2008-03-07 / Community

Ah,Yes.I Remember It Well:Central Avenue,Circa 1950

Dozens Respond To Call For Information

The Far Rockaway website (www.farrockaway.com) has been looking for people to name the shops that operated in the community's central business district, along Central Avenue, Mott Avenue and Cornaga Avenue during the late 1940's and early 1950's. It was a time when the business district was known simply as "the village," and residents could find anything they needed, from good food to clothing to furniture and movie theaters. This map shows the results that have been gathered by the website to date, but some of them strike Wave editors as incorrect.Let's have the old-timer's among you take a look and fill in the blanks.

Last week, we published the map and asked people to respond. Dozens of people answered the call, but we're still a long way from completing the street grid and getting it correct. Here are some of the responses we have received to date.

Phyllis Libutti emailed to say that she remembers the store called "Webster's Drugs" on the map as "Cheron's Drugs." Robert Bey said that he grew up on Caffery Avenue and points out that on Mott Avenue there was Kent Cleaners and a fish store (when he was young, he looked in the window at the live fish).

He says that # 15 was a VIM Appliance store and #16 was Max Strollers, an upscale men's shop. At the southern end of the block was the Colony Card Shop with the Arcade Bowling alley upstairs.

Number 27, he says, was W.T. Grants. Ron Weinfeld, a retiree from the Transit Authority, said that the north side of Mott Avenue had a railroad station with a newsstand. There was a print shop to the right of the Gem Theater, he says. The A& P market was between the post office and the police station.

The Masonic Temple was across the street from the post office. Weinfeld adds that Central Avenue held a Whalen's Drugs on the corner, followed by Thom McCann's Shoes, Meyer's Clothing, Woolworth's, Barton's, Central Deli (with Jimmy's, a Chinese restaurant upstairs), Neve's Furniture, Weisenfeld's Jewelers, Victoria Bake Shop, Grant's, the Colony Card Shop (with Arcade Lanes and a dancing school upstairs). Elliot Walstreicher, the son of the family that owned Victoria Bake Shop, said that the bakery was at 1021 Central Avenue. On the east side of Central Avenue was Jack's Men's Shop, Mac Stroller's and Meyer's, all men's clothing shops. At number 23, he says, was Max Breuer's curtain store. Skolnick and Kravitz Jewelers was across the street.

Keep those emails and letters coming. Wave editor Howie Schwach says that he remembers it well and could, while he was in the Navy in the early 1960's, recite the name of every store on Central Avenue.

While those days are long gone, he remembers that he was a pin boy at the Arcade Lanes, earning twenty-five cents a line from each of the bowlers. He says that the Pickwick hamburgers are the best he ever ate and his wife's sweet sixteen was to be in that restaurant, but it burned down the night before the event.

Neveloff's was the place to buy model trains and toys as well as stationery. He and his wife bought their son, Rob, his first furniture at Darling's, on the corner of Central and Cornaga Avenues. And, while Berger's on Mott Avenue was the family's favorite restaurant in Far Rockaway (hot open turkey dinner every Friday night, served by Helen), they ate often at the Central Kosher Deli (best franks and French fries) and all of his early birthday parties were upstairs at Jimmy's Chinese Restaurant. All of his scout uniforms, dungarees (what they now call jeans) and fatigue outfits during the Korean War came from Morton's. His mom worked in Lottie Livingston, a woman's shop, noted at number 25 on the map, although he believes it was north of the card shop, not south.

For entertainment, there were three movie theaters, The Strand, the Columbia (where he saw Vaudeville shows) and the Gem (which was later renamed the Pix Theater). In any case, keep those emails and letters coming. They bring back the memories.

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