Meet Astoria

As we wind down the year, it’s time to reflect on whether we’ll wind up on the Naughty or Nice List this year. There’s been a lot of change in the neighborhood, some of it welcome, and some not as much. Terms like zoning, transplants, and hipsters were used a lot this year and it’s only appropriate to consider how we will grow in 2016 when we think of the residential, commercial, and cultural explosion in our neighborhood. For this edition of

Meet Astoria, I spoke to someone that if examined by a narrow lens would be labeled as a non-Astorian, a transplant hipster, but in reality is a beloved member of the community. Astoria, meet your neighbor Jay

Waber: musician, Jackson Heights resident, and friend of the community for over a half-century.

Queens Scene: Hey Jay, how’s it going?

Jay Waber: It’s going good, thanks for asking.

QS: I have some questions for you for the Queens Scene – it’s a segment called “Meet Astoria.” Do you know it?

JW: Yes I do.

QS: Cool, well let’s get some questions in. Are you from Astoria? Tell us about your history.

JW: I was born in California, but I moved to Astoria when I was five years old.

QS: You were one of the original transplants!

JW: [laughs] that’s right.

QS: Was your whole family from out west?

JW: No, my grandparents came to America from Russia in the 1890s, and my parents moved out west in the ‘50s. They moved back to Astoria in the ‘60s to be close to family again.

QS: One of those, “there’s no place like home” type things?

JW: Yes, exactly.

QS: Do you have any memories of “old” Astoria?

JW: My mother worked at Famous Fashion, a clothing store on Ditmars and 31st Street for many years.

QS: What was your favorite place in Astoria in the 1970s?

JW: Astoria Park.

QS: Living in Astoria for most of your life, what is your favorite pizza place?

JW: Rose & Joe’s.

QS: Do you do anything for fun in Astoria?

JW: Yes, I actually play in several bands, where the majority of them have the original members and some of them have been around for over four decades.

QS: Anyone in Astoria you want to give a shout out to?

JW: Yes my wife, Kim, who I met while playing my guitar in Astoria Park 38 years ago, my two beautiful daughters, and my bandmates from Whocares, Catgut, The Gizzards, and The Roys.

QS: Very cool. Ok, one last question. What is your favorite place in Astoria today?

JW: Astoria Park. —Chris Pizzolo

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2015-12-01 digital edition