Dual Ceremony For Rockaway Nobel Laureate May 11
By Miriam Rosenberg
In an announcement last week, George Buonocore (Rockaway Post Master) and Scott Klein (Customer Relations Coordinator) told the 101 Precinct Community Council and community leaders that, on the same day of the stamp unveiling, the corner of Mott and Cornaga Avenues will be renamed in Feynman’s honor.
“I was just informed today by the New York City Council that it (the street renaming) was approved,” said Klein on April 20. “So Mott and Cornaga will be called Feynman Way.”
The street renaming will culminate a morning of activity scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at the Far Rockaway Post Office on May 11. The idea to do the unveiling at the post office came from author Ralph Leighton who co-authored several books with Feynman including “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”
“When [Leighton] found out the stamp was coming out he thought it would be a great idea since it is an historic building, to do the unveiling at the Far Rockaway Post Office,” Klein said. “So, he contacted us.
“After the stamp unveiling at 10 o’clock…at 11 o’clock, everybody is going to leave the post office, walk down the block past the precinct, go to the corner and they’re going to pull the sign down for the new street,” continued Klein.
Klein said Feynman’s sister will speak at the unveiling ceremony. He also hopes to draw such news organizations as CNN and Fox, as well as actors like Matthew Broderick (who played Feynman in the movie “Infinity” and whose mother is from Far Rockaway).
Klein also hopes that FRHS could be represented at the ceremonies.
He asked those at the precinct meeting to use any contact they have so as to “try to get in touch with the science department to see if they want to bring any students over.”
The idea for a stamp honoring Feynman has been in the making for a long time. In 1996, CNN.com reported that a campaign had begun to have the USPS issue a Richard Feynman stamp. The report credited Leighton with leading that campaign.
Feynman was born on May 11, 1918 and lived at 792 Cornaga Avenue, close to where the street naming will take place. He graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1935.
According to http://www.feynmanon line.com, following his graduation from FRHS, Feynman attended MIT majoring in physics, and then went on to Princeton for his graduate work. He left Princeton to join the Manhattan Project to help perfect an atom bomb for the U.S. After World War II ended he became an educator.
In 1986, after the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff, Feynman became a member of the Rogers’ Commission that investigated the tragedy.
He also wrote the appendix to the report.
Richard Feynman died in 1988 after an eight-year battle with abdominal cancer. The unveiling and street naming will come on what would have been the Nobel Prize winner’s 87th birthday.
Feynman joins three other scientists honored with stamps being issued: Barbara McClintock (genetics), mathematician John von Neumann, and thermodynamicist Josiah Willard Gibbs.