Memories Of Rockaway
When I was 10 or 12 years old (circa 1923), I lived in Rockaway Beach in a summer colony called Marsell’s Tent City. We lived in a house built by my father Louis Schilling, who was a master carpenter. Our neighborhood was bound on the east by 98 Street and on the west by 100 Street. The northern limit was Jamaica Bay and the boundary on the south was the old Long Island Railroad tracks. There was a huge waterfront dock on 98 Street where excursion boats from Manhattan and Bayonne, N.J. would disembark their passengers for their vacations and holidays. On special holidays like Labor Day and the Fourth of July, the boats would tie up next to each other and almost block off that section of the bay. The passengers from the boats would all head down 98 Street toward the boardwalk and the beach, which was beautiful then.
Playland Amusement Park ran from Rockaway Beach Boulevard to the boardwalk and from 97 Street to 98 Street. It was dominated by a large wooden roller coaster (Scenic Railway) along with other rides, games and food stands. It also had an Olympic size swimming pool. In those days, the LIRR ran on the ground along the same path that is now elevated. After coming over the old wooden trestle, it branched off either to Far Rockaway, with stops in between; or to Rockaway Park with stops at Hammels, Holland, Steeplechase and Seaside.
At this time Lundy’s Island had only one house and one work shack on it. The sandbars around the island were filled with clam beds. As kids, we would row over to Lundy’s Island and pick clams for them. In return, we would receive 25 cents for a bushel basket full of clams. As a side benefit, we could keep all the crabs we caught (soft and hard “blue claws”). We would dig clams on Wednesday so they could take the clams to market later in the week. About 50 feet from the island was a deep hole where we caught all the flounders we ever needed for our Friday meal (no meat on Friday in those days).
There were movie theaters in Hammels, Holland and Rockaway Park. We hung out at the ice cream parlor, which was a part of the Rialto Theater in the Holland section of Rockaway. They were good times.
Has Successful Summer
My children, ages 9 and 11, attended Camp Kidsmart 2005 at Fort Tilden in Breezy Point this summer.
The Rockaways have very little to offer children. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to send my children to a safe and nurturing atmosphere like Camp Kidsmart. They have been exposed to more than I can offer during a summer day. Every day is an exciting activity of a variety of art forms, gardening, nature walks, music and games. Christine Mullally and Marina Callaghan lead an extremely talented and enthusiastic group of counselors, and their teenaged helpers are enjoying the program as much as the younger children. What an extraordinary community service for all ages! I am very grateful that the Rockaway Artists Alliance recognizes the need for such a program.
Thank you Christine Mullally and Marina Callaghan, and I would like to personally thank each and every staff member for affording my children with a very memorable summer at Camp Kidsmart 2005.
New Public Advocate Needed In Office
It is surprising to find an editorial supporting the reelection of the incumbent Public Advocate, but calling for the abolition of the office. People living in New York City often need an advocate. They may need a traffic light, replacement of a sewer, enforcement of building codes, delivery of meals on wheels or the facts concerning the loss of family members on 9/11.
The city bureaucracy does not always respond. Many communities do not have activist politicians or civic groups with the knowledge and political power to assist effectively.
As a founding member of the Citizen Action Team (CAT) for Rockaway, I found that Public Advocate Mark Green and his staff were available and helpful on issues such as obtaining crossing guards for P.S. 183, trash baskets for Mott Avenue or information about the failure of Rita Stark to maintain the Far Rockaway Shopping Center.
During the past three and a half years, we have tried to work with the incumbent Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum. The office has been unresponsive. They disposed of the files of problems they inherited. They cancelled the appearance of a staff member in Rockaway. They responded three months later to a plea for assistance in mediating a solution to beach harassment during the summer of 2003. They cancelled a Town Hall meeting to discuss beach access and lifeguard staffing in May 2005.
We have witnessed Normal Siegel’s involvement in three local issues. When marchers, led by Lew Simon, walked over the Crossbay Bridge to protest the unfair toll for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents, Normal Siegel walked along. He said that he was there to observe that the right to protest was peacefully observed. On that occasion the protest was concluded without any incidents and no arrest. A comment about police violence sounds like a bad joke on an otherwise beautiful day.
When John Baxter’s Rockaway Press published a story about corrupt handling of contributions to the Hartman Y, Baxter and the Press faced a libel suit that would have destroyed the Rockaway Press and John Baxter financially. Siegel came out to support freedom of the press and the conviction was later reversed.
In the summer of 2004 Siegel came out to a boardwalk rally to protest unfair beach access rules. He offered his services as a private attorney to anyone who had received a ticket for sitting, wading or leaving a towel on the beach.
In his past career, Siegel was a vigorous advocate for clients. In the current political climate, New Yorkers will need a vigorous advocate. Norman Siegel has the skills to fulfill that role. Betsy Gotbaum does not.
Letter To President Bush Concerning Price Hikes
The following letter was sent to President Bush on September 1.
Dear President Bush,
In this time of national challenge, when the ultimate spirit of resolve and perseverance presences itself with more force than a league of hurricanes, I write to you concurring an issue that is of primary importance to nearly every American, their families, and the current of their everyday life and existence-the cost of petroleum.
With a background in business and economics, I am schooled in the many theories and practices that govern the supply and pricing of commodities, and the various variables that intersect such relations. Given this experience, combined with my own anecdotal research on the price of gasoline in the Southeast Queens area, and in concert with the pleas and entreaties of my constituents- I am respectfully calling on you, through the medium of the Federal Trade Commission, to launch an immediate investigation into potential “price gouging” of the American public in the wake of our recent national tragedy.
Challenge and obstacle bring out the best in ordinary Americans, this is a hallmark passed down from the ages and reaffirmed time and time again. In the time that it has taken me to pen this missive, I am confident that many Americans have made a greater sacrifice than I-pulling a family to safety, contacting the Red Cross, sending in a donation to the victims-but it is my responsibility to look after the concerns of my constituents and in this situation, I am especially compelled to emulate their collective voice.
The hard working and diligent residents in my communities are facing gasoline prices that spiked approximately $.50 cents overnight, from August 30 to the 31. While a natural correlation exists between tragedy and the supply of goods into the marketplace, I am not personally aware of any evidence that would cause such a massive jump. This is a situation that bears the scrutiny of your Executive Office, specifically the Federal Trade Commission, and the energy and imprimatur that is associated with it.
Even in the greatest of moments for our country, there will still be individuals and agents that seek to capitalize on the good nature, understanding and faith of the American public. My heart tells me otherwise, but my cognition leads me to that conclusion, one that I am not alone in.
As such, I respectfully beseech you to bring an immediate critical apparatus to bear on the exceeding increase in the price of petroleum-to protect and reassure the public who are outraged and deserve nothing but the pure, unadulterated truth in this matter.
Your intervention and consideration will be most appreciate, as I remain…
MALCOLM A. SMITH
It Could Happen Here
After the hurricane in Louisiana, and the Tsunami hit in Southeast Asia, I began to wonder if the Rockaway Peninsula could survive either of these occurrences. I live at the notorious Carlton Manor, and if I knew a hurricane was heading for the peninsula I would not sleep in my apartment.
The Rockaway peninsula would not survive either of these occurrences if it were the initial point of contact. It is my belief that this should be looked at, because it can happen! To seriously view what this could do to the peninsula means a drastic survival plan is needed.
ROBERT E. WEBB
What Has Sanders Done?
I love America and the freedoms we have to vote or not vote, the right to
agree and to disagree. The freedom to write letters of opinion for what we
believe in our hearts and souls without fear of repercussion.
I want to make something clear on what I feel is happening in my community of Far Rockaway. I do hold the political leaders accountable for all that happens here and not just the bad but the good as well. In the last three months, I have seen more of Councilman Sanders and heard him taking credit for things that I know were not his doing.
I hear the claim of being busy “bringing home the bacon”, but I must question where exactly is the bacon being brought home to. Councilman Sanders must keep in mind that he has a commitment to me and all his constituents to be available to answer our concerns, fears and questions.
The most important role of a leader is to provide direction. How can you do this if you are unavailable. I feel like he has forgotten who he is working for, NYC may be on his paycheck, but I as a voter and constituent I am his supervisor and if I feel you are not respecting me or the laws of the City
then I will have to ask you to leave. I will hire someone who may not have
as much experience, but who is willing to listen to my concerns and me? Someone who is willing to sit down with me and then take action on my
Now to qualification, I know for a fact as does most of the Rockaway’s that Mr. Hooks has been a political backseat driver for many years probably even influencing some of the positive results of many of the Councilman’s predecessors in which Councilman Sanders is so proudly accepting credit for bringing to fruition.
While Mr. Hooks may not have given a detailed plan for what he will do once elected, neither has the current Councilman, except to give his usual vague answers. I do not agree that his lack of people skills is a small thing, for it is not. If a public figure can not effectively communicate with
others then how can he know what is needed from him?
What has been brought to light are important issues concerning the
Councilman’s unwillingness or inability to obey the law regarding his
financial reporting even going so far as to file on July 15, 2005 what looks
like photocopied documents of the same report with the dates simply changed.
A reader wrote in “what has Mr. Hooks established? What committees has he sat on that brought about changes? What accomplishments has he had that lead to self-empowerment or economic development for black people?”
In his daily life Mr. Hooks services young adults of all ethnicities to obtain self-empowerment and economic development via administering a successful GED and job placement program. Think of what he can do once elected to City Council. If he is able to assist over 50 people per year in one location what will he be able to do with access to start programs all over the district?
I agree there are many who teach GED courses and offer job placement and no, this alone does not qualify Mr. Hooks to run for City Council, but what significant accomplishments did Councilman Sanders have under his belt before he took office?
Where is the proof that Councilman Sanders has contributed positively to his community as a whole and not just to his personal friends and supporters?
Out Of Post 2781
I would like to respond to Mr. Timothy Aaron-Styles attacks on Post 2781, in regards to Mr. Hooks run for the City Council. First, Post 2781 is still active, our post home has been razed for future construction but we are still active.
Comrade Hooks is a member of our post, and this has nothing to do with his run for the City Council, because our organization does not get involved as an organization in politics.
Politics being what it is, I can see you attacking each other’s camp but not our organization, which has serviced our community many years. Our post needed work, but this did not stop us from providing reasonably priced facilities and services for weddings, baby showers and some organizational group functions to our community.
We at Post 2781, do not run around blowing our own horn, but just to list a few things we are involved with: we’re presently involved with activities at St. Alban’s Veterans Hospital, VFW youth activities, and our ladies president, as well as other ladies in the post, are involved with three levels of the VFW (State, District and Queens County). We’ve also had a Post member, Comrade Mack Sheppard, who is a past County and District Commander.
We also have past District President Ms. Edna Harris, and a past President of the NAACP, Ms. Lovett Glasgow, who’s a member of our auxiliary. By the way, Ms. Harris is also the State of New York VFW Departments Soloist.
In closing, let’s keep this election where it belongs, between Mr. David R. Hooks and the Honorable Mr. James Sanders, Jr.
POST 2781 COMMANDER