1999-07-29 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes

by Howard Schwach


By all accounts, the attendance at the Rockaway Irish Festival was way down this year. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate both the venue and the order of battle. People tell me that they are tired of paying five bucks a head to see "the same vendors, the same acts and the same people drinking successive cans of beer." One person told me that she would never go back to the festival because her family included several adults and seven kids (some of whom were friends of her kids). They didn’t mind paying the "suggested donation" of five bucks for themselves, but $60 bucks to get access to a public street seemed excessive. She said that they were vilified by the people at the gate and refused admission unless they paid the "donation" for each person. Those at the gate had to know that they cannot charge a fee like that on a public street and that anybody who wants admission for free has to be accommodated. I’m no expert, but perhaps it’s time for a change.
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One community event that continues to grow by leaps and bounds is the annual Night Out Against Crime fireworks display sponsored by the 100 Precinct community council. This year’s version will be held at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3. Once again, the Beach Club at the foot of Beach 116 street will be the center of activity for the evening. Don’t miss it.
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There are a lot of things that destroy a community, but nothing does it as quickly as the demise of a community hospital. Should St. John’s go the way of St. Joseph’s and the Rockaway Beach Hospital (where, by the way, I was born about 60 years ago), it would put excessive pressure on the Peninsula Hospital Center and would be a blow to any thoughts of revitalizing the peninsula. I don’t know what can be done to keep the hospital alive, but I would hope that the experts would work with community leaders to keep it alive and active. Perhaps the city would take it over and make it part of the Hospital Corporation. It is not a perfect solution, but it is better than seeing it die.
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Speaking of hospitals, a police officer was hit by a truck on Beach 54 street, almost directly across from PHC. Why was he rushed to Jamaica Hospital rather than transported across the street? The answer to that question speaks volumes about how our largest local hospital is perceived.
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George Steinbrenner can talk about moving to Manhattan or New Jersey all he wants. New York city fans have proven once again that they will support a winner – or two. Last weekend the Yankees, playing at the Stadium, swept three games with the Cleveland Indians (the team that many experts pick as the best team this year) while the Mets, playing at Shea, swept three from Sammy Sousa and his Chicago Cubs. The wins put the Yankees five up on Boston and the Mets only a half game behind Atlanta. All in all, 310,000 fans paid for admission to those six games. No matter how you cut the facts, that adds up to fan support that is unmatched in any other city.
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Walk on the boardwalk anywhere from Beach 105 to Beach 126 and you will see more garbage than you care to see. That is because there are no longer any litter baskets on the boardwalk, due to another stupid decision by the Parks Department. They don’t want their trucks on the boardwalk and they believe that trucks are the only way to pick up the baskets. People walking along now simply throw their garbage on the boardwalk or onto adjoining spaces along the boards. This is becoming a real problem because the garbage draws both flies and rats.
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I feel bad for JFK, jr. and his family and the family of the two young women who died with him, but the fact remains that he should not have been flying that plane under visual flight rules (VFR) at night over 35 miles of open water. Even experienced pilots would not attempt that. It is too disorienting. I remember a Marine fighter pilot attempting a night landing on the carrier, flying upside down without realizing it, declaring a mayday and ejecting himself downward into the flight deck. And, he was a professional, highly trained pilot. People have to know their limitations and that extends to people who operate boats and wave runners. Too many people die because our government is too sensitive to set common sense rules for operating motor vehicles such as private planes, boats and skidoos.
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I recently got an e-mail from Oreoco, who corroborated what other A-Train riders have told me. "You mentioned that the "A’ train was voted the worst subway line in NYC. Might I add that the worst token teller is right here at Beach 116 street." Seems that this token clerk would rather sell new Metrocards than refill an old one. I don’t really know, but regular riders tell me that it takes some time to refill the card. In any case, Oreoco writes, "Last weekend, when trying to refill my Metrocard with 10 rides, I was verbally assaulted by this teller simply because he misheard the 10 rides for 10 dollars. There was much screaming, raving and ranting on his part…this goes on habitually and it also affects the quality of life here." If there are other riders out there who have had similar doings with this clerk, let me know. It might be worth a story.
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Congratulations are due to Dan and Pat Tubridy and their brood. Dee Tubridy recently graduated from RPI and Terrence recently graduated from Xavier High School. Terrence will move on to Mount St. Vincent College in the fall. Best wishes from all of us.
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Those who care about what the Charter Revision Commission is up to can attend a public hearing at Queens Borough Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 5, 1999. Seriously, folks, what they do might have a great effect on this community and we should all be up on what is going on.
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If city union leaders think that they are going to get large raises for their members just because the City Council gave themselves a large raise are just deluding themselves. It will never happen. The council is made up of political hacks who got their jobs simply because they carried petitions and backed the real power players for the requisite number of years. It is time for them to go and doing away with the institution, rather than term limits, is the real answer.
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Wave historian Emil Lucev has proven without a doubt that Belle Harbor historically runs from 124 street to 142 street. Those boundaries were drawn in 1902 by the West Rockaway Land Improvement Company. The Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, not wanting the riffraff and the multiple dwellings of Rockaway Park mixing with their blue blood and single family homes, changed the borders in 1961 to Beach 130 until Beach 140 streets. The property owners should remember that their vaunted property was once labeled "waste land" prior to its development.
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We mourn the mother and daughter that died when a Far Rockaway façade fell onto Central Avenue. Amidst the tragedy, there were reportedly lots of heroes. Curtis Archer, the director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) bloodied himself attempting to dig the two women from the pit with his bare hands. Other residents, drawn by the street fair sponsored by the organization, joined in. That they could not help the women did not diminish their heroism. Two police officers, stationed in the area for crowd control, also joined in. One man ran immediately to the firehouse up the block. Firefighters responded within minutes, to no avail. They are all to be commended.
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There will be a blood drive this Sunday at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea church on Beach 19 street. It will begin at 9:30 a.m. and last until 2:30 p.m. Blood is badly needed.
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Websites of the Week: Vote early and often (you can vote up to five times on line) for the best baseball players of the past 100 years. One hundred players are listed on the ballot and you can write in favorites (they left Phil Rizzuto off the shortstop list, for example, so I added him). You can vote for six pitchers, two players at each position and nine outfielders. No relief pitchers, please. It’s lots of fun for fans. Do you pick Gehrig and Foxx, or do you include Mark McGwire? Does Whitey Ford belong on a list with Cy Young, Walter Johnson and others? Does Mike Schmidt make it at third, or do Eddie Matthews and Brooks Robinson make him look bad? See what I mean? I voted for Ford, Feller, Hubbell, Paige, Koufax and Ryan. Bench and Berra are my catchers, Gherig and Hank Greenberg patrol first base. Jackie Robinson and Hornsby take second, Rizzuto and Cal Ripkin are at short, Matthews and Robinson at third. In the outfield, I chose DiMaggio, Kiner, Musial, Jackson, Mantle, Ruth, Kaline, Mays and Ted Williams. What else do you expect for a Yankee fan? Log in and vote at www.majorleaguebaseball.com.

What do you think? Let me know at newsie42@aol.com or at hschwach@hotmail. Com. That’s it for this week. Have a good week and safe home.

 

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