Queens native Mario Cuomo was elected governor in 1982.
The new year began auspiciously enough for Queens’ top elected official, Borough President Donald Manes, who was sworn in for an unprecedented fourth term – and then rushed to the hospital hours later for an emergency appendectomy. It was a harbinger of a year full of ups and downs for the county’s chief executive.... A cold front stormed the area, and an elderly Briarwood couple was found frozen to death in its Lander Street home.... Construction started on a new subway line connecting the 63rd Street line in Manhattan with the Archer Avenue line in Jamaica. The cost? Only $327 million....
February was a cold month, and one that was distinguished by a pair of ongoing controversies: A proposed new shopping mall in the Rego Park area met with stiff opposition from residents and local merchants, who claimed that the congestion and lost business would hurt the community. It was the start of a long, drawn-out battle, paralleled by a similar dispute over a proposed new mall in Flushing.... Community residents also rose up against a proposed $200,000 salt dome for the southeastern end of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Those advocating the plan claimed it would enable the Department of Sanitation to have easier access to salt in the bad weather; those opposed to it claimed that the mineral would ruin the ecology of the park area....The New York Landmarks Conservancy began looking into saving the well-known RKO Keith’s Theater on Northern Boulevard in Flushing....
March came in like a lion as 2,400 employees at Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center walked off their jobs and began the longest, most significant strike of the year for the Queens area.... Plans for a $100 million office building, to be known as One Thomson Place, were announced. The building would occupy the deserted American Chile Company facilities in Long Island City.... A local fellow by the name of Mario Cuomo announced that he was running for governor....
Three buildings at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center were proposed for use as part of a prison facility for parole violators, sending local residents into an uproar.... Queens Democratic groups threw their support behind Mario Cuomo, as an upset against favorite Ed Koch was in the making.... In June, the prison plan proposed for Creedmoor was abandoned, in light of strong community pressure against it....
Councilwoman Julia Harrison and Borough President Donald Manes fought the transportation of nuclear fuel through Queens.
Life in the borough got warmer during July, and not just the temperature. Politicians spent most of the month shuffling their election plans, as the lengthy reapportionment process came to a conclusion. As a result, a new congressional seat was added to Flushing. State Senator Gary Ackerman announced that he would run for the seat, but withdrew from the race to allow incumbent Congressman James Scheuer to move in. Redistricting had ousted Scheuer from his old seat.... Things really got hot after the feds announced a recommendation to sell all but 11 acres of surplus land at Fort Totten. Community groups were outraged....
August started off with 28 merchants from 25 stores, mostly in Flushing and Forest Hills, being charged with grand larceny for participating in a stolen credit card ring. At the same time, seven cops from the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst were suspended after being charged with accepting bribes.... Borough President Donald Manes was angry about a shipment of nuclear reactor fuel that passed through Queens on its way to LILCO’s Shoreham nuclear plant.... American Bakeries Inc. canceled plans for a $7 million move of its corporate headquarters to Flushing. The company’s Taystee Bread factory in College Point remained in operation....
Democrats swept Queens, led by local boy Mario Cuomo. The election left no Republicans representing Queens in the Assembly, or in districted city council seats.
The best-selling author of “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet In Heaven,” the first time Mitch was paid to write was for the Queens Tribune. He served as reporter and became our managing editor, and has since gone on to a stellar career in newspapers, radio, television, music and publishing.
I found my career in the garbage.
Ok, it wasn’t exactly the garbage, it was the bottom of a shopping cart in a market on Queens Blvd. That’s pretty close to the garbage, right? I mean, when people leave stuff in there, they’re not coming back for it. And what they left, that day, was a copy of The Queens Tribune. And being broke at the time, meaning any free reading material was more than welcome, I picked it up and leafed through it.
I can’t say I honestly remember the stories in that edition, but they were interesting enough to get me to turn the pages. And then I saw an ad, a small one, a house ad, seeking writers who might have some “spare time.”
I was not, to be honest, at the time, a writer. I was a musician. Which meant spare time was something I had plenty of.
So I called. And I volunteered. And they gave me my first journalistic assignment, a council meeting of some kind, in which parking meters were discussed. I didn’t know a thing about reporting – unless you count having read “All The President’s Men” – so I mimicked what I saw in newspapers, the who, what, when, where and why of, well, parking meters.
And when the next edition of the Queens Tribune came out, there was my story, on the bottom of the front page.
OK. So it was a slow news week. OK, so I started in the garbage. OK, whatever. Seeing that article, with my byline, knocked me over the waterfall and down into the rivers of writing, the simple, earnest joy of moving what you see through your brain and onto paper. I have been here ever since.
I have now written books, and movies, and plays, and have gone on to a bigger newspaper. But I still have that first copy of the Tribune. I hope I always will. And whoever left their copy in the shopping cart, I’d like to thank you for my life, even if, technically, you were littering.