2011-07-08 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

A Columbus Day Parade In Rockaway Beach... 1922, October
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Approaching the corner of Beach 84 Street on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, and passing the Arena Hotel (formerly Yokel’s Hotel) is the Rockaway Beach Columbus Day parade of 1922. The parade was sponsored by the 1,500 member Queen Elena Mutual Benefit Society, a local Italian organization.

The parade chairman was Assemblyman William F. Bunner and the Grand Marshall was David Caligiuri, a Hammels resident and officer in the Queen Elena society. Mr. Caligiuri was also president of the David Caligiuri Association of the Rockaways, and the Italian-American society of the Rockaways.

Shown in the line of March in the photo, taken from a vantage point on the northwest corner of Beach 84 Street and the Boulevard, is Rockaway’s own 9th Coast Defense Command from Fort Tilden as honor guard, the Queen Elena Society band, and the society members wearing white hats and carrying various identication banners and flags.

The police and fire departments also sent contingents to march, as well as other Far Rockaway organizations, and some from the city proper.

To round out the day, a reception was held at the Coast Artillery Armory on Beach 81 Street between Hammels Boulevard and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, where speeches were made, awards and presentations given out, and a grand ball held in the armory, to the wee hours!

Shown in the photo is the Arena Hotel, remodeled after a fire in December of 1920, to include a host of stores on the Boulevard side and the Beach 84 Street side. Prior to the fire the hotel’s main entrance was on the Boulevard and a small marquee covered the sidewalk.

Trolley line tracks, trolley wire poles and some power cables are visible on the Boulevard.

In the line of stores is Samuel’s Drugstore on the corner on the right (not shown); Gus Carnavos’ confectionary; H.N. Smith’s eggs, tea, coffee, grocery and vegetable store; Joe Diresto’s Cigar store; the Empire Motion Picture House; and three restaurants on the Beach 83 Street corners.

The Democratic Club of Rockaway Beach has its headquarters in the Empire Theatre.

Other stores in the general area were Schmeelk’s Fish Market, Weiner’s Deli, Sheffield’s Milk Store, Kissen Bakery, Feiner’s Photo Studio, and Krestler Real Estate.

Before the mass demolition for the hi-rise construction in the very late 1950’s, some may remember the Rexall Drugstore on the corner, Dave Wolf’s Soda Fountain and Stationary/candy store, Kneer’s Dry Goods store and the old Roma Market with Little Jimmy the butcher, and Big Angelo behind the grocery counter.

Across the Boulevard was the Seven Brothers Restaurant, which moved to Beach 86 Street and the Boulevard. The Star Bakery was close to Beach 83 Street, and M’Goo’s Poolroom was on the southeast corner of Beach 83 Street on the Boulevard.

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