Growing Up in Laurelton

by Bill Lederer
Growing Up In Laurelton I grew up in the house my grandfather built, in 1924, at 231-18-129th Ave. I lived there from 1944 to 1967. All around my house was new home construction. Well, about 90% of the new homebuyers were Jewish, this lead to interesting developments. Not going to public school with the kids around us, my brother and I only had friends from St. Mary's. There were kids whose back yards bordered ours, but we still never played with them. We were Cub Scouts for a number of years. The Pack was from the Lutheran Church on 130th Avenue. After Cub Scouts, my brother became a Boy Scout. By the next year, when I was old enough to join, he stopped going, so I never joined. One good friend of mine was Dennis Egan. He was in my brothers class. Dennis back yard bordered on Montefiore Cemetery. His house was on130th Avenue, down past the Lutheran church. I remember spending many pitch black nights roaming around the graves. Being scared to death when I inadvertently stepped on a fresh grave and sunk into the soft dirt. Thinking something from below had grabbed my leg. The lights of the security guards truck coming down one of the interior roads, way off in the distance. Not knowing if we should hide or try to make it to the fence. The not so nice times we would shoot at the rocks that people put on the head stones, with our bb guns. Then there was the year my brother and I dug up an azalea bush from next to one of the tombstones and gave it to our mother as an Easter present. I remember when Montefiore's most famous resident, (Arnold Schuster), was buried. Arnold Schuster (1927-March 8, 1952) was a Brooklyn clothing salesman and amateur detective, known for his involvement in the capture of bank robber Willie "The Actor" Sutton and the subsequent victim of a gangland murder by the Gambino crime family. A longtime Brooklyn resident, 24-year-old Schuster recognized wanted bank robber Willie Sutton while riding on a New York subway in February 1952. Following Sutton to a garage, Schuster quickly notified police of Sutton's whereabouts, resulting in the robber's later arrest as Sutton was changing a dead battery from his car which had stalled in the street. Receiving a modest amount of publicity from New York City press, and an appearance on the hit TV show, I'VE GOT A SECRET, Schuster himself was murdered outside his home after being shot twice in the groin and once in each eye on 8 March 1952. Although a manhunt was quickly organized by

police, their search failed to apprehend any suspects. Eventually, Frederick J. Tenuto was arrested for the crime. Tenuto, an associate of Sutton's, was also a member of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list and positively identified by witnesses leaving the scene of the crime. Several years later, government informant Joe Valachi claimed Albert Anastasia had ordered Schuster's death after witnessing one of his television interviews. Although Sutton had no connection with the Gambino crime family, Anastasia was reportedly angered by Schuster, stating "I can't stand squealers! Hit that guy!" and had Tenuto killed to eliminate any links to the criminal organization. It has been speculated that the negative publicity from Schuster's death may have been one of the factors contributing to Anastasia's murder in 1957, by mobsters who believed the New York mobster to be out of control. It was said that after Willie Sutton was caught, he said that he had cased the Ridgewood Savings bank, in Laurelton, but decided not to rob it. He didn't think it would have had enough money in it. Speaking of the Ridgewood Savings Bank, it was on the southwest corner of Merrick Road and Francis Lewis Boulevard. It was always cool inside. You had to be on good behavior because Mr. Gatty, the tall thin security guard would be watching you through those black-framed eyeglasses. When it was your turn, you would give your green passbook to Mr. Quinn, the cashier. You gave him some money and he would write the amount in the big book and in your passbook. Then stamp it with the inkpad. Besides normal saving accounts, we had special "Christmas Club" accounts, where we would save money all year and take it out in December to buy Christmas presents. On another day, Dennis Egan and I planned to make our own gun power to make firecrackers. We bought some potassium nitrate from the drug store. We didn't have any sulphur power so we bought a box of paper matches. We proceeded to cut the heads of the 100 books of matches, so as to collect the sulphur. We then placed the two ingredients into a tin plate and mashed them together. We were in Dennis's basement and the plate was on a table. Dennis lit the mixture and it started to burn. It got so hot, it melted the tin plate and pretty much wrecked the table. The biggest problem though was the smoke. The entire house filled with smoke. His mother came running down stairs. We did get into a bit of trouble over that. The funniest thing was, we had a radio playing. Guess what was playing? You guessed it, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, by the Platters. If it was Saturday, (movie day) back in 1957. I would be heading up Francis Lewis Boulevard, first past the little record store and the barbershop and then past the luncheonette on the corner. First it was called Pollick's, then

it was Lil Ed's, then Bert and Dave's. I would then head west on Merrick Road, past Safran's Kosher Deli, (checking out the hot dogs permanently being grilled in the window.) Then past Stanley's Toy store on the corner of 230 St. One more block to Woolworth's, (going in one door, past the soda machine, and out the other door. Cross the street and another block. First stopping at Raab's to meet up with the gang. Also to check and see if anyone had one of those colored flyers the movie gave out. If you matched the color with the one hanging up in the ticket booth, you got in for free. Never in my life did I ever get one. Now to the candy store to get some treats for the show. You never got any in the theater, it was way to expensive. Now past Wedgewood Studio and we are at the itch, the affectionate name for the Laurelton Theater. For 25 cents you spent the whole day at the movies. First newsreels, then a string of cartoons, then two full length movies. The second was usually a cowboy movie. Lets see, the theater had a marques that overhung the sidewalk. The ticket booth was on the left. You bought your ticket and went through the glass doors. Up the inclined vestibule to the one open door where they collected the tickets, (usually all the way on the right). Now, on the right were the seats. The first section was the smoking section, then the large middle section and then on to the children's section. The Matron made you go to the children's section. On the left was the soda machine then the candy counter. The Bon Bons and other ice creams were on the left, then the candies and then the popcorn. The popcorn was never fresh popped; it came in large plastic bags that were stored in the room to the left of the screen, in front of the children's section. Then it was put in the glass box with one light bulb to heat up the popcorn, ten cents for a bag. To the right of the candy stand was the door to get into the stand, then the water fountain, then the large stairway upstairs. Upstairs was a long hallway, nothing on the right side. On the left was first the girls bathroom, then Mr. Bells office, (the manager), then the projection room, with the bright arc lights of the projector and large metal containers the film came in. Walter Nathan was the projectionist. He had two sons, Alan and David, finally the boys bathroom all the way at the end. Now if you really wanted a treat, take the Q5 bus into Jamaica and walk down Jamaica Avenue to the Valencia Theater. What a grand place that was, with the suits of armor, ceiling full of clouds and stars and an upstairs balcony. Dont forget the pond full of gold fish. After the movie you walked down to the end of the block, made a right, then a half a block to the bus terminal. If you had any money left, you played a couple of games in the arcade at the terminal. Then outside to catch the Q5 bus that took you back

to Laurelton. If you didn't like what was playing at the Valencia, you could go across the street to the Merrick Theater. Then there was the Alden, about two blocks down and the Savoy about four blocks past the Alden. The Sutphin Theater was a lot further, down on Sutphin Boulevard. I remember when the 1957 Chevrolet came out. We went past the Reid Chevrolet dealer on Merrick Road and 218th Street, (the same place wife Cathy would work years later). They had the cars covered, so you could not see them until the official announcement day. You could see the outline of the big fins on the back fenders. Cars really had distinctive shapes then. Not like today, where they all look alike. A few months after they were out, Kevin Keough and I were walking alone Springfield Boulevard. A car carrier came down and tried to go under the train bridge that went over the road. He didnt quite make it, and made the first 1957 Chevrolet that was on top, a convertible, that steel bridge peeled the top clean off. We played down around the Springfield railroad station often. The station was elevated and we would go inside the waiting room to get warm. We would climb down onto the tracks and go under the station. A few times we would place a penny on the tracks and wait for a train to run over it and squish it. Mostly, we hung around the school, sometime playing cards. We did play handball a lot. The best place was in the blacktop parking area between the church and against the side of the new school. Winning was fun, loosing wasnt so nice. We would usually be playing Asses Up. If you lost you had to kneel down by the wall, with your butt sticking up. The winners would then rear back and fire the Spaldeen balls at your butt. It was a good place to pitch pennies against too. In the summer some of the guys that lived toward Laurelton would go to PS 156. They had some sort of summer programs going on. They had knock hockey and ping pong tables. It was a lot cooler in the school than outside. When I was around 10 or 11, we would swim in a stream that ran on the east side of the Belt Parkway. We would take turns sitting on the shore watching for water rats. When one jumped into the water near our friends, we would yell, Rat! as load as we could, so the rest of the guys could scramble out of the water. The stream was rerouted underground when the parkway was widened. Another swimming place was the under the fence at Idelwild Airport. I actually believe it was part of the airport sewer system. We went out to Valley Stream State Park a few times. You could pay to swim in their little lake. Its been closed to swimming for probably 50 years.

Now a days, kids only swim in filtered chlorine filled water. It makes you wonder how we ever survived. A lot of days between 1955 and 1958 we would hitchhike down to Rockaway beach. We would meet up at Beach 35th Street. They had a big wooden boardwalk full of food and other concessions. The boardwalk started at Beach 19th Street. I don't really know where it ended. I can remember the smell; I always thought the ocean smelt like creosote. It was just the coating they put on the wood, to preserve it. The other smells were from the hot dogs frying on the grills. Then the best was the Italian ice place. They squeezed fresh lemons and oranges. You could smell them a block away. Quite a number of times, my mother would drive my brother, Johnny Newell and I out to Jones Beach, on the weekends. We would swim at the pool and take a dip in the ocean. A number of times my mother would take us to Idelwild airport to watch the planes take off and land. The terminal, at that time, was a single story wooden building with an observation platform on the roof. You could put money in the telescopes to get a close up view of things. Also, they had speakers that you could pay to hear the air traffic control talking to the pilots. Other times we would go into Manhattan and go swimming at the pool in the St. Francis Drake hotel. It was open to the public. I remember the hotel was down near the Brooklyn Bridge. A couple of times we walked across the bridge and back. If it were winter, we would go sleigh riding down at the parkway and 130th Avenue. It wasn't a very big hill, but this is Queens, not much elevation anywhere. There was a fenced in park at the bottom of the hill. You had to roll off the sled before you hit the cement around the park. If you pulled to the right, you could make it to the parkway. A couple of times I slid out onto the highway. There wasn't much traffic back then. This spot was also the best place, in the summer, to collect puddy beans off the trees. They were just the right size for having puddy fights with. We got the puddy blowers at Stanley's, for 5 cents. A number of times my brother, Johnny Newell and I would walk to Hook Creek Boulevard, south of Rosedale, and go horse back riding at Whitie's Stables. You were only supposed to walk the horses along the trails. We figured horses were meant to run, so we just wanted to help them out. Once when galloping along, Johnny's horse cut too close to a big tree and

Johnny hit his leg. He was limping for quite a while after that. Another fad when I was around 12 or 13 was roller-skating. Larry and I would take the bus to the rink on Merrick Road, just past Farmers Boulevard. We had our own skates and would spend the entire day at the rink. There was a morning session and an afternoon session. We would stay for both. I mentioned earlier that I had a Press route. My route was Francis Lewis Blvd to about 237th Street, then 121st Ave to 129th Ave. I lived on 129th Ave, two doors east of FLB. I would pick up my papers on 233rd Street and Merrick Road, behind Sterry's. Then fold them against that whitewall, pack them in the big basket, on my bike and peddle to my route. I remember delivering the Sunday papers way before the sun came up. Sometimes pulling them on my slid, in the snow. I remember coming off a curb, just north of Merrick, and breaking my front axel, (an occupational hazard because of the weight of the papers). A kind milkman helped me. Loading my bike and papers in his truck and taking me home. My route was a little over 100 papers. I think I made a penny a paper and two cents on Sunday. I had to collect the money from all the customers. That was not easy, with my route almost all Jewish. Most were nice, but some would always try to jip me out of the money. They would say, I thought I paid last week. I always kept meticulous records. My next job was at the Laurelton Bagel Bakery. I worked there when I was 14. That was in 1957. A number of my friends and I worked as packers. We called ourselves The Bagel Brothers. There was myself, Jimmy Almer, Billy Flynn, Pat Murphy, Billy Gentile and a couple of others I cant remember. Putting, I think, about 13 dozen bagels in large paper bags. There were only two types, Regular and Bull bagels. Bulls were larger and were sold to dinners. They were delivered to a number of stores and dinners on Long Island. The bakery had one delivery van. The driver's name was Jerry. He would deliver the bagels and on weekends, bialys that we got from some other bakery. We never made them. The owners were Harry Wexler and Benny Marshall. They were both good men. I do remember one was better than the other though. We made $1 an hour. When the better one would pay us, he would always round up. If I worked 23 hours, he would give me $25. He would always keep the refrigerator full of fresh fruit for us. Back in those days they didn't have the retail store in the front. The only way in was through the alley behind Wong's Garden. People would come to the back door and buy bagels. Most of the money went to our beer and soda fund. Some people would ask for the ones that fell on the floor. They

said they wanted to feed them to their dogs. We always laughed at that. Any bagels that fell on the floor went back in the bins with all the others. Also, Sunday was the really big day. It wasn't possible to bake enough bagels to meet the demand. Extra bagels we made each night, during the week, and we would put them in a number of freezers in the basement. On Sunday morning we would mix them in with the fresh ones. No one ever knew the difference. The oven was a large brick one. After they were "kettled", the bagels were placed on wooden blocks, put in the oven, flipped once and then taken out on a long wooden paddle and flopped into the bins. I do remember that oven being replaced with a much smaller one. It was called a traveler oven. There were a number of small shelves that revolved like a Ferris wheel. I worked a couple of evenings, during the week and had to go in on Saturday night and work until Sunday morning. There were many stores on Merrick Road. I tried to document as many as I could remember, alone with inputs form a number of other people that grew up in Laurelton. We would exchange information on the Delphi Laurelton Forum.

Stores On Merrick Road
Updated on January 6, 2008

South Side
Bank Hi Lo Bar Hardware Store Italian Ice 218th to 219th ? Johnny's Meat Market John's Tavern Nickerson's Nursery Nickerson's Pet Store Charles's Taxi 220th to 221st

North Side
Gas Station Professional Building

Springfield Blvd to 218th

Reid Chevrolet

Tobacco & Candy Wholesaler German Deli
219th to 220th Drug Store Candy Store Emil's Gas Station

Shanley's Home Improvement Deli Liquor Store 221st to 222nd Davis Tire - Kelly Springfield Boars Head Tavern Luncheonette 'The Rock' Abandoned House Sonoco Christopher Robbin Academy Post Office

Nick's Coin Shop Deli Luncheonette Gas Station Safeway Supermarket 222nd to 223rd Tater Murray Funeral Home Tanbro Service Station

223rd to 224th ? ?

224th to 225th Chrysler/Plymouth (Laurel ? Motors-Geffner Motors) Vic's Hobby Shop ? Laurelton Bagel Bakery Tramintano's Hardware Store Wong's Garden Silver's Candy Store 225th to 226th Daisy Fresh Cleaners Atlas Rug Shop Laurelton Ambulance Service Bryne's & Son Plumbing & Kwikway Supermarket (Key Food) Heating Krupnikoff's Plumbing Elton Plumbing Supply Supply TV/Radio Repair Insurance Office Peter Pan Beauty Parlor Abe's Deli I Lenny's Auto parts & Professional Building Bikes

226th to 227th Real Estate Office Charlie's Tavern Floor Covering Store Candy Store Democratic Club Chinese Laundry Samuel's French Cleaners Rosen's Deli ? Riveria Restaurant ? Striderite Children's Shoes ? Hershey's Travel Agency ? Variety Store Homeier Ford (Dee Schwartz's Drug Store Motors) 227th to 228th Carmine's Pizza ? Billy Brennen's Law Office ? Laurelton Theater Miller's Candy Store Wedgewood Studio ? Pet Store Safeway Sam's Candy Store Gurack Fur Store Mr. Murrays Beauty Parlor Zickerman's Hardware Store Raabs Marder's Drugs 228th to 229th Flemings Tavern

Dr. Denmark, DDS

Chicken Delight Schultz's Candy Store Buster's Mobil GasStation Esquire Cleaners 229th to 230th Dr. Rothenberg, DDS Woolworth's Hair Pin Beauty Parlor Buster Brown Shoes Kollner's Butcher Powers Fruit Store Jewelry Store Flo J's Yarns & Notions Bohack's Colony Card Shop Teddy's Luncheonette Sharry's Bakery Schultz's Candy Store Rael's Drugs (Helen & Sam) Professional Building Carwood Appliances Dr. Coon

230th to FLB Harry's Fish Store Kosher Butcher Sheppy's Appetizing Stanley's Toy Store ? Estelle Peck's Dress Store Orlando's Bakery (Four Star A&P Bakery) ? Safran's Kosher Deli Harry's Men's Store L&N Grocery ? Dilbert's Ridgewood Saving's Bank Pollick's - Lil Ed's - Bert & Dave's FLB to 231st Martin Paint (Granada's Appliance Mulvaney's Tavern Store) Gogos Drug Store Dial Drugs House of Wong Carpi Restaurant The Town Depot (Joe & Ed's) ? Clover Deli Alfred Gudel Liquor Store Casual Clothes Laurelton Florist Al Korn's Boy's Town Hogarty's Tavern Pompii Beauty Parlor 231st to 232nd Grabor Real Estate Dr. Friedlander Meadowbrook Bank (Dime Atlantic Market (Wylers) Savings) Elsie's Corset Shop Anne's Candy Store 232nd to 233rd ? House of Chang Charlie's Barber Shop ? Feldman the Kosher Dr. B. Harvey Weiss - Optometrist Butcher La Tosca Restaurant ? Basso's Deli ? Chow's Chinese Laundry ?

Lily Dobbs Antiques
Kern's Bike Shop ?

233rd to 234th Sterry's Steak House Parkway Diner (Garyowen) Danker's Pharmacy ? Real Estate Office Harry Kipples Candy Store Kent Dry Cleaners Pet Store turned Laundry D. Rigsby & Son Signs ? Zlotnick's Shoe Repair Army Recruiter then ? Senior Citizens Center 234 to 237th and the Laurelton Parkway Wallgreens Colony Luncheonette Twin Ponds Bakery Cleaner's Sunrise Market (Grand Union) Leonard's Hair Design Herman's Motors (Rambler Dealer) Gas Station (Reds)

Rug Store

In growing up, we almost never ate out. If we did, the only restaurant we went to was the Riviera Restaurant, or as it was commonly known, Tony's. The only thing we got there was pizza. It was on Merrick Road between 226th and 227th Streets. Tony Roncollo, the owner, used to sit at the end of the bar and seat the customers as they came in. The cooks were his cousins Dominic and Rocky. One worked in the kitchen the other made the pizzas in that little glassed in booth on the left, just past the booths. If we got the last booth, we could kneel around and watch the pizzas as they were being made. Funny how politics work, some time in the 60s Tony's son Anthony was elected Congressman, from Nassau County. Within a couple of months, Both Dominic and Rocky left the restaurant and became Clerks of the Court, in Nassau County. Around 1967 Tony got hit by a car, as he was crossing Merrick Road. He survived, but was laid up for almost a year. The only other meals not cooked by my grandmother was, we would get take out Chinese food, on Friday nights, from the House of Wong. There are so many stores I can mention. Some along Merrick Boulevard are:

Twin Ponds Bakery was on 234th. This is where we would stop, on Sunday mornings, after breakfast, to pick up goodies. There were candy stores on almost every block. One was on 234th Street, it was owned by the Kipple family. We would go there and look at Mr. And Mrs. Kipple, they both had tattoos of numbers that they received in the German concentration camps. Sterrys Steak House was on the corner of 233rd Street. Just down that street was a little Long Island Press office, this is where I would pick up my papers and fold them against the wall between the office and Sterry's. Across the way was Kerns Bicycle Shop, or Jippy Jakes, as we all called it. It was owned by old lady Kerns, a heavyset, rather unfriendly woman. She had three sons, a little older that I was. Also a bulldog, that always lay around in front of the store. It really resembled the owner. It was said that her husband hung himself in the back of the store, years before. Zlotnick's shoe repair. They had a row of wooden booths, with swinging doors, that you could sit in while your shoes were being repaired. Atlantic Market. My grandmother would send me there to buy chopped meat. They had sawdust on the floor. The next block down was 231st Street, then Francis Lewis Boulevard. The stores on the South side between them were Hogarty's Bar, Laurelton Florist, A Liquor Store, the Capri Restaurant, (I never ate there), The Clover Deli, The House of Worn, (where my mother got take out almost every Friday), Gogos Drug Store, (Mr. Gogo ran the store all by himself. He made the largest, least expensive chocolate malteds in town, Mulvaney's Tavern on the end, Across from the Ridgewood Savings Bank. I have pictures of my brother and Winnie Mulvaney's son at Rockaway beach. Mrs. Mulvaney was another of my mothers Hibernian friends. On the north side of that street, starting from 231st Street, was The Pompeii Beauty Parlor, Al Korn's Boys Town, (that is where you bought Cub and Boy Scout uniforms), Casual Clothes, then the Depot Luncheonette, (they had model trains that ran along the counter and delivered your food on it), then Dial Drugs. On the corner was Martin Paint, (before it was Granada's Appliance store. On the other corner of 231st and Merrick was Dr. Friedlander. He was our family doctor. The office was in his home. His nurse was Mrs. Mills. On the same block with the Bank was the A&P. It always smelled of fresh-

growned coffee, from the Eight O'clock brand coffee grinders in the front of the store. Even though I never liked coffee, I liked that smell. In the early days, the A&P, like all markets didn't have calculating cash registers. The clerk would jot down all the purchases on the paper bag, with a black grease pencil, and then manually add it up. On the north side, on the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard was another luncheonette, first it was Pollick's then LilEd's then Bert & Dave's. Most of the time I lived there, it was LilEd's. They made good egg creams. A variety of stores filled the block, (you can see them on my list), then Stanley's on the corner of 130th Street. Mr. Stanley was an institution. He sold every toy you ever wanted. Spaldeen balls, model airplanes and cars, puddy blowers and all sorts of other toys and games. Its too bad he was murdered in the store some time after I moved from Laurelton. This town had an abundance of small stores; every block seemed to have a candy store, a drug store, deli or other single proprietor shop. Many of the owners lived in Laurelton. On the next block, going west was the 5&10-cent store. It was a large store with wooden floors and a number of isles with flat wooden racks of merchandise. The supervisor would sit on a balcony in the back of the store. She could watch all the customers, I guess the employees too. If there was one block that I spent the most time on, it was between 227th and 228th Streets. This was the block the movies were on. On the corner was Rabb's luncheonette. A candy store where we bought candy for the movie, (a lot cheaper than in the movies), That store also sold ice cream cones. One scoop was 10 cents and 12 cents with sprinkles, then Wedgwood Studio, where a big picture of my Uncle Ed, with his full beard, hung for years and years. The movies were in the middle of the block and on the 228th end was Carmines Pizza. We didn't go there much, but I remember the neon sign in the front window, advertising a slice of pizza for 15 cents. Like all the other places, a coke was 10 cents. In all the luncheonettes, the soda came in a cone shaped paper cup, with a metal bottom. So, a slice of pizza and a coke cost 25 cents. They had another neon sign inside, it said, Eat pizza, live a hundred years. Across from the movies was Zickerman's hardware. My grandfather would get his saws sharpened there. When I was very young, there was an auto store on the southwest corner of 228th Street. It was called Homeier Ford and then Dee Motors. Above it as a bowling alley. It was strictly for men. We used to look through the open door in the summer, (the only place with air conditioning was the movies). There were young boys that set up the pins manually. They would pick up

the pins and put then into this holder, then pull a big lever and lower the pins down in perfect alignment. The next block was Tony's, with Charles's Tavern on the corner of 226th Street. Around the corner, behind Charles's was Toms Barbershop. The only place I ever got a haircut until I moved way out on Long Island. Tom would always wave at everyone that went by. This was also where you bought those bottles of green goop, the only stuff that would keep that big cow lick down, that I had in the back of my hair. During Christmas time, Tom would have a table in the corner, with bottles of booze. All customers could help themselves, everyone over the age of about 12. In teenage years we hung out a lot on the corner of 222nd Street, on the side of the Boars Head Tavern or at the rock, a cement thing on Merrick. It is rather funny, that I hung out with wife Cathy's two older brothers. They lived just across the street, in the first house behind the funeral home, on the north side of 222nd Street, and never knew they had any sisters. Many stores came and went, along Merrick Road, or as it was officially called Merrick Boulevard. It changed to Merrick Road when it hit the Nassau County line. It seems back in the early 20th century, the powers that be decreed that all major roads in the five New York City burrows were to be named Boulevards. My time frame for naming the stores is from the early 1950s to about 1968. Bill can be reached at lederer123@optonline.net