2009-03-13 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Despite the fiscal crisis faced by the city, the Department of Sanitation went overboard to clean both Newport Avenue and Rockaway Beach Boulevard of snow prior to the St. Patrick's Day Parade last Saturday. On Thursday night before the parade, traffic was blocked off on parts of both major roads as crews of day workers with shovels pushed the snow around, despite the fact that the forecast for Friday and Saturday was for temperatures in the 50s, which would have melted the snow in any case. One local who lives on Newport Avenue called to say that trucks were laying down sand on Beach 127 Street at 1 a.m. Then street cleaners came along in the morning and swept up the sand. We know that the mayor was going to walk those streets on Saturday, but what a waste of money.

Proving once again that The Wave is Rockaway's family newspaper, Wave editor Howard Schwach was looking at the paper from 50 years, ago. He glanced at the front page of the March 19, 1959 paper and there was his a photo of his father, Stanley Schwach, who was a boy scout commissioner at the time. By the way, The Wave is available on microfilm at the Queens Central Library, which is located at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica. The collection, which encompasses The Wave, from its earliest years in the late 1890s to today, can be found in the second floor "Long Island Room." Speaking of Rockaway history, Bob Nesoff, a 1956 graduate of Far Rockaway High School and now a New Jersey politician and newspaper publisher, emailed to say that he got a nice piece of change from a Seattle man who was looking to buy his copy of the Dolphin, the school's yearbook, because it contained a high school photo of Bernie Madoff, the man accused of a $50 million Ponzi scheme. Madoff's wife, who was known as Ruth Alpern in her FRHS days, is in the 1958 book, just a few rows down from Wave Editor Howard Schwach. Small world, but then Rockaway always has been in the news. Nesoff writes, "Hey, with all those Nobel Prize winners, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Carl Ichan, you and me, the school can afford one Bernie Madoff."

Those of you who are unhappy with the plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on a manmade island less than 20 miles off the shore of Rockaway should mark March 24 on their calendar. On that evening, the Ecowatchers and the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association will host a 7 p.m. meeting at PS 225 to provide information on the plan and to give locals input into the development process.

People have called and emailed us asking for some identification of the photos we ran on page 62 in the February 27 issue of The Wave. The top left photo, of course, is of the bumper cars at Rockaway's Playland, one of the more popular rides for kids. The photo to the right of the bumper cars features a young Congressman Gregory Meeks, when he was the Assemblyman representing Far Rockaway 20 years ago. The center left photo is the old St. Joseph's Hospital in Far Rockaway, now St. John's Episcopal Hospital, prior to the construction of its tower. To the right of the hospital are two photos. The top one is Lew the Good Humor man, who was probably, in the 1950s, the most popular summer resident of Rockaway. Below Lew are the bungalows on Beach 29 Street, where PS/MS 43 now stands. The left-hand photo in the bottom row features Mayor John Lindsay, who many believe knowingly "destroyed" Rockaway by placing several city public housing projects on the peninsula. To the right is the Central Avenue shopping area in the 1950s. Hope you enjoyed the nostalgia.

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, but nothing was stranger than Broad Channel resident Edward O'Hare, who was recently ousted as Republican District Leader, endorsing Democratic District Leader Geraldine Chapey, who came in third in the election, behind Republican District Leader Eric Ulrich, who ousted O'Hare, and Lew Simon. Why did O'Hare, the quintessential Republican, back a Democrat? Perhaps he was angry at Ulrich after the leadership fight. Perhaps there was another reason. In any case, Chapey got little traction in the race after refusing several times to tell the public how she spends the large amount of public money she gets every year from the city's Department for the Aging and local politicians. To make the election even stranger, the word on the street is that supporters of Democrat Frank Gulluscio, who was bumped out of the election by Chapey's minions, were telling people to vote for Ulrich on the belief that it would be easier to beat a Republican incumbent than have an incumbent who can challenge him in the Democratic primary in September.

Many of you will remember Gary Toms, better known to many locals as the "G-Man," who wrote regularly for The Wave several years ago. He was in town last week to say that he has a blog that he would like locals to take a look at. Check out http://fromthegman. blogspot.com

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. called to say that he was unhappy about the way The Wave treated him in our recent story about the gun buyback story. He said that he was willing to take the heat when he did something wrong but wants approbation when he does something right. He said that he was the one that forced Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to hold a gun buyback in Queens, but officials at the DA's office say that they were just waiting to get the funds together before doing the inevitable program. In any case, it was successful, and there is enough praise to go around. By the way, we are still waiting to hear about the vocational training school Sanders was promised for Rockaway when he voted with the mayor to overturn the public's will on term limits.

After a year's hiatus, the highly-popular Bravest and Finest Luncheon will be sponsored once again this year by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce. Save the luncheon date for April 23 at Russo's on The Bay in Howard Beach. Festivities will begin at 12:30 p.m. The event honors firefighters, cops and EMT's who work in Rockaway.

The Brooklyn Aces continue to lead the Eastern Professional Hockey League and have a good chance to make the league playoffs, which are scheduled for March 26, 27 and 28 (if necessary). All of the games will be played on the Aces home ice at the Aviator Sports complex at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. The Wave's "Win Free Aces Tickets" promotion is going strong. If you want to win two free tickets to an upcoming Aces game, look in the sports section of this paper for the returnable coupon.

Beginning with this month's meeting, the 101 Precinct Community Council will meet the third Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. rather than at 7 p.m., as in the past. The council's officers hope that the earlier start will draw more people to the monthly meeting.

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