2001-03-03 / Columnists

Short Takes

Short Takes

It is difficult when a good friend passes from the scene. Your first thoughts, of course are that he died too young, too quickly to do all of the things that he wanted to do. The second thoughts are for his wife and his family. Then, you begin to remember all the little things that made him your friend. So it is with the passing of Leon Locke, the publisher of The Wave and my good friend for the past dozen-plus years. He passed last week, too young and too quickly to say goodbye. I remember the little things: Leon sitting in the front window of The Wave building on Beach 88 Street, watching the passing traffic and developing story ideas; Leon and his wife, Susan, joining my wife and I and often, others, at Pier 92 on Saturday nights for good food, good conversation and good internet jokes; His love for the Mets and for the dirty water hot dogs that he ate whenever his wife and his health allowed; His love for the QE2 and the time he spent telling us in detail about the ship and the ports that he and his wife enjoyed so much (he was proud that he had traveled to six of the seven continents on that great ship); His wit and his wisdom; His genuine desire to help the community; His excitement over each year’s RMAC Festival (he was the chairperson for several years); His philanthropy that led to him funding many Rockaway organizations and their causes; The arguments that we had over Wave editorial policy and over what a community newspaper should be; The time we spent with Leon and Susan, sometimes eating at their home, watching Jeopardy, The Simpsons and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and, finally, the last of his full days when we visited the CCU at Peninsula Hospital and saw him sleeping comfortably despite all of his inflictions. I will miss him and so will my family. The community will miss him and those who put The Wave out each week will sorely miss him. He set a standard that will be hard to follow.

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A short time ago I wrote about the fact that the Park Department’s sign nearby the dying plantings on Beach Channel Drive did not reflect the fact that it was indeed in Rockaway. A day or so after the paper came out, the sign disappeared. I can only assume that it will soon be replaced with one that does reflect the fact that it is in Rockaway. By the way, I sure hope that Parks is rethinking its decision not to place wastebaskets on the boardwalk. We really need them and there is no reason, with the exception of the fact that the department does not want to be bothered in picking them up when they are full, for their absence.

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A friend of mine was recently sitting in his car in the parking area behind Beach Channel High School, enjoying his lunch and watching the passing bucolic scene. A police car pulled up and the officer in the car gave him not a parking ticket, but a desk appearance ticket (DAT) for criminal trespass. He has a court date set in the near future, but it is hard to understand why parking on public property behind a public high school can become criminal trespass. Perhaps somebody can clarify it for me, but I think that the DAT should be dismissed and parking should be permitted in that area.

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Congratulations are due to Steve Cooper, long-time community activist and CB 14 member, who was just elected as the financial secretary of Civil Service and Technical Guild, Local 375. The union represents such city workers as engineers, city planners and architects. Steve is the president of the Frank Avenue Civic Association. That organization’s main claim to fame was that it was the only organization that managed to get Floyd Flake to come to Rockaway when he was our representative.

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Congratulations also to Mary Dever, who recently retired from the city school system. Mary was a long-time reading teacher at JHS 198 and her retirement is well deserved. Good Luck, Mary. I may be right behind you.

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Ed Kearney wrote to tell me that there is a memorial to both Al and Dick McGuire in Rockaway. He says that "Dick and Al McGuire Circle" stands at Beach 108 Street and Shore Front Parkway, directly opposite the basketball court that the duo once played on. I did not know that and perhaps the Parks Department, who maintains the site, should put up a sign or a plaque or something that tells everybody what it is.

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I usually listen to WFAN whenever I am in the car and my favorite program is Mike and the Mad Dog. Along the same lines, one of my favorite writers is Flip Bondy, who writes a column for the Daily News. Recently, however, they have all been really wrong in their belief that there are no NASCAR fans in New York City. Bondy recently wrote, "In the New York area, we have never embraced or condemned the NASCAR festivals of pollution that enthrall most of Dixie on a weekly basis. Frankly, we hardly recognized their existence." After Dale Ernhardt’s untimely death last week, the WFAN duo spent a day talking to NASCAR fans, yet they continually said that the sport has no following in New York City. They used as their yardstick the fact that they personally had few calls about the sport. I have to remind them that they get no calls because they know nothing of the sport (admittedly so) and because they never talk about the sport in any context. I would venture to say that there are as many NASCAR fans in New York City as there are Knick fans and certainly more than there are hockey fans. I am one of them, of course, and have gone on a number of occasions to both the Pocono Speedway and to Watkins Glen for races. So do countless other New Yorkers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a track in Arverne? Let’s talk it up. If you are a NASCAR fan, call WFAN and let them know. Mike and Chris would be glad to hear from you.

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There is a seventh Democratic candidate for borough president. She is Haydee Zambrana of Corona and her claim to fame is that she is a bilingual education specialist with the Board of Education. That would be enough for me to disqualify her right there, but I guess she will get lots of votes from those who want to retain the racist program. She joins Audrey Pheffer, Carol Gresser, Karen Koslowitz, Tony Seminerio, Sheldon Leffler and Helen Marshall in the Democratic column. Never have so many run for so little. The Republicans, of course, have Al Stabile and Mike Abel.

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There are a number of people in the hunt for the City Council as well. In District 31 (the eastern end of the peninsula), the possible candidates are James Blake, Ed Lewis, Ishmael Morgan, Charlotte Jefferson, James Sanders Jr. (my favorite), Amanda Clark, Henrietta Fullard and David Hooks Jr. In District 32 (The west end of the peninsula) we have Joe Addabbo Jr., Tom Gebert, Lew Simon (I can’t believe that he would run, with all the lies he has told as district leader), Jo Ann Shapiro, Alex Lutz and local activist Palmer Doyle.

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The sewage problem in Rockaway has even touched on the Fire Department. The EMS garage in Arverne is often knee deep in muck and has crumbling walls and ceilings. Is this any way to treat the city workers who mean life and death to so many in the Rockaways? I don’t think so.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints and story tips to newsie42@aol.com. Have a good week and safe home.


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