apartment house, but a special community.”

Shrage raised four children in the complex and has lived in four different buildings. She was a coordinator of the Mommy’s Club.

“We met daily and watched each other’s children,” she said. “Nobody needed a babysitter.”

Forest Hills South was designed by award-winning architect Philip Birnbaum between 1939 and 1941, and consists of 604 apartments in seven buildings that face a park-like setting. Last fall, residents came together to plant three new Tulip trees, as well as 100 Daffodils and 200 Tulips.

Over a year ago, Henri Simonetti and Bruce Beckwith moved to Forest Hills South.

“It is a nice, quiet neighborhood steps away from Queens Boulevard, and people are very welcoming,” said Simonetti.

As Beckwith glanced at the colorful Angel Trumpet Vine over the arched pergola, he said, “The gardens are where we read the paper and have our coffee. It is the combination of old and new trees which make the space so special, and the staff does a wonderful job.”

Former board president Charlotte Picot settled in Forest Hills South as a small child with her family, raised three kids of her own there, and now has a lifetime of history in the complex.

“I remember when our garages were empty, and now there’s a waiting list,” she said.

As the evening drew to a close, current board president, George McGrath raffled off copies of the band’s CD.

“We have people of all ages and cultures, which relates to the diversity of Queens,” he said, “and more families with young children who are moving in.”

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Alan Bergen
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July 28, 2014


Except for my time in the Air Force, I lived in Forest Hills South from about 1940 until I graduated from CCNY in 1966. I lived in the Park View apartment building on 113th Street at 77th Avenue, one of seven buildings around the garden. I remember how, every spring, the gardens were full of blooming tulips. The streets were two-way, but most were changed to one-way. There weren't too many kids, my age, as we were war babies. One of our favorite activities was to roller skate down the hill on 77th, and turn the corner onto 113th Street. It was also a good hill for sledding in the winter. Some of the other kids, from the class of '56, who lived there were: William (Billy) Fried, Lynn Lopin, Judith Fischman, Betsy Morris and Michael Feigan. (Sorry if I misspelled any names.) I haven;t been back in many years, but I'll visit the old stomping grounds the next time I'm there.