2010-04-09 / Columnists

Looking Backward

What The Wave Said 20 Years Ago...

On April 21, 1908 Dr. Frederick A. Cook, a Brooklyn physician and explorer who was once a milkman in Rockaway Beach, claimed that this date was the day that he discovered the North Pole. In the following year (1909) Lt. Robert A. Peary, a Naval officer and explorer, came forth with the same date almost a year to the day of Dr. Cook’s claim. Many heated debates and investigations took place in the months after Peary’s claim to have been the first at the North Pole.

Folk dolls have always meant different things to different people. To children, they are much-loved companions. To adults, they represent the talents of their makers and the graphic and socio-economic backgrounds of their lives. Entitled “Made With Love To Be Loved: Folk Dolls,” an exhibit of folk doll opens at the Rock Hall Museum, 123 Broadway, Lawrence in nearby Nassau County.

Ceremonies are scheduled to recognize Gateway National Park’s efforts to protect the endangered piping plover at Breezy Point, an area of concentrated public use, and for Gateway’s continued commitment to conservation of natural resources and implementation of several controversial but vital management activities. The park’s Breezy Point Unit will conduct a program on the Piping Plover in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. The program entitled “A Peek at a Piper” will begin at noon at Building 1, Fort Tilden.

Irish celli dancing sponsored by Cumann Breandain (St. Brendan’s Gaelic Society) will return to the St. Francis de Sales Auditorium on Saturday.

Dan Schneider, counsel to The All Rockaway Planning Council, has received notice from the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, which dismisses a lawsuit brought by a coalition of civic organizations and individuals including The All Rockaway Planning Council. The Council had challenged the city’s continued operation of the Edgemere landfill without a proper state permit.

30Years Ago...

“Bring back the Pony Express,” cries one Rockaway Beach resident. The Rockaway Beach post office, the oldest Rockaway station, he says, is about four miles from the Far Rockaway post office and 1 ½ miles from the newer Arverne station.


Local residents were heard grumbling Easter Sunday over the lack of an open bakery in the Rockaways. With Passover and Easter falling the same time the bakeries were closed. “What’s Easter Sunday without pastries,” asked one unhappy resident.

Repairs are finally being completed on that leak in the southbound lane of Cross Bay Boulevard. The leak, just south of the North Channel bridge, left a huge water filled crater that no one saw until it was too late.

Burger King will add to the rebirth of Rockaway with a new store in Beach Channel Drive at Beach 49 Street. The new face should be on the scene before summer.

40 Years Ago...


The first Easter snowstorm since 1915 put a crimp in the fashion parade on the boardwalk. We had about an inch of snow. Fifty years ago we had a foot.

Dick Geist of Rockaway’s Playland will address the Queens Historical Society on the history of the Rockaways.

The Rev. Joseph H. May, minister of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Arverne, is hopeful for reorganizing the church’s Boy Scout drum and bugle corps, which a few years ago was not the largest but one of the sharpest organizations of its kind in the community.

If the phase out of New York Naval Air Station goes ahead, as now seems probable, quite a few of the personnel residing in the Rockaways will have to move their homes elsewhere.

50Years Ago... 

One of the Sheepshead Bay party boats was fishing just off the bulkhead in Belle Harbor last Saturday morning in a spot that could be reached by people casting from the shore.


John Regan, a retired letter carrier, recalls the days when the Boulevard in the West End was Washington Avenue and homes in Belle Harbor were a block apart.

As predicted, the fire companies are making an increasing number of runs in the Title 1 areas, particularly in Hammels. Dense smoke from a burning pile of debris the wreckers had set near Ocean Drive and Beach 77 Street was almost the cause of an alarm early this week when it looked at first as though half of Arverne was going up in flames.

If anybody has any doubt about how quickly vacant property deteriorates, a visit to Beach 79 Street and Beach 80 Street, where property has been condemned for a new school, is convincing. What formerly was one of the more attractive blocks in the area is rapidly becoming a shambles.

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