Queens Scene

Long Island Star-Journal


Judge Charles J. Vallone. Public Domain

Judge Charles J. Vallone. Public Domain

Get into a conversation with a long time Queens resident and you’re likely to dis­cover a subscriber of the Long Island Star-Journal, a daily paper that informed the community about local and world news until it folded in 1968.

Welcome to March 1955!

United States is in the Atomic Age. Washington studies feasibility of atomic powered railroads. A-Bomb tests routinely spread radioactive dust over large sections of the country. One detonation is visible in seven Western states. The Soviet Union now has the United States within range of its weapons. Civil defense experts claim it would take two days to evacuate New York.

The city plans to inject 250,000 tots with vaccine in polio fight. The Commissioner of Public Health explains that first and second grade kids in public, parochial, and private schools will be vaccinated. A force of over 400 doctors, assisted by a like number of nurses and other health care workers, are fanning out across the city. Parents are urged to get the three doses for their kids well be­fore the start of “polio season.”

Lena Horne c. 1946.

Lena Horne c. 1946.

The proposed $120 million Throgs Neck Bridge and Clearview Expressway will have to be built pretty much as planned — or not at all. Commissioner Robert Moses said, “It cannot be financed, and therefore cannot be built without suitable approaches.” He adds “The ramps serve the needs of the public and [there would be] a tremendous increase in construction costs if they were put in the wrong place. He disputes the number of homes destroyed and families displaced. Moses said the project takes only 536 in­stead of 800 homes and displaces 600 fam­ilies instead of 1,000 families.

Alley Pond in Douglaston, once the crossroads for Northeast Queens, suffers fate of most historical landmarks in our bor­ough: it was wantonly destroyed. The pond where Thomas Foster built his stone fort in 1637 was partly filled to provide a firm base of the $1.9 million bridge on the Horace Harding Expressway. The result will be a kidney shipped pool much in the modern style, “a suitable adornment for the ultra modern $30 million depressed eight-lane su­perhighway.”

Carol Channing In Hello Dolly c. 1964.

Carol Channing In Hello Dolly c. 1964.

More civic improvements in the news. After twenty years, subway tunnels will get a $2.2 million cleaning. Beautiful shade trees under the 7 train in Sunnyside are cut down for parking, and the 34th Avenue Mall in Jackson Heights is narrowed to improve the flow of vehicular traffic.

Several cultural icons are about to dis­appear. City Hall announces the end of the venerable Third Avenue “el” on April 15. Demolition to start in three months. The strike-bound Brooklyn Eagle ceases publi­cation. Its oblivious workers stubbornly man picket lines demanding negotiations reopen.

In a more successful labor action, over 3,500 policemen jam Lost Battalion Hall in Elmhurst protesting a “skimpy” pay raise. In a fiery talk delivered to an overflow crowd, PBA President John Carton asks the police to demonstrate at City Hall when Budget Director Abraham Beame presents his final recommendation to City Council. It will be the first mass demonstration by po­lice in New York City history. The city pro­poses a slight raise for 1955, followed by a disappointing $100 increase 1956. Police, whose starting pay is $3,915, are urged to endorse their paychecks with the words “under protest.”

 

 

District Attorney Vincent Quinn has his phones regularly checked for wiretaps. City Hall is submitting Astorian Charles Val­lone’s name to the Queens Bar Association for approval on his pending appointment to the Municipal Court Queens. Realty agents say that Lena Horne dropped plans to buy a home in Jamaica Estates. She still owns a house in St. Albans. Forest Hills reports a new neighbor, Carol Channing, the star of Broadway’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Gertz department store is celebrating its forty-fourth anniversary. Ben Gertz’s sons Harry, Max, Sam and Louis are still very much on the scene. The firm’s three-year- old store in Flushing is the largest retail es­tablishment on Long Island. Meet Howdy Doody’s pal Clarabell and his famous seltzer bottle in person on Friday at 11AM at Gertz’s Toyland. What a treat for the youngsters who will see their favorite TV program come to life! Be prepared for plenty of hi-jinks. Come early because we expect a huge crowd to join in the fun!

That’s the way it was in March 1955!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700.

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