2010-04-23 / Letters

Bringing Back Memories

Dear Editor,

Last week’s edition of The Wave had a full page article entitled “1956 Rockaway Review Brings Back The Memories” and it certainly did for me as four of the pictures from 1956 Rockaway had great memories.

The picture of The China House Restaurant on Beach Channel Drive reminded me of the many times my family would eat at this fine restaurant run by Jimmy and his family. They were wonderful people and the restaurant had the best Chinese food in Far Rockaway. Of course, that was many years after your picture of the Far Rockaway Palace Chinese Restaurant.

I speak of that restaurant fondly as I was taken there by my parents as a very young child practically every Sunday evening for dinner. It was probably the only Chinese restaurant in all of Rockaway at that time, which was the 40’s. Chow mein and chop suey were probably a dollar and a half and that included soup, tea and ice cream. Our special waiter was Mr. Lee and in about 1949, “when the communists took over China, I remember him saying he was going back to get his family out. I’m sure he went back but don’t think he ever returned. I’m sure his life was never the same.

The next picture that caught my eye was The Park Inn Hotel. What a beautiful place that was. The ballroom was beautiful and extremely large. The entrance foyer led right on to the boardwalk as it does today, but it was a whole different place then. The first ever formal wedding that I was invited to was at that hotel. There were 300 people in attendance when my cousin, Sheila Brander, married Morris Hass. My mother let me wear lipstick and semi-high heels and my first ever formal gown which I can remember to this day. Of course, today it would never fit me. There were twin pianos playing at the reception, friends of the family and well known pianists, Stecher and Horowitz, who later started the Stecher and Horowitz Music School in Cedarhurst. The Park Inn Hotel was as grand as the Plaza in New York.

Now to the last photo and this one is very personal: Queens-Nassau Lighting. My uncle, Morris Gabriel had just retired from the New York Fire Department and bought a half interest in QN Lighting and his partner was Teddy Hammer who is in The Wave picture. Eventually my uncle bought Teddy out and moved Queens-Nassau Lighting to Central Avenue. The Social Security Office today was Q-N Lighting. As a matter of fact, my uncle owned the whole building, which, besides Q-N Lighting also had a shoe store and one or two other establishments. I spent many a day in that store and still have some of their fixtures in my home. Not only did they sell fixtures for the home but he also had wholesale electrical supplies where many local electricians bought their equipment.

Of course I do remember Berger’s and Morton’s Army & Navy Store as well.

Rockaway was a very different place back then. There was very little crime and everyone knew everyone else. Times might have been hard, but I have good memories.

SHARON GABRIEL

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