The streets of Queens used to be
filled with mom and pop stores, soda shops and neighborhood delis
as opposed to the corporate restaurants and chains that can be
From the collection of
By SUSAN LEE
is common among those who grew up and lived in the ever-changing
dynamics of Queens places and faces. They remember when “things were
simply different,” and mom and pop stores aligned neighborhood
streets, records and eight-tracks were on sale, there was a milkman,
someone delivered the coal, and “newsboys” was a great first job.
importantly, the Tribune found that the intangible and personal
memories of raising families in Queens were rated, above all, the best
time Glendale residents Gerry Brady, Virginia Cebora, and Ellen
Contenessa recall the old Myrtle Avenue haunts like Gottlieb’s, a
deli that offered the best pastrami, and Coletti’s, an ice cream
parlor, as well as the Royal Chinese Restaurant— three of the
quintessential eateries back in the day.
Vendors used to sell everything
from fish to baked goods to milk door to door in Queens,
something some Queens residents miss.
From the collection of
high on the list was the Acme Theater with its outdoor movie screen
that attracted countless people, even those who would watch from roofs
where the screen could be seen.
could go out at night on the town with all girls and come home at one
or two o’clock and it was nothing, agreed the women.
resident of Bayside was more vocal about the disappearance of
independently owned drug and hardware stores. “I really resent the monopolies that closed the stores that
were bought by places like CVS,” said Irene, who has lived in
Bayside all of her life. “I
remember the lady shops in the area right on 73rd Avenue like the
Mid-Island shop that sold ladies’ clothing, which had very good
merchandise. Now department stores are really far an inaccessible for
those who don’t drive.”
Jamaica, old department stores like Gertz and Macy’s were favorites
Astoria resident remembers Steinway Street shops that had men’s
stores that sold shoes, “Now I have to go to Forest Hills or into
Manhattan,” he said.
Places and Faces
Astoria resident remembers a pizza shop where everyone used to go
after school to buy square pizzas, which are now called Sicilian.
The whole neighborhood would come
out when a street vendor would come by, an exciting feature of
Queens past that is sorely missed.
From the collection of
memory recalled by Glendale residents was of people sleeping on fire
escapes as a way to keep cool during the summer.
It was especially prevalent among those sleeping in middle
rooms without windows that were torturous to sleep in, according to
from Jamaica, James Barlow of Woodside remembers streets now gone like
New York Boulevard (now Guy Brewer).
importantly, he remembers deliverymen, who would deliver goods right
to one’s doorstep. From
the faithful milkmen to young newspaper delivery boys, Barlow said
that the neighborhood would anticipate the deliverers of goods.
Beer, fish, and baked goods were also other items delivered,
according to Barlow.
trucks would come around with fish, with a canopy over it and they
would go from door to door. You
would tell them how much you wanted, he’d clean them and if he
cleaned them, he would charge you a little bit more,” he said of
baked goods company in particular, Doogan’s, had electric trucks,
which proves how not so archaic the methods were in the past,
according to Barlow. “They
ran on batteries… to deal with the pollution of automobiles a long
time ago and they stopped. Now
they’re coming back,” he said of the electric cars, which he
guesses were charged at night and up and running for the whole route.
houses made of wood could be rented out for $35 a month, or could be
purchased with a price tag of $5,000 on average, Barlow said.
used to love the eight-tracks!” he added.
Children in Queens
the Rochdale co-op development stands, Barlow said there once was the
Jamaica Racetrack, where he was too young to frequent but misses.
As a kid, he often played in an empty vacant lot, which became
a makeshift ice-skating rink when the snow fell.
One Queensite fondly remembered
Jamaica Race Track, or Union Course, which has been shut down
and replaced by the Rochdale Village development.
From the collection of Vincent Seyfried
the most fond memories was being a child and raising children in
children grew up in Douglaston, Queens, and they are now away from
home. They spread their wings and flew away,” said one parent,
saying that the time in rearing kids happened so fast.
resident Julia Vieira said that she has fond memories of taking her
three children to Rockaway and Jones beaches.
And she remembers watching her children outside of her window
because they often played in the Woodside Houses courtyard.
is no place I’d rather be than in Queens,” exclaimed one Queens
father, “to live and work.”