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Author Topic: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's  (Read 1470 times)

Offline Delivery Boy

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Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« on: August 01, 2017, 09:14:26 PM »
I stumbled on to Astorians, reading about organized crime in Astoria.  I grew up in Astoria on 42nd St. between Grand Avenue (30th Ave.) and Newtown Road, right next door to P. S. 70.  I left in 1956 to join the Navy at age 17 after graduating Manhattan H. S. of Aviation Trades.  I delivered grocery orders from the A & P on Saturday mornings & delivered & picked up films and printed materials from all over the city while on the Visual Aids Squad at Horace Greeley JHS 10.  There were Bocce Ball courts, Horseshoe Pits & Belgian Bowling Alleys all over the city in those days.  Actually there were very few organized criminals in those days & very many small time wise guys who related a lot more to Damon Runyon than to Big Paulie Castellano.  There were many quiet, important, respected, businessmen whom did not congregate about the Metropole, but rather stopped for an occasional drink at Vinnie's Horseshoe Bar and Grill or at the Half Moon Pizzeria both across from each other on Steinway Street just north of the Astoria Theater.  The other frequented water hole was Koffee's Korner, on like 45th St. & 30th Ave.  It was the "Family" bar in A Bronx Tale, most of which was shot on location in Astoria and Woodside; not the Bronx.  Bryant H. S. was the school in the movie and St. Joseph's R. C. on Grand Ave. was the church.  Astoria was a different world in a different time.  Most of us were Italian, German, Irish or Jewish.  Many of us were poor, however, we were not aware of it.

Offline Starwind51

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 08:55:25 PM »
Nice to hear about the past from someone new to the site.  Do you have any old photos of Astoria you can post?


My claim to fame is having the same phone number since 1957.  My family moved to Ravenswood when I was about a year old.

Offline Delivery Boy

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 07:08:42 AM »
Sorry no pictures available.  I left a long time ago and have been at too many places to lose them since.  I still have a complete photographic album in my mind though.

Offline Starwind51

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2017, 07:46:48 PM »
Okey dokey, can you mind meld with the w.w.w. and download your memories?  :laugh:

Offline Delivery Boy

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 05:12:35 PM »
Hi Starwinds51,  I can try a mind meld though its not to logical.  The earliest I really remember was standing on the back of a small tricycle as my older brother pedaled like crazy to whiz us down the block past P. S. 70 going toward Grand Avenue, so that we could ride through through the school yard.  The first gate right after our house, had a raised step so we had to go past the school and go in the gate at the other end.  We had missed the right turn into the school yard a few time and hit the gate post.  The post never moved.  Our father had to take the trike over to Long Island City some where and get it brazed a few times.  After riding around the school yard awhile and in and out on to 43rd street and back we would attempt to ride the tricycle as fast as we could go and straight off the raised step.  Obviously we never made it and the tricycle spent a lot of time getting fixed at the weld shop.  We played stick ball in the school yard with a cutoff broom handle and a pink "Spauldine",  batting toward 43rd Street when we got older.  We also played fast pitching against a box drawn in chalk on the school building and catch-a fly-yer-up to be the next batter.  We made hockey sticks from scrap wood and orange crate pieces and linoleum rubber band guns from the corners of the orange crates.  We, the poor kids had to tape our skates on our Joe Lapchick, sneakers while the swells had hard soled shoes and used a skate key to clamp their skates on their shoes.  We skated in the street and the puck was a roll of friction tape.  How's this for a start.                                                                             

Offline Starwind51

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2017, 03:05:00 AM »
There's something about your trike story - remembering that back in the day people fixed things.  Over and over again, because back then things were made so that could be fixed.  The rear axle of my 4 wheel shopping cart snapped a few months ago.  You can buy replacement wheels, but nobody seems to sell replacement axles.  This thing is now 99% cart, 1% broken, and 100% useless.


I think it was the comedian Robert Kline who pointed out the correct pronunciation of Spalding and everybody just stopped in their tracks.  It was written that way right on the ball, how did we not notice?


I've never heard of Joe Lapchick.  We wore PF Flyers.  I had skate key clamp-on skates.  I couldn't wear them over hard soled shoes because I'd be ruining my "good shoes".  I guess some girls had hard sole play shoes.  But "hard-sole" and "play" don't sound right in the same sentence.  I never played hockey but I did watch roller derby on tv and would race around the apartment.  One of the advantages of a first floor apartment was nobody living below us to complain, though I did hear it from my mother about ruining the floor wax.  Out in the real world I skated more like the way a penguin walks.


Recently I sat on a bench at night and looked up at the sky.  It's amazing that we used to be able to see so many stars, even here in the city, and older people would laugh at us and say when they were younger they could see so many more.  I remember going to the country and nearly falling down, the number of stars you could see was so overwhelming.


Have you seen recent photos of Long Island City?  It's shocking.  Standing in Astoria, if you didn't know what direction you were looking you would think you were looking at Manhattan.  The last time the power went out people got happy thinking they'd be able to see the stars again.  But the big green monster, the Citibank Building ("One Court Square"), the only tall structure in LIC at the time, had its own generator and ruined the experience.  There are kids in LIC now who may never see the stars!





Offline Delivery Boy

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2017, 11:15:32 AM »
Thank God we live in the country in Southwest Michigan.  I am 78 years old and would not go back to living in a city for all the tea in China, or India for that matter, and I like Darjeeling Tea.  When we were kids in Astoria; we had the street lights which were not mercury or sodium and were mounted on wooden poles and scattered few and far between down the block.  The neighbor across the street from our six family railroad flat owned a private farmhouse on a triangular piece of property that ran from Newtown Road down 42nd Street and halfway the length of the P. S. 70 School yard on one side and a third the way up Newtown Road on the other and was bordered by Bishop's Lot a huge tract of open property on the third side.  When all the neighborhood kids got peeps, ducklings or bunnies at Easter and they eventually became too big to live in our apartments with a flock of kids and and two parents being driven crazy by animals they wish they hadn't bought us; they ended up being given to the people across the street whom melded them into their fold of barnyard animals and occasionally would give one back; killed butchered and cleaned when times were hard.  It was a system that seemed to work for everybody.  As far as the sneakers and skates; Joe Lapchick was a basketball player, our sneakers- black hightops with a little white basketball glued strategically at the ankle bone came from the Steinway Bargain Store on Steinway Street, next to P. S. 6.  The same place we got our corduroy pants, flannel shirts, Fruit of the Loom underwear, white cotton handkerchiefs and six packs of ugly colored crew length socks.  Not to mention the stupid blue hats with the peaks, the flaps and the buttons on the side & under the chin and the Navy Pea Coats from Frank's Army Navy Surplus Store on Steinway next to Davega's.   

Offline therebels

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2017, 05:48:34 PM »
It's great reading your stories of growing up in Astoria during a more simple time. What year did you leave? When was the last time you visited? Keep the memories coming!

Offline Delivery Boy

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2017, 11:49:28 AM »
I left Astoria on July 5, 1956.  I had graduated Manhattan H. S. of Aviation Trades (SAT) in June of 1956, then spent a few days upstate in the Adirondack Mountains and reported for duty in the U. S. Navy.  I had enlisted in March of 56 with the committal that I would report for active duty immediately after H. S. graduation.  In fact my first rate in the Navy was High School Airman Recruit.  That started a different life.  I never returned to live in Astoria. 


Back at our childhood in Astoria; when we were real young our father was the body guard for Joseph Patterson, the owner & editor of the New York Daily News.  That was a time when newspaper owners & editors ran their papers.  There was no hint of political correctness and the paper espoused the views of the owner-editor without fear of litigation, but, with the actual knowledge that if they as individuals attacked and truly aggravated an individual or a group; they might be physically attacked themselves. This obviously changed when corporations took over newspapers, and the media, and personal opinion, original authorship and individual responsibility ended. 


Elementary school at P. S. 70 was a treat.  I had two older sisters and an older brother that ran the gamut before me; so I had good life coaches as to what to do and not to do.  I don't know if it was our physical size or our lack of youthful shyness that provoked or encouraged it; but, we were all on the monitor squad, in the color guard, and able to assist our teachers with special projects while completing our own assignments.  AAA Crossing Guard and School Yard Monitor were both plum jobs, however, Front Entrance Monitor, was in my opinion the neatest of all.  At P. S. 70 the front entrance led to a singular marble staircase that split about four or five steps up into a landing then a left and a right staircase.  The landing was the Monitor's Post.  We were to challenge all visitors child or adult and not to let anyone pass without proper authority to the next area which was the Principal's Receptionist.  This was a lot of authority for a kid and we reveled in it.   

Offline ellieworm

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2017, 05:17:16 PM »
Delivery Boy, so you remember a place called "Gus's Tavern Restaurant bar" on 32nd and 30th ave? I lived in the two apts. over it and remember the constant music coming out...........also the Mayfair where all the teens hung out on 30th ave, towards the El. There was a vacant lot across the street to the right of where I lived and I used to take my dog over there and let him run around. It had been some kind of mansion.............we left there in Sept. of 1953 and moved to Miami. Yes, I died and went to Heaven! Back then, anyway.

More memories please and PICTURES if you can.

Offline Delivery Boy

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2017, 07:33:48 PM »
I vaguely remember my older brother and his friends starting a Social and Athletic Club in a store front in that neighborhood over by the El.  I was too young at that time to do much drinking.  By the time I looked old enough to drink with the guys I was going to SAT from 9:00 am in the morning til 4:45 pm in the afternoon, cutting my last class and working as an Usher at the Loew's Lexington from 5:00 to midnight, then taking the F train back to Queens Plaza to get the GG to Steinway Street so I could get home and get some sleep to start the cycle all over again.  I worked the five weekdays from 5 til 12 and the weekend days at 12 hours each which didn't leave much time for play.  However, Loew's Lexington was considered full time and I was making $1.75 an hour; good money at that time.  Dinner in those days was mostly a Nedick's, hotdog in a bun sliced on top rather than the side with an Orange Julius to drink.


Does anybody remember what Assembly Days in our Public Elementary School were Like?

Offline astoriagirl

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Re: Astoria in the late 40's & early 50's
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2017, 06:32:28 PM »
I worked on A Bronx Tale.  been in Astoria since 1962 and same phone number since then.  Hated to have to give up my copper wire land line but it just happened a few months ago - - no choice said Verizon


 

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