Spotlight on music & media agent Ken Franklin

Son of living landmark Bea Franklin shares unique business

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

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 (www.RadioTV.com) 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

[email protected]

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

[email protected]

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.”

Legendary T-Bone Diner to reopen

Pastrami, matzah balls and around the clock nostalgia

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

T-Bone with historic neon sign on its side, April 2022, photo by Michael Perlman.

One of Queens’ earliest freestanding diners will have a second lease on life.

The T-Bone Diner at 107-48 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, which shuttered last February, will reopen next summer or potentially sooner in spotless condition.

It will merge two classic concepts of Americana – a diner and a deli, and will be known as “T-Bone Diner & Delicatessen.”

It will operate as a kosher-style 24-hour establishment.

This columnist brokered a deal to rescue the historic T-Bone Diner by introducing A. Kumar, owner of nearby Jade Eatery and Lounge to Richard Jagusiak, the diner’s leasing agent, and helped defeat a plan to have a Popeyes location open in its place.

The now missing T-Bone front neon sign, Photo copyright Thom Sheridan, July 31, 1987.

“My endeavor is to keep our culture alive,” said Kumar, whose business partner is Glenn Reiner. “A main reason that I decided to reopen this diner was to serve our community, since there are not too many diners remaining in the neighborhood.”

He remembers the recent losses of the beloved Tower Diner and Shalimar Diner, in addition to delis of yesteryear, including Sandy’s Surf, Ben’s Best and King’s/Boulevard Delicatessen. Eyeing a meaningful and creative future for the T-Bone, Kumar explained, “Our menu highlights will be pastrami, matzo ball soup, and a 24-hour breakfast and the likes. We will be like Katz’s Deli. Our dress code for the staff would be a long skirt for the ladies, and men will wear fully white or black with a bowtie, just like the 1940s and 1950s.”

One of the T-Bone Diner’s major attractions is a circa 1950s-era Art Deco neon sign on the side, which will continue to illuminate upon Queens Boulevard in bright pink neon, but with the addition of the term “Delicatessen.”

Historic neon sign, Photo by Retrologist Rolando Pujol.

“The historic sign is a fantastic example of mid-20th century neon signage,” said David Barnett, co-founder of the New York Sign Museum and Noble Signs, who envisions restoring the authentic sign and adding to it in the same style.

“This sign is notable for the unique floating raceway mounting of the mill finish neon channel letters, and for the unique neon pictorial pan sign, which has a playful style that showcases the maker’s artistic sensibility,” he continued.

The front also had vintage signs, but those vanished several years ago and can be replicated.

T-Bone Diner in 1930 by NYC transit surveyors & circa 1940 by NYC Municipal Archives.

The T-Bone was prefabricated by the famed diner manufacturer, Kullman.

In 1930, an even more traditionally styled diner existed with “Seminole Grill” artfully stenciled on the base of each exposure.

Then in 1936, the IND subway entrance would be erected adjacent to the diner’s front entrance.

Today, a granite plaque near the front door reads, “T-Bone Diner, Since 1934.”

In its early days, it was known as The Boulevard Cafeteria, followed by the T-Bone Tudor Grill in 1937.

According to historian Ron Marzlock, the diner’s name was based on Robert Grassi preparing a perfect-old world Florentine T-bone steak, which boosted traffic and earned it the reputation it needed. Afterall, this was the era of The Great Depression.

Early on, T-Bone Diner was also stenciled on the facades.

Over the decades, the T-Bone Diner underwent several renovations. Its most recent owners are fondly remembered as Peter and George Plevrites.

The T-Bone was frequented by many notables, including Abe Colman, who was nicknamed the “Jewish Tarzan” and “Hebrew Hercules,” and began achieving much success during the Great Depression.

Passing away at age 101 in 2007, he was recognized as the oldest professional wrestler worldwide.

In a 2018 interview, his niece, Miriam Bly, referenced the T-Bone Diner as his favorite stop.

“He loved steak and soup, and would eat two meals a day,” she recalled.

Another notable T-Bone patron was legendary rock photographer Neal Preston, who captured the “who’s who” of rock musicians.

After compiling the Sunday New York Times at a candy shop on Queens Boulevard and Continental Avenue, he could not resist a tradition of rewarding himself with cheeseburgers at the T-Bone Diner.

The T-Bone earned its spot on TV, as in the case of the 2003 “Regular Joe” comedy series on ABC.

Joe Binder was portrayed by Daniel Stern and Joanie Binder, portrayed by Kelly Karbaez, was his 18-year-old child who attended Queens College and worked at the T-Bone to support her daughter, Zoe.

The demand for a diner and deli is high, according to patrons who are current and past residents. “I wish we had another kosher deli or diner in the neighborhood,” a resident named Sandra Martin said. “We used to go to Ben’s Best while my parents were alive, and we enjoyed it.”

The T-Bone was a go-to place for Forest Hills Inn Board President George Hoban, who would come home late from the airport after a business trip. “It was comforting to know that I could get a great meal and friendly staff at any hour,” he said. He also misses Ben’s Best. “I loved the hot dogs, knishes and sandwiches. The kosher style delicatessen is almost a rite of passage for any New Yorker and it’s a sin that our neighborhood no longer has that option.”

Diner expert Riley Arthur of San Diego, California, captured the broad picture of the NYC diner culture on Instagram; @dinersofnyc and February will mark the seven years of photographing them.

“In that time, 99 diners have closed, never to reopen, but a handful closed and reopened by brave new owners. Queens lost 28 diners, second only to Manhattan in fastest rate of diner loss,” she explained. “Gentrification and rising rents are the two largest factors, although the pandemic resulted in a steady rise to their closure.”

She considers diners and delis to be “pillars of the community.”

T-Bone Diner in 1948.

“Maybe their food reminds them of home cooking. I’ve seen diner owners give cups of coffee to the homeless on multiple occasions. This is a place where people can sit for hours and be welcomed, eat alone, or their kids can do homework at the booths or patrons can have a safe first date,” Arthur added.

She felt that the T-Bone offered all the ambiance to be desired in a diner, consisting of frosted windows bearing its name, deep blue and white booths and a welcoming sit-up counter overlooking an open grill, where you can keep an eye on your eggs and potatoes.

“There was colorful lighting and a cozy atmosphere. The cooks wore classic paper soda jerk hats. Ironically, food is always secondary to the diner experience for me, but if you wanted an authentic diner meal, their menu delivered,” she said.

Stu Mazlish may be a Richmond, Virginia resident, but he left his heart in Forest Hills.

“After a ceremony at Forest Hills Jewish Center, my father took our family to the T-Bone for lunch. I must have been around six and ordered a slice of blackout cake, which was bigger than life,” he reminisced.

The personalization factor and ambiance of delis also cannot be beat.

Looking NW on Queens Blvd from 71st Ave, 1984.

For Sandy’s Surf, he said, “All I can remember was the smell that is amazing to this day, and how Sandy was so nice to my mother and I. He gave a free hot dog after showing him my report card. Every Friday, my father gave me a dollar to buy a loaf of rye bread sliced from Jay Dee Bakery to go with the deli from Ben’s Best.”

The T-Bone was one of San Diego, California resident Pete Attardo’s most frequented stops, and he remembers how the landmark always seemed to be open and welcoming. “There was a counter man by the grill, whose name I believe was Spiro. He was good-natured and always willing to laugh at our shenanigans. I used to go with my dad on many afternoons and get their open-faced turkey meal with mashed potatoes and gravy,” Attardo said.

He relocated in 1973, but revisited in the 1980s.

“In later years, I would take my wife and kids, and especially my youngest son would enjoy it. Every one of my friends who left Forest Hills would make it a point to hit the T-Bone on their trips home.”

Fifteen-year Forest Hills resident Lindsey Nicholson, who admired the T-Bone’s retro appearance with its neon sign, said, “I love a good diner and the fact that you can get a large variety of food. My partner and I loved the Shalimar on 63rd Drive and the ‘50s feel of UJ’s on 71st Road. Tower Diner on 66th Road was one of our favorites too. Diners are a much-needed option, since they offer breakfast all day and are casual.”

Forest Hills resident, Jeffrey Carrasquillo, lived next door at Lane Towers. T-Bone was his go-to for a quality meal after a long day of work.

He describes the establishment as “more than a restaurant” and a “place of socialization” where particularly the elderly and single folks could talk about current events and holidays.

He feels the same holds true for Jewish delis.

“The restaurant staff became like family. You knew them by their first names and would chat,” he said. “Our neighborhood will never be the same again as more of these places are gone. Corporate restaurants don’t have that ambiance.”

This adds to my earlier diner preservation victories, where Manhattan’s historic Moondance Diner and Cheyenne Diner were hoisted up and transported on a flatbed to Wyoming and Alabama, respectively, which led to the NY Observer assigning the nickname “Diner Man.” – Michael Perlman

Vintage postcards celebrate New Year’s traditions

By Michael Perlman

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Several decades ago, postcards were a unique work of art, which could be found at your corner pharmacy, but today vintage ones are found on eBay and at estate sales and postcard shows. They represent nearly every theme, including hometowns, hobbies and even New Year’s.

In 1873, the first American “picture postcard” was designed.

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 a one-cent stamp for domestic mail and two cents for international mail.

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 known as a deltiologist.

Most New Year’s postcards are colorful lithographs that seem realistic, and a majority were published between 1898 and 1918.

Those from the 1920s to the 1940s were published in fewer quantities.

Some postcards offered a New York City theme.

One celebrated urban innovations and buildings that were regarded as landmarks.

A postcard recognizing the approach of 1906 features photos of significant landmarks; the Times Building, the New York City subway, the Flatiron Building and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument within large block letters of the year, was adorned with holly.

It was published by Franz Huld of 246 Fifth Avenue as part of Series 1906, No. 1.

He is regarded as a significant American publisher who experimented with views, commemorations, comics and novelties.

Earlier on, the postcard trade was largely based in Germany and Holland.

It is all eyes on Times Square in a selection of postcards. A white border postcard features a black and white printed image of shoulder to shoulder attendees.

It is captioned, “They definitely met at the Astor on New Year’s Eve.”

It was photographed from a once ornate Times Building and faces the Studebaker Building.

A Chevrolet illuminated sign reads 12:00. To its left is the legendary Beaux Arts style Hotel Astor, which was in operation from 1904 to 1967.

Times Square became the scene of New Year’s Eve celebrations in 1904, and the first ball drop dates to 1907, which was erected by New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs.

Other festive events were captured on hand-colored lithographs, including the Tournament of Roses on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.

It features an exquisitely decorated high school float with roses on trees, floats and vines that unite the unique costumed marchers.

Poetry and inspirational quotes can be found on early 20th century postcards.

A circa 1910 postcard features an illustration of an elegantly dressed woman holding flowers and sitting on a ladder, with flowers growing around the ladder.

It is titled “A Glad New Year” and reads in a creative font, “As you climb the ladder of success, With heart that’s kind and humble, You’ll surely reach the topmost rung, And never get a tumble.”

It becomes a musical production on an Auld Lang Syne postcard, which bids farewell to the old year and is interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships.

It features the complete lyrics on a banner with a watercolor background, and two men on top wearing suits with a top hat and a traditional hat, shaking hands.

Another New Year Greetings circa 1912 postcard reads: “We’ll take the Grand Tour round the sun, Nor mind the wind and wet, And may we say when it is done, ‘The happiest journey yet.’”

The poem is complemented by a child in a raincoat and a rain hat on a boat with a backdrop of an early skyline with blues and golds.

This signed postcard was the result of a significant American illustrator, Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (1865 – 1934), whose style has drawn much admiration, making her a most prolific postcard and greeting card artist of her time.

Other postcards offer a romantic theme. Among a most elegant hand-colored lithograph depicts a couple dressed in an evening gown and suit and toasting in front of a picturesque scene of water, trees and a mountain while embracing on a landing in front of a mansion with a balustrade.

It is trimmed in gold leaf.

Another chromolithograph postcard from circa 1910 focuses on a Colonial era couple dancing at a ball, kicking their feet, with Impressionist musicians playing the violin and outlines of couples dancing in the background.

A gold frame with graceful ornamentation can be found within, where candlelight sconces are tied to the detail.

This embossed postcard was published by E. Nash Co. under the New Year Postcards Series, and was also a well-known illustrator of high-quality holiday cards and based in Manhattan.

A most famous publisher was Raphael Tuck & Sons, and the firm was considered “Art publishers to their majesties the king and queen.”

Postcards by this firm are most desirable and operated from 1866 to the 1960s in London and at 122 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

One postcard depicts an elegant couple ringing in the new year by looking into each other’s eyes as the man is pulling off a page of a calendar to reveal Jan. 1 under an elaborate Victorian style band with golden four-leaf clovers and under a Roman numeral clock.

Clocks that struck midnight were a popular theme, as in the case of an embossed gold, pink and blues accentuated 1907 postcard designed in the Art Nouveau style.

Some outstanding features were torches with ribbons, leaves and floral motifs.

A bottom inscription reads, “P. Sanders, New York,” which references the publisher. Illustrated holiday postcards were his specialty.

The advent of the automobile is celebrated in colorful postcards that were futuristic yet graceful.

A young couple, facing the camera, rides in a two-seater in “A Prosperous New Year” circa 1910 postcard.

The woman wears a traditional coat with a floral hat, beside a man in a well-appointed coat tipping his hat. The same couple was depicted in at least one variation of this postcard.

A deltiologist takes note of personalized features, including a ribbon and varied rose vines outlining the curves of the car. A young boy with angelic wings blows a triumphant horn in unison.

Prior to the postcard trade arriving in America, production was underway in Europe.

A “Buon Anno” circa 1900 Art Nouveau illustration features a woman pouring water from an urn to extinguish a fire, symbolizing renewal.

It bears the name of author R.M. Orlow. An inscription from publisher Stengel & Co (1885 – 1945) reads “Dresden u. Berlin.”

Real photo postcards, with color-tinted highlights of an image, were often dominated by a sepia tone finish.

It was rare to find the same couple or a group of children featured on other postcards of its kind.

These postcards usually offer an ornate ambiance and one-of-a-kind calligraphy, such as in a Bonne Année card, where a man looks into a woman’s eyes, ready for that New Year’s kiss.

The viewer can encounter timeless romance, and have a taste of Victorian era fashions and furnishings. Unlike completely illustrated postcards, these cards feature images of real people, often in a studio depicting a European setting.

Family bonds were represented on real photo postcards, and some featured calendars alongside portraits that reinforced those bonds year-round.

A baby boy hugs his father in one frame, whereas a baby girl hugs her mother in another.

A greeting, “May the New Year bring every happiness to you and yours,” can be seen daily while checking its 1911 calendar.

Gilded Age accented corners add to its distinction. This divided back postcard was part of the Rotary “Real Photographic” Opalette Series and was printed in England.

The Rotary Photographic Co. was associated with at least 1,422 portraits, was active between 1897 and 1916 and was a foremost real photo postcard publisher.

A hybrid of a romance and humor postcard can be found as a snowman takes on male and female form and engages in a proposal.

At midnight, a couple placed themselves in their shoes in a light-hearted interpretation in this circa 1920s or 1930s W.H.B. watercolor, which reads “Die besten wünsche zum jahreswechsel” or “Best wishes for the turn of the year” in German.

‘Chanukah on The Park’ draws record crowd

Lighting the way with a vibrant Forest Hills tradition

By Michael Perlman

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Rabbi Mendy & the FDNY kindles the Chanukah lights, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

“Chanukah on The Park” and its symbolic 18-foot menorah continues to beam brighter each year.

Situated in front of Yellowstone Municipal Park, a ceremony filled with diverse activities continues to grow – both logistically and in spirit.

This Forest Hills tradition originated in 2015 and was founded by Rabbi Mendy Hecht and Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht of Chabad of Forest Hills North, which also serves the greater community.

On the first of eight nights of Chanukah on Dec. 18, from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m., over 500 guests were ready to embrace the miracles of Chanukah.

Additionally, residents of Yellowstone Boulevard apartment buildings took advantage of an aerial view from their windows.

“What a beautiful sight,” Hecht said. “Being that we had a longer event this year with more entertainment, we had crowds of people at all times.”

Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht & Rabbi Mendy Hecht in front of the symbolic 18 ft menorah, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

Each night thereafter, a Chanukah menorah lighting was held on a smaller scale.

This past September marked another miracle; the 10-year anniversary of Chabad of Forest Hills North.

Chanukah descends from the Hebrew term, “chinuch,” meaning inauguration and education.

The “Festival of Lights” rejoices in the miracle of how a tiny cruse of oil, fit for a single-day supply, conveyed luster for eight days.

In addition, it recalls the Jewish victory over a tyrant king and the temple’s rededication in Jerusalem.

It is a tradition to eat fried latkes (potato pancakes), which symbolizes the miracle of the oil.

The ambiance felt traditional yet innovative. The diverse lineup of the eighth annual Chanukah festival featured many highlights, such as the FDNY Ladder 138 Menorah Lighting and Chanukah Gelt (chocolate coin) drop from a cherry picker that is over 30 feet in height, which is a Chabad of Forest Hills North novelty.

The menorah was kindled with a torch, beginning with the “Shamash,” the central candle used to light the other candles. Lighting one candle is symbolic of unity.

Chabad boys dressed up as dreidel mascots, clowns and Maccabees, choreographed their way through the multi-generational crowd.

Festive mascots, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

Hecht delivered a bold speech from his heart. “The light of the menorah is not just for us or our families, but for the people around us like the windows of the Holy Temple going outwards to bring light outwards.”

He referenced and adapted a notable quote from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address by saying, “Do not say what can my country do for me, but say what can I do for my country. Spread the light to others.”

A production featured traditional and original Chanukah tunes and Israeli songs, and the ambiance was heightened with a newly created stage.

Performers included keyboardist and singer, Michel Krohn, and Israeli singer, Itzik Weingarten, a surprise guest.

Musician Michel Krohn, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography.

Surprise Israeli singer Itzik Weingarten, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography.

Memorable Chanukah tunes include “Al Hanisim,” “Candlelight,” “Light Up The Nights,” “Ma’oz Tzur” and “I Have A Little Dreidel.”

The CKids of The Arts performance, consisting of Chabad of Forest Hills North’s very own Hebrew School children, made a debut. Their show-stopper was “I’ll be a neis. I will be a bright light. I will be a miracle of light.”

The Illusionist and Duo Fire Show was also an eye-opener, marked with oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Guests reminisced about earlier successful lineups, which featured DJs, a ventriloquist puppet show and a magic show. Among last year’s highlights was a BMX bike show that spanned the block.

Reflecting upon the festival’s success, Hecht said, “We had the honor to have Borough President Donovan Richards. His strong support for the Jewish community and for Israel and Jewish values was delivered. He said he doesn’t speak words, but takes action, and he will continue to fight against anti-Semitism. This was heard loud and clear, echoing from the podium. Other elected officials also expressed their support for the Jewish community.”

There is a significant message of Chanukah that everyone should understand and be compassionate about, regardless of their religion and culture. Hecht explained, “Spread goodness and kindness. Spread light. A little bit of light pushes away darkness. We all need this lesson and we all need a bit of light in this dark world, regardless of our religion.”

Chanukah serves as a model for all inaugurations, including education, which is the most significant.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe often stressed the unique connection between Chanukah and education. It is a special time that inspires children to connect to their heritage, as can be seen by many customs, including the giving of Chanukah gelt,” he continued. Chanukah is also a time of continued spiritual growth.

Another miracle is how rabbis and rebbetzins, local residents, guest speakers, the FDNY, 112th Precinct and musicians among other creative personalities come together in the name of unity to spread much light.

112th Precinct with Law Enforcement Explorers, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

Each year, the event is noted in detail, so the following year can be grander and more accurate. Much transpires behind the scenes to ensure the festival’s success, as explained by Hecht, who says it is not a “1-2-3 job.”

“We can surely say that after eight years, next year’s will be even better than before. Every detail is looked over and there is much work for several weeks dedicated to it,” he said.

“Even an order of over 600 donuts is not an easy undertaking. Then picture the entertainment crew details and setup, the schedule and ensuring the NYPD are briefed properly for the event to run smoothly. The FDNY also has their time slot. Just the 18-foot menorah is a job within itself, and then it truly looks beautiful ‘on the park.’”

Rabbi Mendy & Rebbetzin Chaya with FDNY, Courtesy of Moishe Recheste Photography

The traditions of Chanukah in the Holy Land vary from some of those observed in America.

Hecht said, “In Israel, menorahs are displayed in glass boxes and sit outside homes unlike how in America, where you will mostly find them in windows or inside homes. It’s a truly beautiful sight to see in Jerusalem. The jelly donuts are served hot, unlike here how they are served cold.”

He also pointed out how the dreidel in Israel features the Hebrew alphabet Nun (none), Gimmel (all), Hei (half) and Pay instead of Shin (some).

“Since the Pay is the first letter representing the word Poh which means ‘here,’ it means that a great miracle happened here in Jerusalem,” he continued.

As a religious leader, it is even a continuous learning process for Hecht, for events including Chanukah on the Park.

“I have learned that it is never enough, and I have more light and more Jewish fun to bring to the masses. The community is thirsty and I have a responsibility,” he said.

He thanks G-d for the miraculous achievement of eight years of Chanukah on the Park.

“Everyone is looking forward to this annual event, so we said on such a milestone, we must boost it up,” he said.

This is also a time of additional divinity, as in eight lights on the menorah pertaining to the “Hakhel Gathering.” “In the Holy Temple, all Jews would gather in the eighth year to hear the Torah read by the king, and to learn to fear G-d and keep his laws. The Rebbe OBM asked that we actualize it just like our ancestors have in the corresponding year, and create big gatherings.”

The festival is another achievement that signifies how Chabad of Forest Hills North is a beacon of light in the community, continuing to spread the message behind the Chanukah light year-round.

“We are here for the community in goodness and during the unfortunate times, but we hope we can be there for only good times,” Hecht said. “We will be a support in so many ways, whether spiritually or by physically showing up with a care package in a rehabilitation center, or to do a simple mitzvah (good deed) in other ways.”

New York Tea Society keeps history alive

Forest Hills tea club preserves tradition, envisions expansion

By Michael Perlman

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David Edelman, Michael Perlman and Roy Lamberty at the Forest Hills tea sanctuary.

                                 

The New York Tea Society (NYTS), which operates out of a Forest Hills tea studio, is creating a buzz around town.

Afterall, tea is the second most consumed drink worldwide.

The society’s mission is to “facilitate the gathering of tea enthusiasts for the purpose of promoting tastings, discussions and education about tea and tea culture.”

Gatherings are held every Sunday at 1 p.m. and on some Saturday evenings.

With an in-person meets virtual format, this non-profit organization attracts local, national and even international fans.

An intriguing lineup of events includes tea comparisons, water/vessel comparisons, outdoor tea, the Making Tea Workshop at Camellia Forest Nursery, Snug Harbor Scholar’s Garden and Spring Water Collecting.

“When you start learning about tea, you are brought into a never-ending journey consisting of history and culture,” said Forest Hills resident Roy Lamberty, founder and president of NYTS.

“Whether it’s geography or language, it’s all told through the story and practice of tea,” added David Edelman, an active NYTS member, also from Forest Hills. “The space resembles a sanctuary for tea. Every tea has a story, just like the people that attend. You never know who is going to show up to a tea session, whether it’s an overseas visitor or your next-door neighbor.”

Traditional pottery & NYTS members worldwide at the studio. Photo by Michael Perlman.

Looking ahead, Lamberty said, “One day I will most certainly open a tea house and would love for it to be in Queens.”

In Lamberty’s Forest Hills tea studio, he has 50 kilos of tea at any given time from all regions and categories, including green tea, yellow tea, white tea, oolong, dark tea and pu’er.

The sanctuary ambiance is also evident through nearly 50 yixing teapots, Jingdezhen porcelain gaiwan and vases and pewter canisters.

A unique display, courtesy of Roy Lamberty.

His culinary career spans over three decades. With much passion, he serves as director of food and beverage at Marriott Hotels, and also draws from his experience as executive chef of various hotels, a private NYC club and restaurants.

Edelman 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 for his students. At the pandemic’s onset, he developed an interest in tea.

“I also like to introduce my students to unique teas,” he said. “I was looking for a new hobby that would serve as an intellectual and calming distraction from the chaos and fear.”

Lamberty pointed out that most members consider their tea friends more of a family than a club.

“We are a casual group who can get quite geeky about tea knowledge, while leaving plenty of time for getting to know each other,” he said.

There are over 700 members on www.newyorkteasociety.com and typically around 50 who participate in live sessions.

Most members are from the New York area, with the exception of members spanning the U.S.

“Our Virtual Tea Club was born during the pandemic, when the tea community only used an online format,” Lamberty continued.

Lamberty explained how he and tea became acquainted. “After traveling to China, I realized what a special role tea played in social settings. It united people from all paths of life; young, old, male, female, Chinese, Americans, etc. Upon returning to NYC, I quickly realized that this type of social activity was extremely rare, which is when I decided to form NYTS.”

As a sous chef in 1997, Lamberty’s chef assigned him the task of developing a recipe infused with tea, resulting in citrus Darjeeling red snapper.

“In my research to develop the recipe, I discovered that tea, when used skillfully, could play a central role in the culinary scene,” he said.

Since then, he developed other dishes, such as Lapsang Souchong braised beef shortribs, Gyokuro gravlax and hojicha ochazuke with quinoa, edamame and tofu.

His interest in Chinese teas originated in 2011, when a friend introduced him to aged pu’er.

“This is when I was bitten by the bug and began journeying down the never-ending path of gongfu tea,” he reminisced.     

With every gathering, Tea Society guests never know which teas they will encounter, in addition to uncovering their history.

Over a week ago, it was heicha, post-fermented teas from various regions in China.

Edelman explained, “Over two weeks ago, Roy brewed the same tea in different styles of teapots to assess a difference. One of the pots was recovered from a tomb and buried during the Ming Dynasty. Sometimes we do blind taste tests of different teas of either the same style or from a different age. There is a lot of experimentation and whimsicalness.”

Most often, at least three different types of tea are sampled.

Edelman explained, “Roy often prepares and serves the teas, but guests are also encouraged. We sit in a circle and often enjoy tea in the Chinese gongfu style of preparation, using a small gaiwan or clay pot for preparation to drink multiple infusions of a tea, to appreciate how it changes over the brewing cycle.”

Teas are also served in other styles, such as in a traditional East Frisian style with cream and rock sugar.

Lamberty and Edelman pinpointed their favorite teas.

“I have come to love pu’er tea because of its ability to change in flavor, aroma and texture from year to year. Additionally, it’s due to the very special feeling known as ‘chaqi,’ derived from pu’er, harvested from ancient trees,” Lamberty said.

Edelman’s favorite tea is Da Hong Pao. “It’s a semi-oxidized oolong tea grown in the Wuyishan Mountains of Fujian, China. The taste is described in Chinese as ‘yen yun’ or rock rhyme. It’s super rich in minerals, since the soil is rocky, and tastes like cherries, leather and brown sugar.”

The society’s website features an intricate tea timeline, as far back as 6,000 B.C.

Lamberty explained what he considers to be the most amazing story in the tea world.

“It’s the story of Robert Fortune, who the British sent into China disguised as a Chinese aristocrat to steal the secrets of cultivating tea. This is where Darjeeling tea is derived from. The full story is told in, ‘For All the Tea in China’ by Sarah Rose.”

Another highlight occurred in the year 729. The timeline reads, “The Japanese emperor Shomu serves Chinese tea to visiting monks. The monks are inspired by the tea and decide to grow it in Japan. The monk Gyoki dedicates his entire life to the cultivation of tea in Japan, during which he built 49 temples, each with a tea garden.”

Jumping to 1707, Thomas Twining placed tea on the menu at his London coffeehouse, and then converted it in 1717 to the first tea shop, “The Golden Lyon,” which became the first place for women to meet and socialize publicly.

In 1880, Thomas Lipton purchased plantations in Ceylon and introduced Lipton tea with a slogan, “Direct from the tea gardens to the teapot.”

The paper tea bag is taken for granted, but that luxury originated in 1953 by Tetley tea Company, setting a norm worldwide.

Today, over 2.5 million teas are grown and produced in greater than 40 countries.

The culture of tea drinking and its accessibility was captured in late 19th century trade cards, featuring detailed lithograph style illustrations and text.

One standout from 1884 represented the Consumers Importing Tea Company at 8 Church Street in Manhattan. “It’s not surprising that it markets the teas as pure, since there was concern, similar to today. The styles of tea mentioned can all be sampled today, along with new styles and cultivars. Experimentation is a never-ending practice,” Edelman said.

Consumers Importing Tea Company trade card, 1884. Courtesy of Michael Perlman’s collection.

A wide range of benefits is associated with tea.

Lamberty explained, “To prepare gongfu tea requires that you separate from the bustling world around you and enjoy the moment. After your meditative moment, you can experience the alert calmness brought on by the combination of caffeine and L-theanine. Some teas are loaded with antioxidants and will eliminate toxins.”

Edelman calls tea an all-around healthy drink and highlighted heicha, which is scientifically associated with weight loss.

Nestled behind Jade Eatery in Forest Hills Gardens is the long-forgotten Tea Garden, awaiting restoration.

It was designed by prominent architect Grosvenor Atterbury and notable landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1912, coinciding with the Forest Hills Inn.

Both Lamberty and Edelman envision joining forces with Jade’s owner, Kumar.

“Offering Gongfu tea tasting sessions in a historical tea garden would be a perfect setting. It would be filled with historical and mythological stories, which would amaze guests,” Lamberty said.

Edelman continued, “Our neighborhood’s history and culture lies dormant and often hidden in plain sight. We need to find ways to educate the public, as well as reestablish the sense of pride and community that existed not too long ago. Restoring the Tea Garden would add another treasure, on par with Eddie’s Sweet Shop and Forest Hills Stadium’s rebirth.”

Tradition at NYTS. Photo by Michael Perlman

The society continues to gain fans.

“I am pleased to learn that the New York Tea Society is based in Forest Hills, and look forward to sharing the good news with friends,” said Belén Mendoza, who became passionately acquainted with tea during cafe study sessions with a dear college friend. “I relished the relaxing and uplifting elements of a steaming cup of tea, prepared to perfection. I wish the society wonderful success in reaching avid tea lovers, near and far, and I would love to attend a tea time event.”

Alexandra Shambhavi Stutman admires the sacredness of tea and “Tea Time,” which her yoga teacher from Japan introduced her to.

She recalled their quote, “Tea is liquid meditation.”

“From the moment you prepare the herbs, pour hot water, stir the cup, and all the way until you are slowly savoring it, it’s meditation and an art. I try to make it a meditative ritual, even honoring those who planted the seeds for the tea leaves to grow and harvested them.”

She is now in the Andean city. “Tea Time is practically a must, so between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., people of all ages gather at tea or coffee shops.”

Queens Name Explorer project honors notables

Mapping the names of streets, buildings, parks

By Michael Perlman

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Mickey Leigh, black shirt center, among FHHS grads, The Ramones Way, Oct 2016, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Every day, residents take a stroll, relax in a park, encounter a sculpture, attend school, go to work and take pride in “home sweet home,” but not everyone stops to wonder, “What’s in a name?”

Throughout Queens, a borough that is most culturally diverse and the largest in land area, lies a trail of street names, building names and scenic destinations awaiting rediscovery.

Thanks to the recently launched Queens Name Explorer project, the accomplishments and memory of our ancestors will be honored by telling their story, and the public is invited to participate.

“I believe that the history of Queens is one of the richest histories in America, and the Queens Name Explorer project is helping to preserve this great legacy,” said Jason D. Antos, executive director of the Queens Historical Society and author of seven Queens history books.

He describes the street names of Queens and greater New York City as “fascinating.”

“There is a lot of depth and history behind some of these names, and the public should be educated about who these people or places are,” he continued.

Antos was born in Flushing and is a 38-year resident of Whitestone. Since high school, he has been intrigued by Queens history, and feels there are some mysteries that need to be solved.

Jason Antos, Queens Historical Society executive director & Queens Memory presenter.

“There are so many names of families and individuals of whom I would love to know about,” he said. “We must preserve our local history to pass down these stories to future generations.”

Jackson Heights resident Natalie M. Milbrodt is the Metadata Services coordinator at the Queens Central Library.

She not only founded and directs the Queens Memory Project, but serves as director of Queens Name Explorer project, its outgrowth.

“Since the Queens Memory Project’s founding in 2010, I lead a talented team of staff and volunteers who recorded approximately 1,000 oral history interviews. We also host countless public events and workshops on local history, memoir and archival preservation,” Milbrodt said.

The twofold mission is to raise awareness of local history collections and to encourage Queens neighbors to contribute their own history to the library.

“Every volunteer who records an oral history interview with a neighbor, friend or relative and shares it with us, has made a contribution to the way future researchers will understand Queens in 2022,” she continued.

The Queens Name Explorer project originated from a dialogue with their technology partner, Urban Archive, about how to explore monuments and other named Queens sites.

“Currently, there’s a national conversation about how the individuals we celebrate in public places with statues and other namings, shape our understanding of what is important to know about the past. There was no single list of honorary namings for schools, streets, parks, and other public places, so we wanted to create one,” Milbrodt said.

Data specialist Angela Miskis was appointed to mine public datasets for places named after individuals, while a team of researchers under Lori Wallach assembles biographical information about each honored notable.

Geraldine Ferraro Way unveiled Oct 2012, alongside historic Ascan Ave & Austin St names, Photo by Michael Perlman.

“All data is public, but our project is bringing it all together for the first time. Thanks to Urban Archive, we are able to present it in the form of an interactive map, where visitors can locate named places in any section of Queens,” Milbrodt explained.

“Since our emphasis as the Queens Memory Project is on people’s lived experiences and personal connections to history, our goal was to create an opportunity through this map for people to share the kinds of details about those who are honored, but not included in official proclamations or historical markers.”

The public can explore the Queens Name Explorer map and share their story and photos at https://nameexplorer.urbanarchive.me.

“Anyone can click the ‘Add/Edit’ button to share a photo, a memory or report a missing or damaged sign online,” she said.

The majority of data is honorary street names after notables of the past century.

“We want their friends, family members and colleagues to share stories and photographs, which will offer a better sense of their personalities, talents and motivations for the pursuits that inspired their neighbors to honor them after their passing,” said Milbrodt.

There are over 700 live entries on the interactive map, and hundreds more will follow in the upcoming weeks.

“I want to get their names live on the site quickly, so people can begin interacting with them by sharing photos and stories,” Milbrodt said.

This project has no expiration date. “We will keep compiling biographical details in the coming months and years,” she added.

Milbrodt also referenced mysteries, since some mapped street names are in need of bios.

She explained, “We are beginning an outreach campaign to public schools and community boards to help us solve these mysteries, but invite anyone with an interest in local history to see if they can contribute.”

To date, a search through some archives retrieved no results for Gerard Place in Forest Hills, but rumor has it that it was named after a farmer.

Local residents wonder how the Rego Park Crescents were named, which consist of Asquith, Boelsen, Cromwell, Dieterle and Ellwell Crescents, followed by Fitchett Street.

Local interactive map entries include a number of sites, but await historic data from the public, as in the case of P.S. 175 The Lynn Gross Discovery School and Annadale Playground, J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey, P.S. 220 Edward Mandel, P.S. 144 Col. Jeromus Remsen, P.S. 174 William Sidney Mount, J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage, P.S. 206 The Horace Harding School, Ehrenreich-Austin Playground, Samuel Picker Square and Lefrak Memorial Square.

Stephen A. Halsey JHS 157 in 1949.

Bios appear for local sites, but also await public contributions.

They include Rabbi Dr. Asher Murciano Way, MacDonald Park – named after Captain Gerald MacDonald, Federoff Triangle – named after Barnett and Gussie Federoff, William Cooper Walk, Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Avenue (69th Road), Abe Miller Way, Walter Becker Way, The Ramones Way, Rue Barry Lewis Way, Detective Jeffrey A. Lee Way, Ilyau Aronov Corner, Alex Braginsky Drive and Nathaniel Schneider Triangle.

Walter Becker Way unveiled, Oct 2018. Photo by Michael Perlman

Milbrodt shared her passion for the larger picture of history. “History is most interesting when I can learn about larger historical events through the lives of individuals. I think we often fail to see how we are all part of history, how much our circumstances shape our lives and how much each of us can impact the future.”

On Dec. 6, Antos, in partnership with Queens Memory, presented “Naming Queens” at the North Forest Park library branch, which attracted a great turnout.

He demonstrated how residents can have a street co-named and pinpointed notables who are honored locally. A recording will soon be published in the digital archives, and the public can anticipate similar programs over time.

Antos is open to street co-naming collaborations with residents and community organizations.

“In 2015, I worked with Bayside Historical Society to co-name the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway as Matinecock Way, honoring the history of the Native Americans of Queens. This tribe once resided in villages spanning Little Neck, Flushing, Pomonok, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston and Whitestone.”

Milbrodt cited solid examples of public interaction. A main map entry is for Joe Imp Way in Long Island City, followed by a second entry consisting of an image and detailed story by his widow, Marie Imparato.

“You can see that the photo isn’t perfect, but her contribution is so moving and personal, and it’s precisely what we were hoping for. As for the person who moves to an apartment building on that street a century from now, ‘Joe Imp’ will just be words on a sign, until they come across Marie’s contribution,” she said.

A contributor who has superb local expertise is Ed Wilmarth III, historian of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, who told the story behind Chief Christian Hoobs Way.

Another example is Susan Latham’s contribution to an entry for Latham Park entry, named after her grandfather.

There have been four walking tours of named places in Forest Hills, Ridgewood, Long Island City and Jamaica, in affiliation with Open House New York in October.

Another public lecture was led by geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, which entailed named places and their role in capturing local history.

On Jan. 4, the team will host an “office hours” event online to address questions about Queens Name Explorer, and will feature additional information on site navigation and the resource’s progress.

The public can visit various online resources, such as the Project Launch clip: https://queenslibrary.aviaryplatform.com/r/3f4kk95b4r and the Latham Park clip: https://youtu.be/rDYKKX38Yos.

For more information, follow @queensmemory on Instagram or visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/queensmemory.

Authentic Mexican food & entertainment at Lime & Salt Cantina

A small business with a huge heart

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Obet Juarez & his staff Emmanuel, Francisco, William, Claudia, Isidro and Catalino give a thumbs up to community.

Queens is nicknamed the “The World’s Borough.” Holding up to its title is a most diverse culinary landscape, where Lime & Salt Cantina holds the mark of distinction for a Mexican restaurant and bar, inspired by iconic taquerias and longtime traditions.

At 98-102 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, freshly prepared authentic dishes, cocktails and entertainment come together in a colorful ambiance, creating a unique community destination.

Owner Obet Juarez, a 34-year-old Sunnyside resident, cultivated his dream by bringing part of his native residence of Puebla, Mexico to Queens Boulevard, which came to fruition on Feb. 4 of this year.

From the moment patrons enter, they are often greeted by Juarez and his friendly team. Then the personalization continues while sitting at cozy booths or at the bar, creating the sensation of an extended family.

“My recipe for success is to love what I do,” Juarez said.

The chef is his brother, who not only has experience preparing Mexican dishes that resemble “food art,” but with cuisines including French, Italian and Greek.

“We learned from our mother’s style of cooking and loved it so much, that we wanted to share it with the world by offering our food alongside our famous cocktails to introduce something special for the neighborhood.”

His role model also included his bosses. “I saw how well it went for them, so over the years, I wanted to do the same,” he continued.

A bird’s-eye view of authenticity, courtesy of Lime & Salt.

Signature elements of Puebla, the fourth-largest Mexican city, include its culinary history, pottery and Colonial architecture.

Juarez, who emigrated to the U.S. at age 16, has worked in the culinary industry ever since.

He recalled, “I began working as a dishwasher and then I moved into the kitchen. From there, I worked on the floor and was a bartender for 10 years.”

Juarez takes pride in his heritage. He said, “Throughout my time working in Manhattan, I wanted to open a place that felt like home. I dreamt of a Mexican restaurant, where I could sell food that originated in my home country.” The restaurant name bears cultural significance. “We came up with our name, ‘Lime & Salt’ through the years of saying it, since we use lime and salt for our tacos, beer, shots and more foods. It’s very common and the name sounds catchy,” said Juarez.

Lime & Salt’s walls feature murals of a map of Mexico with maracas, a calavera, which is known as a decorative skull, tacos and a chihuahua bearing the Lime & Salt logo.

Other decorative features include a mariachi sombrero, tequila bottles and traditional colorful collectibles hanging from the walls and the ceiling.

Without a doubt, Lime & Salt’s ambiance has been a breeding ground for unique memories since its opening.

“We have a mural that says, ‘Will You Mariachi Me?,’ and we actually had a couple who got engaged here and took a picture with it,” Juarez said.

Site of a proposal. Photo by Michael Perlman

Patrons can sing their way into the weekend with karaoke every two weeks on Friday beginning at 7 PM (subject to change). Occasionally, a DJ adds to the vibe.

Juarez explained a most anticipated dish as the nachos and steak nachos to be specific.

“It comes with mozzarella, black beans, ranch, sriracha, pico de gallo, guacamole and any choice of meat ranging from chicken, chorizo, al pastor, steak, shrimp and birria, but what makes the nachos special is the way our chef prepares the chipotle cheese sauce.”

As for the most unique dishes, he highlighted “mole enchiladas.”

“It is from my hometown. It’s a very unique sauce that is made with 60 ingredients. Examples are chocolate, almond, crackers, raisins and different kinds of chili peppers. It’s a sweet sauce, which is very common where I’m from.”

Their signature dish, “Boulevard Molcajete,” consists of carne asada, chicken, chorizo, queso frito, nopales, papalo leaves, cebollitas, cilantro and salsa mocha, which is served with rice, beans and tortillas.

To warm up this winter, “caldo de pollo” soup or “tortilla soup” would do the trick.

Patrons also have a lesson while enjoying a wide selection of taqueria, such as “al pastor,” consisting of onions, cilantro, marinated pork, grilled pineapple, salsa verde, radish and cucumber, which is served with three tacos. Eye-catching sides include adobo fries and nopales & cebollitas.

A meal is not complete without dessert. A classic is the “tres leches” Mexican milk cakes.

A full lineup of unique cocktails includes a “Rego Park Old Fashion,” consisting of bourbon, amaro Averna, special house syrup and orange aromatic bitters.

Signature cocktails, courtesy of Lime & Salt

For additional zing, choose a “Sweet & Spicy.” This is a serrano-infused tequila, passionfruit, triple sec and of course, lime and salt tajin.

Juarez is a humanitarian. “I donated outside of my restaurant, but we are open to partnering and contributing to community causes,” he said.

Additionally, he is open to hosting community events, family gatherings, parties for all occasions and catering outside his restaurant.

Besides maintaining his dream business that supports the community, his family and staff, he said, “My long-term plan is to create more jobs by opening more businesses.”

Patrons have warmly welcomed Lime & Salt.

A bustling crowd.

Forest Hills resident Audrey Pavey explained, “After reading about this restaurant on Facebook six months ago, I decided to stop by and try it. I had the ‘Mexican cobb salad’ and I always get it to go. I get home late from work and I’m always looking for a quick and convenient place. I love the flavor of the chicken, chorizo, avocado and corn. I am a creature of habit.”

She also admires the rapport and embraces the small business model.

“The owner and staff are very friendly and always invite me to have a seat at the bar, while I wait for my food to go. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere,” Pavey said. “I try to support our local businesses whenever I can, since it’s important to have a thriving community with places to eat, drink and congregate. I hope Lime & Salt remains part of our community for a long time to come.”

“The food is fresh and full of flavor, and we love it,” said Niki Szenasi of Rego Park. Her daughter can attest to that. “So far, I’ve ordered delivery. My two favorite dishes are the chicken quesadilla and the chicken burrito. The ambiance is colorful and fun. I’m also such a loyal customer due to the friendliness of the staff. Every time I call to place an order, the person on the phone is welcoming and overall very pleasant. It’s so important to preserve small businesses since they add personality and character to our neighborhood and help put money back into it,” Szenasi said.

She envisions holding events there. “I could totally see myself hosting a Women’s Empowerment gathering. It’s a wonderful addition to our neighborhood and I’ll continue supporting Lime & Salt.”

Forest Hills resident Lauren Gantman cannot forget the veggie fajita, which she first tried last summer, and most certainly the accommodations.

“I have food allergies, so the wait staff and manager checked all ingredients. They were able to adjust the platter specifically. It’s important to feel safe eating in a restaurant,” she said.

Eddie Alvarez and his family, who live nearby at Birchwood Towers, discovered Lime & Salt over the summer after encountering Yelp.

“One evening, my wife, our three-year-old and I were blown away by the hospitality, food, overall service and experience. We are big foodies and eat here quite a bit,” he said. “We have been here on Fridays for Happy Hour, as well as socializing with family, friends and kids. I have a small group of Forest Hills dads and we grab drinks occasionally, and last week, my wife scheduled a ‘mom’s night out.’”

Some favorite dishes that they don’t seem to deviate from are nachos, mahi-mahi tacos and shrimp tacos.

Their daughter orders from the Kids Corner menu, and enjoys her empanadas and French fries.

“The food is authentic and seasoned just right, and the drinks measure up,” he continued.   

When Juarez is not in the dining area and interacting with patrons, he cherishes his family time, especially with his two daughters.

Owner Obet Juarez & manager William, Photo by Michael Perlman.

“We hope to impress this lovely neighborhood and offer new experiences. From what we have noticed, it’s filled with wonderful people who are from various countries, and we are happy to be part of the community,” Juarez said.

Lime & Salt’s hours of operation are from 11:30 am to 11 pm on Monday to Thursday and Sunday, and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.

Patrons can call (718) 275-1575 or place an order online via Grubhub, Seamless, Uber Eats and DoorDash.

For more information about this community gem, visit www.facebook.com/limeansaltRegopark, @lime_andsalt on Instagram or www.limeandsaltregopark.com.

Celebrating traditions through vintage Thanksgiving postcards

Reviving forgotten postcard treasures

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

An early 1900s gobble-producing mechanical postcard.

Historians consider the first Thanksgiving meal to date to 1621, where 53 Mayflower pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Native Americans at Plymouth shared an autumn feast for a three-day period.

Thanksgiving traditions came to life through highly stylized and vibrant hand-colored lithograph postcards.

Today, they are considered to be collectible works of art.

In 1873, the first American picture postcard was designed.

A significant number of postcards of the late 19th and early to mid-20th century exist in good to excellent condition and feature handwritten messages 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. Therefore, a postcard collector is known as a deltiologist.

Several decades ago, postcards could be found at a corner pharmacy, but today they can be purchased at postcard shows and estate sales or on eBay. Amazingly, the topics represent nearly every theme imaginable, capturing the history of hometowns and hobbies to holidays.

As a deltiologist, it is timely to explore the artistry and history associated with Thanksgiving postcards by pinpointing highlights.

Mechanical postcards are most interactive and were cleverly engineered, which is why such postcards continue to operate approximately 120 years later.

In one postcard, a collector lightly presses the stomach of one of two elaborately illustrated turkeys, and it produces a “gobble.”

Steps away is the Hudson River with lustrous rays from the Statue of Liberty in the background. The application of color evokes the feeling of a watercolor painting.

The “Macy Color Views of New York” postcard series captures the magic of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as of 1939, a year that is more recent than nearly all Thanksgiving postcards. This chrome postcard features a toy soldier float making its way alongside the Columbus Monument.

The 1939 Thanksgiving Parade, R.H. Macy & Co. series.

A caption reads, “Annual mile pageant of giant helium-filled balloons escorts Santa Claus to the world’s largest store at Broadway & 34th Street.” Since postcards are the catalyst for historic research, the viewer learns that the parade originated in 1924 and once featured animals from the Central Park Zoo.

Then floats were introduced and would be released into the air with a return address. If one was fortunate enough to find it after the parade ended, they would be a prize winner.

Some Thanksgiving postcards are embossed, adding an engaging feel to the realistic, yet dreamy hand-colored images, coupled with illustrations known as add-ons.

A divided back postcard from 1910 has “Thanksgiving Series Number 906” printed on the back, with the name A.S. Meeker, N.Y, granting insight on its publication.

It features a harvest theme with apples, grapes, corn, wheat and a pumpkin as part of a border formed by branches with Elm tree leaves.

It frames a river scene consisting of a rich autumn sky over a river with a farmhouse and a cow grazing. A turkey walks along the branches, overlooking the scene.

Other postcards in this series feature similar imagery and design details, hence telling a story.

A significant artist was Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (1865 – 1934), whose style has drawn much admiration, making her the most prolific postcard and greeting card artist of her time.

In one of her signed postcards, children have big eyes on a pie after presumably baking it, considering their hats.

A product of the famed artist Ellen Clapsaddle.

The postcards offer a lesson within themselves when it comes to calligraphy, as each one is personalized.

Some of her postcards were accompanied by poetry: “Oh sing a song of pumpkin pies; And turkeys roasted brown; Thanksgiving Day is here again. And come this year to crown. Oh pray receive my wholesome wishes, For well-prepared Thanksgiving Dishes.”

This postcard was produced by International Art Publishing Company of New York and Philadelphia, as evident by a logo on the reverse featuring an eagle landing on a planet.

This subsidiary was founded by Wolf & Co. and Art Lithographic Publishing Co. to assume production of their souvenir and holiday postcards.

They were significant as a publisher of artist-signed cards and operated largely between 1895 and 1915.

Their firm was located at 3 and 5 Waverly Place in New York.

John Winsch (1865 – 1923) of Stapleton, New York was co-manager of the Art Lithographic Publishing Company.

He copyrighted his artist signed greeting cards, where many were published in sets, and produced approximately 4,000 designs between 1910 and 1915.

He was highly recognized for his Thanksgiving and Halloween postcards. He also used European artists who worked with his German printers.

His circa 1909 postcard, printed in Germany, consists of a black and white photographic window into nearly a few hundred years earlier, where pilgrims are preparing for their meal.

It is offset by a Victorian green, red and golden yellow color scheme, which dominates the large frame featuring ornate details, corn, a fall moon and triumphant instruments.

Some of Winsch’s cards feature poetry such as that of John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 – 1892).

An excerpt from his work, “Peace Autumn,” reads: “Thank God for rest, where none molest, And none can make afraid, for Peace that sits as Plenty’s guest, Beneath the homestead’s shade.”

Artist John Winsch & poet John Greenleaf Whittier: Significant art coming together.

He was noteworthy as an American Quaker poet, an advocate for abolishing slavery and a founder of “The Atlantic Monthly.”

His friends included Mark Twain and Frederick Douglass. His poetry reflected rural life, religion and nature.

The pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock was featured on a postcard by Raphael Tuck & Sons, where traditional colors, texture and emotions are brilliantly captured.

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

In 1894, his son, Adolph Tuck, created their first picture postcard.

Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock by the significant firm, Raphael Tuck & Sons.

This prominent publisher was considered “Art publishers to their majesties the king and queen,” as noted on the reverse of their postcards, since Queen Victoria granted them the Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1883. These postcards are among the most desirable by collectors.

Certain postcards offer a lesson in patriotism, where at least one in the Gottschalk series exhibits a very rare 47-star American flag, symbolic of New Mexico’s addition in January 1912. The flag was active for only a month.

Victorian masterpiece, Gottschalk series with a rare 47-star American flag, 1912.

The colorful and highly stylized postcard series frequently says “Thanksgiving Greetings,” and this card also features an ornate gold embossed border, flowers and fruits marking a prosperous harvest, as well as a family of turkeys with teepees forming the backdrop.

Gottschalk, Dreyfuss & Davis Co. Ltd. was active from 1904 to 1915 and operated offices in New York, London and Munich.

Sometimes a menu was brought to the recipient; not always in the form of food, but a selection of blessings.

One such Gilded Age style postcard in this series features a pilgrim boy and girl, shoulder to shoulder, holding up graceful desserts, while a turkey, pumpkin and leaves add much character.

The entrée menu reads: “Health a la Wealth, Prosperity, Garnished with Joys, True Love, Happiness, Long Life.”

An E. Nash “Health a la Wealth” menu postcard.

Grapes are depicted on the menu as a symbol of abundance and good fortune.

This circa 1910 series was produced by New York publisher E. Nash.

Among the best Thanksgiving postcards highlights a Victorian-era family, ready for their cozy feast, marked by an elegant table setting under a gas lamp.

One artist brilliantly captured the anticipation between a husband and wife with a “Home Sweet Home” frame over the mantel, and a cat that is ready for the occasion, with a bowtie.

Embossed in gold leaf is “Welcome Thanksgiving Day.”

The design has a 1908 copyright by M.W. Taggart, a New York City-based firm from 1905 to 1910. Their specialty was holiday and greeting postcards with patriotic and humorous themes and a superb use of primary colors.

“Welcome Thanksgiving Day” by M.W. Taggart, 1908.

Many postcards feature handwritten messages, often with fine penmanship, either written with a fountain pen or in pencil.

It reads: “Dear Teacher, This card is from Carlie Strumguist. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. Good bye.” The recipient is Frances C. Smith.

Over a century later, the spirit of past generations has its way of communicating.

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