Forest Hills Gardens Foundation updates archive, engages public

Rediscovering and preserving Forest Hills Gardens history

By Michael Perlman

Archives Committee of FHG Foundation at work.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s board and Archives Committee is on a mission, preserving a photo, illustrated map and a publication at a time.

Last week, they reviewed the archives, and brainstormed how to take it a step further by sharing never before seen memorabilia with local to worldwide residents and researchers.

The locations featured in most photos are easily identifiable, but as for others, the Foundation and residents may feel like team players and can say, “There’s a mystery on our hands.”

Many photos featuring early Gardens residents also remain to be identified.

Founded in 1909, Forest Hills Gardens, designed by principal architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., is a quintessential example of an earliest planned garden community nationally.

This model residential development, complete with Tudor and Arts & Crafts-style mansions and rowhouses, few apartment buildings, winding streets, lush parks and monumental trees, was inspired by Sir Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement.

Today, clubs including the Men’s Club of Forest Hills, Women’s Club of Forest Hills and West Side Tennis Club remain in existence, which are testaments to neighborliness and community spirit for generations.

Clubhouse of West Side Tennis Club.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s history can be traced to 1909 as an advocacy group, formerly known as the Forest Hills Gardens Taxpayers Association (FHGTA), with a mission statement that reads: “The purpose of the Association shall be the promote the common welfare of all persons residing within the territory of Forest Hills or Forest Hills Gardens.”

“They successfully advocated with government and service providers to help obtain a local fire company, increased rail service, a post office, schools, a playground and much more,” said Foundation President Bruce Eaton, a 23-plus-year Gardens resident who feels that he enjoyed every minute of it.

“The Gardens is an important community from a historical perspective, but also to those of us who live here. It is a physical manifestation of how good community planning can enhance our quality of life,” he continued.

As for the Foundation, he explained, “Residents crave to know our history, so it falls on us to help preserve it.”

Although the Foundation originated as the FHGTA, it morphed into the Community Council circa 1919.

“When the Sage Foundation Homes Company pulled out of the Gardens in 1922, the community formed the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation to take over the community’s maintenance. Many of the people who helped create the FHGC and who became leaders within the FHGC were from the Community Council,” Eaton continued.

“There has always been synergy.”

When residents and visitors picked up a copy of “Forest Hills Inn,” an early 20th century illustrated pamphlet by philanthropic organization Russell Sage Foundation’s subsidiary, Sage Foundation Homes Company, they learned about the Gardens’ benefits of location, education and business, as evident by the planning of parks and open spaces alongside homes embodying architectural treatment.

This primary source exists within the archives. The archive also enables its audience to realize the potential for restoring neglected sites such as the historic Flower Shop and trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of relics such as original signage from a series in Station Square, which is supposedly safeguarded by restrictive covenants.

Forest Hills Flower Shop circa teens, but now abandoned.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s archive features historic events such as annual Fourth of July celebrations in Station Square, which includes Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s “100 Percent American” speech on July 4, 1917 at Forest Hills Station, as well as festive gatherings on Flagpole Green.

Col. Roosevelt delivers his 100 Percent American speech, July 4, 1917.

Eaton began serving as Treasurer in 2011 after longtime resident Paul Stanley died.

The much-admired William E. Coleman served as President since the 1990s, and then in 2018, Eaton acquired his role, representing a younger generation of Foundation leadership.

That is also when the organization was renamed from the Forest Hills Gardens Taxpayers Association.

Major committees include Finance, Nominating, Archives and Website & Marketing.

“We have 10 board members and are looking to expand,” Eaton said.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s board and Archives Committee consists of diverse members who have a significant interest in history and participation in community affairs.

Forest Hills Gardens resident Bea Hunt, who co-chairs the West Side Tennis Club’s Tennis History & Archives Council, is also grateful to serve on the Board and Archives Committee of the Foundation.

“We have a unique opportunity to expand the Foundation’s physical and electronic archives, in order to document and preserve our great heritage for residents and researchers worldwide,” she said.

“I am delighted to serve on the board of the Foundation, since it fills a large vacuum in the preservation of our local history,” said resident Ann Chamberlain, who is also active on the board of the Forest Hills Women’s Club and has served on the Forest Hills Gardens Beautification Committee.

She explained, “The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation’s mission is to maintain, and where needed, repair the physical plant that is the Gardens, whereas we strive to record the Gardens’ evolution throughout its over 100-year existence.”

One may wonder about an estimate of historic images and documents that exist within the archive.

“We are planning on doing a drive to gather more photos and documents on our website, but there are 829 historic images and 340 historic documents, dating from 1910 to 1935 or so. We have over 100 vintage home photos that current owners seem to enjoy,” Eaton said.

Some of his standout images are the early construction of Station Square and early community events such as Children’s Day.

Childrens games at annual 4th of July festivities circa teens.

“Perhaps my favorite depicts horses drinking from the horse trough (now benches) that was in the middle of Station Square,” he added.

Eaton is also very much intrigued by Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins by the Sage Foundation Homes Company from 1915 to 1925.

“There are so many things that are still topical today, such as mosquito control and the Spanish Flu of 1918, and many others that truly reflect the time; such as WWI’s impact and the process of building a community,” Eaton said.

In 2017, was launched, and it has become a searchable resource.

Highly illustrated Forest Hills Gardens map, 1927.

Eaton said, “In the upcoming year, we intend to scan the Gardens Bulletins in a more interactive format. They are online now, but you cannot perform internal searches. A portion of the photographic images are downloadable, but we intend to make them all downloadable at some point.”

Eaton believes that there is nearly not as much awareness of the Foundation’s pursuits as there could be.

“Many residents would enjoy perusing the content on our website if they know about it. I also feel they would be surprised at our achievements spanning a 113-year history,” he explained.

To organize and catalog an extensive collection based on professional standards, Certified Archivist Lois Kauffman was appointed, and in January 2022, archival records were organized in acid-free folders and five archival document boxes.

Rusty metal was removed and deteriorating documents were copied onto acid-free paper. Then a finding aid was produced to inventory and describe the collection.

The collection consists of six series: Incorporation, bylaws, tax exemption; Board of Directors; Projects, activities, history, publicity; lectures and special events; publications; photographs.

A decision was made to store these materials in an environmentally-controlled storage facility.

Eaton explained the next steps. “Now that we have a real structure, we will conduct outreach to local residents to gather more materials that we know many residents have. We will add to our collection and make them available digitally. The Seeler family, longtime residents, agreed to donate bound copies of Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins, which we will make scannable online. At some point, we may request materials that the Sage Foundation donated to Cornell University and are stored there.”

When the Foundation reoriented its focus on education and preserving history, at least one major event takes place annually.

Eaton said, “This year, we held a presentation honoring the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthdate, with Olmsted biographer and Gardens resident Justin Martin speaking. It also featured a video we produced of the Olmsted family’s impact on the Gardens.”

In recent years, also of great public interest, was a film and lecture about the Olmsteds and presentations by guest experts on Grosvenor Atterbury and the influences that shaped the Gardens.

Scholarly articles have also been published locally.

According to Eaton, the board has some very ambitious thoughts on what the Foundation can become. “We have been debating a drive to create a physical presence in the Gardens where residents can come browse our materials and website in a gallery-like setting, but that would be a long way ahead.”

Although restoring historic properties falls outside their scope, the board and Archive Committee may be able to assist with research requests to help accomplish that.

To submit vintage photos or reproductions, email

A spooktacular Halloween around Forest Hills

Where creativity and giving back come alive

By Michael Perlman

Halloween wonderment on Burns St, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Forest Hills certainly knows how to celebrate Halloween or “Hallowe’en,” derived from “All Hallows’ Evening” in Old English.

Residents can anticipate a number of creative events, spooky decorations and even a humanitarian perspective, whether an event entails homeowners, shops and restaurants, banks, teachers or children enjoying simple pleasures.

Although Halloween is on Oct. 31, some festivities will begin over the weekend or unfold throughout the month.

“We always support ‘Costumed for a Cure’ to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” said Nancy Adzemovic, branch manager of the landmarked Ridgewood Savings Bank at 107-55 Queens Boulevard.

“On Oct. 29 and Oct. 31, employees will be giving out candy and dressing up for donations to support this wonderful cause.”

This tradition originated over three decades ago, where colleagues and patrons have an opportunity to donate and vote for their favorite costumes.

Another bank is Maspeth Federal Savings at 101-09 Metropolitan Avenue, which is hosting a free, family-friendly “Halloween Spooktacular” on Oct. 31 from 2 to 5 p.m., where the staff will also dress up.

“Our event includes a DJ, balloon maker, a hayride, spin art and other activities, as well as free stadium pretzels and cotton candy,” said Jill Nicolois, assistant vice president and community affairs director.

NY1 News will also host the Chip City cookie truck and 112th Precinct Community Affairs officers will attend.

“We work with Croce Entertainment to plan this fun-filled event, and we’re proud to be part of the thriving neighborhood. In addition to our annual free summer concert, we feel this Halloween celebration is a great way to give back to our community,” Nicolois continued.

A must-stop is the Forest Hills Library at 108-19 71st Avenue, where Lucianne Pastorello works tirelessly as a children’s librarian.

For Halloween, she consolidated some of the best book titles for an engaging display.

Halloween books at Forest Hills Library.

On Oct. 31 at 4 p.m., children ages 5 to 12 can design haunted houses, enjoy spooky music and hear Halloween stories. Registration is required.

“The power of creativity and originality captures the attention of my readers. I plan programs based on what parents and kids request, and I pursue that by creating book displays and giving Grab-and-Go craft kits to celebrate their culture and holidays,” Pastorello said.

Halloween is a good time to celebrate while supporting small businesses.

A destination is Jade Eatery & Lounge at 1 Station Square, where festivities will be held all day on Halloween, thanks to owner Kumar and the marketing team.

Halloween at Jade Eatery & Lounge.

Marketing representative Daisy Vera explained, “We plan to distribute around 100 gift bags filled with candies and party favors for kids in costume. We will take it a step further by offering 10 percent off the entire dinner check for every guest. For adults, the first 50 guests get a shot of our special soon-to-be revealed Halloween drink.”

Additionally, for a festive season, the newest treat is the “Pumpkin Spiced S’mortini” drink.

Pumpkin Spiced S’mortini.

“Keeping up with the spirit and tradition, we’ve displayed spooky outdoor and indoor decorations for everyone to be a part of, since Halloween calls for a fun community celebration,” she continued.

Angelina Citrano, co-owner of Eddie’s Sweet Shop at 105-29 Metropolitan Avenue, extends an invite to book your Halloween party before Halloween (closed Mondays) and celebrate in the spirit of “Casper, the friendly ghost,” just like your ancestors nearly a century ago at this historic ice cream parlor and candy shop.

Traditions at Eddie’s Sweet Shop.

“Kids and their families love taking photos in front of our whimsical vintage Halloween windows,” Citrano said.

“When (owner) Vito and I had our boys, we always brought them into the shop and even had Halloween parties with friends, grandparents, nephews and nieces. When my father-in-law had the shop, he would give all the kids a quarter. Later on, Vito and I began giving out Sour Belts, a really special candy that we also sell and kids love them.”

It is a tradition for many businesses along Austin Street and Metropolitan Avenue to distribute candy.

Rachel Kellner, co-owner of the historic Aigner Chocolates at 103-02 Metropolitan Avenue, is also a co-founder of Metro Village of Forest Hills, a small business alliance.

“Our initiative created posters again this year to distinguish which businesses will be participating. There will be at least 20, although many more will likely do so. Kids wait all year to celebrate Halloween, and now that I have a little one, I see the excitement he experiences just thinking about it. We started brainstorming his costume months ago,” she said.

“I love being part of a community that celebrates that joy from the businesses on Metropolitan Avenue to the houses on Burns Street, and all the decorations and candy in between.”

Some apartment buildings really know how to party.

Elsie Stark will portray the “Howard Winter Witch” on Halloween at the Howard Apartments from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Howard Witch

“She will be flying in on her broomstick to land at 99-32 66th Road. The witches are all sisters of the same family,” Stark said.

Since 2015, the Green Witch, the White Rainbow Witch, and the Old Creepy Witch have visited.

She explained, “Every year, the Howard staff follows the witch’s request for setting up the witch’s cauldron and creating a special spooky place for kids to pick up treats and even take pictures with the visiting witch’s sister, either on the lawn or the porch. Our four-legged friends get treats as well. Children are imaginative, and when adults join in, it takes them back to their childhood. It’s a fun bonding experience.”

No expense was spared in the name of creative decorations and neighborliness for some homeowners of Forest Hills Gardens, particularly along the Burns Street rowhouses, east of Ascan Avenue.

A Forest Hills Gardens graveyard, Photo by Michael Perlman.

It is a tradition for huge audiences of children and adults to casually parade around in costume, go trick-or-treating and snap photos in front of Halloween showstopper homes featuring everything from skeletons climbing up facades and graveyards to ghostly encounters in trees and lighting spectaculars.

Nearby, one of the most “spooktacular” homes can be found at 87-23 69th Avenue between Metropolitan Avenue and Sybilla Street.

“We began decorating in 2007 and added more every year, until it grew into what it is now. Halloween is about having fun and not taking the world too seriously,” said Frederic Sandy, who originated the “31 Days of Halloween” and begins decorating on the first day of fall.

“People can stop by anytime in October to take pics. The best gift our community and beyond has given us is their participation in the ‘100 Pumpkin Challenge,’ where we ask folks to drop off their creative carvings, so we can add to our display,” he added. “The more jack-o’-lanterns we receive, the better it makes our house stand out. The first year we did that was in 2020, which symbolized having the community stand together in midst of all the negativity.” Behind-the-scenes, he and his family assemble decorations from the attic and garage.

Frederic Sandy’s 31 Days of Halloween.

“It creates a sea of props. This involves checking lights, changing batteries, replacing damaged props, shopping for good deals and day to day maintenance,” Sandy continued.

Halloween can be very interactive and educational.

Teacher Karen Silverman-Cohen, founder of “Karen’s Art In The Park,” will host a Halloween party at Ehrenreich-Austin Playground for young children on Oct. 28 at 10:30 a.m. for $30. Contact and pre-register.

“Halloween is a chance for the children and moms to come together. It’s very important after being home for so long to be a part of the community and not feel isolated,” Silverman-Cohen said.

“We will have a book and art project, music, sensory play, bubbles, a take home activity bag and much more. Every class is a learning experience, using all the senses, and is a great way to introduce young children to the art world.”

She can often be found in the park, teaching young children on weekday mornings.

Classic cars take center stage at Forest Hills Stadium

Rich harmonies with the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet

Lineup of the classics.

By Michael Perlman

This past Sunday afternoon under a lustrous sun, analogous to a spotlight, the setting resembled a “Back To The Future” episode at the West Side Tennis Club.

From recent to longtime Club members, they stepped onto the iconic Forest Hills Stadium stage and everyone felt like a performer. They were ready for the first classic car show in its history.

One by one, each sporty car pulled up and parked on stage, with their headlights facing the members, and the nearly century-old horseshoe-shaped venue became the backdrop.

The friendly staff greeted guests and presented a buffet consisting of scrumptious salads, hors d’oeuvres, pastries and scotch among other favorite drinks.

Then the notable New York-based Quatrain Barbershop Quartet arrived in their fashionable red and white striped attire and straw hats, and began belting out barbershop harmonies with much distinction, proving that the genre is very much alive.

High notes with the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet.

They walked around the stage, took requests and casually chatted with guests.

The quartet consists of lead Steve Marrin of Baldwin, tenor Bob Kelly of Freeport, baritone Jeff Glemboski of Merrick and bass Al Fennell of Yorktown Heights.

A barbershop quartet features a cappella singing, with three voices harmonizing to a fourth vocal’s melody, but then an invisible fifth voice becomes apparent.

Close harmonies and homorhythmic singing are commonalities.

This style’s roots can be traced to African-American traditions of the late 19th century in the South.

The melodies and sound are angelic and sentimental. It further came into its own in 1938.

“It’s an art form that was created in the U.S. With barbershop today, it’s performed worldwide, with groups in New Zealand, Germany and South Africa,” Kelly said.

“I passed the West Side Tennis Club thousands of times on the LIRR, and it’s an honor to stand on the stage of The Beatles,” Marrin said. “Al and Bob signed together in a quartet known as the ‘Sunburst Express’ in 1974. I met them a few years later. We were called ‘Spotlight’ in the 1980s and 1990s. Three of us have been singing together for about 50 years.”

The youngest member is Glemboski, a kindergarten through sixth grade music teacher in Merrick, and Fennell held the same occupation.

Their favorite numbers include “Don’t Blame Me” (1933), “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” (1925) by Al Jolson, “Smile” (1936) by Charlie Chaplin and “The Chordbuster’s March.”

“It was written to introduce to the audience individual members and the parts that they sing,” Kelly said in response to the latter song.

Barbershop music is enjoyable for all age groups.

The youngest classic car fan.

Marrin said, “Sometimes when we sing to children, it’s the first time they heard it. Some who are musically inclined want to hear more. Our No. 1 audience is 50-plus.”

“The Barbershop Harmony Society is getting younger people involved such as in high school and grammar school. We like to get our message out, where this is what we like to do and it’s fun,” Kelly added.

The quartet performed at historical destinations including Carnegie Hall, the Ed Sullivan Theater and Planting Fields Arboretum. They frequently entertain at family parties and can be booked by contacting

WSTC Entertainment Committee Co-Chair James Navarrete is a nine-year Club member who has an open ear to member feedback, so he listened to fellow member Richard’s suggestion and said, “What a great idea!”

He explained, “The Stadium was there when these cars were first born. I wanted the cars to be center stage with the backdrop of the legendary stadium, which will key off for the 100th anniversary next year. The fall lends itself to darker drinks, such as scotch, so I felt like having a tasting of the new scotches on the WSTC menu.”

“I like to show off my Club to the members, have them really appreciate it and move the events in various locations throughout each season, as well as cater to all demographics,” Navarrete continued.

He cited an adult-only pool party, a family movie night with a piñata and a magic act, the Queen’s Tea event in the Clubhouse dining room, evening country line dancing with a mechanical bull on the Stadium stage and karaoke in the Rose Garden.

Jeff Becktold, a 13-year WSTC member, is also a WSTC Entertainment Committee member, who hosted the event.

Mr & Mrs Reyes with host Jeff Becktold on right.

He takes pride in keeping WSTC history alive by strategizing at monthly meetings, while also aiming to be inclusive of the larger community.

“With the history of the Stadium, the idea of bringing in classic cars that were traveling to the shows in those times made much sense. The Quatrain Barbershop Quartet adds a nostalgic ambiance,” he said.

Becktold pinpointed much dialogue for using the Stadium for uses beyond concerts.

“We will be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2023, and it’s always on our mind to bring more attention to our neighborhood. Afterall, this was the first home of the U.S. Open. Watching the U.S. Open this year, our Stadium was mentioned several times, and people talk about how they want to come back to play here. Having players practice here before the U.S. Open would bring more attention to the Stadium. I also think a lot of people are unfamiliar with the neighborhood, so when they attend concerts, they walk around and see ‘a diamond in the rough,’” he said.

WSTC members shared their car stories.

Richard presented a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, a 1985 Porsche 944 and a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SL.

Up close with a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

He pinpointed that this Trans Am was met with extreme success, likely attributed to the popular film, “Smokey and the Bandit.”

“It had a huge 6.6 Liter engine with a 4-speed manual and a Hurst shifter, a true contribution to the ‘muscle car’ era.”

A few years ago, he added the distinctive big bird on the front hood.

As for the Porsche 944, originating in Germany, it was manufactured from 1982 to 1991 and was considered the most successful sports car in the company’s history.

Referencing Richard’s 1987 Mercedes-Benz, he said, “It has classic lines, but is sporty with a soft convertible top, but also a hard top for cold winters. Although only a two-seater, the big V-8 cylinder engine under the hood made it one of the fastest luxury sports cars of the time.”

Richard was always curious to know how things operated, and in his youth, took care of his family car.

He reminisced, “During my first effort to time the engine, I messed up the engine so badly, that I had to tell my dad that the car had to be towed to our family mechanic. Horrified and expecting my dad to be furious, all he did was insist that I accompany our mechanic to the repair shop and find out what I had done wrong. I never looked back, and have done most of the maintenance of my cars for the rest of my life, to the extent that I have a ‘pit’ at my country home, so that I can safely work under my cars.”

He felt the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet was excellent and called the car show a fun experience. “Having a little experience in a men and boys’ choir in my youth, I exclaimed and complimented them when they changed keys or did classic resolutions,” Richard added. “I hope we can have them again soon.”

The notable Quatrain Barbershop Quartet.

“It’s a really nice way to meet people at this different kind of event,” said Ted, a 47-year WSTC member, who presented a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Normale, a 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider and a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe Launch Edition.

“My passion for cars is from my dad, who’s really into cars. A couple of the cars that I own are similar to the ones that he had when I was a little boy. He had a soft spot for Alfa Romeos. It has quite a following in the U.S. despite the fact that they didn’t sell cars for 20 years from 1995 to 2015,” he said. “The 1961 classic was styled by Pininfarina, designer of many classic Ferraris, and produced from 1955 to 1962 as the Giulietta Spider with the original 1290cc version of the legendary Alfa Romeo twin cam 4-cylinder engine, and from 1952 to 1966 as the Giulia Spider with a larger 1570cc engine version.”

Up close with a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Normale.

The 1991 classic was also styled by Pininfarina and designed for 27 years in four series, where each is distinguished by unique rear styling. Interestingly, the “round tail” Series 1 version starred in the film, “The Graduate.”

“This Series 4 example is powered by a 1962cc version of the legendary Alfa Romeo twin cam 4-cylinder engine. The front-end styling incorporates the barest hint of the classic Alfa center grill and side brows,” Ted said.

In reference to the accompanying harmonies, he continued, “The Quatrain Barbershop Quartet is very talented and having live music is always great.”

A supercharged 2000 Jaguar XKR was presented by John.

“In 2000, I was sick and got cured, so my wife told me to go out and buy a classic car. I was going to buy a Porsche, but my friends told me, ‘Everybody has a Porsche,’ so they said, ‘Get a Jaguar,’ so that’s it. It’s a cool looking car.”

Another presenter, James, showed a 2014 Ford Mustang Race Red and called it “a car curated for the streets of NYC,” with a standard V6 engine.

“Like every little kid, you’re given a toy car to play with and roll around the floor, and growing up, I’ve always been a fan of a Ford Mustang. My dad always rents them when we go on vacation. I always wanted one, and I was lucky enough to come across this beauty.”

He added his own touches.

“The beautiful curves and aggressive tone are paired with a one-of-a-kind custom racing stripe design, which bears homage to the world’s greatest football club, Manchester United. Whether you are a child or an adult, this car puts a smile on your face,” he said.

An ivory 1977 Fiat 124 Spider with a camel interior was another showstopper.

Serenading guests around a 1977 Fiat 124 Spider.

Sometimes cars evoke tradition and one’s spirit, as in the case of Robert who acquired it that year.

After he passed away, it was gifted to his daughter Kate, and today she and her husband Oded recall how he valued “good design and Italian cars.”

EEEEEATSCON Festival returns to Forest Hills Stadium

Martha Stewart visits Forest Hills

By Michael Perlman

Culinary sensation Dan ‘Grossy’ Pelosi with the legendary Martha Stewart at EEEEEATSCON, Photo by Michael Perlman.

EEEEEATSCON can be considered a festival like no other, especially at the nearly 100-year-old Forest Hills Stadium, a breeding ground for tennis and music history.

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the festival made a strong comeback, building upon the success of the 2018 and 2019 events.

Throughout the afternoon of Oct. 8 and 9, an estimated 10,000 guests made their way through the stadium and its accompanying grounds, where every turn had a surprise in store.

With 32 restaurants, families and friends discovered a highly curated selection of culturally diverse foods that are both locally and nationally sourced.

Additionally, they dined to the beat of unique bands and a DJ, enjoyed activities, picked up souvenirs and attended presentations by industry pioneers and culinary and creative professionals, including the legendary Martha Stewart.

“This is a special event for The Infatuation and Chase Sapphire, since we really take the time to consider the community experience,” said Michael Sinatra, chief of staff of The Infatuation x Zagat. “Ensuring that we have a wide offering of food representing so many different cultures, interesting panel discussions that merge food and culture, and some incredible entertainment, make it a truly unique experience.”

Sinatra pinpointed behind-the-scenes facts. “The Infatuation curates all of these restaurants using insights from our food writers across NYC, the U.S., and London. We’re not just bringing any Cuban sandwich up from Miami, but rather we connect with our Miami writer and ask what the best option is, as in this case, Sanguich De Miami. The same can be said for our options from Los Angeles, London and beyond.”

The festival is the product of imaginative teamwork. “In some ways, we’re planning for these events throughout the year, as we do it with our partners at Chase Sapphire in Los Angeles in the spring and Forest Hills in the fall,” Sinatra said. In 2021, The Infatuation was acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. “The aim was accelerating their investment in dining, and it further demonstrates JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to meeting customers where they are with exceptional benefits, useful content and one-of-a-kind experiences. Consumers can expect to see more partnerships between the brands, as we continue to grow together,” he continued.

A family enjoying simple pleasures alongside The Infatuation backdrop, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Food vendors felt like a “who’s who” in the culinary industry.

Apollo Bagels, whose team originated in June with sourdough bagels in Williamsburg, is now popularizing their bagel halves with toppings including lox, heirloom tomatoes and red onions.

All the way from L.A. is Harold & Belle’s, which has a 50+ year history, and they are renowned for classic Creole dishes.

Shake Shack x Hoppers marks an exclusive EEEEEATSCON duo featuring the London-based Sri Lankan restaurant.

Attendees were advised to anticipate a burger with spice, curry and punchy flavors.

West African style grain bowls were also on the menu, thanks to Teranga in East Harlem.

Friendly service at the classic Sally’s Apizza, Photo by Michael Perlman.

The legendary Sally’s Apizza was established in 1938 in New Haven, CT, and served scrumptious brick oven pizza, earning it a spot in the “Pizza, A Love Story” documentary.

Detroit-style pizza could be found by visiting the kiosk of the Williamsburg-based Ace’s Pizza.

If one was craving home-style South Indian specialties, Semma made the cut and is rated a Best New Restaurant of 2021.

Not so far away, Zaab Zaab came from Elmhurst to serve highly regarded Isan dishes from northeastern Thailand, prepared with chilies, herbs and lemongrass.

The vibe further comes alive through guests from not only New York, but numerous states.

Dr. Jaimee Hazel of Jamaica, Queens attended with her mother, Dr. Donna Elam, and her daughter Jazzi Rhodes. “The highlights were trying food from all around the country and some from NYC that I never heard of, but the best experience was exploring the event with my mother and daughter. We had a blast at the La Croix experience. We acted like kids at a carnival and received some nice swag in the process,” she said.

As for the presentations, she added, “I learned that Martha Stewart is a down-to-earth person and willing to share her culinary expertise with anyone who asks.”

When she thinks of EEEEEATSCON, “unique” immediately comes to mind.

Swinging with Aperol Spritz, Photo by Michael Perlman.

“People from different cultural backgrounds, living in all boroughs, from all walks of life, were able to mingle in a beautiful setting while being unified by their common love of food and merriment,” Hazel said.

“I passed this train stop multiple times and never knew Forest Hills Stadium existed,” she continued. “What a gem. I look forward to attending more events.”

It’s so great to be able to attend events like this literally in our own backyard,” said East Meadow resident Jhoesly Santana, who attended with friends Tim and Carmellie and brother-in-law Irfan.

Santana enjoyed the exposure to great food from all over without having to leave NYC.

“We came prepared with a list of places to try, but were pleasantly surprised with the additional places. The best parts included the authenticity of The Wiener’s Circle crew featuring the best hotdog I ever had, the Peppa’s Jerk pork, and the catfish nuggets at Harold and Belle’s, and I don’t even eat seafood, so that should tell you a lot.”

Santana took pride in how a multitude of vendors set up their stations creatively, as well as the exclusive collaborations, several bars, various lounges and performances.

“There was always something going on. We were having drinks while waiting in line and could watch the marching bands or The W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew dance, or take pictures with the decorative displays which made everything interactive. The caviar lounge was also very nice.”

First-time festival attendee Rosa Maria Lazon of Forest Hills enjoyed the afternoon with her family.

She said, “It is a unique event that offers and supports diversity, where there is something for everyone to enjoy. It is meaningful for such a historic site as Forest Hills Stadium to host it.”

She praised the variety of food, the music, the DJs, emcee, the drummers, the drinks and ice cream, topped with delightful, sunny weather.

Another resident, Joseph Gasso attended with friends. His highlights included the Wiggle Room pop-up, which featured house cocktails such as the Slam Dunk Disco with mezcal, under a disco ball, and having big eyes for variety.

He said, “This is an affordable festival for foodies that’s coordinated by one of the most reputable food sources, The Infatuation. I loved that most of the food vendors were close to the entrance. There was plenty of space to walk around and the vibe was great. This was my third EEEEEATSCON and I can’t wait to come back.”

The lineup of musicians transcended attendees to far corners of the world.

The sensational FogoAzul surprises guests, Photo by Michael Perlman.

On Saturday, as patrons were sitting at picnic tables on the stadium’s court, dining in the exclusive Chase lounge, or making their way up to the multi-tiered food kiosks on the stadium’s stage, FogoAzul NYC offered one of the most rhythmic experiences.

Based in Queens, they are characterized as NYC’s all women/non-binary Brazilian American drumline.

They feel that “music and rhythm is in every human, if you give them the means, very loudly.” On average, they perform at 150 events annually, including parades.

Red Baraat, which originated in Brooklyn, prides itself on initiating unity and joy, and consolidates hard-driving North Indian bhangra with hip-hop, raw punk and jazz elements.

Also from Brooklyn, the nine-piece band, Brass Queens, draws inspiration from New Orleans music with modern pop.

Some of their performance spots include “Good Morning America” and the 2021 Met Gala.

Another show-stopper, W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew (We Are Family For Life Entertainment), made its way around the stadium campus.

They explained, “In the LiteFeet dance community, there are different teams; we knew with the platform of dancing on the subway, we can start our own. What makes us unique is everyone’s individuality and talents. We are great by ourselves, but better together.”

DJs played various genres including Latin, hip-hop, 1980s rock and dance, thanks to DJ OP!, DJ Matthew Law, DJ Perly and DJ Lovelisa.

Saturday’s guest speakers included Martha Stewart, Bun B and Black Thought of the Rappers Who Cook panel, whereas on Sunday, Hasan Minhaj and Ramy Youssef were also attractions.

Bun B is known for impacting the hip-hop scene over 25 years ago as one half of the acclaimed UGK.

Black Thought is co-founder of “The Roots” and is a most prolific voice in hip-hop, who won three Grammy Awards.

Minhaj originated the weekly Netflix comedy series, “Patriot Act,” with Hasan Minhaj.

Award-winning Egyptian-American Youssef is a comedian and actor who produces and stars in “Ramy,” a popular Hulu show.

Not a seat was left empty when it came to Martha Stewart, who spoke in a tent for over 45 minutes, which also consisted of a Q&A session.

She is an Emmy Award recipient TV show host and an entrepreneur who founded the first multi-channel lifestyle company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and is also a best-selling author of 100 lifestyle books.

She maximizes everyday living by capturing audiences with cooking, gardening, healthy living, pet care and collecting among other topics.

“One of my mottos is to learn something new every day,” said Stewart. “I have a new show coming out on Roku. We signed a new contract for 39 shows a year for the next three years. It’s divided between cooking, holiday and gardening. Talking to interesting people every day is so important to me.”

She also discussed The Martha Stewart Podcast on iHeart.

“I’ve had everybody from Snoop, who I find extremely interesting, to Kris Jenner, Clive Davis, who’s an old friend. I try to get people that I actually know. I want to talk to them about what they’re doing and what interests me about what they’re doing. Sometimes we go over an hour and a half or almost two hours, and I don’t even realize that we’ve been talking so long. When that happens, you know you had a good conversation.”

When asked if there is a form of media that she has yet to tackle such as a documentary, she responded, “Well, I’m working on that. You’re going to love this documentary. Netflix bought it. It will come out within a year.”

It will be produced by R.J. Cutler, who is associated with Billie Eilish and also focuses on legends such as Elton John.

“It’s unusual, but then the fictionalized version will come out after that. It will be me exaggerating my life. It hasn’t been announced yet, but wait for that,” she continued.

Andre’s Hungarian Bakery: A cornerstone for generations

A taste of Hungary in Forest Hills

By Michael Perlman

One mom and pop shop that reads NYC all over it is Andre’s Hungarian Bakery, which has enticed palates with authenticity for generations.

This cultural gem has welcomed patrons since 1976 at 100-28 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, and today it is one of the last-of-its-kind traditional kosher bakeries, especially for Queens.

Their slogan, “Where pastry is art,” comes alive as soon as patrons encounter the window display and enter the small, yet charming and nostalgic shop, where the experienced staff complements the culinary experience with a smile.

Rose Heimann (1919-2018), who emigrated from Hungary, is the original owner who achieved the American Dream.

“She asked me what I should name it, and I said to name it ‘Andre’s Hungarian Strudels & Pastries,’” her 73-year-old son, Andre Heimann, said.

With much faith, she granted life to an empty storefront, and as of 1981, he entered the business and they both became faces of the community.

The ambiance features cases and shelves of Hungarian pastries, stained glass fixtures and bricks, and shelves of native collectibles with a tributary photo of “Grandma Rose.”

“I’ve kept the bakers and all of the old recipes and traditions of the holidays alive,” Heimann said. “She deserves all the credit in the world, and the fact that the Forest Hills mom and pop shop is there after 40 years, is something very few stores can say. People took Andre’s home for the holidays and they still are.”

Despite today’s rise in chains and shift in real estate values, the ownership and staff at Andre’s, who considers themselves “a family,” is determined to persevere by continuing to bake Hungarian pastries by hand the old-fashioned way, while using the finest ingredients.

Fatima Auwar, Tino Melendez, Lucio Carlos behind delectable Hungarian pastries.

At the time that Andre’s opened its doors, the neighborhood was dotted by kosher and traditional bakeries, delis and butchers, including Jay Dee Bakery, Evelyn’s Bake Shop, Peter Pan, Sandy’s Surf Delicatessen, Boulevard Delicatessen, Ben’s Best, Glick’s, and Lazar’s.

Traditional favorites that are bursting with flavor are plentiful and include blueberry, plum and apple pies, Napoleon, rugelach, babka, strudel, Sacher torte, Dobos torte, croissants, Linzer tarts, fruit squares, danishes, assorted cookies, floden and beigli.

To become better acquainted, babka is a sweet yeast cake swirled with either chocolate or cinnamon raisin.

Their classic rugelach features nuts, raisins and a mix of apricot and raspberry jelly, whereas chocolate rugelach offers a rich chocolate filling and a hint of hazelnut.

Classic Rugalech

Layers of walnut and poppy seed come together with prune lekvar on top, if one is craving for Floden.

An artful beigli pastry consists of sweet yeast bread, complemented by dense walnut or poppy seed filling.

Sacher torte is a dense chocolate sponge cake with chocolate glazing and layers of apricot jam and finely grounded nuts, invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Metternich of Vienna.

Dobos torte is a layered sponge cake with chocolate buttercream, topped off with caramel, and named after Hungarian chef József C. Dobos, a Budapest delicatessen owner who invented it in 1885.

Adding to traditions, Andre helped develop an online presence in relatively recent times, which included shipping baked goods countrywide.

The website further engages patrons with a behind-the-scenes clip titled, “Making Strudel.”

This legendary dessert is prepared on a long table and features a light and flaky crust with sweet or savory fillings.

According to the staff, “Making strudel is a form of art that takes years to perfect,” and they owe much gratitude toward Andre for one-on-one training.

Andre was born in 1948 in Újpest, the Fourth District in Budapest.

“In 1949, my parents left, since many Jews wanted to leave Europe after WWII. I grew up in Brazil and Caracas, Venezuela, and then we ended up in the Bronx,” Heimann said.

“In 1962, I started seventh grade here. My younger brother was born in Brazil. My parents came here with a suitcase and two kids to start a life. Coming to America was not easy,” he continued. “They didn’t speak the language, but they were willing to work. She had a drive to succeed.”

Rose & her son, Andre Heimann on her birthday in 2010.

His mother once lived in Elmhurst.

Andre reminisced about opening day, which was prior to Thanksgiving in 1976. “It was a huge hit. There were lines. It was a very Jewish neighborhood. Those were the golden years, and there was a demand and products spoke for themselves.”

Linking the past to the present, he said, “Everything is made the old-fashioned way. Nothing is mechanized or bought frozen. Everything is touched by hand.”

He continued, “The key in the bakery business is selling fresh pastries, or you won’t get a return.”

Prior to 1976, his mother Rose was an employee at another famous bakery, Mrs. Herbst’s Homemade Strudels & Pastries, which was located at 1443 Third Avenue in Manhattan, but replaced with a residence. “Her first paycheck was $1.10 an hour in 1966. That was minimum wage. Imagine working for that,” Heimann explained.

Mrs Herbst’s in the 1930s, where Rose Heimann began working.

“She worked in Yorkville, which had many Germans and Hungarians. She was there for over 10 years before opening up the little shop you see in Forest Hills. She took one of the best bakers to come and work with her, Mr. Hans, who was German. He ordered all the supplies, had the recipes and did all the baking. She also took along the strudel lady, who would come two to three times a week. She had to come in the evening, since you don’t have the space.”

After Andre’s father passed away in 1981 and as a result of the old-time baker passing away, it motivated him to become more involved.

“I was very eager to help my mother. I never worked in a bakery, but had to start from scratch. I taught myself, but there were also many Hungarian and German bakers willing to teach me,” he said. “At that time, everyone had a little recipe book. You couldn’t Google recipes. I had to put in a lot of hours to get to the point to bake everything in the store.”

In those years, there were trained bakers who worked in Europe prior to emigrating, Andre recalled. “There was a little more respect and it was easy to find Hungarian bakers,” he said.

Rose Heimann at Andre’s circa early 1990s.

As a businessman, he then felt determined to build upon his recipe for success.

Two blocks east of Andre’s, he owned the Jet Age-inspired Empress Diner in the 1980s and applied a Hungarian twist (now demolished), and then in the early 1990s, briefly owned Andre’s Café on Restaurant Row.

In 2004, he opened a branch at 1631 2nd Avenue, later renamed Budapest Café, which specializes in traditional entrees, strudels, crepes, wine, espresso and cappuccino.

At 1049 1st Avenue is Andre’s Hungarian Strudels & Pastries.

“I took pride in quality products, these businesses and the fact that I could make everything, since at one time I couldn’t,” he said.

Andre recalls his mother as an unbelievably dedicated, strong woman, partially motivated by his father, who had a few businesses overseas that were unsuccessful.

“They don’t make that breed anymore. She was there from opening until closing, every single day. Whenever someone came into the store, whether it was at 8 a.m. or 8 p.m., she would still be there. She was a tough cookie. I don’t think you’ll find that dedication anymore,” he said. “She worked full-time in the bakery until she was 89 and passed away at 99. It was her oxygen. I would work in the back with the bakers as she would work in the front with the customers, handling the cash. She made sure everyone got fresh pastries, every single day.”

Today’s staff continues to keep the tradition alive.

“We keep the old recipes. Everything is old-school, the way it was over 40 years ago, and that’s why people keep coming here,” said front manager Fatima Auwar, a nearly nine-year employee. “I know a lot of customers for a long time, and I feel very happy.”

She is most tempted by their chocolate croissants and Sacher torte.

Tino Melendez and his brother, Eric Melendez, dedicate much of their energy toward operating the business.

Tino, who held his current position for the past two years, but worked with Andre for many more, pinpointed a key ingredient.

“We feel at home like a family,” he said. “Andre and the chefs taught us how to bake everything from scratch.”

His favorite pastries are Napoleon and plum pie. He is often in the back, ensuring that the baking supplies are spotless and ready for the next order.

The head baker, Jaime Vasquez, has a long history at Andre’s, which dates back nearly three decades. Second-hand baker, Lucio Carlos, has been a mainstay for six years.

When it comes to his favorite pastries, he said, “I don’t have a choice” and chuckled, but then selected a traditional seven-layer cake.

“I work eight hours daily and six days a week, and I aim for the best quality,” he continued.

For a taste of Hungary in Forest Hills, place your order at (347) 935-3120 or say “hello” to the crew in person.

The forgotten art of advertising thermometers

From functional thermometers to collectible art

By Michael Perlman

Lawrence Brown Prime Meat Market circa 1940s, Rego Park.

Some vintage items may be collecting dust, but think twice about tossing them — since they may hold artistic, historical and financial value.

Such is the case of long-forgotten “advertising thermometers,” which were advertised in newspapers in the late 1890s, while keeping in mind that Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the modern thermometer in 1714. These relics could be found locally and nationally.

In the 1890s, America was largely rural and other than postcards and trade cards, it was generally a challenge to advertise, but thermometers engaged the public in a unique way through design and could be readily observed and utilized.

In the 1920s, as towns and cities across America evolved from rural to more urbanized destinations, the analog thermometers became even more prevalent.

They were a popular form of advertising for everything from bakeries to liquor stores to meat markets, and from food, automobile, healthcare and photography industries to World’s Fair expositions.

Most came with hangers to display inside or outside a home.

After the 1980s, they dwindled in popularity, and increasingly so as a result of mass advertising and detecting temperatures through digital technologies.

Today, there is an average of 11,000-plus advertising thermometers on eBay at any given time, and they are indeed a hot commodity, which capture nearly every theme and size imaginable and sell anywhere from 99 cents to $8,345.

1942 Art Deco Coca-Cola advertising thermometer.

Some standout thermometers are a die-cut 1910s “Drink Moxie,” a St. Bernard washed coal, a girl drinking Coca-Cola in 1939, Snow White cream soda, OshKosh B’gosh Work Wear, a Norman Rockwell-themed 1984 General Motors Parts, a cartoon-like Nesbitt’s Orange Soda and “Plant Coker Hybrids.”

Decades ago, a business owner could not have predicted that what was offered to patrons as a promotional means, whether free or as a bonus alongside a purchase, would hold a high value for today’s collectors.

Often for local brands, rare early wood thermometers could be circular and nine to 12 inches in diameter, whereas a rectangular model could be astonishingly up to six feet.

Most frequently, they were 17 inches.

Empire State Building advertising thermometer.

Diverse shapes initiated character with round signs bearing clock-like hands, whereas others were vertical rectangles or squares.

Sometimes they resembled the products that they represented such as a bottle of soda.

It was the thought of advertisers that it would remain on display in a shop longer than a more predictably shaped advertising thermometer.

The outdoor models, which rose in popularity in the 1920s, especially for rural areas, enabled residents to determine not only the temperature, but wind direction.

Advertising thermometers can be found in styles including Colonial, Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Early models were manufactured from tin and wood, which somewhat transitioned to porcelain.

In the 1940s, Masonite was the preferred choice for drugstore advertising thermometers.

Some manufacturers’ names can be discovered in classified ads, if not evident on advertising thermometers.

An ad published in The New York Sun on Aug. 15, 1897 read, “Wanted — Our line of advertising thermometer novelties for 1897-1898 is now ready. We pay liberal commission to competent salesmen. Send 10 cents in stamps for catalogue, sample and terms. Taylor Bros. Co., Rochester, N.Y.”

“Where the good thermometers come from” was their slogan.

Taylor Instruments was founded by George Taylor, a Stoddard native in 1851.

In the early 20th century, their factories were not only in Rochester, but in Toronto, London, New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

The firm evolved into what is presently known as Taylor Precision Products, which is acclaimed in measurement products.

The Feb. 22, 1899 edition of Printers’ Ink — A Journal For Advertisers, featured a Taylor Bros. Co. ad, where an excerpt reads: “The wood thermometer has been used as an advertising medium for a number of years and is to-day a staple article. The force of the wood advertising thermometer lies in being able to read weather temperatures at a greater distance than is possible with small thermometers.”

It continues, “By omitting the words usually printed upon one side of the thermometer scale — ‘Zero,’ ‘Freezing,’ ‘Temperate,’ etc., and alternating the figures of the scale on either side of the tube, makes it possible to use figures more than twice as large.”

An illustrated Taylor Brothers Co. ad ran in The Magazine of Business in 1905, which read: “What will you give your customers this year? The best thing to keep your name before them is an Advertising Thermometer. More valuable than calendars or novelties because they are appreciated and work for you every day for years. Better pay 12 ½ cents for an attractive 7” x 2” aluminum thermo with your ad on (see cut) than one-half as much for a one-man or one-year advertisement. Our 56 page Catalog B of other styles free.”

Another ad, published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 11, 1925 read, “Fastest selling advertising thermometer calendar combination, 17c, metal back, three colors, uncond. guarantee, money making sideline. Newton Mfg. Co., Dept 17, Newton, Ia.”

This firm was founded in 1909.

From 1940 to the early 1970s, a dominant manufacturer was the Pam Clock Company, which produced advertising thermometers and clocks for large firms, and epitomized the industry. Coca-Cola and RC Cola were among thousands of organizations that appointed the firm to illuminate their image.

“Go For Bunny Bread” and “Ask For Valvoline Motor Oil” are two classic examples of round Pam thermometers, which consists of a 14” aluminum housing with domed-glass crystal.

The analog dial would be customized by logos or slogans.

Along the lines of the Pam Clock, the thermometer was backlit with super bright LED lamps.

Forest Hills and Rego Park shops earned their spot in the advertising thermometer field.

These collectibles that were distributed at local businesses are hard to find nowadays.

Continental Wine & Liquor Store, Forest Hills.

One example features “Continental Wine and Liquor Store,” which was located at 107-18 Continental Avenue and notes “Next to Forest Hills Theatre” in a nameplate accompanied by Art Deco detail.

It also ensures prompt deliveries and features a vintage phone number with a prefix: BOulevard 8-8865/8866.

The backing is wood and it features a carved frame that supports a colored mirrored surface.

The charming imagery consists of a woman sitting with her cat in front of a fireplace, and above the mantel are two candlesticks alongside a built-in thermometer. The manufacturer likely felt that this relaxing scene would complement any home’s décor while drawing one’s eye to the business.

Sometimes advertising thermometers tell a story that extends beyond a business, as in the case of the rare “Tilden Dairy and Delicatessen” collectible. This cherished business was located at 73-06 Austin Street and reads, “Everything from soup to nuts.”

Tilden Dairy & Delicatessen at Tilden Arms, Forest Hills.

Besides a thermometer, a three-minute sand glass was attached, which came in handy in the kitchen.

It dates to the time when Austin Street was nicknamed “The Village.”

This business was named after Tilden Arms at 73-20 Austin Street, a Georgian Colonial apartment building, completed in 1931.

It takes an advertising thermometer to inspire further research, where one learns that it was named after “Big Bill” Tilden, who won the U.S. National Championships, with wins in Forest Hills in 1920, 1924, 1925 and 1929. That included the first year at Forest Hills Stadium.

He holds a record for the most men’s singles titles and was the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920.

Advertising thermometers are bound to come in unique shapes. A classic example is a supersized ornate brass key that supports a thermometer.

It reads “1939 World’s Fair” and embossed on top is a depiction of the Fair’s symbolic Trylon and Perisphere monuments, which reflects the multicultural and innovative “World of Tomorrow” theme and could also be found at the Trylon Theater, on stationery, on cakes and on other forms of advertising countrywide.

1939 World’s Fair key thermometer with Trylon & Perisphere monuments on top.

Continuing the innovative theme, along with “Peace Through Understanding” is a 1964-1965 World’s Fair thermometer, which featured an embossed brass Unisphere, mounted on wood.

1964 – 1965 World’s Fair advertising thermometer.

Some advertising thermometers take the viewer to the great outdoors, as in the case of the circa 1940s “Lawrence Brown Prime Meat Market” thermometer, which features a watercolor-inspired scene of a Tudor cottage and a lush garden overlooking a lake with ducks.

This neighborly business was situated at 92-07 63rd Drive in Rego Park and memorializes the vintage prefix phone number found in HAvemeyer 4-0850.

The frame features unique Art Deco motifs.

In the 1950s, it became “Consumers Meat Market,” which longtime and former residents recall more so, but that too is long-gone.

“I enjoy looking at the wide variety of these thermometers available on the second-hand market,” said David Barnett, co-founder of Noble Signs and the New York Sign Museum.

“They showcase many styles of design and lettering. Some were distributed to shops and others as keepsakes directly to consumers. The practical value of a thermometer in a pre-digital age helped increase the likelihood that the advertisement would be saved instead of discarded.”

Now if you are not a collector, perhaps the foundation for an intriguing journey is about to begin

Legendary Midway Theatre turns 80

A milestone at a Golden Age theater

Midway Theatre, today

By Michael Perlman

It is not too often that patrons can take their children to the theater where their great-grandparents had their first date or saw a “who’s who” of actors in Classical Hollywood Cinema.

Those memories come alive at the historic Midway Theatre at 108-22 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, an Art Moderne community-recognized landmark.

Patrons can say “Happy 80th Birthday, Midway!” which debuted with a gala opening on Sept. 24, 1942, earning it the status of one of Queens’ longest continuously operating theaters.

Midway Theatre upon completion in 1942.

The theater was named after achieving an American victory in the Pacific island outpost during WWII’s Battle of Midway.

Opening attractions were the U.S. Navy’s Technicolor short subject, “The Battle of Midway,” as well as “The Pied Piper” and “Just Off Broadway.”

A long-list of the theater’s other classic films include “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Casablanca,” “Pride of the Marines,” “Help!,” “West Side Story” and “Saturday Night Fever.”

Films further came to life with celebrity visits including Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, who conducted a meet and greet.

The “MIDWAY” vertical beacon and marquee offers a lighting spectacular along Queens Boulevard.

Also of distinction is a streamlined accordion-style and curved corner façade, and a whimsical circular lobby with a 30-foot ceiling with domes and a sweeping staircase leading to a picture window.

Architect Thomas White Lamb, Courtesy of great-grandson Tom Andrew Lamb.

The Midway was designed by America’s foremost theater architect, Scotland native Thomas White Lamb (1871 – 1942), along with consulting architect S. Charles Lee.

“Intimate Facts About Myself,” a whimsical cartoon-illustrated pamphlet introduced patrons to the theater in 1942. It read, “I am what you call modernistic – with all the newest wrinkles and latest gadgets. Here and now I want to give thanks to the late Thomas Lamb, one of the greatest theatrical architects. In me, his last theatre, you will find the best example of his genius.”

Offering insight to novelties, it read, “You, the patrons of the Midway will vote for the outstanding star each year. His or her picture will then be placed in especially designed panels in the Hall of Fame, which are located in each side of the auditorium.”

It continued, “A thing of beauty and a joy forever… that’s me all over!”… “Harold Rambusch, famous interior decorator surpassed himself designing my color scheme and it’s something ‘out of this world.’ You will admire my stepped ceiling, with the cleverly concealed indirect flood lights and those unusual lighting fixtures on the side walls.”

Today, Regal UA Cinemas’ Midway Theatre is a go-to destination for first-run films, but was also known for its Walt Disney cartoons and up-to-the-minute news.

Midway Theatre grand opening, auditorium, 1942. Photo courtesy of Dallasmovietheaters under a Creative Commons license.

Historically, operations shifted from RKO to Skouras to United Artists. It also transitioned from a single screen to a quad to nine screens, and in more recent times, digital advances and recliners were introduced.

One of the earliest Forest Hills patrons, Richard Delaney, who now resides in Cary, N.C., said, “I was six when the Midway opened, and my mom told me what a major event it was. It was a formal affair, with klieg lights on Queens Boulevard. Some celebrities were present.”

The Midway was an attraction upon entering. He said, “The ticket booth had a curved front and on top of the glass in gold was a map of Midway Island and surrounding islands. There was a long passageway with four wooden railings: two for people entering to see a film and two for exiting. There was quite a line of people waiting. Those were the days of double features. After you had your ticket torn in half, you entered a beautiful Art Deco lobby with a curved staircase to the mezzanine. Either side of the candy and popcorn counter were entrances into the main auditorium.”

He recalled a series of circular lights in the auditorium. “They had black backgrounds, but in the center were figures of dancing ladies. A glow would come from the circle surrounding the figures.”

Midway Theatre Art Deco Auditorium angular view.

There were uniformed ushers and usherettes who would accompany guests to their seat with a flashlight, if the film was already on, according to Delaney.

Additionally, he can still sense the matron walking up and down the aisles, ensuring that everyone behaved.

If not, he recalled, “She would have you come out of your seat and you would be asked to leave.”

On Saturdays in the 1940s, beginning at 10 a.m., a children’s show often spanned four hours.

“They would have a double feature, 10 cartoons and sometimes 10 to 15-minute serials, with one to two chapters each week, leaving you hanging in suspense. Sometimes they would show ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘Flash Gordon,’ ‘Roy Rogers’ and ‘Gene Autry.’ Some would go for 20 chapters.”

Delaney also saw many films during the heyday of the Hollywood Studios system.

With his mother, he would see Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Ann Sheridan on the big screen.

Usually on a Friday night, there was a request for contributions to various charitable organizations, such as March of Dimes.

“The manager would make an announcement on the stage and ushers would pass canisters up each aisle for people to deposit a contribution,” he said. “They also sold war bonds or war saving stamps.”

Delaney is hopeful for a belated Midway extravaganza. “You can have a big 80th birthday cake in the lobby with a Saturday evening feature. It’s an iconic theater, so you can have a plane fly over Forest Hills with ‘Happy 80th Birthday Midway Theatre’ written in the sky.”

Local 306 projectionist Fred Hadley, formerly of Forest Hills, now lives in Boca Raton, Fla.

He reminisced, “I worked as a union projectionist in 1972 at the then-single screen Midway, which we salute on its 80th anniversary. I remember showing ‘Cabaret’ to full 2,000-seat houses. In those days, movies were projected using 20-minute reels of 35 mm film. The multiplex concept was just beginning.”

Forest Hills resident Patty Bugland believes that additional original art moderne features exist, such as above dropped ceilings in the auditoriums and the outer lobby.

“It was great to go with friends and wait for the lights to dim and the planetarium ceiling lights to twinkle. I always looked for Midway Island. This was the original ceiling of the whole theater when it was a single screen. It featured a map of the world and the constellations. This was as fascinating to me as the movies,” Bugland said.

She would attend every Disney animation and musical, including “South Pacific” and “West Side Story” and historical costume epics, such as “The Ten Commandments” and “How the West Was Won.”

Bugland continued, “Often, there was a double feature with that phrase, ‘Selected Short Subjects,’ which meant the forerunner of music videos or a very short comedy film, a short documentary or several cartoons. A video I remember most vividly was Ray Charles and The Raelettes performing ‘Hit the Road Jack.’”    

Midway Theatre lobby before approaching the grand lobby, 1942 Photo courtesy of Dallasmovietheaters under a Creative Commons license.

Another resident, David Gelman, said, “As with many of the classic buildings that are protected, I would be sad to see the Midway coming to end if it’s not preserved. It’s a quintessential part of Forest Hills.”

He recalls seeing classics such as “Goldfinger” and “Mary Poppins,” as well as waiting on a long line to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Westchester resident Barry Werbin takes pride in how grand and huge the Midway is.

“In my days growing up in Forest Hills, there were no multiplex theaters locally. The Midway is an architectural gem worth landmarking. Just look at what happened to the Forest Hills Theatre where I have other memories. I feel thankful I got to come of age in such a special place,” he said.

“Preserving the beautiful art moderne architecture of the mid-20th century is important, since this is a period when New York City was still becoming a world-recognized center of art and culture, and the many periods that represent this evolution are disappearing in many neighborhoods,” said Forest Hills native Jackie Fishman.

She would like to see an 80th birthday celebration conceived as “a star-studded, old-fashioned, elegant event complete with showings of movies from 1942.”

Original Art Deco ticket booth, 1942 grand opening Photo courtesy of Dallasmovietheaters under a Creative Commons license.

“It would be fun to turn this into a week-long event that is open to everyone, with the opening day and night as an invitational party, and the proceeds could benefit a local preservation effort,” she said.

“The Midway seemed like a mini Radio City Music Hall,” said Denise De Maria of Forest Hills.

As a child, she attended a spin-off of the popular “McHale’s Navy” sitcom.

“Several cast members came up on stage afterwards, shook hands and gave out autographed pictures. Co-star Tim Conway was there and I got a picture. I was thrilled to meet a friendly celebrity, who became so well-known for decades,” she said.

Virginia resident Alison Turnbull Schoew, who was raised in Sutton Hall in Forest Hills, remembers the matrons and ice cream bonbons in little white boxes, but her truly special memory is attending the children’s matinee of “Big Red” in 1962.

She said, “The movie was the story of a lovely Irish Setter and her hijinks. After the film, a kind dad brought his own Irish Setter to the Midway and all of us got to pet it. I was too young to know that I wasn’t patting the star of the movie, and I carefully protected my petting hand from the rain all the way home.”

Marla Duffy-Eng, who was raised in Forest Hills, recalls promotional giveaways, as in the case of a plastic seat belt for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

Additionally, she said, “I remember special signage for big movies like ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ and ‘My Fair Lady.’ For ‘Cleopatra,’ the studio created a special marquee with giant letters in red and black.”

Forest Hills resident Amanda Killian said, “The Midway was the go-to for the big openings.”

Fast-forwarding to summer 1996, she had several teen friends who were employed at the Midway.

“I was invited into the projector room watching my friends load the reels and then watching the movies from a different vantage point. I would help them clean the theaters after, so that the staff and their friends could have private showings with unlimited popcorn.” For a celebration, she said, “It would be nice to see time capsule style photos of the Midway. You would really be able to see the evolution of the neighborhood.”

Her husband, J.P. Killian said, “I remember back in 1989, when I was excited to see ‘Batman’ with Michael Keaton, and so was the rest of my fifth-grade class. As years have gone by, I’ve seen countless blockbusters from ‘Training Day,’ ‘Fast and Furious’ movies and ‘Die Hard.’”

He also embraces preservation.

“I love the fact that the Midway is still around and people are still watching blockbuster hits on the big screen. For a celebration, it would be great if the Midway had an eighty-cent movie deal for a day,” he said.

“It is a shame other theaters in the area have not fared well, but I hope as the Midway turns 80, we as a community can keep it alive.”

Woman lucky to be alive after Forest Hills car crash, will dedicate her heart to communities

Two heroes perform miraculous rescue on Greenway N

By Michael Perlman

Greenway North in Forest Hills, scene of the accident.

On Aug. 29 at 2 p.m., a kind, healthy and positive-minded woman survived a serious car crash, which resulted in being trapped in an overturned Toyota Prius on Greenway North.

Every day is a blessing, with much to be grateful for, according to Forest Hills resident Eve G. (who requested her full last name be omitted).

She was a passenger who attributes her survival to the miracles of two strangers named Margaux and Brian who did not know one another, but acted on impulse to carry her out of the car at the precise timing.

Furthermore, she owes the miracle to her Catholic faith and the love of her family, beginning with her mother, her best friend.

“I was so happy that morning, when I awoke and put on a brand-new outfit,” Eve said. “I said that today is going to be a big day. I was coming from Jones Beach, going to my home. I was listening to the radio and was very happy.” She last remembers her calling her mother and being close to home. She said, “I’ll be home in five minutes. Don’t worry. I love you, mom.”

The next instance that she recalls is waking up in the middle of the road, with a woman holding her in her arms, comparable to a mother holding a baby.

“I remember seeing the car upside down and all I could do was cry, and I said ‘Thank God I’m alive,’” she said.

Eve was admitted to Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Center for nearly a week, whereas the driver was evaluated and discharged on the same day.

She sustained a broken leg, a broken neck and one laceration on her head and nearby welts of dried blood, which resulted in being stitched from the front.

She had much to share about the importance of having faith.

“My faith has grown, since I pleaded with God and really asked him to let me live. Here I am telling this story,” she said.

She made gestures as she stated, “I realize that I could have lost my arms, lost my hands, lost my legs, and I could have been paralyzed, but I can move my toes and I’ll be able to walk soon.”

Eve owes much gratitude to her two “guardian angels.”

“For those people to be walking on Greenway North and coming to my aid and removing and holding someone and telling them, ‘Everything will be okay’…a complete stranger…those are heroes, because not everyone can do that,” she explained.

“When I opened my eyes, I saw lots of people staring with their mouths open. Not many people are brave enough,” she continued. “I was held and reassured, and we prayed together until the ambulance came. I don’t know who those people are, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

She is also thankful to some hospital staff members.

“They had strong and touching words to say such as, ‘Snap out of it’ and ‘You’re going to be strong,’” she added.

Eve feels that Margaux, whose birthday was on the day of the accident, gave herself the best possible gift in the name of a courageous deed, as in giving birth to a renewed lease on life.

She reminisced, “I had a panic attack in a psychologist’s arms. She is a perfect angel. I remember passing in and out. When I awoke, my vision was blurry. As I was in her arms, Brian said, ‘Don’t worry. The ambulance is here.’”

Not long after 2 p.m., the timing continued to be on her side.

According to Eve, if not for her mailman Kenny, who witnessed the aftermath, her mother may not have been informed at her doorstep about the accident, at least on a timely basis.

Additionally, her cell phone among other possessions may not have been recovered by her mother from a car slated for the junkyard.

“When my mom was frantic, he reassured her that I am okay and standing,” Eve said. Kenny is considered to be a true friend.

In regard to her faith and fate, she thanks her heroes for being in the right place at the right time.

“God had to use these people to come to my aid and serve as angels. He said, ‘Okay, these people will get you out of the car. I know it,’” she said. “They didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t know.”

She is also deeply grateful that she did not take her toy poodle, Winnie, with her in the car, as initially planned.

Eve G. and her dog, Winnie.

Before her accident, Eve never took life for granted.

“I always cherished every moment. I considered myself a religious and grateful person, but now even more so. God gave me a second chance. Now that I’m alive, I will come back stronger. You have to love life,” she said.

She cited the ability to shower, eat on your own, walk and open a door.

She continued, “You never know what tomorrow may bring. One minute you’re at the beach enjoying life, but the next minute you’re at the hospital. I was a completely healthy adult. Within the blink of an eye, your life can radically change, so tell your loved ones, ‘I love you’ and don’t forget to give thanks for everything.”

Eve had the opportunity to reunite by phone with one hero so far, thanks to the power of community behind Facebook groups and NextDoor.

“I was thrilled to hear from Margaux and thanked her. She said, ‘Anyone would have done it,’ but I told her, ‘Not anyone steps up.’”

Furthermore, Eve hopes to reunite with her other hero.

“I want to tell Brian that he’s also brave to remove me. He was comforting as if he knew me. I want to thank him too and give him a hug,” Eve added.

As for her recovery, she explained that the doctors have faith that she will be walking in no time, with the aid of physical therapy. In addition, she makes sure to wear her brace.

A few days ago, after learning about the “It’s A Miracle” TV series, she became an instant fan.

“It reinforces your belief in how there are angels on Earth. They are not just invisible. They are placed here by God to save other human beings. Every day there are miracles. In an episode, a hero threw himself into a river and rescued a boy who was drowning, and another hero knew how to perform CPR,” she said.

Eve’s mother emigrated from Peru, and her father from Guatemala.

She and her mother relocated from New Hyde Park to Forest Hills two years ago, but she long considered Forest Hills to be her home.

She would play at Ehrenreich-Austin Playground and take swimming lessons on Queens Boulevard.

She continues to embrace an active lifestyle and said, “I want to thank God that I am an expert in yoga, since now I am able to hop and stand on my good leg for a long period of time.”

Her interests also include sharing quality family time, Austin Street nightlife, the beach, the gym, Zumba and being a top fan of “Unsolved Mysteries,” where she looks into various cases.

“I also enjoy running on the beach with my dog, Winnie, and going to dog parks,” she added.

She attends Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church (OLQM) and set a goal to attend more often.

“I am a devotee of Padre Pio. Three months ago, I visited the National Centre for Padre Pio, after finding out about him through my church. He performs miracles such as giving a girl a new bladder by interceding through God.”

Eve G. with Padre Pio, weeks before the car crash.

She plans to follow in Padre Pio’s footsteps, who was known for his piety and the quality of his preaching.

“I will be giving as many testimonies as I can at churches, beginning with OLQM and my original church, Notre Dame in New Hyde Park, so people can believe more in God. Testimonies feed your soul that God truly exists. Some people may think that there’s no way I would have made it out alive in a flipped-over car. I am going to speak from the heart with every cell in my body that Jesus exists, since he saved my life.”

Now, Eve finds herself talking to God one-on-one, with an aim of determining upcoming goals.

“He obviously wants me to do bigger things, and whatever that is, I will do it,” she said. “He gave me a second chance and I’m not going to waste it.”

Undoubtedly, Eve is a trooper, who discovers a guiding light in her favorite verse Philippians 4:13, which states, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Perlman: A “REal GOod” Community To Turn 100

Marion Legler recalls Rego Park’s early days

By Michael Perlman

Marion Legler on right with her daughter Karen with a sample of an uncirculated 1920s Rego Park collection, Photo by Michael Perlman.

In just a few months, residents can say “Happy 100th Birthday, Rego Park!”

Last Friday, this columnist had a follow-up of a 2016 Rego Park tour and interview with Marion Thone Legler (born 1932), who reflected upon her early life in Rego Park and why it is a “REal GOod” community.

She is the granddaughter of Joseph F. Thone (1870 – 1955), a builder and founding member of the Real Good Construction Company, and is among the last links to the neighborhood’s origins.

Now a resident of New Hyde Park, the meeting at her local library entailed digitizing over 70 uncirculated Rego Park photos commissioned by the firm’s founders.

“I am very honored that my father passed my grandfather’s precious photos on to me,” said Legler. “They have many memories of wonderful years of the early history of Rego Park. A museum containing information regarding Rego Park and Forest Hills would be invaluable to so many families.”

Marion Legler’s grandparents Joseph F Thone & Dorothea Thone doing chores in an elegant home, where only their dog poses.

Back in 1923, Rego Construction Company acquired farmland in Forest Hills West and named “Rego Park” after their advertising slogan, “REal GOod Homes.”

The typical story encompasses founders who immigrated from Germany; president Henry L. Schloh and secretary and treasurer Charles I. Hausmann, but Thone’s influence is a largely untold piece of the puzzle.

Legler’s rare photo collection documents a transition from farmland to a residential community in its first decade, the faces behind Rego Park and its earliest residents, the paving of roads, a trolley line along Queens Boulevard, the first shops, the Rego Park Community Club, P.S. 139, the ribbon-cutting of the 63rd Drive railroad station and a unique look inside an elegantly appointed house.

Many panoramic photos document the development of 525 eight-room, single-family “Rego Homes.” They included railroad-style Colonial frame houses with enclosed porches between 63rd Drive and Eliot Avenue along Saunders, Booth, Wetherole and Austin Streets, which sold for an approximate $7,500.

The collection follows with the development of the firm’s earliest and largely intact apartment houses along Saunders Street, which 70 families each called home: the Tudor-style Remo Hall (1927), the Spanish Mission-style Jupiter Court (1927) and Marion Court (1929), designed by Constantinople native Benjamin Braunstein.

Remo Hall, 61-40 Saunders St adorned with banners.

Legler believes that she was named after the latter building situated on Marion Avenue (now 63rd Avenue), stemming from her grandfather’s interest in the name.

Legler discussed the importance of preservation. “I believe in those early days, much thought went into preserving history. You can see that in the care that was taken when choosing architectural design. I am sure it was thought that these buildings would be in use for many years,” she said.

“Try your best to keep it preserved for future generations. Many good people gave much time and thought into what they prayed would be a Real Good place for families to live for generations to come,” she continued. “Only those who are here now can be a part of that prayer. It is in your hands. Don’t let those good people down.”

She began writing a memoir last December, which is slated for publication in January 2023.

“All chapters are about my life and my friends and family. I am writing it for my four daughters and their children,” Legler explained. “It will contain pictures and life stories. I want them to have it in print for future references.”

Legler has a rich family timeline in Rego Park.

“It began with my grandfather and grandmother, Joseph F. Thone and Dorothea Thone. Their home was at 63-35 Bourton Street. Then my parents, William (America native) and Anne Thone (Norway native), my sister Dorothy, my brother Donald and myself. We lived at 61-30 Booth Street. Also, my uncle Joseph H. Thone, his wife Peggy and their children Russell and Carol lived at 62-87 Booth Street. My uncle Walter Thone also lived at 63-35 Bourton Street,” she said.

Legler is grateful for fond memories with her grandparents: “I spent many days at their home. It was so beautiful,” she continued. “My grandmother always made me feel loved. She had two cats and a parrot that spoke English and German. I actually lived with them for nine months when my grandmother was very sick and my mother took care of her. I loved her dearly. After she died, we moved back into our home on Booth Street.”

Original Rego Park houses were known as railroad room homes, straight through from the front porch to the living room, dining room and kitchen.

She said, “The kitchen was quite large. Off the kitchen was the pantry with the ice box, pantry closet and back door. The ice man would deliver ice and put it in the top compartment. Thank goodness that kept everything cold. Dugan’s and Krug’s were the bread people. In the beginning, they came on a horse and buggy. Upstairs was three bedrooms and a bathroom. Another essential was a coal chute in the basement, since there was no gas heat.”

She continued, “We were lucky, as my grandfather built a staircase to the attic where there was usually a closet. My sister and brother and I slept up there during the 1939 World’s Fair, so my parents could take in tourists for extra money. Things were tough in those days.”

Legler takes pride in solid family values to this day.

“Everybody had to be at the table. If you were late for dinner, you were in big trouble. Before we would leave the table, we would say, ‘takk for maten’ (thank you for the food).”

Sunday dinner was after church at 1 p.m. and consisted of mostly roast beef and sometimes turkey.

She said, “The vegetables… you ate them.  Most were creamed and were German or Norwegian-style. Mom always made dessert…custard bread pudding, homemade pie, pineapple rice pudding from Norway and Brown Betty.”

Rego Park’s heyday featured diverse clubs: “Rego Park Community Club/Rego Park Clubhouse was on Jupiter Avenue (62nd Road) and Wetherole Street, where I had my wedding reception,” said Legler.

In 1928, her uncle Joseph H. Thone became president of the newly founded Rego Park Tennis Club, which operated on Saunders Street and 62nd Road.

Around 1929, he became secretary of the new Men’s Club of Lutheran Church of Our Saviour.

Legler recalls traveling mostly by bus or trolley, and then came the railroad and eventually the subway in 1936.

Queens Blvd trolley line with 2 cars, Rego Construction Co ad, Real Good Homes, April 10, 1925.

“I don’t know what my mom paid when we rode the trolley, but when I was old enough to ride the bus and subway, it was 5 cents,” she said.

Being raised in Rego Park was idyllic, according to Legler. A community fixture was “Buddy, the Bungalow Bar man.”

She reminisced, “I spent many days outdoors playing with neighborhood friends. We had great times playing handball, stickball, diamond ball, running basis, tag, football and stoop ball. At night, always hide and seek. Our parents would sit on the stoop and watch. We used to sleigh ride down 63rd Avenue and never had to worry about cars because there were very few. On Queens Boulevard, there were outdoor barbecue places, and we would be entertained for free.”

Off the north side of Queens Boulevard were swamps, Lost Battalion Hall and Howard Johnson’s.

The Art Deco Trylon Theater and Drake Theater were quite the attractions.

She said, “We always saw two movies, newsreels, cartoons and had a matron checking on us.” She saw mostly war films, but remembers many “Lassie” movies. She found “The Purple Heart” (1944) to be very moving.

She recalled her favorite shops: “On 63rd Drive, I loved Woolworth and across was McCrory’s. On Queens Boulevard between Eliot Avenue and 62nd, my dad owned a hardware store, which operated until ca.1939. I loved going there, since there were always fun things to see. He gave me my first roller skates; Kingston skates that came in a can.”

& plate glass, Queens Blvd near Eliot Ave.

Employment was sometimes a challenge, such as when her father gave up his hardware store during the Great Depression.

Legler is a graduate of P.S. 139, erected in 1929. She recalled, “We went from kindergarten through 8th grade. They taught arithmetic, the sciences, English, grammar and penmanship. In the upper grades, the boys took shop and the girls took home ed, which was learning how to be a housewife and a mother. Children went home for lunch.”

Victory gardening was prevalent during WWII and P.S. 139 participated.

“We grew carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, and celery,” Legler recalled. “We would bring money and buy what was called stamps, which was like a savings account. You learned how to cook in school, how to grow food outside, and how to save your money at the same time.”

Legler operated a key punch machine for General Motors. She said, “In 1950, my salary was $33 a week, and that was before they took everything out. We had food stamps, but they were good years, where families worked together.”

That same year, she graduated from Forest Hills High School and remained in Rego Park until her marriage in 1956 at Lutheran Church of Our Saviour.

Fast-forwarding to 2022, she said, “I am retired and spend as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren. Time is precious. Camping has always been a large part of our family’s time. I have done it with my girls since they were little, so today we have a trailer in the Poconos. This is my haven.”

Legler turned 90 on July 16 and her family threw her a party at her granddaughter Courtney’s home.

She said, “They did not surprise me this time about the party, but surprised me with who was invited. There were many good old friends and family members. Also, they hired a Mister Softee ice cream truck, my favorite.”

Her neighbor, who lived next door on Booth Street, turned 90 in August 2021.

She said,” I attended her celebration and she was at mine this year. I don’t know what they plan for my 100th, so I’ll try to stick around.”

Looking back, she said, “I am so proud to know that my grandfather played an important part in the development of Rego Park. It’s a ‘Real Good’ place to live that has lived up to its name.”

Perlman: Coming together for ‘Althea Gibson Way’

Preserving her legacy with street co-naming

By Michael Perlman

Roger Terry, nephew of Althea’s former husband Will Darben with Althea’s great niece Crystal Thorne.

It may be hard to visualize that relatively not too long ago, tennis was a segregated sport, but that largely changed when racial color barriers were broken at the iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.

Althea Gibson (1927 – 2003) became the first African American person to win the U.S. National Tennis Championships title in 1957. At the time, Vice President Richard Nixon presented her with the championship trophy.

Althea Gibson, VP Richard Nixon, Mal Anderson, Forest Hills Stadium, 1957. Courtesy of Archives of the WSTC

She was also the first Black player to win Wimbledon that year and received the Venus Rosewater Dish from Queen Elizabeth II.

Then in 1971, she became an International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee.

On August 25, which would have been her 95th birthday, history was made once again with the co-naming of West 143rd Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevards as “Althea Gibson Way.”

Now her legacy will forever be preserved, as New Yorkers and tourists explore a culturally rich New York City landscape.

The location was most ideal, since Gibson and her family lived in a historic building at 135 West 143rd Street.

A block away on 5th Avenue is the 369th Regiment Armory, where she played tennis, and today there are tennis training programs which benefit the community’s youth.

The street co-naming ceremony was heavily attended by family members and friends among fans.

Gibson’s cousin Don Felder had a vision in 2019, and with perseverance, analogous to Althea, it became a reality. He explained, “I had an idea after seeing a cousin of Althea being honored with his name at the intersection of 145th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, ‘The Claude Brown Corner.’ The planning began by contacting the City of New York. The requirements are 100 signatures from residents and businesses on the block and three letters of support. I got support letters from former Mayor David Dinkins, a local church pastor, Whoopi Goldberg and Katrina Adams. The complete package was submitted to Community Board 10. It was approved and a resolution was passed.”

Don Felder holds a photo of Althea Gibson with the Harry C Lee tennis racquet.

Backtracking, Gibson was honored in 2019 with a sculpture near Arthur Ashe Stadium, and she will soon be honored at Forest Hills Stadium during its centennial in 2023, where some of her possessions — including her trophies — will be on display.

Most recently, sports marketing and media specialist Randy Walker republished Gibson’s bio, “I Always Wanted to be Somebody” (1960).

“I would like to see a presidential medal issued to Althea Gibson, as well as see her image on U.S. currency,” Felder said, whose wishes may be granted in 2025 with a commemorative quarter.

Photos courtesy of WSTC

He had much to share about Gibson’s achievements and how it motivates all generations of tennis players following in her footsteps.

“Althea’s perseverance was astounding while realizing the times she played and the racial barriers and obstacles she endured. Althea had to enter from the back of tennis clubs and even change her clothes outside of the clubs before entering, and again leave from the back. At times, she received brutal verbal abuse and attacks, but yet she became the tennis champion of the world who inspired others to persevere in spite of obstacles.”

“I was thrilled,” Felder continued, referencing the moment the sign was unveiled.

“Althea’s nieces came from Virginia to unveil the sign. The drummers did a drumroll as the sign was unveiled and the crowd applauded. My thought is that it has finally been done. After walking the street and getting signatures and letters, we now have ‘Althea Gibson Way’ forever and her legacy lives on.”

A keynote speaker was former USTA President & CEO Katrina Adams.

“It is imperative that we keep her name alive. It’s the next generation that needs to know that before Coco, Venus, Serena, Chanda, me, Lori, Zina and Leslie, was Althea. Why? Because Althea came first,” she said.

Also present was Michael Giangrande, the son of Harry C. Lee & Co.’s vice president.

“They sponsored Althea when no racquet company sponsored Black players,” Felder said. “Michael in his youth would accompany his father to West 143rd Street to visit Althea, and was there after Althea’s win at Wimbledon.” He referenced her greatness.

lthea Gibson’s family who traveled from NY, NJ, Philadelphia, Delaware, VA, NC, SC to honor her.

Roger Terry, Gibson’s nephew, commended her competitiveness in anything, and how she as an older woman would beat him and his friends on basketball and football courts.

“She never wanted to lose in any game,” he said.

Additionally, a young tennis student took the podium and said that when she feels pressure and alone as the only Black girl on the tennis courts, she thinks of Gibson and on whose shoulder she stands on, and she perseveres.

Other speakers included Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Councilwoman Kristen Richardson and representatives of the Police Athletic League.

“Althea learned the game of table tennis on West 143rd Street when the PAL closed the street for recreation for the children,” Felder said.

He introduced his family, whose mothers were in the photo display.

“They were taken in 1957 when Althea returned from her first Wimbledon win,” he continued.

Felder, who holds fond recollections of Gibson, said, “I called her mom and asked if Althea can come to my junior high school in Brooklyn as a guest speaker, and she came. She loved her family and made time to come when we called, even as she traveled the world to play tennis.”

He finds her to be a multi-faceted inspiration.

“Althea was a loving human being. She accepted everyone and enjoyed life. She was more than a champion athlete who excelled in every sport, but was also an actress, singer, and saxophonist, which may be unknown to many. She excelled in anything she did, and I’ve learned that I can do anything that I choose, if I persevere.”

She felt at home at the Apollo Theater, where she won second prize in a singing competition in 1943 and received $10 rather than the promised week of singing engagements, but she did not let it dishearten her.

Felder expanded upon the unknowns. “Althea became friends with John Wayne and William Holden as she acted in ‘The Horse Soldiers’ (1959). She loved to perform while on tennis tours. She played basketball and was a bowler, and was the first Black woman to golf in the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She also sang on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ was on ‘What’s My Line?’ and taught tennis to inner city children.”

As Felder toured the grounds and Clubhouse of the West Side Tennis Club, he could feel Gibson’s presence.

Althea in the media display.

“I am in awe that I am walking where she walked and played, gained recognition, and became champion and broke down racial barriers,” he said. “I believe that she is pleased that her family member now sees where she worked and played and loved to be.”

Despite her passing, the public can continue to learn from her accomplishments in the face of adversity.

Felder explained, “Many young people and adults still do not know who Althea Gibson was. She was a great American who overcame many obstacles and became a great ‘Somebody’ as she wrote in her autobiography ‘I Always Wanted to be Somebody.’”

The street co-naming united the community as well as her family, generating a sense of pride, according to Felder. “Althea’s name on the street in Harlem tells other young people from the community that they too can achieve their goals and dreams,” he said.

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