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Perlman: Patriotism Echoes in Forest Hills on July 4, 1922

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Forest Hills Gardens once hosted lavish Fourth of July Festivals from morning until midnight in Station Square and the Tea Garden, along Greenway Terrace, and in Olivia Park. This tradition was organized and sponsored by the Men’s Club of Forest Hills in 1914. One of the most historic moments transpired on July 4, 1917, when Col. Theodore Roosevelt delivered his 100 Percent Unification speech. Festivals were under the jurisdiction of The Fourth of July Committee until September 13, 1920, when the Celebrations Association of Forest Hills Gardens was organized.

A century has passed, and now it is time to turn the clock back to July 4, 1922, the 146th year of America’s independence. Numerous Forest Hills Gardens residents were integral in community affairs, and the listed names are potentially ancestors of current residents.

In anticipation, Forest Hills Gardens Bulletin stated, “All over the country there will be merrymaking, family and community gatherings, when the greatness of the nation’s history will be recalled, and when anew the citizens will pledge themselves to more sincere devotion to the welfare of the people as a whole.” It later went on to say, “In Forest Hills and Forest Hills Gardens, there will be all-day celebrations which will show that the citizens of each section have worked hard to plan a day which will not soon be forgotten.”

For the second year, the annual celebration by the Forest Hills Association was chaired by D. McKenzie. The Monarch Band, once known as the 15th Regiment National Guard, led committee members from the Club House to the flag-raising of Forest Hills Gardens neighbors. Greetings were extended by association president W.C. Mayer and Gardens Celebrations Association Chair John Messenger. Also of note was treasurer Homer Croy and secretary Scott Robinson.

The band led the committee and the Forest Hills Post of the American Legion to the Club House’s flag-raising ceremony. Then until 1 p.m., children had a field day with a variety of sports. Beginning at 2 p.m., a parade originating on Nome Street (now 68th Road) made its way throughout the village, and then Queens Boulevard, along Continental Avenue, and Forest Hills Gardens. Automobiles were a parade highlight, where P.D. Wright and Mrs. I.W. Backus earned first and second prizes, followed by Betty Lachman in a bicycle outfit.

Congressman Dr. J.J. Kindred addressed the challenges confronting the founders of the Constitution and requested a closer knowledge of national problems, with a will to remedy them. Afterward, a golf tournament and baseball match between married and single men was the center of attention, in addition to what was referenced as a “magnificent daylight display of fireworks.”

Tennis is synonymous with Forest Hills history. Many matches led to tennis finals, that would take place at the Seminole Avenue Clubhouse courts.

A grand march was assembled in an exquisitely decorated fairyland pavilion. Despite rain for the first in nine years of July 4th festivals, attendees enjoyed their experience overall, and the Forest Hills Masonic Temple (later Sterling National Bank) on Continental Avenue accommodated the largest crowd ever.

The Bulletin read, “After being aroused by the picturesque town criers, the villagers met on the Green and were inspired by the Flag Raising exercises (9:30 a.m.) and the eloquent address of Dr. Albert Sheppard, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills, who spoke of the way the really great men are maligned in their own day. With the (thirty-piece) band accompaniment, the Forest Hills Choral Club gave a program of patriotic music.”

Part of the festivities was a two-day event that was referred to as an exhibition of moving pictures of the 4th of July celebration in 1921.

A new 4th of July attraction in 1922 was a musical parade, led by Harvey Warren as the Pied Piper, which was followed by children dressed up as fairies and sunbeams among other costumes. This novelty was coordinated by Mrs. Donald G. Clark and S.W. Eckman, and participants received prizes. After the band marched, Uncle Sam, portrayed by Walter Hartwig and Columbia, portrayed by Ruth Davies, and a bicycle rider group and wheels and riders in patriotic colors followed. The Bulletin read, “‘Children of all Nations,’ interesting and colorful, was followed by an attractive group, the ‘Robin Hood Band’ of Exeter Street. The graceful Maypole Dance came next, pretty and attractive. The Audubon Society brought forth applause, led by a big crow and a number of little birds, the middle-sized ones carrying a birdhouse, which had been skillfully made by C.H.W. Hasselriis. This was followed by a group representing the Library Station, with a large book leading – the handicraft of Jules Gingras. The Community House float pulled by Boy Scouts elicited much praise for the makers of the model, (architect) John A. Tompkins and George H. Merrill. Last of all came Niels F. Holch pulling a small white model of the swimming pool of the Community House, and in the pool the Holch children dressed in red.”

The Tudor-style Station Square served as a backdrop for games that intrigued younger and older generations and tested prowess, endurance, and physical skill. Under Dr. W.F. Saybolt’s direction, children were happy campers, with prizes in hand. At 3:30 p.m., Olivia Park, the nature-inspired amphitheater that was often admired for its sylvan setting, hosted interpretative dances despite the rain.

The Bulletin stated, “The program consisted of a number of dances, beautifully executed by the pupils of the (notable) Chalif Normal School of Dancing, assisted by Joseph Kardos, pianist, Miss Irma Braver, soprano, Joseph Diskay, tenor, and Imerio Ferrari, baritone.” The traditional dancing in the name of patriotism in Station Square was abridged due to rain, so the ballroom of the Forest Hills Inn was in the spotlight.

Perlman: Lights… Camera… ‘Maestro’

The track record of Forest Hills’ cinematic and televised history continues to be more diverse, with writer and director Bradley Cooper coming to town!

Special delivery of classic cars (Photo by Pat Lannan)

From June 15 to June 18, Markwood Road, as well as Summer Street between Greenway South and Seasongood Road was transformed into the 1940s, with the addition of classic, colorful cars alongside Forest Hills Gardens’ historic Tudor and Arts & Crafts architecture and lush landscapes.

“Maestro,” which is also being referred to as “Rybernia” under Panthera Productions, may remain as its designated title.

It will be a Netflix biopic that chronicles the life of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, and particularly spotlights his love and marriage to Felicia Montealegre.

The cast features notable names including Cooper, who portrays Bernstein, Carey Mulligan as Montealegre, Sarah Silverman as Bernstein’s sister, Maya Hawke, and Batt Bomer.

The production team also features Josh Singer, who scripted this latest work, as well as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Todd Phillips.

Singer was the recipient of an Academy Award for “Spotlight” as Best Original Screenplay in 2015.

In “The Life of Leonard Bernstein” by Jim Whitting, Rybernia originated in the late 1920s when Bernstein was 10, and reflects a collaboration of his nickname and his neighbor Eddie Ryack. The biopic takes place in the 1940s, 1970s, and 1980s, and begins in black and white and transitions into color, hence the decades.

Tudor charm & a 1940s classic (Photo by Abraham Chuang_NYDeTour)

For Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Cooper told Mahershala Ali earlier this year, “I wanted to be a conductor since I was a kid. I was obsessed with it and asked Santa Claus for a baton when I was eight. Listening to music, falling in love with it, and being able to really know every single moment of a piece… I could do it as if I know everything about it without really being able to speak the language, obviously.”

The biopic began filming on the Upper West Side on June 6. It is set to be released next year, and will be the first film that Cooper co-wrote and directed since the remake of “A Star Is Born” in 2018.

Leonard Bernstein achieved stardom as a world’s greatest musician, and was notably the first American conductor to receive international fame.

Along with his family, he was a resident of the legendary Dakota in an eight-room apartment. Throughout his career, he was the recipient of seven Emmy Awards, 16 Grammy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement, two Tony Awards, and a Kennedy Center Honor.

Bernstein was the New York Philharmonic’s longtime music director, and achieved a legacy as the first American conductor to lead a major symphony orchestra.

With major international orchestras in his presence, it became the subject of a massive inventory of video and audio recordings. He also significantly revived the music of Gustav Mahler.

As a multi-genre composer, Bernstein pursued orchestral and symphonic music, opera, choral works, ballet, theatrical and film music, and chamber music among other works for the piano. “West Side Story” is his most recognized Broadway musical. His other signature theatrical works include “Candide,” “On The Town, “Wonderful Town,” and “MASS.”

Residents experienced the wow factor: “I love the fact that Forest Hills Gardens hasn’t really changed since the time period of the film, thanks to preservation efforts,” Pat Lannan said.

“I loved all of the cars that were used to reflect the period of time that the film will be set in. It really gave me a feeling of what it was like to walk in Forest Hills Gardens back in the 1940s, with the classic cars parked. It felt like a time machine.”

“Some things just happen, which is the charming part of living in the city,” said Abraham Chuang, the admin of the popular Facebook page NYDeTour, who noticed set location signs posted along Ascan Avenue, and then followed a trail through Seasongood Road to Summer Street.

Bradley Cooper. (Photo by Abraham Chuang_NYDeTour)

“Bradley Cooper was holding a cigarette in my photo, but I didn’t meet him face to face. There are more and more movies or TV series choosing Forest Hills and Rego Park for their scenes, and I am like, ‘What took you so long?’ Personally, I like the fact that the movie industry is starting to notice the beauty and uniqueness of Forest Hills,” he continued. “This is such a beautiful neighborhood that will alter the general impression to people who are not living in the city. Forest Hills Gardens is a fantastic secret garden with a nostalgic vibe that you can walk into, and what’s even more amazing is that every season has its own beauty.”

Upon encountering the film set, Roxana Eroxy said, “All cars talk to me, as they have stories and personalities. They are all beautiful ladies. Additionally, Forest Hills Gardens is heaven on earth, with a beautiful setting for filming old homes.”

Jeffrey Carrasquillo also expressed much excitement: “Forest Hills has been my home for the last 30 years, and I love the fact it’s being used for TV and movies. I can’t wait to see the episodes and the films!”

“I love all old cars, but I liked what looked like a circa 1950 Jackie Gleason bus the best, with its olive-green color with a yellowish trim,” he continued. “It reminded me of when it was a dime.”

Historically, film enthusiasts can find “Sentimental Tommy,” a silent drama film in 1921, and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 psychological crime thriller “Strangers on A Train,” which featured key scenes at Forest Hills Stadium.

Scenes from the 2001 film, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” were also shot on the property. The historic Eddie’s Sweet Shop accommodated scenes from the 1986 film “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” the 2007 film “The Ex,” as well as the 2010 romantic drama film, “Remember Me,” which featured Pierce Brosnan and Robert Pattinson.

Some standouts in more recent years were the five-part HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” starring Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce, an FX spy drama “The Americans,” and a comedy-drama television series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

In October, the autobiographical drama “Armageddon Time” starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, was filmed near 6 Burns Street, and transformed it into the 1980s.

Perlman: A Prom to Remember

P.S. 101 celebrates at the Historic Tea Garden and Jade Party Room

By Michael Perlman
[email protected]

With much anticipation, three 5th grade classes from P.S. 101 came together on June 11 to celebrate their success, with a prom at the historic Tea Garden and party room of Jade Eatery in Forest Hills Gardens.

Students dance with illuminated fairy, (Photos by Michael Perlman)

A total of 65 children were joined by a small group of parents, who not only helped coordinate the prom with this columnist, and restaurant owner Kumar, but engaged in a hands-on effort for days to sweep up, spruce up, and further restore the Tea Garden, which opened in 1912 behind the Forest Hills Inn. The event also focused as a garden fundraiser.

Behind an ornate gate along Greenway Terrace lies a forgotten Tudor style Tea Garden with monumental trees and a soon-to-be restored brick fountain, which was once a community cornerstone for afternoon teas, dinner dances featuring The Inn Trio, plays by the Gardens Players, flower shows, children’s festivals, dog shows, and weddings.

As the Inn became a residence in the late 1960s and restaurants on site changed hands, the Tea Garden gradually fell into a state of disarray. On Saturday evening, the prom became the first major event in recent history to utilize this somewhat hidden gem to its fullest potential, closer to the vision of architect Grosvenor Atterbury and urban planner Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. over a century ago. Parents donated the colorful flowers surrounding the fountain area, and Kumar arranged the planting of 40 Emerald Green evergreen shrubs along the perimeters.

Similar to traditional times, the gateway was open, and the children made their way along a red carpet with colorful accent lights and took photos in front of a backsplash bearing P.S. 101 The School In The Gardens mascots and 2022 gold balloons. A glitzy disco ball themed woman stood nearby, adding to the festive ambiance.

Graduation themed balloons were throughout the garden, along with a burst of colorful balloons on the central fountain area. There was plenty of space to socialize with longtime friends and perhaps make new ones from other 5th grade classes. Children also enjoyed the popcorn machine and a Boba tea station.

Making our way into the party room, which offers a Moroccan and Asian ambiance, as well as a very high vaulted ceiling and accent lights, it proved to be the ideal setting for several tables surrounding a dancefloor. DJ Leche played energetic and sentimental dance tunes, including line dances, and a sing-along was also a major highlight. An illuminated fairy danced with the children, and was an ever-changing light show within itself. Table balloons illuminated in gold. The menu included fresh mozzarella sticks, pizza bites, chicken tenders, french fries, chicken parmigiana, baked ziti, sautéed veggies with garlic sauce, bubble tea, and smoothies.

Students lined up for popcorn

This columnist delivered a presentation on the Tea Garden’s history and continued restoration project. A screen rolled down, and in a theater style seating arrangement, the children enjoyed a slideshow of memories, dating back to their early grades at P.S. 101, as “Graduation” by Vitamin C played. Then they continued to dance the night away, and the evening ended on a high note with a class of 2022 photo in the Tea Garden.

Children and parents shared what made the prom one to cherish.

“It was really fun,” said Bella Scarola. “There are so many things that I will never forget; one of which is dancing with the light dancer.”

Reflecting on her school, she said, “One value that PS 101 taught me was to have respect for each other. Respect is like a foundation of a house. If you don’t have respect, you can’t build anything else.”

She felt privileged to celebrate in the Tea Garden, and said, “I feel very excited for its future. It was probably used for a few decades, and then they just stopped using it. Since then, I guess no one cared to clean it anymore. I am very excited and grateful the people are willing to put time and effort into cleaning a historical space in our community.”

Another happy camper was Isa Rodriguez. She said, “We got to spend time with our friends and just enjoy the moment. P.S. 101 made me have more friends. My school encourages friendships and integration.” She was also thankful that the Tea Garden was selected. “I think it’s really cool, and I feel grateful we were there with our party, and I’m part of bringing the garden back to life.”

Her mother Maggie Rodriguez was one of the parent coordinators. “This was a very anticipated event for the children and parents, especially after dealing with the pandemic. We celebrated the kids’ accomplishments in elementary school and an upcoming transition to middle school. There was great energy and much joy from adults and children, but the most meaningful was children celebrating themselves and enjoying the moment, as well as being part of restoring the Tea Garden’s history.”

The red carpet was rolled out at the Tea Garden for the occasion.

She takes pride in how her clean-up efforts attracted lots of curious passersby. “It’s absolutely a hidden gem that unfortunately was forgotten, but it will definitely come back to life, and I’m happy to know I planted a little seed for this to happen. Let’s restore the beautiful fountain and the gazebo. This enchanting garden needs more to be used to its full potential and can serve as a setting for many more memorable events.”

Lexa Ocasio felt grateful to spend time with friends, laughing and dancing in such a beautiful space. She said, “The most memorable part was the light up dancing girl and the Boba tea station in the Tea Garden. It was amazing to learn its history. I am honored that we were the first children to enjoy this beautiful space once again, as it was meant to be. I pray that the Tea Garden can be restored, so we can once again enjoy its beauty! Thank you to all the parents that made our prom possible, and to Mr. Perlman for all you do to restore and preserve our community, and for teaching us a bit of history in our own backyard.” She continued, “P.S. 101 taught me to respect and embrace different cultures, and respect other’s differences. They have also implemented self-awareness of our emotions, and how to better deal with stressful and frightening situations.”

Her mother Wendy Medina, also helped beautify “a hidden gem.” She explained, “Towards the end of the evening a student, Luke Whitman, asked me if we were going to continue to restore the Tea Garden. I expressed to him that we will continue and try our hardest. He responded, ‘I hope so. I think this is such a cool place.’” She pinpointed another engaging moment. “Passersby exhibited joy when learning that we were attempting to restore it. A nearby resident shared a story, where she saw photos of her mother as a child attending a wedding in the Tea Garden, and also shared a bit of its history, and mentioned that many celebrities visited.”

Another event coordinator and volunteer Melissa Cruz called the prom momentous and felt the party room was elegant, and the Tea Garden was charming and beautifully decorated. She said, “Passersbys peeked in and seemed to be in awe at the lovely space that came alive that night.

The Tea Garden fountain is to be restored

It had such an old-world elegance to it, and I was imagining what it was like to have parties there in the 1920s. Knowing that our children were celebrating in a space where children played a century ago felt otherworldly.” She added, “Forest Hills has so much history, and as residents, we aren’t even aware of all that has taken place in some areas we walk by daily.”

Her son Dylan Cruz said, “P.S. 101 taught me the value of friendship, how to be creative and express my ideas. As a history enthusiast, learning about the interesting history of the Tea Garden and party room made our dance more meaningful. It’s so cool to know that we are living in such a historic neighborhood.”

Jade Eatery has continuously lived up to being a destination for parties, and is also complete with a patio and a large dining area surrounding a koi fish pond, leading to a bar and gallery. Reflecting upon the event, owner Kumar said, “I’m always here to help everyone. My team and I, along with parents, worked very hard to make this event successful. Chef Richard made great American food with all his love. All of the children were dancing, and what a great DJ!”

P.S. 101’s 5th grade class of 2022 in the Tea Garden.

Looking ahead, repairing water features and stonework, planting more evergreens, as well as colorful rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and azaleas alongside the original trees from 1912, could become a reality. The replication of a long-lost ring for tea stand by Flushing Iron Weld and this columnist is nearly complete.

Kumar continued, “Our community should approach the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation to help support the Tea Garden’s restoration. This event elicited over 100-plus years of memories.”

 

Suspect charged for killing Zhiwen Yan

Glen Hirsch, 51, of Briarwood has been indicted by a grand jury on charges related to the death of Zhiwen Yan, a 45-year-old Chinese food restaurant delivery worker from Middle Village, who was gunned down on his scooter back in April, just moments after dropping off an order in Forest Hills.

Zhiwen Yan and his wife on their wedding day.

According to investigators, on April 30, the suspect was observed on multiple surveillance cameras driving by the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant on Queens Boulevard.

Allegedly he had passed by the restaurant seven times, just before 9:30 p.m., when the victim, Yan, was said to have left the restaurant to deliver an order. He then managed to get behind the scooter and followed him to the address at 108th Street in Forest Hills.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said that Yan then dropped off the food order, returned to the scooter, and rode away. It was when he stopped at a red light, at the corner of 67th Drive and 108th Street, when Hirsch allegedly approached the victim on foot.

Having recognized Hirsch, Yan started to back away on the scooter. At that moment, the suspect allegedly fired a single shot, striking the delivery worker in the chest causing him to fall off his scooter. EMS quickly responded and transported Yan to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst where he was pronounced dead. The suspect and his Lexus RX3 SUV were also seen racing away from the scene.

“As alleged, a petty dispute over a take-out order became an obsessive point of contention for the defendant who began to stalk and harass employees at the restaurant for months,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement following the indictment. “The tragic end result was the murder of a hard-working employee, who left behind a devastated family and a grieving community. Gun violence is never the answer and will not be tolerated in Queens County. Following a thorough investigation by my office and the NYPD, the defendant has been apprehended and will now face justice in our Courts.”

Hirsch already had a history of causing issues with employees at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant going back to Nov. 30, 2021, when the suspect allegedly placed an order that evening asking for extra packets of duck sauce, which he was provided. Nevertheless, he became irate and insisted that the restaurant refund his money because he wanted to return the food. But when the worker refused to take it back, Hirsch called the police.

When police arrived, the employee explained that due to COVID-19 protocols, they could not accept the order back. Hirsch then stormed out of the restaurant. Over the months that followed, he allegedly threatened and harassed several Great Wall employees, including the owner, Kai Yang.

The allegations further indicated that on Dec. 16, 2021, the victim, Zhiwen Yan, saw the defendant using a knife to damage a worker’s car that was parked outside. Hirsch allegedly threatened him, saying “I have a gun,” and “be careful, this is the last time I’m going to tell you.”

But as Hirsch left towards his vehicle, three restaurant workers followed and confronted him. One of them pulled down his mask while the others took pictures of his face and the license plate of his gray Lexus SUV with their cellphones.

The charges state that Hirsch then returned to the restaurant again on Jan. 28, this time brandishing a firearm and talking to one of the workers who was outside shoveling snow. He reportedly said, “How’s your car? Remember me? I will kill your entire family.” The employee quickly rushed back inside to call the police. When he returned outside, the suspect was gone but the tires on his car were slashed.

Hirsch was arrested on June 1, following the issuance of a warrant. A subsequent court-authorized search warrant was later executed at his wife’s home, where police say they recovered eight firearms from inside a closet believed to contain items belonging to the suspect.

He was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder on a 10-count indictment and is being charged with second degree murder, possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, menacing, and stalking.

If convicted on all charges, Hirsch faces between 29 and 44 years-to-life in prison.

Forest Hills resident competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

Tom Philipose with Mayim Bialik, guest host of “Jeopardy!”

Tom Philipose of Forest Hills made a national TV appearance last night on America’s favorite quiz show, “Jeopardy!”

The 18-year Forest Hills resident and writing professor at CUNY Guttman Community College is no stranger to TV quiz shows, as he’s also starred on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Cash Cab” in the past.

Philipose has taken stabs at “Jeopardy!’s” extensive audition process of interviews and tests in the past, and was excited to be invited to the show this time around.

He said that his job as a college professor and knowing a ton of trivial facts throughout his life is what helped him during his “Jeopardy!” experience.

“I always remind students that you want to be intellectually curious, you want to know things, you don’t want to act like you got it all figured out, and that you’ve got nothing left to learn. We should keep our minds open to new things,” Philipose said.

“I’m daily in that practice of practicing what I preach, because it’s good to know what’s up and what’s going on in the world,” he continued. “So I think I’ve been prepared for this experience.”

Since “Jeopardy!” tapes multiple shows in one day, Philipose knew he would be up against reigning champion Ryan Long, who is one of four players from this season alone to make the show’s Hall of Fame list with the most consecutive games won.

Philipose gave Long a run for his money in the first round, buzzing in with multiple correct responses in a row and finding the Daily Double, where he scored an additional $1,000. He finished the first round $200 ahead of Long.

“It was a real whirlwind rewatching the episode. I was watching and thinking, ‘I don’t know this answer,’ and then I saw myself buzzing in and getting it right,” Philipose said.

“I remembered that I didn’t get any questions wrong except for Final Jeopardy, but I just did not remember buzzing in and knowing some of them yesterday. It was really weird.”

In the Double Jeopardy round, Long’s performance picked up along with the help of a Daily Double, and Philipose went into Final Jeopardy just $4,000 behind.

The question in the final category, “UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” stumped all three contestants.

Philipose shockingly wagered all of his earnings, leaving him with nothing.

“I did that because I was down by a few thousand dollars, and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I told myself ‘This guy [Long] knows a lot and I didn’t like the category at all, but let me go all out,’” he said.

“I think for me, it was the right move, because I know that it didn’t matter what I bet because if I got it wrong, he was going to win anyway. All of my family and friends told me that they were glad I went all in.”

Although Philipose did not leave “Jeopardy!” a winner in the traditional sense, he is victorious in other ways.

During the show’s interview portion, Philipose discussed the time where he signed up for the bone marrow registry, and eventually donated bone marrow to a child who was dying.

“I was a copycat. My brother joined the registry first. We were told there were not enough or a lot of people of color on the bone marrow registry,” he said on “Jeopardy!”

“A few years passed, and we both got matched to children that we did not know and we were able to donate and help them out. I would recommend anybody join the registry because it’s a really easy way to save a life.”

The show’s guest host, Mayim Bialik, described his good deed as “unbelievable,” and the moment earned him a round of applause from the studio audience.

Philipose said that the interview portion of the show is the part he was most excited about.

“Regardless of what happened, I was at least able to get the word out about a really easy way to save people’s lives. The champion, Ryan, actually tweeted out some stuff about the bone marrow registry and gave me a shoutout, and that’s getting a lot of attention in a nice way like I was hoping for,” Philipose said.

When he’s not educating college students or starring on quiz shows, Philipose enjoys hanging out at all the staples in the neighborhood such as Nick’s Pizza, Forest Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Forest Hills Gardens.

“The diversity is what I love most about Queens. Here we have real people. We hear 50 different languages every time we walk on a sidewalk … I feel comfortable and at home in a place like that,” he said. “They call it the ‘World’s Borough’ for a reason, and it’s got everything I’m looking for.”

Four local scouts earn Eagle rank

Four young men from Troop 45 of Woodside have recently joined the four percent of Boy Scouts in the U.S. to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Massimo Accardo, Eamonn Dobey, Aidan Haran, and Oisin Haran — all natives of Maspeth and Middle Village — have climbed the necessary ranks throughout their scouting careers to achieve this ranking.

Prior to planning their Eagle Scout projects, all of which serve local communities, they earned six rank advancements and a minimum of 21 merit badges.

The scouts were also responsible for finding, planning, and coordinating the entirety of their projects, as well as raising funds and purchasing all supplies needed.

Accardo and the troop worked to revamp some dilapidated conditions in Forest Park, Queens.

 

Accardo and Dobey devoted their projects to the upkeep and preservation of Forest Park.

Accardo, who’s been involved with the Boy Scouts for 12 years, got the idea for his project by reaching out to NYC Councilman Robert Holden, who referred him to Joseph Block, who is responsible for managing and overseeing the operations, inspections, and maintenance of Forest Park.

During a tour of the park, Accardo decided to work on an overpass on Myrtle Avenue which cuts through the park that hadn’t had any work done on it for nearly 10 years.

“If you look at my before pictures, there was foundation exposed, a lot of mold and rusting, and concrete that was crumbling. There was also a lot of dirt on the sides of the manmade trails that were not safe and very steep,” he said. “So our plan was to resurface the surface itself.”

 

Accardo and other members of the troop took ample time to scrape off old paint and mold, test for lead, and repaint the surface of the overpass.

They also added cribbing to the neighboring man made walking trail, which involves wooden planks embedded in the ground to use as steps for safer navigation.

Accardo said that this was the troop’s first project during the pandemic, which caused a lot of challenges, including mask mandates and social distancing. However, he is proud of the end result.

“We decided to resurface the entire wall itself, so both sides of the overpass had contrasting colors,” he explained.

“It made it not just look like a project, but like a detailed job, which is what I’m really proud of because it looked professional.”

Dobey took inspiration for his project in a similar fashion, and decided to restore a dilapidated trail in Forest Park.

He said that the path was hazardous for park goers, and was full of potholes, cracks, raised concrete, overgrown thorn bushes, and litter.

He added that the steps that lead to the trail were completely unsafe, with missing parts and slabs that had come off the foundation.

“We repaved all the slabs and filled in the cracks by recementing the whole thing,” he said. “For the trail, we cut back the overgrown bush, shoveled out the soil and added wood chips and mulch, and picked up the garbage that made it unusable.”

Dobey takes pride in the finished product, and said that the project aligns with the overall mission of the Boy Scouts because it focused on cleaning up the community and making it a pleasant place for people to enjoy.

Haran dedicated his project to making repairs to St. Mel’s in Flushing.

Oisin Haran also kept his project local by helping St. Mel’s Catholic Academy in Flushing prepare for the school year.

“The project was to repaint the outside fence into the playground, paint the vents on the lockers inside the classrooms, build a new wooden fence to surround the garbage area, and modify the iron railing leading down to the basement to make it safer for children,” he said.

He explained that the outside gate was rusted and needed to be repainted, as well as the bike racks that were damaged by being hit by a car at one point.

He feared that the schoolchildren could get injured as a result of these conditions, which is what inspired him to take on the project.

Haran feels immense gratitude for his fellow scouts and troop leaders including Scoutmaster TJ Kerins, COR Fred Coltrinari, and Anthony Chorzepa, who is a retired carpenter.

His twin brother, Aidan Haran, ventured out into Bonitas Youth Service in the East Village for his project, which he completed in November 2021.

Bonitas Youth Services is a student hostel that houses young people from around the world, and Haran discovered that its backyard needed intense restoration.

“The yard was all old bluestone set in dirt, which was uneven. There was also a lot of garbage that needed to be cleaned up,” he said.

“The project included digging up the old backyard, putting in poppies and a drywall for drainage, making raised flower beds, and leveling the backyard to place new patio blocks that made it safe to walk on and suitable to hold events,” he continued.

In fact, the new patio blocks that were put into the yard came via a job in the city, from Martha Stewart’s roof.

Haran made extensive renovations to the backyard of Bonitas Youth Service, which houses young people from all over the world.

To honor the heritage of Father Patrick Moloney, an Irish priest who resides there, Haran arranged for the patio blocks to be engraved with symbols like St. Brigid’s Cross and the ichthys symbol.

To honor their hard work, the four scouts will be recognized during their Eagle Court of Honor on June 17.

Accardo is excited to finally partake in his ceremony, and says that they are “long overdue” as a result of delays from the pandemic.

“An Eagle is made through their actions in their leadership, depending on what they can do to a group and with a group. As for accomplishing it itself, a big part of it is attributed to the leaders,” he said.

“They put in a lot of time, effort, and volunteer hours, and they’ve been like parents to us. They’ve had to deal with a lot of crap from kids who are just stubborn a lot of time, and it takes a lot of patience,” he continued. “So a big part of it is to respect those who have done so much for us.”

Forest Hills Parade returns

People filled the street along Metropolitan Avenue on Sunday for the annual Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade. This year’s event was the community’s first in two years, due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Veterans, community groups, elected officials, and local residents gathered to honor and remember the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guard who died in service to their country.

Parade-goers with the Richmond Hill Historical Society get dressed up for the annual Memorial Day Parade in Forest HIlls

“The invasion of Ukraine by a tyrant is a stark reminder of why we need a strong national defense,” Michael Arcati, commander of American Legion Continental Post No. 1424 in Forest Hills, said. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance and you see the eternal vigilance here today as the veterans of this American Legion, those of us still on active duty, and the Naval Sea Cadets who may one day raise their right hand and take the oath to defend this country.”

In an opening ceremony, The Legion Post recognized this year’s Grand Marshals, Patrick Conley, a U.S. army veteran who served from 1978 to 1981, and Timothy Ducey, a Glendale resident and community advocate who owns Acey Ducey’s and Tap House pubs in Forest Hills.

Also celebrated at the ceremony were NYPD Sergeant Christopher Fulgieri with the 2022 Forest Hills American Legion Law & Order Award, retired Engine 235 firefighter Lois Mungay with the 2022 Forest Hills American Legion First Responder Award, and Louie Suljovic, an Army veteran and hero who saved an elderly woman from a knife attack outside Louie’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on Baxter Ave. in Elmhurst.

Several local elected officials came out to show their support, including Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York State

Senator Joseph Addabbo, NYS Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and Councilwoman Lynn Schulman.

Many of them took the time to remind the crowd the true meaning of the holiday.

“Memorial Day is not about barbecues, hamburgers, or beaches. It’s a dedicated day for honoring our military personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice to afford us the freedoms we take for granted every day,” said Schulman, whose great aunt served in the Women’s Army Corps., uncle fought in WWII, and father was a soldier in the Korean War. “We also owe the Gold Star families our gratitude for their sacrifice, as it is never easy losing a loved one, and I hope they know their loss will never be forgotten.”

Rudy Markard, a Queens resident who served as a sailor in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966, has taken part in Memorial Day parades for several years.
He takes pride in showing off his rebuilt military Jeep and letting children interact with the vehicle.

“It takes me back 50 years when I had little kids, so it’s a connection with life. It’s just wonderful,” Markard said.

Long Island Jewish Forest Hills join in the Memorial Day Parade 2022

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

The Richmond Hill Historical Society at the Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade 2022

The All-City High School Marching Band

Forest Hills-Rego Park CERT

FHYAA

Members of the community wave their flags and watch as the parade marches by.

Rudy Markard and a young resident share a bonding moment at the end of the parade.
(Photos By Jessica Meditz)

Jones Surgical Co. storefront gone but not forgotten

Eighty years, four sets of owners, and numerous generations of supporters later, Jones Surgical Co. has decided to close its doors.

The iconic, long-standing mom-and-pop shop has been a staple in Forest Hills and the rest of Queens, providing its customers with all of their medical supply needs.
Rita Lieberman, who co-owns the business with her husband Michael, said that the closure came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as folks turning to online shopping.

“It became untenable during COVID for a variety of reasons,” Lieberman said. “Sometimes, people would call or come in, get as much information as they could, and order online. To be honest, we knew that it was coming down the pipes, it’s just that COVID sped up the process probably by five or more years. The price of rents, cost of goods, supply chain issues, and fighting Amazon and other big box stores made it come to a point where a little mom and pop couldn’t survive anymore.”

The interior of Jones Surgical Co.

Although residents can no longer admire the well-known green exterior on Metropolitan and Continental Avenues, the Liebermans are still operating Jones Surgical Co. on a wholesale basis to its established clients.

Lieberman acknowledged that the closure of Jones Surgical Co. has left a void in the community and even the borough, which prompted many residents to reach out.

Michael Perlman, a fifth generation Forest Hills resident, preservationist, and columnist with The Forest Hills Times was one of them.
Upon hearing about the closing of Jones Surgical Co., Perlman submitted a detailed proposal to the Liebermans, suggesting ways to preserve the shop’s exterior—which they agreed to.

“Certain community residents brought it to my attention, and people expressed interest in seeing the signage and other features preserved,” Perlman said. “Immediately, I felt like I was a man on a mission.”

In April, Perlman met with the Liebermans along with the co-founder of Noble Signs/NY Sign Museum, David Barnett, who would facilitate the preservation.
Perlman said it was important to get Jones Surgical Co. preserved because, much like the other mom-and-pops in the neighborhood—Eddie’s Sweet Shop, Knish Knosh, and Aigner Chocolates—Jones provided residents with an “extended family” and a story to tell.

“My goal is to preserve as many architecturally and culturally significant sights as possible, anything beautiful that has a story to tell. It’s a shame how many community cornerstones are closing nowadays, especially, and how many historical and picturesque buildings are being demolished or essentially altered,” he said.

“They build community, and it’s very important to take every measure possible to help and hopefully preserve and support mom-and-pop style businesses. It grants soul to our communities.”

He admired the mid-century ambience the location had to offer, with the indoor tin ceilings and art deco style exterior.

In fact, the bottom portion of the storefront’s columns had the manufacturer’s name on them, Jason Store Fronts, as well as the vintage telephone number.
Perlman has also sought out to preserve other Forest Hills community staples, including Tower Diner, which has already been demolished, and Trylon Theater/Ohr Natan Synagogue.

“I didn’t want to see another prime example of commercial archaeology ending up in the dumpster,” he said.

“From an artistic perspective and historical perspective, these things enrich us. Our history is irreplaceable, and we should feel inspired and take pride in our heritage.”
Barnett and his team executed the preservation of the shop’s exterior, and it is currently being worked on inside Noble Signs’ studio in East New York, Brooklyn.

The New York Sign Museum hopes to have a dedicated space and be open to the public by the end of 2022, but the studio space where the sign sits now is open to appointments for interested community members.

“I love the fact that the sign is preserved. I hope to be able to one day visit it and all the other things being preserved when that comes to fruition,” Lieberman said. “I look forward to taking my grandchildren to see it.”

Perlman is thankful that the signage and columns were able to be preserved, but he misses the actual business.

“I’m very determined to help the New York Sign Museum find a more permanent spot where so many more people can benefit simultaneously,” he said. “Our community and city is rich in history and architecture, and I’m tired of seeing these sites undergoing demolition and alterations.”

Hardworking food delivery worker fatally shot

The Forest Hills community mourns the loss of Zhiwen Yan, a food delivery worker at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, who is remembered by locals for his warm greetings of “Hello, my friend.”

Yan, who lived in Middle Village, was fatally shot on April 30 around 9:30 p.m. while riding his scooter on his way to deliver food at the intersection of 108th St. and 67th Dr. in Forest Hills.

The husband and father of three endured a gunshot wound to the chest which caused him to fall off his scooter.

EMS responded and transported Yan to NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst where he was pronounced dead.

It is uncertain why he was not brought to Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, which is only three blocks away from where he was killed.

At the time of publication, no arrests were made in this case and the investigation remains ongoing.

Zhiwen Yan and his wife on their wedding day.

Police say the current suspect is a 50-year-old customer who previously had issues with the restaurant staff because they once did not give him enough duck sauce.

He allegedly menaced Kai Yang, the restaurant’s owner, with a gun and vandalized his vehicle.

CBS New York reports that Yang gave the description of the customer’s car, a Lexus RX3 SUV, which matches the description of a car seen fleeing the murder scene.

Concerns in Forest Hills continue to rise as this is the second fatal crime to a neighbor that residents have seen in the community in recent weeks, following the murder of Orsolya Gaal.

Local elected officials and residents gathered with Yan’s family outside of their Middle Village home to mourn the community’s loss.

“This is a terrible and horrific tragedy and my heart aches for the victim’s loved ones. This delivery worker was working hard, trying to earn a living to support his family when he was senselessly shot and killed,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said in a statement.

“The incident underscores the need to combat gun violence throughout our city, and I am confident that the perpetrator will be apprehended.

The person responsible must face justice,” she continued. “My office will remain in touch with the 112th Precinct, and I will continue to be there for the family to provide any assistance they need.”

Two GoFundMe fundraisers have been widely shared in support of Yan’s wife and three children — one by a local resident named Frances

Kweller, and another by his wife, Eva Chao. To date, the two digital fundraisers raised a total of over $260,000.
No arrests have been made in this case, and the investigation remains ongoing.

Orsolya Gaal’s alleged murderer confesses to crime

If convicted, Bonola faces up to 25 years-to-life in prison.

David Bonola, 44, of Richmond Hill is facing murder charges in the case of Orsolya Gaal, a 51-year-old mother of two from Forest Hills.

The body was discovered when a passerby noticed a suspicious bag located nearby Forest Park, was covered in blood. They immediately called 911 to notify the police. Upon their arrival, they discovered Gaal’s mutilated body was stuffed inside.   

According to ABC Eyewitness News, the victim had last been seen at the Forest Hills Station House the night before she was discovered in the park. The bar staff said that Gaal was a regular customer and that her recent visit was nothing out of the ordinary. 

It was shortly after Gaal returned to her home on Juno Street that Bonola entered the house. It is believed, based on several published reports, that Bonola knew of a spare key to the residence and had previously done work on the home. 

He and Gaal got into a verbal altercation in the basement of the house, which soon escalated to the point where Bonola allegedly slit her throat and stabbed her 58 times in the neck, torso and arm. 

According to Chief of Detectives James Essig, the pair had an on-again, off-again relationship in the past, and were romantically involved prior to the attack. Both Bonola and Gaal are married, but carried out an affair for the last two years. 

Video surveillance footage taken the night of the incident revealed that the defendant then dragged the duffel bag through the neighborhood up to Metropolitan Avenue and Union Turnpike, where she was found, leaving behind a trail of blood. 

Bonola confessed to the crimes after voluntarily returning to the precinct, eventually surrendering to police, who were led to find additional evidence including a knife, a jacket, boots, and a t-shirt which they believe he was wearing at the time of the murder. 

Essig said that there are no additional suspects in connection to the case at this time. 

Police also indicated that Gaal’s husband and one of her two sons were out of town visiting colleges on the West Coast, when her body was found. Her other son was asleep on the top floor of the house when the incident occured. 

Following the brutal attack, her husband received threatening texts from his wife’s phone, which Bonola later told police had been sent in an effort to take suspicion away from himself. 

Gaal previously made a post to a local Facebook group sharing concerns about increased crime in the area.

Gaal, who was active on social media, was a member of the Facebook group “Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – ‘Our Communities’” which is dedicated to the central Queens area where the incident took place. 

Eerily enough, in 2020, Gaal made a post sharing concerns for her safety in the community, and the measures she had taken to protect herself.

“Given the recent attack on a woman in Forest Park and the general uptick of crime and seedy characters in the neighborhood, I sought info here to get mace/pepper spray for my runs in the park,” Gaal wrote in the post.

Bonola was arraigned on Thursday night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony M. Battisti on second degree murder charges, along with tampering with physical evidence, and criminal possession of a weapon. 

“Two boys are left without a mother and a young teenager faces the added trauma of being home when this heinous murder took place,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement about the case. “The defendant is now in custody and will be held to account for this horrific crime.” If convicted, he could potentially face up to 25 years-to-life in prison. 

Bonola has at least one prior arrest from back in 2013, according to NBC 4 News, but police have stated that it has no bearing on their investigation.

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