|The Queens Story:
Just Two Blocks From Utopia
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
While the rest of the staff is
scurrying to put the finishing touches on our 30th Anniversary Special Edition: The Queens
Story, I figured Id try to spin something a bit different than my columns
political norm. Then again, I try that weekly.
This month marks the 30th Anniversary of The
Queens Tribune thirty years of covering the news and serving as a sounding
board for the people of our borough. Strangely, the Tribune started in the same
year that our present editor was born. Our art director was just a half a year old when
our paper was born. Most of the rest of the staff are younger than the paper. Some in my
position would worry that it makes them seem or feel old. Not the case! It gives me pride.
Our paper has endured. Our story continues.
We covered the borough in the 1970s without
fax machines or computers. We covered the borough in the 1980s without email or the
internet. And we have covered the borough in the 1990s utilizing technological hoohahs
that didnt exist when the paper was born. Thirty years after our birth, we feel
pretty damn good.
We think we look pretty good too. We were
the first community newspaper on the east coast to use 4-color printing. In this issue,
about one-third of our pages are in 4-color. We were the first weekly in metro New York to
build a website (www.queenstribune.com). With over a thousand pages, the Tribune
Online serves as a resource to hundreds of thousands of folks at home and across the globe
who visit on the internet. Our original eight-page publication has given way to this
mammoth tome with glossy wrap.
And we believe that the writing, reporting,
advertising and commentary have similarly advanced to keep pace with todays world
and lead community journalism in a new challenging millennium. The Tribune is
poised for the future. And we relish it. Were hot!
As I look at the Queens story, my Queens
story, the Tribunes Queens story, I realize that we speak of a borough,
vibrant and vital, filled with millions of stories told, untold, and yet to be written.
My Queens story began in the early fifties
when my aunt, uncle and cousins moved to a place called Queens across the Whitestone
Bridge from the Bronx. By 1955, we joined them, moving to Kew Gardens Hills from Jerome
Avenue. We lived in a six-story co-op across the street from an under-built Queens
College. The College track and fields were my backyard. I was in suburbia. And I loved it.
It was great as a kid, teenager and right through college. My Queens was wonderful. But it
was a different Queens from today.
The Tribunes Queens started in
1970 in a desk at the back of a Main St. real estate office. Its compass was a guy named
Ackerman a former school teacher driven by community issues and a commitment to
service. And as the borough grew so did the Trib. And Ackerman grew too! :-)
Since 1989, weve published out of our
present home on the westbound service road of the LIE, two blocks from Utopia. When we
first came to Queens there was no Long Island Expressway. Now, it serves not only as the
worlds biggest parking lot but as the main thoroughfare connecting Manhattan to Long
Island and uniting the diverse neighborhoods of our borough into one great community we
For the past 21 years, Ive been at
the helm of the ship Tribune, steering it through the changing waters of our time.
The face of Queens has changed. So has its heart and soul. It was wonderful back then. And
its wonderful now only different.
In 1992 we declared on our front page,
"We Are The World." As the most ethnically diverse place on earth, we certainly
have brought that Worlds Fair spirit into the new millennium. People from all corners of
the globe now call Queens their home. For the most part they live here, in our Queens
in their Queens in peace and harmony.
The face of Queens has changed since I
first came here. The empty spaces are gone and old-timers struggle to keep the Queens they
remember. The price of progress often impacts the suburban lifestyle and "quality of
life" has become a shibboleth of community activists across the borough.
The new millennium has witnessed the
arrival of our boroughs two millionth resident. Thats by my count
well have to wait a year or more to see if the census folks can count as well. And
as we grow, we experience growing pains. Queens is maturing. Its growth is slowing. Its
heart is beating strongly. The soul of Queens its people are strong, and
varied and beautiful.
So, as we look back across the millennium
divide, we see not an aging borough, nor an aging newspaper, we see the legacy of wonder
and riches that pave the way to our future.
May this special issue of the Queens story
merely serve as a chapter in a wondrous volume we shall write together.
Thanx for the memories . . . and those to
Tribune cover from 1992
The old Queens College track
Swingline the sign
Bloomingdales, Fresh Meadows
"Marvelous" Marv Thronberry and
Servall Zipper sign now the
Russ Togs, LIC
The original Queens Festival
The clock on top of Roosevelt Savings
(now Roslyn Savings) on the Service
Road of the LIE by Little Neck Parkway
Liz misses Joey Queen
The Turnpike Deli, The Pastrami King
Roma Restaurant (Union Tpke at 192nd)
Lianne misses the Big Bow Wow
Broadcasters Inn the restaurant in
the radio station on the service road
of the LIE and 174 a block from the
present Trib Building.
Jahns especially on my birthday
RKO Keith a sad story
The Valencia, and a batch of other
Spaldings are back!
Johns Bargain Stores, Consumers
Alexanders, Crazy Eddies
The Jets at Shea
Queens in the 60s
Elmhurst gas tanks
Julie misses Rockaway Playland
Ronzoni the plant
25¢ franks, 15¢ slice of pizza
Feathers on the Park
Belgian waffles how else do you
recall the essence of those days in 64?
Candy stores all over the borough,
you know, luncheonettes
Egg creams at those candy stores
The word "groovy" Observation decks
at the airports
The Amber Lantern & Armand
The Horn & Hardardt Automat
diagonally across Northern from
Phone numbers with word exchanges:
Liggett (LI), Boulevard (BO), Havemeyer
(HA), Twining (TW), Virginia (VI),
Stillwell (ST), etc.
Lil misses Pony rides on 164th St.
LI Press the paper
Hamburger Express A train with
Chiclets the plant and the gum
Tom & Jerry
Simon & Garfunkle
Wetsons the Queens forerunner of
The Weeping Beech
Bikes without locks
Flessels, Collge Point
Taystee and Silvercup the factories
Jane Parker you remember A&Ps
Bellacicco the bread
and more . . . M.S.
Me, Im with all my friends.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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