The Eagles Fly Again at Forest Hills Stadium

By Michael Perlman |

Every community has its mysteries, and one remains unsolved at the Stadium.

The two stone eagles that vanished at the base of the iconic Forest Hills Stadium seven decades ago have at last been closely replicated, but in steel with high-tech illumination, and made their way from Rio Rancho, New Mexico and installed.

One of two long-gone stone eagles & Bill Tilden, 1937, Courtesy of Michael Perlman.

The eagles traversed nine states in their 2,000-mile drive before arriving in New York: New Mexico (where they were built), Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Some people may say that the eagles flew in just in time for this summer’s centennial festivities at what was America’s first tennis stadium, later co-adapted into a concert venue and revitalized in 2013.

A sticker featuring an eagle sculpture and a centennial logo read “The Eagles Fly on Friday,” coincided with the unveiling of the two eagles on June 9 during the Dave Matthews Band concert. Their alternating colors formed a beat of their own, as a shoulder-to-shoulder audience danced the night away.

Eagles centennial sticker for Dave Matthews Band.

The archives at the West Side Tennis Club (WSTC) have been unable to determine why the original two stone eagles at far corners of the lower seat level were removed, or potentially where they were relocated to. 

“Several eagles that decorated the classic Penn Station and Grand Central Station were rediscovered over the years, and the Archives Council hopes that will materialize at the Stadium,” said WSTC Archives Committee co-chair Bea Hunt. “From documents in the recently acquired Bud Collins Tennis Library and photos in the archives, we have been able to determine that the eagles were removed following the 1951 National Championships and before the 1952 Championships.”

Behind the scenes, frame & feathers.

Some history buffs speculated that Alfred Hitchcock’s filming of “Strangers on a Train” during the 1950 Davis Cup cast a spell on them.

Some materials indicate that the stone eagles surrounding the upper perimeter of the Stadium are original from 1923. “One and possibly more eagles have been reconstructed over the years. The one we know of is from 1950, when Althea Gibson was playing,” said Hunt.

Additional research is underway, but as for the original stone eagles, if any longtime WSTC members or the public can pinpoint their whereabouts and reason for removal, the Archives Council is all ears:

Erecting a frame alongside historic Eagle prints.

Now it’s time to step behind the scenes and embark on a journey of the nearly replicated two eagles, which are now designed in steel. Norman C. Ruth is Vice President of Deluxe Design, Inc, who collaborated with sculptor Jake Smith.

“The mystery behind the original eagles is fantastic,” said Ruth.

Since the first efforts were made to restore and reinvent Forest Hills Stadium as a viable concert venue, Deluxe Design has been on scene.

“Our firm alongside the Stadium team and creative director Bill Sullivan, pushed the envelope in exploring, designing, and manufacturing the branded signage. Now our involvement in the eagle project has truly been an honor that we hold close to us, and we choose to elevate every aspect of the project,” said Ruth.

Norm Ruth & Jake Smith

“I am honored and couldn’t be prouder that my work is part of the living history that is Forest Hills Stadium,” said Smith.

Ruth feels historic preservation is essential. “Our history as a creative society has been, and continues to be erased by the next real estate project such as a strip mall, but our commitment to the future must be to also preserve the past,” he said. As for Smith, he considers preservation as imperative for maintaining and evolving the cultural values that reflect communities. “In the case of a stadium like Forest Hills, preservation is also an opportunity to build community through shared experiences and traditions,” he continued.

As American society all too often pitches a throwaway culture, Smith speculates that one or both eagles were likely damaged and presumably sent to a landfill.

Lane Glover, Jake Smith, Nick Price, Justin Ruth.

Stepping into the stadium, Ruth reminisced what the ambiance was initially like. “Every crack, flaw and aged surface gives me a feeling of nostalgia, and respect for the craftspeople and masters of trades that brought the building to life 100 years ago. What a time it must have been!”

His personal celebration was the feeling of satisfaction of a successful adventure, and a dance with the Dave Matthews Band.

Sharing Ruth’s emotions, Smith could spend hours eyeing various architectural features. “I also love that it is vibrant and full of life. It is a whimsical place that honors its history, while granting visitors a modern entertainment experience,” he added.

A team effort, Deluxe Design VP Norm Ruth, sculptor Jake Smith, concert manager Mike Luba.

Forest Hills Stadium concert manager Mike Luba emailed Ruth on March 13 at 4:36 p.m. with links depicting the eagles. “He asked me to give him a shout, and that’s when the wheels started turning,” said Ruth. Smith received a firm go-ahead around April 10, and he would apply his handiwork for an amazing 345 hours spanning seven weeks.

“Each sculpture is 513 pounds and 64 inches in height, with approximate 48-inch wide wings, shoulder to shoulder,” continued Ruth. The steel eagles are powder-coated with a semi-holographic glimmer in “Interstellar” color.

Side by side eagles under 1923 cornerstone.

Smith, who sculpted eagles that he considers a modern interpretation of the originals, explained a detailed process. “I was given several historical photos and a video in which one of the surviving (uppermost) eagles was measured at several points. Norm produced large-scale prints of the historical photos. I was then able to transfer the measurements from the video onto the prints, and properly scale the sculpture as I built it.”

After determining the scale and proportions, Smith mainly worked from the bottom up, originating with the bases that house much of the lighting. He explained, “I built a tubular structure that acted as a framework in which to add and shape feathers, as well as a guidepost for proportions and symmetry. I made templates for the various types of feathers, cut them out, and shaped them. Throughout the sculpture, I left air gaps and spaces around the feathers for the internal lighting feature. The heads involved the most metal shaping. They are made from 18-gauge steel, which is the thinnest on the sculpture. They were made using an English wheel, hammer and dolly, and a shrinker/stretcher system.”

Transporting a nearly replicated eagle into the colonnade.

All great projects are built on challenges, and in this case, it was a tight timeline. “I put other work on hold to complete this project, but I could in no way sacrifice quality or detail for the sake of a deadline. It meant long hours in the shop, and my wife, Kayleigh, taking over a lot of my parenting and household responsibilities. I couldn’t have gotten through it without her,” said Smith.   

Projects at the stadium materialize due to a history of close bonds. The trek from New Mexico was combined with visiting family members and friends. Ruth explained, “This ‘sneak peek’ tour was very much in the spirit of flying high with eagles, as we were grounded in the warmth of our visits. We stopped at Jake Smith’s cousins in Tulsa, Oklahoma and St. Louis, Missouri. I was able to visit my sister in Springfield, Ohio, and a dear friend at an assisted living facility in Princeton, New Jersey.”

Luba and Ruth met in fall 1997 at a String Cheese Incident concert in Gallup, New Mexico. Norm reminisced, “I drove our bus, Terrapin Trailways, and provided lighting special effects using oil projectors, similar to the early concerts in the 1960s. The folks that put on this event were unveiling a large sculpture of one of the late Jerry Garcia’s guitars, ‘Rosebud.’ This sculpture can be seen when traveling along I-40 at an outdoor sculpture garden. We have remained close brothers ever since, engaging on endless fun and creative projects.”

Hoisting up an eagle, Eddie on left, Forest Hills Stadium General Manager Jason Brandt on right.

Deluxe Design is on a mission to design and create exceptional signs, awards, and screen-printed products through optimism, teamwork, and collaboration. Ever since 1986, the firm has been considered an industry leader that maintains solid relationships with organizations and individuals, which span local companies to international corporations such as Live Nation, AEG, Samsung, and Intel. They take pride in identifying a client’s needs and employing a collective organizational experience to facilitate plans for design, execution, and utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and technology to yield exquisite results.

Smith’s mission is to feed his passion, but not without feeding his family. “I’m completely addicted to making things with my hands, and this is what I have to do for a living,” he said. “There are causes that I am passionate about, and sometimes use my art to support it through donating proceeds.”

What can be considered a sculpture is debatable. Smith’s early career focused primarily on hand-built motorcycles, where many were featured internationally in magazines and on television. He also feels fortunate to be selected as one of six artists to create functional public art in Sartell, MN from remnants of a historic paper mill that succumbed to a fire. “I had a well-received series of five metal sugar skulls. I have also been showing a metal butterfly pierced with a two-foot safety pin that I absolutely love.” As for functional art, he creates artistic gates, handrails, and benches.

Let there be light with two eagles at Dave Matthews Band concert.

Unlike the two original eagles that vanished less than three decades after their installation in 1923, the replacements are here to grace and energize the next generations of concertgoers at the historic Stadium.

Forest Hills Festival Uniting Communities For A Generation

2019 Forest Hills Festival of the Arts on Austin St. Photo: Michael Perlman

By Michael Perlman |

For over 20 years, the Forest Hills Festival has been a tradition that unites Forest Hills residents and visitors with local merchants and nearby businesses, offering nearly every type of service.

On June 11 from 10 AM to 6 PM, diverse international foods and high-quality merchandise including novelties will line Austin Street from 69th Road to 72nd Road, and “Restaurant Row” will once again become an outdoor performance venue.

This festival, which is among the most distinctive neighborly and family-friendly events citywide, is the creative vision of Leslie Brown, longtime president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is the 3 C’s: “Commerce, Community, Culture.” “Culture brings the community together and commerce makes the community thrive.” Chamber members consist of 125 local members.

“My goals are to support our community’s small businesses and promote Forest Hills by bringing as many visitors and residents together to enjoy shops, restaurants, and all businesses,” she said.

Not only is Brown the founder of the Forest Hills Festival, but Jazz Thursdays each summer. She reminisced, “The festival came about as a way to showcase Forest Hills businesses and allow its business owners and residents to come together at a fun family event.” Part of her vision was to showcase local talent. Throughout the festival’s history, performers included dance students, martial arts students, fencing students, young musicians from local music schools, local jazz singers, and even world-class performers on a large stage. “This year will be the 3rd annual Sandwich Eating Contest, sponsored by Stacked Sandwich Shop,” she said.

This is community at its finest. She said, “Many families and people plan the start of their summer activities by attending the festival. The rides, the local talent showcased at the beginning, and the entertainment that continues in the mid-afternoon is what everyone looks forward to. There is always something to discover and someone to meet.”

The business district began to take shape after Forest Hills’ founding in 1906, and Austin Street would soon be nicknamed, “The Village.” Even today residents and merchants share long relationships of community support, according to Brown. “Business owners will support a patron’s kids’ Little League team, or a customer will spread the word about a business they love. Mutual respect and connections still exist here, so we need to celebrate such communities, since AI and internet shopping lead us away from human contact,” she said.

Not only have a few new stores opened this year, adding to the community’s diverse offerings, but the owners are ethnically diverse. Year-round, Austin Street becomes a magnet for shoppers from the five boroughs and Long Island.

Nancy Valentin, owner of NV Jewelry, founded her business in June 2010 and participated in at least 10 festivals. She feels additionally proud being raised in Forest Hills. Her kiosk will offer earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings, and of course new jewelry creations. “No matter what circumstances or challenges women have endured in their lives, a piece of jewelry will empower them, and make them feel the very best,” she said.

Michelle Charlesworth of Eyewitness & Nancy Valentin of NV Jewelry.

Valentin embraces the sense of celebration that runs throughout the streets of the festival, as well as the rapport she builds with longtime and new clients. “Leslie Brown does such an amazing job selecting diverse vendors. She always cares about the needs of others, which truly shows,” she continued.

“The Forest Hills Festival is one event I look forward to all year long,” said Christopher Iavarone, owner of Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts at 73-25 Woodhaven Boulevard, which serves the community since 2009 and puts on a show every year. The students will take the stage and provide demonstrations.

Sensei Christopher Iavarone of Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts, Demonstration on Restaurant Row.

“It enables me to plug into the community and showcase kids who worked hard in their classes and give a platform to express themselves through martial arts. I choreograph the moves and the music. The community will have an ‘inside view of our school’ on a daily basis.” Kickboxing and jiu-jitsu are the true forms of the art, but by having different people perform, introduces a new dynamic each year. “When we put up a tent and have a huge tiger, it brings smiles to our community, and then we get to work with people one-on-one,” he continued.

Iavarone explained his mission. “Self-defense and physical conditioning are two most important aspects. We help kids who aren’t confident, but then are able to defend themselves from bullies. Adults also benefit greatly, as soon as they step through our door.” He considers his classes as a 3D activity. “It’s fun, teaches a life skill, and you get fit.”

The musical sensation, Yacht Lobsters, is sailing the waves and will newly take the grand stage on Restaurant Row. The seven-piece ensemble will engage a large audience at 3 PM, followed by a second set at 4:10 PM.

Yacht Rock is a genre that is a conglomeration of many artists, mostly from the 1970s and early 1980s. As a tribute band, the goal is typically to emulate their sounds. “For a tribute to be unique, it’s almost an oxymoron, but we take it pretty seriously. We go beyond copying music by taking songs that we heard a million times and love, and doing something unique,” explained musician David Mendelson of Yacht Lobsters, who anticipates performing and giving back to his birthplace, Forest Hills.

Singing sensation Yacht Lobsters. Photo: Arazelly Guevara

The character of the musicians also distinguishes them from other tribute bands, and Mendelsohn considers their harmonious teamwork a blessing. Afterall, vocal harmonies are a significant element of the genre. “We are trained musicians from NYC, who I feel are some of the best in the world,” he said.

Some staples of Yacht Rock are “Africa” by Toto and “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates. Their repertoire even reflects the sounds of Steely Dan, which bears Forest Hills roots. Yacht Lobsters is big on medleys, and therefore takes segments of classics and consolidates them along a theme, which may include some titles that may not qualify as Yacht Rock, but complements it. “The Magic Medley,” consisting of “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John and “Magic” by Pilot, and it may also allow the audience to hop on a “Magical Mystery Tour” by The Beatles.

Also original is how songs typically performed by high tenor males take on a new context through their female solo vocalist, Charly Kay, a master of blue-eyed soul. The band also takes pride in jamming and improvisation, varying from typical Yacht Rock.

Since the mid-2000s, Rysa Childress, owner of All Star Studios, made a mark on the Forest Hills Festival. She explained, “The kids love dancing for their very own community, and we hope it spreads joy to all. After the performance, our booth turns into one big dance party. You can stop by to get information about our programs and free trials, to just say hi, or to dance with us.”

All Star Studios team performing at their best, 2021. Photo: Rysa Childress

As a small business owner, she strives for a family atmosphere and giving back to the community through their art form is emphasized to all dance students. She explained, “Our Shining Star dance team does do competitions, but that is not our main focus. The teams do a multitude of performances to share their love of dance with the community and fundraise for those in need. Outside of their year-end recital, many team dancers perform for seniors in nursing homes, kids in programs at Queens Center mall, and have done an amazing job with fundraising events and shows for Autism Awareness organizations.” In their studio, she coordinated the PJammin’ Party to fundraise for American Childhood Cancer Association, donate time, gifts, or money to City Harvest, Forestdale Foster Care & Social Services, and From Our Hearts To Your Toes.

For a few years, Dream City, owned by Corrie Hu, has been a festival participant. Dream City is a children’s play and learn center that is on a mission to create a fun and safe learning environment, sparking curiosity while encouraging social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

Corrie Hu, founder of Dream City, 2nd from left.

Hu opened prior to the pandemic in January 2020. She reminisced, “While we were only open for 7 weeks before NYC shut down, I was so touched and amazed at the support from our community, and that we were welcomed back as soon as it was safe to re-open. Dream City is a type of business that requires a high level of trust from parents to bring the most cherished people in their lives to our business, and I am forever grateful for their trust in us.”

Participant Stephanie Khan is a perfect example of a business that recently underwent expansion. Now the Stephanie Khan Medical Office is located at 110-78 Queens Boulevard. Many years ago, statistics revealed that there is a shortage in primary care physicians. Therefore, nurse practitioners were to fill in the gap of primary care. She wants fairgoers to be educated on what is a nurse practitioner and how they can help the health of their loved ones.

Khan explained, “Many illnesses and complications are manageable through medication and lifestyle choices. It is important to have strong communication and relationship with your healthcare provider, which is something I strive for. I also focus on shared decision-making, when it comes to treatment options. My goal is for people to feel empowered over their health and to empower future nurses and nurse practitioners to follow my lead in improving primary care.”

Chef François Danielo and fifth-generation breadmaker of La Boulangerie de François at 109-01 72nd Road, is a mainstay at the festival. He has participated in nearly all since opening in 2011, initiating an authentic bakery cafe experience in Forest Hills. He will always cherish the community’s response. “I will always remember the first time we made crepes outside for a 14th of July, French Bastille Day,” he said.

Francois Danielo of La Boulangerie, right, in September 2017. Photo: Michael Perlman

As patrons sit at a communal table at the café and observe the art of baking through a viewing window, fairgoers have observed the preparation of crepes, in addition to enjoying native pastries. When asked about his favorites, he selected the croissant, and as for more recent additions, Ispahan and Caramel Petit Gateau.

Danielo considers Forest Hills a small town that grants a great warm feeling. “Our bakery is like the town bakery, when patrons come and buy their bread and croissants.”

Twenty-four-year resident Christine Sheehan opened Dude’s Delicious Dog Treats last year. Her kiosk will offer homemade dog treats with quality ingredients. She aspires to grow the brand and business, while contributing to the health of dogs.

Dude’s Delicious Dog Treats table setup. Photo: Christine Sheeha

In response to last year’s festival, she said, “I was thrilled that we sold out, but more importantly with the great community response and most specifically our dog community. Many of our dog park buddies not only purchased items, but to sing the praises of our products to other dog owners. It really warmed my heart to see so much support and meet other dog parents and dogs.”

She founded her business stemming from a passion for dogs, baking, and the many lovely residents she met as a result of getting her dog, Dude. “I never thought that a dog would enrich our lives the way it has, but my husband and I can no longer think of life without him,” she said.

Sheehan will be in front of the new Pet Club that opened on May 14 at 71-24 Austin Street. “Our businesses can support each other by being a gathering area for dog owners,” she said.

Uniting Generations Through Memorials Around Forest Hills

By Michael Perlman |

Throughout Forest Hills, a number of monuments, parks, buildings, and parade routes keep the memory of America’s bravest alive. May we never cease to honor those who dedicated their soul to our country.

On Flagpole Green, formerly Village Green in Forest Hills Gardens, stands an ornate Neo-Classical pink granite and green and gold bronze monument, which honors 102 residents and was dedicated in 1920. The WWI Soldiers & Sailors Memorial was designed by renowned American sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870 – 1952), who lived nearby at 236 Greenway South and operated a studio at 234 Greenway South.

The memorial reads, “Erected by the citizens of Forest Hills in recognition of the patriotic spirit and loyal devotion of the men of this community who served in the Military Forces of The United States in The Great War.” The design represents “The Call to Overseas” above the names on the tablet, including Dr. Joseph MacDonald, Gerald MacDonald, Henry MacDonald, George C. Meyer who served as president of Cord Meyer, and David and Howard Springsteen of the community’s farming family, when Forest Hills was known as Whitepot. Since last summer, residents observed meticulous restoration work, resulting in the polishing of the bronze tablet, which developed a green patina, as far back as most residents can recall.

Midway Theatre Upon Completion in 1942.

The historic Art Moderne style Midway Theatre at 108-22 Queens Boulevard, with its accordion-like façade and vertical beacon, was designed in 1942 by America’s foremost theater architect, Thomas Lamb. Upon making an entrance, theatergoers once took pride in an illuminated Battle of Midway mural. When community residents picked up a copy of The Forest Hills-Kew Gardens Post on September 18, 1942, they came across an ad, which read, “The Midway Theatre has been so named and dedicated as a tribute to the gallant men of our armed forces, who achieved so brilliant a victory at Midway Island.” Patrons were ready for a single-screen theater, where they could enjoy films and attempt to escape the traumas of WWII.

Enter the small forested setting of Samuel Picker Square at 69th Avenue and Burns Street near Forest Hills Stadium and Chatwick Gardens. Situated alongside the fence in an often overlooked spot is a stone bearing an inscription: “This Sitting Area is Dedicated to the Memory of Samuel Picker; Outstanding American, Community Leader and Dedicated Legionnaire; 1921 – 1981; Forest Hills Post 630, The American Legion.” It then bears the names of past officials, Borough President Donald R. Manes and Councilman Arthur J. Katzman.

Samuel Picker Square stone dedication. Photo by Michael Perlman

Samuel J. Picker, a Renaissance man, wore several hats, mostly throughout the 1960s and 1970s, consistently fulfilling his humanitarian spirit. They included Queens County American Legion Commander, Governor of District 20-K Lions International, Queens Cancer Crusade committee member, and President of the National American Legion Press Association. He served as Grand Marshal of the American Legion County Parade in Ridgewood in June 1971, which began with exercises at the War Memorial on Myrtle Avenue and surpassed expectations with 15,000 guests. He also served as president of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, which offered philanthropic gift guide dogs and rehab to qualified blind applicants, where masters and guide dogs were duly trained at the Foundation’s center in Smithtown.

Picker owned the longtime Continental Hardware at 102-01 Metropolitan Avenue. As of 1976, he was a Queens County Grand Jurors Association member, and in 1977, he became founder and first president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce. In 1978, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Mario Cuomo presented him with the Henry G. Wenzel Medal of the American Cancer Society at the Biltmore Hotel dinner dance.

The tour continues with Forest Hills’ earliest extant tributary site, Remsen Cemetery, which was landmarked in 1981. Situated on a park-like setting between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street, the cemetery contains tombstones dating from 1790 through 1819. Flanking a flagpole, two doughboys honor Forest Hills’ service in WWI.

Later addition of limestone tombstones at Remsen Cemetery with doughboys. Photo: Michael Perlman

In Colonial times, it was popular for families to have private cemeteries close to home. The Remsen family erected a homestead on their farm adjacent to the cemetery in 1699, which stood until 1925. Jeromus Remsen Sr. (1735 – 1790) fought in the French and Indian War. As colonel of the Kings and Queens County Militia in the Battle of Long Island, he commanded the 7th New York Regiment in the American Revolutionary War.

The Remsen Park Coalition’s 1981 plaque states, “Within this park lies the remains of Revolutionary War Veteran Colonel Jeromus Remsen. Buried in the confines of this site were his cousins Major Abraham Remsen, Captain Luke Remsen, Lieutenant Aurt Remsen and their families. The Remsen family was amongst the first settlers of this area, originally known as White Pot.” A 1925 survey revealed brownstone grave inscriptions of Jeromus, Anna, Jerome (two), Cornelius, Ann Elizabeth, Bridget, and Major Abraham Remsen. The Veterans Administration erected non-brownstone graves that memorialize Colonel Remsen, Maj. Abraham Remsen, and brothers Aurt and Garrett Remsen, who were also Revolutionary War officers. The vanishing of some brownstone tombstones remains a mystery.

Remsen Farmhouse. Courtesy of Michael Perlman

The Captain Gerald MacDonald Statue stands prominently in MacDonald Park as a bronze sculpture bearing homage to Gerald MacDonald (1882 – 1929), a Forest Hills resident and WWI veteran. He was an officer of engineers, who erected bridges and dug trenches. It was dedicated on May 27, 1934 by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, after American Legion Post 630 allocated $1,500 at the request of WWI veteran Henry MacDonald, Gerald’s brother. The granite base inscription reads: “Capt. Gerald MacDonald; Memorial Dedicated By Forest Hills Post No. 630 The American Legion; To Those Who Served In The World War; 1934.”

The statue was sculpted by Henry MacDonald’s brother-in-law, Frederic de Henwood, and designed by architect William Henry Deacy. As for MacDonald Park, it was officially named on April 25, 1933.

WWI Captain Gerald MacDonald Statue. Photo by Michael Perlman

On May 28, 1933, the New York Times reported, “The ceremonies included a parade through Forest Hills by American Legion posts, Boy and Girl Scouts, and civic groups. Colonel F.W. Stopford of the U.S. Army, who was the principal speaker at the ceremonies, praised Mr. MacDonald’s war service as an officer of engineers at the battle of the Meuse-Argonne.” A rare MacDonald Memorial Games brass medal that represents Forest Hills and WWI history, was rediscovered a few years ago on eBay. It features Captain Gerald MacDonald.

Marching in the spirit of our bravest has been a unifying theme of the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parades. Forest Hills residents can trace an extensive route of historic parades. In 1922, red paper poppies were sold by a group of young ladies for 10 cents, and the proceeds benefited the veterans’ Mountain Camp. They hoped that everyone in Forest Hills would wear a poppy, which would pay tribute to wounded soldiers in the war. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was read, and the Forest Hills Choral Club led “My Country Tis’ of Thee.”

In June 1923, The Forest Hills Bulletin captured how a multi-generational community bonded and paid tribute: “On Memorial Day, the Forest Hills Post of the American Legion conducted services on the Green, in which they honored Rice Bassett, Whitney Bowles, Clarence O. Collins and Lewis Serlin from Forest Hills, who rendered the supreme sacrifice during the war. Commander Thomas B. Paton, Jr. was in charge.” A parade was led by a fifteen-piece Naval Reserve Band.

It continued, “During the services, an aeroplane circled over the Green, and Comrade John von Hofe dropped a wreath, to which was attached a message from President Harding. The wreath was placed on the memorial tablet and the message, calling upon the people for renewed consecration to ‘the finest sentiments of national love, devotion and loyalty’ was read. The speakers were Robert W. McCleary, Major, Coast Artillery Corps, and Hon. Robert W. Bonynge, ex-Congressman from Colorado, who both made stirring appeals for national patriotism. The Choral Club led the singing: Lead Kindly Light was sung by the post quartet, and Dr. Latshaw led in prayer.” A Memorial Day essay contest would engage the interest of neighborhood children, including those of Public School 3.

On May 31, 1938, The New York Times published, “In Forest Hills, a Memorial Day parade was headed by a detail from the Sixty-second Coast Artillery (Anti-Aircraft). The American Legion and other veteran organizations took part together with youth auxiliary units. The parade started at Austin St and Ascan Ave and proceeded to the Flagpole Green and thence to Jerry MacDonald Park, and to the Forest Hills Theatre, where exercises were held.”

The 2023 parade will begin on May 28 with an opening ceremony at 11 AM and the parade at 12 PM along Metropolitan Avenue. Now it is time to take a look back at American Legion Continental Post 1424 at 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue, which made it all possible. The American Legion was incorporated by Congress in 1919, and is known as the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ service organization. It maintains a mission to mentor youth and sponsor wholesome community programs, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to fellow service members and veterans.

At the American Legion’s Forest Hills post, a plaque commemorates past commanders. The earliest recorded is James P. Grimes in 1946, alongside names including Stanley J. Koerner in 1953, John Civita from 1968 to 1969, and Arthur L. Dunckelman from 1984 to 1987. Former Forest Hills resident Michael Albetta served as parade coordinator from 1978 to 1990, president and founder of the Remsen Park Coalition which helped restore and landmark Remsen Cemetery, and was coordinator of the “Colonel Remsen Memorial Encampment.”

Remsen Memorial Encampment. Courtesy of Michael Albetta

Sponsored by the American Legion Continental Post 1424 and the Remsen Park Coalition, the May 30, 1979 parade was predicted to be the largest of its kind countrywide, with hundreds of marchers and nearly 5,000 spectators. It culminated with ceremonies in commemoration of veterans at Remsen Cemetery, including Revolutionary War Colonel Jeromus Remsen.

The 1980 Forest Hills Memorial Day Festival marked an expansion to a two-day event. On May 25, over 200 Colonial troops participated in the “Colonel Remsen Memorial Encampment,” held at Greenfield Park bordering Union Turnpike. Attendees acquired a taste of Colonial life, complete with the era’s crafts. The next day, over 2,000 marchers proceeded along Metropolitan Avenue from the turnpike, which was the parade’s former starting point.

Ceremony Sparks Dialogue for Tea Garden’s Rebirth

Attendees in front of the historic gate bearing Forest Hills logo. Photo: Michael Perlman

By Michael Perlman |

Behind an ornate gate on Greenway Terrace and under an over century-old Gothic archway-inspired tree canopy lies the Tea Garden, which opened in 1912 as part of the iconic Forest Hills Inn. Today, Jade Eatery & Lounge’s party room in Forest Hills Gardens leads to this historic yet long-forgotten Tudor-style retreat, awaiting further restoration and revitalization.

On May 7 at 4 PM, a traditional “Tea Time” gathering took center stage in the Tea Garden, where a very engaged assemblage of members of the New York Tea Society (NYTS) met local residents. They made friends while exploring the art of drinking tea, shared tea stories and site history, and envisioned the garden’s beautification and future capabilities.

Tea Garden circa 1912. Photo courtesy of Olmsted Archives.

“We want to bring our history back,” said Kumar, the owner of Jade Eatery, who treats patrons like an extended family and shared over an hour of quality time with ceremonial guests. “Everyone is very much excited, and I am so honored to be part of the Tea Garden. The tea society brought along great flavored tea that was nice and hot, and they gave us a great presentation.” Kumar plans to partner with the organization and serve a variety of carefully selected teas.

Tea is the second most consumed drink worldwide. NYTS, which operates out of a Forest Hills tea studio and holds gatherings on weekends and digitally taps into an international fanbase, is on a mission to “facilitate the gathering of tea enthusiasts to promote tastings, discussions and education about tea and tea culture.”

Roy Lamberty, founder and president of NYTS and a director of food and beverage of Marriott Hotels, served a Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong known as Dayuling. “It is a very floral and bright tea, perfect for a spring day. Meeting other Forest Hills neighbors and introducing a Chinese gongfu tea service is our passion at NYTS. If I could do it every day, I would, and I loved meeting everyone,” he said.

Roy Lamberty, New York Tea Society President. Photo by Michael Perlman

Authenticity conveys value. A gaiwan was used and small traditional three-sip cups. “High Mountain Oolong is a tea that holds all of its original nutrients that are within the semi-oxidized tea. It contains hints of chestnut flavor paired with a nutty aroma,” said Forest Hills resident David Edelman, a very active NYTS member since 2020. He is a social studies teacher at Union Square Academy for Health Sciences in Manhattan, who takes his passion a step further by operating a tea club.

Eyeing the future, Lamberty envisions Indian, English, and Chinese tea sessions coexisting, pending Kumar’s approval. “It would be filled with historical and mythological stories, which would amaze guests,” he said.

As for Edelman, he explained, “The NYTS would love to host future tea gatherings in the historic Tea Garden to introduce more people to tea culture, and experience the simple enjoyment of thoughtfully preparing and drinking tea with new friends.”

Edelman imagines spending an afternoon in the garden, ringing the tea bell to order cup after cup. “Ringing the bell helps one to connect with the neighborhood’s allure and hidden history. The Tea Garden is a little gem, hidden within the larger treasure of Forest Hills Gardens.”

He overheard commentary from attendees who discussed a need for local routine historical walking tours. “I could visualize the Tea Garden being the meeting place for such events, as well as a community space to recreate and celebrate local history. One can easily envision music, magic, theater, dance, all within this space.”

The tea gathering continued along the path of restoration, since on March 31, preservationists were first to witness the delivery of a highly stylized “Ring For Tea” stand, after the original vanished approximately 75 years ago. Attendees also rang its circa 1890s bell and drank tea. The replication was made possible through tours and puzzle sales by this columnist, in partnership with volunteer civil engineer Bea Hunt, Flushing Iron Weld and Noble Signs.

The Tea Garden was designed by Forest Hills Gardens principal architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. It once accommodated Forest Hills Inn guests and their friends with afternoon teas, dinner dances, plays by The Gardens Players, wedding receptions, dog shows, flower shows and July 4th events. However, when the Forest Hills Inn underwent conversion into a residence in 1968, the Tea Garden gradually became neglected.

Tea Garden circa 1912. Photo courtesy of Olmsted Archives.

The July 12, 1924 edition of The Forest Hills Bulletin read, “The Tea Garden of the Forest Hills Inn is a veritable fairyland, when lighted with Japanese lanterns, with the trickling fountain heard in the background, and a new moon shining overhead. There is no more delightful place in Greater New York for one to spend the dinner hour.” Every evening during the warmer months between 6:30 and 9 PM, a delectable dinner was served, to the music of the Inn Trio, such as Dvorak’s “Humoresque,” Nevin’s “A Day in Venice,” Godard’s “Canzonetta,” and Albeniz’s “A Night In Seville.”

Fast-forwarding nearly 100 years, Alexandra Gecin of Forest Hills first noticed the serenity and relaxation upon stepping into the Tea Garden. She explained, “Imagining the weddings, celebrations and afternoon teas that took place many years ago, as well as a working central fountain, cascading fountain and turtle pond, and thriving plants that existed, only added to its ‘secret garden’ feel. The icing on the cake, and hopefully the start of a fruitful restoration, was Perlman’s replication of the Ring For Tea stand, with a Gardens blue-green paint and a bell from Ukraine.”

NY Tea Society & residents join Kumar at the replicated Ring For Tea stand. Photo courtesy of Jade staff

Gecin also had no idea that a tea society existed in Forest Hills, and considered it a “lovely surprise.” “The second surprise was that the head of the society actually planned a tea ceremony for us and we could chat about it,” she continued.

She shared her vision for the Tea Garden’s future. “In addition to celebrations in a restored Tea Garden, I envision a full British tea service, with finger sandwiches and pastries in the warmer months, and a hot chocolate/s’mores/fondue chalet-type experience in colder months. The fountain could become a fire pit in the winter to gather around. It would also be landscaped with shade-loving perennials and evergreens, to have even more of that garden feel year-round.”

Babylon resident Alexander Nguyen was unaware of how many people were interested in not only tea, but the whole culture and history surrounding tea. “As I grew up, I always thought that tea was just a drink for adults, usually in the morning and during dinner, since it was sweet, sugary, and full of color. Now that I have grown up and experienced the culture of the New York Tea Society, I learned that tea is often more than just a drink, but a centerpiece of social events between friends, and strangers alike, snacking on cookies, or talking about tea.”

Tea Garden in 1950s with famed interior designer Dorothy Draper’s influence. Photo: Michael Perlman Postcard Collection

Nguyen stepped into this columnist’s exhibition at Jade’s gallery, which features restored vintage prints of the Tea Garden. “It made me wonder what events occurred in the garden, what kind of life it had, and what kind of stories could be told from its weathered walls and surface patina,” he said.

Nguyen felt that the Ring For Tea stand’s replication was a delight, adding to a surreal feeling of standing in a place of history upon viewing the vintage photos, which featured the original tea stand.

He explained his vision. “The Tea Garden could be restored to its prime, as a piece of serenity amidst a busy and bustling city. If the fountain were to be restored, then the garden would be like something out of a fairytale; a secluded sanctuary covered by trees and bushes, with the fountain at the center of it all.”

“The Tea Garden is beautiful, even in its semi-abandoned state, and hearing stories about its wedding receptions and the social and communal events at the Forest Hills Inn was very touching,” said Jamaica resident Aayesha Ayub, who found the area to be full of hope for a new life. “It was nice to see people from all walks of life and ages gather to experience a common love and interest. Having a space for the community to connect is my hope, and I would love to plant additional forestry to help create a more beautiful space that people can enjoy once again.”

Children at the cascading fountain & turtle pond circa 1912. Photo courtesy of Olmsted Archives.

The peaceful and inviting Tea Garden and all it represents, is inspiring for its historical value for the community, according to Rosa M. Lazon of Forest Hills. “It could be the perfect space for community gatherings and cultural events, including tea ceremonies and educational artistic events,” she said.

Lazon described her experience as unique and educational, as the members of the tea society are very passionate about sharing their knowledge of tea ceremonies. “I want to express my great appreciation for what all supporters are doing to restore and preserve the Tea Garden,” she continued.

To support the Tea Garden initiative or volunteer, join the Facebook group. Additionally, to become an active member of the New York Tea Society and learn more, visit their page.

Remembering Legends Jerry Springer & Harry Belafonte

Jerry Springer, FHHS Class of 1961 yearbook portrait. Photo courtesy of Herb Kunkes

By Michael Perlman |

Each night there will be two brighter stars in the sky in memory of local icons who achieved international recognition. One is Jerry Springer, who was born Gerald Norman Springer in 1944 and passed away on April 27. Another is Harry Belafonte, who was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. in 1927 and passed away on April 25.

Jerry Springer, a native of London, who was born in an underground railway station turned bomb shelter, once resided at the Roger Williams at 83-33 Austin Street in Kew Gardens and began 1st grade at Public School 99. He also lived in Park City at 97-07 63rd Road, and was a 1961 Forest Hills High School graduate who pursued drama. In a 2011 clip for PIX 11, where he grew up watching the Yankees from 1 PM to 7:30 PM, he said, “Every single birthday, we come back to New York” and “I have a lot of difficulty giving up my roots. This is my blood living here. I love it and never stopped loving New York.”

In this columnist’s book, “Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park,” Springer wrote the foreword, which read: “Forest Hills – It was an idyllic place to grow up. The 1950s: A sense of neighborhood and the American Dream. Friends lived in the same apartment building or on the same block. We went to school together, played in the schoolyard together, and rooted for the same teams together. We were all going to college, and my first job was working as a ball boy at the West Side Tennis Club for the U.S. Tennis Championships. What was not to like?  And Simon and Garfunkel were a year ahead of me at Forest Hills High School.”

Jerry Springer’s 5th grade class, PS 99, 1954, Springer in 4th row, 2nd from right. Photo courtesy of Carol Feigl Paplin.

His father, Richard Springer, was the owner of a local shoe shop, whereas his mother, Margot nee Kallmann worked as a bank clerk. Due to the Holocaust, his Jewish parents fled Landsberg an der Warthe in Prussia and emigrated to London. However, most of his relatives passed away as a result.

Springer pursued political science at Tulane University and earned a law degree at Northwestern University. He was an aide for Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. As the 56th mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio at age 33 in 1977, he was considered one of the country’s youngest. Pursuing an alternate career path, he became a news anchor and managing editor of NBC in Cincinnati.

In 1991, he began achieving prominence as a television personality on his daily talk show, “The Jerry Springer Show,” which originated with a politically-based format. That was followed by being rebranded in 1994. It featured everyday people on a stage, battling out disputes among family and significant others, which focused on controversial topics. It ran through 2018, holding a record for a longest running talk show, with nearly 5,000 episodes. From 2015 through 2022, he was also the face behind “The Jerry Springer Podcast.”

Springer’s presence on TV and in films was diverse, as he starred in the film “Citizen Verdict,” hosted “Springer on the Radio,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Price Is Right Live!” in Vancouver’s Boulevard Casino and “Baggage and Tabloid.” His comedic skills were prevalent when he starred as Billy Flynn in the musical, “Chicago.”

Springer was the recipient of various accolades, which included the Laurence Olivier Award for the British musical “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” influenced by his diverse life and talk show. He was also an Emmy Award-winning newscaster and country artist. In 1995, he released an album titled “Dr. Talk.” He also sang Elvis five years ago on “The Ray D’Arcy Show.”

Springer also achieved success as a lawyer with the firm Grinker, Sudman & Springer and was the host of “Judge Jerry,” airing from 2019 to 2022.

Upon Springer’s death in Chicago, Illinois, BBC referenced him as televising “fringes of (American) society to a global audience” and commended him as “an era-defining television host.”

Harry Belafonte, a Harlem native, is being remembered as a talented singer, composer, social activist and actor who broke racial barriers. In fact, Belafonte was a trailblazer as one of the first black singers to sell a million records and have an immense fan base on film. He popularized calypso music with international audiences as of the 1950s and also resided in East Elmhurst at that time. As of 1957, Belafonte had four albums released under RCA Victor, and “Calypso” sold one million copies.

Harry Belafonte singing in 1954. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

In an interview with the Long Island Star-Journal in April 1957, he explained that as a child, he owned no records and not even a radio, as a result of his family living in poverty. He said, “We were hungry as kids. We didn’t even have our own hand-me-downs to wear. My father’s clothes were strictly his work clothes as a tailor.”

This charismatic balladeer and folk singer appeared on August 25 to August 27, 1961 at the Forest Hills Music Festival at the iconic Forest Hills Stadium, and had a return engagement on July 31 to August 2, 1964 with singer and songwriter Miriam Makeba. On July 31, he exhibited perfect pitch with flawless tempo, and his repertoire included “Day-O” (The Banana Boat Song), “Every Night When The Sun Goes Down,” “Glory Manager” and “John Henry.” With a harmonious expression, he performed “Jamaica Farewell during the second half of the program. Long Island Star-Journal readers picked up Walter Kaner’s popular column that August and read, “Harry Belafonte pocketed $75,000 for his three shows at the Forest Hills Stadium last weekend. Some 35,000 show-goers shelled out $175,000 to witness his performances.”

Belafonte sang soulful renditions of Jewish classics such as “Hava Nagila” and “Erev Shel Shoshanim” (Evening of Roses). These songs are staples at weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

1964 Forest Hills Music Festival poster featuring Harry Belafonte. Photo courtesy of Michael Perlman.

As a humanitarian and performer, he recorded a double album in April 1959, “Belafonte at Carnegie Hall,” which benefited The New Lincoln School and Wiltwyck School.

Boulevard Tavern, later renamed The Boulevard was the go-to entertainment venue and social establishment at 94-05 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park from the 1930s to the late 1960s. It attracted the likes of Belafonte, as well as other big names such as Tony Bennett, Jerry Vale, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Connie Haines, and Peggy Lee.

Belafonte starred in films including “Carmen Jones” (1954), “Island in the Sun,” (1957) which was screened at the Midway Theatre, and “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959). In 1954, he was a Tony Award recipient after starring in John Murray Anderson’s “Almanac.” He also achieved a record as the first black performer to receive an Emmy for “Tonight with Harry Belafonte,” a television special.

As a Civil Rights activist, Belafonte participated in marches and helped coordinate them. He developed a close relationship in 1956 with Martin Luther King Jr. and collaborated, and was joined by other entertainers and elected officials. He made Civil Rights his priority in the early 1960s and produced a benefit concert in response to the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott that helped King become nationally recognized. He fundraised to bail King among other protestors out of jail and helped coordinate Washington’s Freedom March. In Belafonte’s 2011 memoir, “My Song,” he wrote, “I was having almost daily talks with Martin” and “I realized that the movement was more important than anything else.”

Civil Rights March on Washington, DC, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Charlton Heston, 1963 ay Lincoln Memorial. Photo by Rowland Scherma.

In 1985, Belafonte was instrumental in consolidating musicians for the iconic song, USA for Africa’s “We Are The World,” which featured a supergroup of 46 vocalists.

Belafonte was a real estate investor who took much pleasure in owning the Old Farm estate in Chatham, New York, a 21-room apartment at 300 West End Avenue and two condos in the Central Savings Bank Building, situated at 2100 Broadway.

His mighty words include, “I am an activist who happened to be an artist” and “Each and every one of you has the power, the will and the capacity to make a difference in the world in which you live in.” The Harry Belafonte 115th Street Library, a historic McKim, Mead & White building in Harlem, casts a spirit in his memory.

Golden Age postcards spotlight Valentine’s Day

By Michael Perlman

Most Valentine’s Day postcards are vivid and graceful lithographs, where some feature hand-colored scenes or illustrated couples, children, cherubs and flowers, along with romantic greetings or poetry.

The majority were published between 1898 and 1918, with those from the 1920s and 1930s in fewer quantities.

Today, all are considered to be collectible works of art and range from a few dollars to over one hundred dollars, depending on their artistry, publisher and rarity.

In 1873, the first American “picture postcard” was produced. Today, a significant number of postcards from the late 19th and early to mid-20th century exist in an excellent state with fine penmanship and one-cent and two-cent stamps.

Deltiology is the collection and study of postcards, which derives from “deltion,” a Greek term for a writing tablet or letter.

A postcard collector is a deltiologist. Several decades ago, postcards could be found at a corner pharmacy, but today, vintage postcards are found on eBay and at estate sales and postcard shows.

Nearly every theme is represented, including hometowns, hobbies and holidays.

As traditional and original Valentine’s Day postcards were, innovation also made a mark. A circa late teens postcard features a girl who is a recipient of her admirer’s feelings, being transmitted through a radio receiver with headphones.

A romantic poem with unique calligraphy, particularly at the beginning of each sentence, reads: “Through the air fly with me; Where the heart is light and free, You are my love, and I am thine ~ ; Don’t say, nay, my Valentine.”

An Ellen Clapsaddle masterpiece

The spirit of early 20th century senders lives on, thanks to postcards.

A handwritten message, addressed to Bessie Pierce of Washington, PA from McDonald, PA, reads, “Don’t you think that is a nice little girl, but I know one that is a whole lot nicer, don’t you.”

The reverse bears a Wolf Advertising Co. trademark featuring a wolf in front of a globe. The design was the result of Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (1865 – 1934), a significant artist whose style has drawn much admiration, making her a most prolific postcard and greeting card artist of her era.

She is responsible for making postcards more marketable and is credited with over 3,000 such designs. Her artwork was also featured on porcelain, trade cards, paper fans and calendars.

She was recognized for painting children of various cultures, although some of her designs feature other subjects.

Among the most graceful postcards features an elegant southern lady, wearing a Victorian-style dress in front of an ornate bridge in a garden, topped by lanterns, and experiencing “Valentine thoughts.”

Elegant John Winsch postcard

Embossed red and gold hearts and ornate gold and floral motifs lend to its Art Nouveau feel.

This design was copyrighted in 1913 by prominent artist John Winsch (1865 – 1923) of Stapleton, New York. He was co-manager of Art Lithographic Publishing Co.

Many of his cards were published in sets, and he produced approximately 4,000 designs between 1910 and 1915.

He was highly recognized for his holiday themes, as well as his use of European artists who worked with his German printers.

A circa 1914 Auto Series postcard can be considered a crossover postcard under daily romance and Valentine’s Day themes.

Bright large flowers add character to a shaded forested pathway, where couples in fashionable period attire are ready to embrace in a classic automobile and while taking a leisurely stroll.

This postcard evokes the ambiance of the classic “Lovers’ Lane,” characterized by an off the beaten track narrow dirt road accompanied by hedges and trees, where people make out. This phrase appeared in the Oxford English dictionary as early as 1853.

Carl Benz was the first to apply for a patent for a vehicle powered by a gas engine in 1886, so as of this circa 1914 postcard, the advent of the automobile was still being celebrated.

During the Victorian era and shortly after, a charming porch was a commonality for transitioning from a front garden into a home.

Sitting on a rose-embellished porch is a mother on a rocking chair, reading a book. Several decades ago, it was customary to ask one’s parents if they could court a significant other. “Oh, go ahead. Ask her if I can be your Valentine,” said a girl to a boy. The children dressed up for the occasion, ribbon and all.

Children courting, A Whitney gem

This circa 1910 postcard features elegant typography, where “Post Card” is surrounded by a Colonial feather-like design and below reads, “Whitney Made Worcester, Mass.”

The Geo. C. Whitney Company’s principal was George Clarkson Whitney (1842 – 1915), whose motto was “Industry, punctuality and Christianity.” His firm became a notable publisher of postcard greetings and holiday cards on specialty papers. The center of the American Valentine industry was based in Worcester, thanks to his dedication.

In 1915, “Worcester Magazine” published, “Ninety percent of the valentines that are exchanged on St. Valentine’s Day come from Worcester.” One noteworthy principle that distinguished Whitney is that he did not support “using love’s gifts as a medium for ridicule.” His son Warren and grandson George assumed the operations, but as of 1942, the largest and earliest manufacturer of valentines worldwide, shuttered.

An attractive brunette or blonde woman poses in varying directions within a heart in this 1910 Fortune Valentine Series of postcards, which read “To my Valentine” and “Queen of my Heart.”

Fortune Valentine Series by E Nash

The heart-themed playing cards, distinguished by their layout within the series, consistently reveal kings and queens. Gold or silver gilded Art Nouveau motifs contribute to its regal nature.

This series was produced by the New York City-based E. Nash Company, which was in operation from 1908 to 1910, and was regarded as a well-respected publisher and illustrator of holiday and patriotic postcards.

Some postcards are highly desirable as a result of their ornate designs that dominate the space.

All eyes are on a couple kissing within a heart, which is surrounded by a series of gold embossed frames dotted with distinctive hearts and pastel backdrops. The background resembles a parchment paper with horns upon the uppermost curves. Below the heart is a ribbon adorned basket of hearts and feathers. This 1910 postcard is unmarked by a publisher and unsigned by an artist, which adds to the mystery of determining a postcard’s history.

It was the end of an era in 2010, when the longtime Buster Brown Shoes, with its animated Buster Brown and dog Tige caricature sign at 71-24 Austin Street, shuttered.

Buster Brown originated in 1902 by Richard F. Outcault (1863 – 1928), a pioneer in the modern comic strip. This postcard asks, “Will you be my valentine? Read the answer in the stars,” and the stars indeed respond.

Such Outcault signed Buster Brown and Tige series postcards (Valentine Series No. 112) were among many humorous and romantic themed postcards by Raphael Tuck & Sons.

This prominent publishing firm was founded in London by Raphael Tuck (1821 – 1900) and operated from 1866 to 1959. Other addresses included Paris, Berlin, Montreal, and 298 Broadway and 122 – 124 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

In 1894, his son, Adolph Tuck, created their first picture postcard. The firm was referenced as “Art publishers to their majesties the king and queen,” since Queen Victoria granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1883.

Little Free Library creates international trail

Residents giving the gift of reading

By Michael Perlman

The Little Free Diverse Library at FHHS, Ribbon-cutting ceremony, May 2021, Courtesy of FHHS Librarian Lindsay Klemas

“Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be,” reads a stenciled slogan on the side of a decorative Little Free Library book-sharing box on a Colonial rowhouse lawn at 100-21 67th Drive.

The concept of taking a book and giving a book is going strong, not only in Forest Hills, but internationally.

Founded in 2009, Little Free Library is a non-profit in St. Paul, Minnesota that partners with an extensive coalition of stewards who embrace giving the gift of reading, rather than discarding unwanted books.

There are 16 staff members, who work diligently to support greater than 150,000 Little Free Libraries in 115 countries.

Last year, an app was launched, enabling the public to locate those libraries in close proximity or on the other side of the world:

“Through Little Free Library book exchanges, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds,” said Margret Aldrich, Little Free Library’s director of communications.

Originating a Little Free Library is a wonderful way to build community, inspire readers and improve book access, according to Aldrich. She also views it as a meaningful project for families, schools and many community organizations to bring an outdoor library to life.

“Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read,” Aldrich said.

In the U.S., two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own. Additionally, there are over 30 million adults nationwide who are unable to read or write above a third-grade level.

In areas where books are scarce, the book-sharing boxes especially play an essential role by providing 24/7 access to books and fostering a passion for reading.

Little Free Library seeks to fill “book deserts” and grant libraries to underserved communities through its Impact Library Program, among other initiatives. By 2025, they have a goal of funding and sustaining 2,500 Little Free Library boxes in underserved communities across the U.S.

Social media is an essential resource for supporting Little Free Library initiatives. After this columnist posted on Facebook for a volunteer to deliver a donation of 100 books from Middle Village Troop 106 to Little Free Libraries in Forest Hills, a resident of that community and his girlfriend came forward.

Wishing to remain anonymous, he said, “On Sunday, we filled three library stands at Parker Towers and a few people even thanked us. Then we dropped off the rest at Commonpoint Queens Central Y. It was fulfilling and we are more than happy to help anytime.”

Anonymous Middle Village resident visits Parker Towers libraries

After local residents discovered that the power lies in their hands to design outdoor libraries with any theme and shape imaginable, they began to exchange ideas.

An anonymous 99th Street homeowner said, “There’s a lot of foot traffic past my house, and if it gets people to look up from their phones, I would be contributing to our quality of life.”

They envision designing one around an admired Jorge Luis Borges quote: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” which can be spotted near a Cupertino, CA library entrance.

Books would be separated by language and age range. Additionally, nearby supers would be consulted to see if residents discarded books.

Forest Hills resident Carly Tribble visualizes a Little Free Library modeled after a house, and feels that an ideal location would be in front of rowhouses on Clyde Street near Forest Hills Stadium.

“It is challenging to cycle out old books when libraries sometimes do not take donations, so having a space to slowly donate them to our community, while protecting them from the elements, seems useful,” she said.

Local stewards spoke highly of their existing Little Free Libraries.

Forest Hills Little Free Library on 67th Dr near Austin St, Photo by Michael Perlman

“I am a Literacy professor and love books, and believe access to books is so important. This library stocks children and adult books. Come experience the joys of reading,” read a 67th Drive library description on the world app.

Forest Hills High School librarian, Lindsay Klemas, founded the “Little Free Diverse Library,” and feels it is an achievement that enables her school to celebrate a love of literature and diverse voices within the community.

“Books can help us learn to live in a world where everyone is able to be themselves and may be different from us. Reading allows us to build empathy for one another,” she said.

In fall 2020, NYC schools could apply for a grant, and upon its reality, Klemas’ students were excited.

“We had Library Google Meets daily to remain connected. My students were able to see each other in person for the first time to celebrate with an official ribbon-cutting in May 2021. It was a great way for us to come back and celebrate the love of reading diverse books.”

Now as the school roof is being restored, workers erected netting around the library stand, permitting access.

“It was so thoughtful and I felt like it was a symbol of how librarians are fighting to get books into the hands of readers,” she continued.

Judy Vladimir, Commonpoint Queens VP of Development, questioned, “What’s the good in books sitting in bookshelves in homes collecting dust?”

In summer 2020, an outdoor library at the Commonpoint Queens Central Y came to fruition.

She explained, “We have five book clubs between our staff and our Cultural Arts programs, so we decided we wanted to open that idea to the public. We shared our books outside our food pantry, where we always have foot traffic between neighbors, volunteers and even young families dropping off and picking up their little ones from our Early Childhood Center. As a community organization that provides educational opportunities for neighbors of all ages and abilities, books are one of our greatest allies in the quest for knowledge.”

In front of American Legion Continental Post #1424 at 107-15 Metropolitan Avenue is a library stand designed by Forest Hills resident, John Evanchik, of Boy Scout Troop 96.

His mother, Monica Evanchik, said, “John conducted lots of research and wanted to create a library stand, despite not having building experience. Richmond Hill residents Bill and Aleena Knight have been involved with the troop and became his mentors. Home Depot donated supplies. The whole troop got behind him to complete his project, which is a big part of what scouting is about.”

It was completed on Halloween in 2021, and he achieved his eagle scout rank in January 2022.

“The library is used by many residents daily, and it adds to the character of the front, doubling as a planter,” added American Legion Vice Commander Pat Conley.

American Legion Continental Post #1424 Little Free Library, Courtesy of Pat Conley

People are increasingly on the lookout for Little Free Libraries, based on the most unique design ideas and during their travels.

Former Queens resident Gregory Smith is a painter, home improvement contractor and builder of the library stand on Crescent Street in Northampton, Massachusetts. Completed in May 2019, it is a replica of the 1874 Victorian/Italianate Second Empire house behind it, which is owned by Maureen Flannery.

Smith explained, “It was her idea to represent her house and we need our historical sites. I took photos from all different angles. The library’s roof has slates that I incorporated from the house. It’s not only a book exchange, but a focal point that brings the community together in a town of poets and painters. I live five houses away and frequently come across people who ask about it.”

Marilyn Shurka Silk of Delray Beach, Florida, a former Rego Park resident, shared a hybrid concept.

“I live simply and know there are so many people with less,” she said. “Many people make birdhouses, so they can create book houses, and by having a section for non-perishable food, it’s equally important.”

Little Free Library was created by Wisconsinite Todd Herbert Bol in 2009, who then went on to found the organization.

He passed away in 2018, leaving behind a legacy for people across the country to engage with the wholesome concept and embrace the beauty of reading.

Spotlight on music & media agent Ken Franklin

Son of living landmark Bea Franklin shares unique business

By Michael Perlman

Ken Franklin with News 12 LI reporter Jenn Seelig, cameraman Michael & 98 years young SuperMom Bea Franklin, Jan 27, 2023

In last week’s column, a dynamic 98-years-young former Forest Hills resident Bea Franklin shared a treasure trove of local memories and an extensive family history, which encompassed everything from first-hand photos of the Holocaust and political dignitaries to the founding of Pep Boys and Strauss Stores.

Now it is time to step behind the scenes with her son, Ken (Kenjamin) Franklin, a notable music and media agent of RadioActive Talent, Inc., who interviews and represents diverse and influential figures.

“It is really exciting to know that I am able to work with musicians responsible for the music that I have always loved listening to on the radio. I am proud to call them my friends. It’s great how I can land them concert bookings and interviews,” said Franklin, who estimates working with at least 50 influential figures, among many other talented personalities.

Ken Franklin with Cyndi Lauper’s boyfriend/manager David Wolff along with Millennium Records talent Captain Chameleon, 1981

Besides singer-songwriters, his career feels like an intriguing journey, as he makes a difference for bands, best-selling authors, comedians and broadcasters.

Franklin was born in Kew Gardens General Hospital and spent much time exploring Forest Hills with his family.

His first home was in Jamaica Estates with “SuperMom” Bea, father Jerry Franklin and older brothers Rick and Bruce.

Then he relocated to Lawrence, New York, where his mother and brothers continue to call home.

Today, he resides and works in Manhattan, but feels that he left his heart in Queens.

“I love wearing my Queens land F train t-shirt,” he said.

Franklin takes pride in working with Academy and/or Grammy award-winners that had #1 hit songs, such as Franke Previte and former Queens resident John DeNicola, who composed “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes” (the former on his Juno 106 keyboard in Queens) for the 1987 film, “Dirty Dancing.”

Ken Franklin with Academy Award winning singer_songwriter (Dirty Dancing) Franke Previte & TV host Donna Drake

Additionally, he worked with past Queens resident Stacy Widelitz, who co-wrote “She’s Like The Wind” with the late actor, Patrick Swayze, for the film.

“These are among the biggest songs in the history of film,” Franklin said.

Last August, Franklin worked with the Parks Department to screen the film in Washington Square Park for an audience of 500.

Prior to the screening, attendees enjoyed the debut of an exclusive interview with the three composers and Patrick Swayze’s widow, Lisa Swayze. It was moderated by iHeart Radio personality Jeff Stevens.

Over the years, Franklin has booked popular “yacht rock” band Ambrosia among others in destinations including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris and Asia.

Ambrosia is an American rock, jazz fusion and blue-eyed soul band founded in 1970 in Los Angeles, which continues to make international appearances.

This year, Franklin is producing “We Yacht For You” concerts ( starring several of his hit-making friends.

Ken as a commercial FM radio air talent & music director on Texas’ KNCN C101 with 20-time Grammy winner Carlos Santana, along with RadioActive friend Mando, 1977

One influential author that Franklin represents and lands interviews for is Illinois resident Jim Summaria, who is also a rock ‘n’ roll and corporate photographer and a co-host at WHRU, 101.5 FM.

One of his notable published works is a book titled “Classic Rock Photographs from Yesterday & Today,” which also features text by Mark Plotnick.

Summaria photographed legendary musicians ranging from Led Zeppelin, Heart and The Who to Bob Dylan, Genesis and Paul McCartney.

Another client of Franklin is author Bill Schnee, who wrote “Chairman At The Board – Recording The Soundtrack of A Generation,” which features creatively titled chapters including “I’ve Got the Music in Me” and “The Greatest Love of All.”

“He is a two-time Grammy winner who worked with many famous stars, such as The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Miles Davis and Steely Dan [which includes Forest Hills’ own Walter Carl Becker],” Franklin said.

Franklin has many fond memories of Forest Hills and nearby. He and his parents were close friends of Rocky Graziano (1919 – 1990), who ranked 23rd in The Ring magazine of the greatest punchers of all time, and was recognized for taking down an opponent with a single punch.

Franklin reminisced, “Rocky was a world champion middleweight boxer and a popular TV celebrity. Along with his wife Norma, they lived in Parker Towers, a few blocks from the T-Bone Diner, where we would eat. My dad took me to Rocky’s apartment to show me the display case of his gold belts. He and his wife ended up coming to my Bar Mitzvah, a formal affair at Temple Israel in Lawrence, New York.”

Graziano was also seen on a memorable segment of “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson in December 1981.

Anticipating the reopening of the T-Bone Diner [and Delicatessen], he said, “Maybe when the diner reopens, SuperMom Bea can share with the cook the special ingredients in her prized matzah brei. In fact, she can make it right in the kitchen. Maybe they can name a dish after her, such as the Bubbie Bea Special.”

Franklin and his mother plan to visit in the summer.

Shopping and dining in “The Village,” centered along Austin Street in Forest Hills were other outstanding memories.

“I would eat with my grandparents at The Stratton. I also enjoyed seeing a hamburger come to me on a train at Hamburger Express, and then going to the Elliot Shop for clothes and Stride Rite for a new pair of shoes,” he said.

He also has fond memories of patronizing Addie Vallins, an ice cream parlor and candy shop on Continental Avenue.

He continued, “I would go to the iconic Horn & Hardart Retail Shop at 71-63 Austin Street. My mom would get me jelly donuts or rice or bread pudding.”

A sum of 180 H&H Automat self-service cafeterias once dotted New York and Philadelphia.

He pinpointed another tradition. “I would attend the annual Mayor’s Trophy Game at Shea Stadium and also go to the Lemon Ice King in Corona, and I still go back there.”

As for the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which will celebrate its centennial this year, he saw Chris Evert, an American former world No. 1 play in 1977.

Franklin is grateful for his friendship with members of the Grammy Award-winning band, Bruce Hornsby & The Range. They invited him to their Alumni Hall concert at St. John’s University in 1991.

Another highlight was representing Alison Steele (1937 – 1995), who became known as “The Nightbird,” a notable radio personality on WNEW-FM in New York City and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

“I first met her at a concert in Forest Park. Ali was an inspiration to me, as I was getting involved in radio. Then in the early 1990s, I became her talent agent and secured broadcast commercials for her,” Franklin reminisced.

In 2004, Franklin booked a Beatles tribute band at the Ridgewood branch of Ridgewood Savings Bank’s parking lot, followed by another engagement at Terrace on the Park, not long after.

“The later event also functioned as a fundraiser to restore World’s Fair history. As a talent and media agent, I ended up booking The Beatles tribute bands twice in Queens, where my life began, and ironically, The Beatles played nearby at Shea Stadium,” he said.

Life-changing events were what told him that he had to get involved in the music and media business.

He explained, “My parents took me to see my first Broadway show featuring the late great Mary Martin, who starred in ‘The Sound of Music.’ I realized that music would play a very special part in my upbringing. Around ten years later, I listened on the radio to the last concert ever held at the iconic venue, Fillmore East, where the greatest pop-rock musicians performed, from Led Zeppelin to The Allman Brothers Band. When it closed on June 26, 1971, I listened to and recorded the seven-hour broadcast.”

His passion flourished at Long Island University, when he knocked on the door of the radio station on a cold February day and felt it was within him to be on college radio.

Ken Franklin kneeling on left in 1997 with multi-platinum band Ambrosia after a live in-studio performance on KLOS-FM LA, The Mark & Brian Show

That would evolve into commercial radio and employment with Millennium Records, a now defunct division of RCA Records.

Franklin undoubtedly has an outstanding career, but his number one inspiration is his SuperMom Bea, whose positive mindset provided much structure in his life.

“She is filled with lots of life and energy. She’s always learning and reading, and enjoys seeing Broadway shows. She doesn’t dwell on negativity, since people who do, lead an incomplete life,” he said.

That has also held true for Franklin’s career. He continued, “Look at all options and don’t give up if someone says no. You can do an internship and not get paid. In my case, I ended up interviewing Fleetwood Mac at college radio.”

He advises younger generations to look into the mirror and decipher how to improve one’s self, to increase desirability from the start.

Spotlight on 98-years-young Bea Franklin

Nearly a century with ‘A living landmark’

By Michael Perlman

Bea Franklin as a young woman

“My recommendation to a young person is to follow your heart and become whatever you want. Don’t give up easily and just persevere,” said 98-year-old Lawrence, New York resident Bea Franklin, lovingly known as “SuperMom.”

The nickname was bestowed upon her by her son Kenjamin “Ken” Franklin, a notable music and media agent of RadioActive Talent, Inc.

However, his mother is the most influential person in his life. Franklin’s other sons are Rick and Bruce, who also admire her very much.

Bea Franklin and her son, Kenjamin Franklin

Franklin discusses her family history with much passion. She was born Bea Strauss on June 30, 1924, was raised in Philadelphia and would settle in a sunny corner house on Continental Avenue and Exeter Street in Forest Hills during her childhood.

Her father was Isaac Mayer Strauss, better known as Jack Strauss, who founded the automotive company, Pep Boys, as Pep Auto Supply in Philadelphia in 1921.

The co-founders were officially listed as W. Graham Jack Jackson, Emanuel Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss and Moe Radavitz.

Today, there are over 1,000 shops nationally and in Puerto Rico, with the closest addresses in Jamaica, Queens.

At the time, she and her family resided in Philadelphia, where the main shop was based.

She explained, “Manny and Moe were in the Navy together during WWI, and they decided that since automobiles were up and coming, they came up with the idea of having auto supply stores.”

Pep Boys influenced other forms of culture and was featured in a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

Upon relocating to New York, her father founded Strauss Stores.

He told his brother Moe that he would not serve as a competitor in Pennsylvania. He did not have much money.

She reminisced, “My father went to a bank and saw the manager, who asked, ‘What are you going to offer for collateral?’ and he replied, ‘My good name,’ which stayed with me for many years. He would have enough money to open five stores and a warehouse.”

“I was always very proud of my dad,” said Franklin, whose father’s professions included a lawyer, prior to the automotive field.

Franklin acquired his business mentality. She recalled, “We used to go for walks every Sunday and talk. I was a senior in high school and a business manager for the yearbook, and was chosen to be a speaker at Columbia University. I was petrified and told my dad, who said, ‘You go up there and you’ll be in front of a couple hundred young people who are business managers. Don’t give up the thought that they would love to be in your position. Ever since then, I kept that in mind.”

She was married to Jerry Franklin from 1945 until his passing in 1996.

Jerry & Bea Franklin

She remembers him as being very modest. He was a corporal and an Army photographer during WWII, whose images offered a first-hand window into the invasions spanning Europe and North Africa.

His inventory also documented the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. Some photos are publicly uncirculated and others have been published in history textbooks and available at the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.

“My job was putting pictures into albums. Most had locations on the back. He had seen a lot, but didn’t discuss it with his family,” she said.

Jan. 27 marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“High schools should have a course on the Holocaust. They need to know what went on and what can happen anytime, anywhere, if we are not vigilant,” she said.

Bea Franklin holding the Pep Boys book gifted on her 98th birthday, June 2022 by Ken Franklin.

Franklin recalled her husband’s photographic talents that led him to capture the cream of the crop in entertainment, including Humphrey Bogart and his wife at the time, Mayo Methot, Joe E. Brown and Mickey Rooney. She continued, “There was his famous picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt sitting in a jeep with General Eisenhower and General Patton at Castelvetrano Airfield in Sicily. It was the only time that they were recorded being together.”

This was after conferences at Tehran and Cairo on Dec. 8, 1943.

She witnessed definitive moments, such as the iconic photo-op of “The Kiss” on V-J Day on Aug. 14, 1945 in Times Square, featuring a U.S. Navy sailor and a dental assistant (a stranger), who were photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

At the time, she was a student at NYU and took the subway uptown. This was eight days after atomic bombs exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at WWII’s conclusion.

According to Franklin, it is never too late to achieve your dreams. She returned to college when she was 45 and achieved a master’s degree in library science at CW Post to become a school librarian. Since there were no openings, she became a permanent substitute in her area of expertise in Nassau County.

Besides Franklin’s father’s influence, she takes much inspiration from her husband, whose motto was “Think positively.”

She recalled, “He never wanted to hear anything negative in the house. We didn’t complain about headaches.” As for today, she said, “You get further with having positive thoughts.”

Franklin, a graduate of P.S. 101 who relocated to Forest Hills at age nine, shared a treasure trove of memories, illustrating her community’s humble nature and unique characteristics.

Much time was balanced between school, friends and synagogue.

Today, she and her son anticipate the reopening of the 1930s-era T-Bone as the T-Bone Diner & Delicatessen. “I had a date with my husband at the T-Bone Diner,” she said.

Another outstanding memory was attending Forest Hills Jewish Center with her family.

“Forest Hills Jewish Center was formed by a couple of Jewish couples. From a store, they purchased a wood-frame house on Kessel Street. The sanctuary was the living room and dining room. The bedrooms were where I had my religious education.”

That was followed by a two-story stone and brick building on Kessel Street, which still bears a “Forest Hills Jewish Center” inscription in its façade.

“By the time I got married, they were very excited about a new Forest Hills Jewish Center on Queens Blvd,” she continued.

She reminisced, “I would often have lunch with my mother at the Stratton (a popular restaurant and nightclub at 108-36 Queens Blvd). When the subway opened in 1936, it cost a nickel, and the LIRR cost a dime to get to Manhattan in the ‘30s.”

Some of her other cherished memories were patronizing what was known as “Forest Hills Village,” consisting of Austin Street and Continental Avenue.

One destination was Peter Pan Bakery on Continental Avenue and Hamburger Express at 72-04 Austin Street, where a locomotive would deliver meals to patrons.

It was also a favorite for her son, Kenjamin. That would sometimes follow with a visit to the popular Eliot’s on Austin Street, a shop specializing in boys’ clothing.

She would attend movies at the former Forest Hills Theatre on Continental Avenue, beginning in the 1930s and at the Midway Theatre since its opening in 1942.

Forest Hills Stadium was often frequented by Franklin and her friend Adele, who attended tennis matches featuring legends Don Budge and Alice Marble.

She also befriended legends including boxer Rocky Graziano, who would come to her home.

For nearly a century, Franklin attended a vast array of shows.

“I had my 18th birthday party at the [prestigious] Hotel Astor Roof Garden in Times Square in 1942, when Frank Sinatra was first making a name for himself. The Tommy Dorsey band was playing and Sinatra was his vocalist,” she reminisced.

Franklin is unique in additional ways, such as by being heterochromatic. She has one blue eye and one brown eye, a trait found in 200,000 people spanning the planet.

At 98, she maintains an active lifestyle. Along with her son, Rick, she meets many actors who are in touring companies of “Fiddler on the Roof,” among other Broadway shows.

She still remembers her earliest Broadway show, “Brother Rat,” which ran from 1936 to 1938. “It was about a military academy. My brother was a cadet, which is how we got tickets. When I was in high school, I would save up my money, and a friend and I would see a matinee.”

She recently attended “Aladdin” and “Some Like It Hot.”

Today, her passion has taken her to Memphis, Tennessee, Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona and Buffalo, New York, in support of her acting friends. Next in line is a cruise in February.

She is also an avid reader.

“All of my sons are successful in business and are content with their lives. That’s what makes me happy,” she said.

Additionally, she takes great pride in her three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Bea’s 4 great-grandchildren & her grandchild, Ken’s daughter Jenna Ilana Franklin

Franklin rehashed “thinking positively” as her key to longevity.

“Life is very good. I would like to be around as long as I am healthy and able to do what I like to do,” she continued.

Stay tuned for next week’s column for part two, spotlighting the success stories of Kenjamin Franklin, with many unique Forest Hills memories.

Preserving “modern baroque” with Dorothy Draper & Company

Going colorful & bold yet elegant for nearly 100 years

By Michael Perlman

The Greenbrier clock & lobby. Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc

Enter the world of Dorothy Draper, a most significant 20th century American interior decorator, who achieved international acclaim.

Some of the diverse exclusive addresses that benefited from her prestigious touch were the Forest Hills Inn at 1 Station Square, Rego Park Apartments on Woodhaven Blvd. and 62nd Dr, The Greenbrier in West Virginia, The Carlyle at 35 E 76th St, Hampshire House at 150 Central Park South, Metropolitan Museum of Art’s former Dorotheum Café, The Carillon House in Washington D.C., the Drake Hotel in Chicago, Bermuda Terrace at Brooklyn’s Hotel St. George and Palácio Quitandinha in Rio.

In 1923, Draper professionalized the industry by launching America’s first interior design company, which established a new standard. With no formal training, she garnered headlines for being a woman who took the initiative to pursue an independent business venture.

Properties that Draper applied her unique style to were considered “Draperized” and included hundreds of hotels, residential buildings and homes, theaters, offices and social clubs.

Today, Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc, continues to achieve much success nationwide, with offices in New York and Palm Beach, while preserving the Draper legacy.

Draper was born Dorothy Tuckerman in 1889 in Tuxedo Park, New York in one of the first gated communities in the country.

Born into a wealthy family, they also owned a Manhattan townhouse and had a summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island. For a period of time, she lived at The Carlyle, which she decorated.

Draper died in 1969.

Dorothy Draper. Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc

She is accredited with designing fashionable automobile interiors and the 1954 Chrysler Motor Show in Detroit. She also had the honor of applying her revolutionary style to airliners including the new Convair 880 in 1960.

She was editor of Good Housekeeping Magazine’s Studio of Architecture and Home Furnishing, which focused on the consumer in a mass market.

She was an Italian-American marketing committee member in 1950 and taught the Italians how to please American consumers, and was also noted as a guest of the Spanish government and originated Espana Line fabrics in 1954.

Palm Beach Gardens resident Carleton Varney (1937 – 2022) was mentored by Draper, who later acquired her company and served as president for over 60 years.

Today, he is remembered as one of America’s best-known interior designers.

Carleton Varney in the The Greenbrier’s Victorian Writing Room. Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc

His accolades include Architectural Digest naming him one of the “30 Deans of American Design” in 2005 and the Las Vegas International Market honored him with the Design Icon of 2015.

Varney’s design work benefited celebrities spanning fashion and entertainment industries, and his diverse talents took him worldwide.

He restored and decorated numerous hotels, such as The Waldorf Towers in Manhattan, Dromoland and Ashford Castles in Ireland, The Westbury Hotel in London, The Breakers in Palm Beach, The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, The Stoneleigh in Texas and the Rock Resort Collection of Hotels including St. John’s Island in Virgin Gorda.

He worked for dignitaries and decorated the Governor’s Mansions in West Virginia and Hartford, Connecticut, as well as restored and redecorated the Vice President’s Residence in Washington D.C. during the George H.W. Bush administration.

Varney also authored books, including “The Draper Touch,” a biography of Draper, and novels titled “Kiss the Hibiscus Good Night” and “The Decorator.”

Much of the Forest Hills Inn’s interior associated with the Draper touch has since been destroyed.

In an October 1950 ad, this publication’s Leader-Observer announced the Windsor Room’s reopening (now Jade Eatery), calling it “one of America’s most beautiful rooms.” It read: “Make it a point to visit the Forest Hills Inn’s new main dining room. Once you see it, you’ll agree that it is truly one of America’s most beautiful rooms. Its unusual décor, created by Dorothy Draper, gives it a spaciousness and charm that make a perfect setting for the Inn’s wonderful cuisine.”

Fountain Room at Forest Hills Inn circa 1950 by Dorothy Draper

This space was used for lunch, tea, dinner or supper.

In 1952, columnist Agnes Murphy for the New York Post, referred to “sophisticated Dorothy Draper décor in a pleasant suburban setting.” An excerpt read, “The Fountain Room (now Jade’s party room), which faces the court at right angles to the Garden Room, is done in chartreuse and white. Its ceiling is swept up in the center into a Gothic arch and is decorated to give the effect of a pavilion. Attractive to look at and lending an added sense of space and airiness.”

The Tea Garden (then known as Patio-in-the-Garden), continues to feature a graceful pergola and a trickling central brick fountain, decked by flowers; a trademark of Draper’s style.

Murphy wrote, “The Garden Room, just redecorated in a mysterious leaf-patterned wallpaper and gleaming white paint, has advantages for winter entertaining.”

Draper’s versatility is also evident as an author of “Decorating is Fun! How to be Your Own Decorator” (1939) and “Entertaining is Fun! How to be a Popular Hostess” (1941).

Introductions by Carleton Varney can be found in both books.

Her voice comes alive through her syndicated column, “Ask Dorothy Draper,” launched in 1959. “Perhaps that room needs a bright dab of color to awaken it from its somnolent state. Just a couple of explosive colored pillows or a pot of hot pink cyclamen might do the trick. Something as simple as that can shake a room out of its doldrums,” she advised LI Star-Journal readers in February 1962.

Then in July 1963, she referenced the heading of an ad for summer dresses, “Wondrous are the ways of yellow and white” and asked her readers if they tried it for a room. She wrote, “You can have the walls a fresh-as-a-daisy white with yellow and white patterned slipcovers and curtains. Or you can have the walls yellow with the slipcovers white, with yellow accessories, and of course, lots of fresh flowers or green leaves.”

Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc’s interior designer Rudy Saunders, who is 29 and resides in Manhattan, feels it was phenomenal to be mentored by Varney, and now continues in his footsteps, as well as Draper’s.

This graduate of University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture and Planning, began working for the firm as an intern.

“I always loved design. Working here is a childhood dream come true. I am a history buff. Ms. Draper was a visionary who was ahead of her time. It’s fun going back and finding things that feel so futuristic or current, although they were done decades ago. She and Mr. Varney were so talented and we try to honor their legacy,” Saunders said.

He described her as a society name. “It’s interesting to see how she was brought into hotels and restaurants and different public spaces to add that glamor. It was definitely a marketing feature. To be able to say that Dorothy Draper reimagined this lobby certainly had that kind of star quality, which many hotel owners and businesses were looking for. What Mr. Varney said about her is that she really created a look, similar to how you can spot a Frank Lloyd Wright project.”

Saunders praised how some of Draper’s projects completed in the ‘30s and ‘40s withstood the test of time and maintained their wonderful nature. Draper referenced her style as “modern baroque.”

Saunders explained, “She would use the classic baroque elements and have a fresh take on it. She would over-scale plasterwork over doors and brackets on walls and use sconces and chandeliers that were really dramatic. She would use bright, fresh colors and have them all mixed together, such as a Christmas red with a green or pink and yellow.”

She was known for her use of fabrics, which also continues to be the firm’s signature trademarks.

Saunders cited colorful florals and mixing in stripes and checks into a space. “Mr. Varney was a wonderful cheerleader for her, keeping her relevant in the world. He kind of took her style, and then brought it to the next level with even bolder colors. In the Greenbrier, she painted the walls a bright sky blue, and Mr. Varney added stripes to it. He layered and added his sense of imagination and creativity.”

Today, Saunders and the design team resort to a vast archive while working on projects.

“There are so many different elements that they used over nearly 100 years of the firm. We are able to select things and be inspired, and keep their design ideas present and also adapt them for today’s world. If the carpet was a solid red, maybe we’ll do it with a slight pattern or a contrasting trim. Designers always try to think of what’s next,” he said.

Preserved examples of her work serve as an educational resource.

He explained, “The Hampshire House apartments on Central Park South is a private building, but you can peek into the window to see the lobby with its iconic plaster fireplace. The Carlyle on the Upper East Side has a lot of elements.”

He called The Greenbrier the best example to experience her work and Varney’s on a grand scale, and considers it nearly “a living museum of Draper.”

This has resulted in an annual tradition on-site during the first weekend in March, known as the “Dorothy Draper Decorating Weekend.”

Its immersive behind-the-scenes tours, lectures and receptions attract a geographically diverse audience, where some guests return annually.

Saunders referenced the unfortunate loss of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Dorotheum Café, but envisions Draper’s once whimsical and elegant touches.

Dorothy Draper’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Dorotheum cafe. Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc

“It was known for its massive birdcage chandeliers and fountain. Now it’s the Greek and Roman Sculpture Garden. You can still see the columns and the mosaic flooring.”

He marvels over Varney’s accomplishment of 37 books, where some feature archival images.

“For spaces that aren’t intact, you can acquire a feel,” he said.

Although Saunders never met Draper, he feels as if he kind of knows her.

“I’ve read each of her books a couple of times and there’s wonderful tips and tricks, and much is relevant for decorating and entertaining today. You get that feeling of who she was. She wanted decorating to be fun and not a chore, so that’s what we in the office keep in mind and feel that connection to her,” he said.

As for Varney, he commended his wonderful spirit. “He was a lot of fun to be around, and because of that, he attracted a team who is fun, interesting and creative.”

In 1957, she was interviewed by Edward R. Murrow on CBS at her residence at The Carlyle, where she took America on a tour.

Saunders feels inspired by her sense of humor and elegance, not only evident in her gown and jewelry and décor, but how she spoke.

Saunders offered tips for young designers seeking a career in the industry and emphasized the importance of working under another designer, to learn the business by interacting with clients, vendors and contractors.

“Try to expose yourself to as much as possible. You should see museum exhibits, shows or TV shows. We can learn much from history’s architects, designers and artisans. You’ll never know where inspiration will strike you.”

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