Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"Mayflower Maples" Taking Root To Preserve Trees, History, Community

By Michael Perlman

The Mayflower circa 1941

Mayflower Maples proudly pose at the Mayflower's new courtyard fountain, Photo by Michael Perlman

The Mayflower, a 155-unit Art Moderne apartment building at 69-10 Yellowstone Boulevard was a crowning Forest Hills achievement when it opened in 1941 at an estimated cost of $625,000. Mayflower Realty Corp. appointed architects Morris Rothstein & Son to design two-to-five-room apartments with novelties including terraces, a garage, and central and outer gardens in a developing community. Prior achievements were the 1936 IND subway and the 1939 World’s Fair, boosting demographics.

Fast-forward nearly 80 years, and the maple trees in the central garden are now six-stories high. “In August 2018, work began on a renovation project intended to restore our courtyard garden to its original well-manicured 1940s state, but shareholders and residents were unaware of the scope and timing of the plan,” said Elisabeth Grace, a 12-year resident. “I noticed that the trees were marked with red paint and asked our doorman why. I was told that the trees will be cut down in a matter of days!” Leading with her heart, she founded the “Mayflower Maples,” a group of shareholders and residents who successfully petitioned management through teamwork and neighborliness to preserve the trees.

The Mayflower Maples continues to meet every 4 to 6 weeks, in the spirit of “creating a more caring and connected community,” according to Grace. The group offers recommendations to the co-op board, which has responded positively to various suggested improvements. For example, members recently coordinated the first Halloween party, where residents brought their children. Crafts and games were provided, with a small stipend from the board. 

Maple trees rescued by Mayflower Maples & new fountain, Photo by Michael Perlman
As for the courtyard renovation, it was over two years in the making. Phase One encompassed removing the prior fountain and dead trees. In summer 2019, Phase Two introduced a new fountain. Grace said, “It is lovely and resembles a mountain stream.” Phase Three is anticipated for this year, where the landscaper will present a design to accommodate the spared trees.

Grace explained the challenging preservation process. “I live in an apartment that looks directly into the tree branches of another part of the building. I would be devastated by its loss and could imagine how my courtyard neighbors would feel about losing ‘their’ trees too. But contracts were presumably signed, and the trees were slated to be gone in days. Who was I to think I could stop it? I was just one person!” She posted the dilemma on social media and felt inspired by the immediate support. “Friends urged me to ‘call the management company! Petition the board! Rally your neighbors!’ So I took a deep breath and called a neighbor on the co-op board. When I asked why the trees were being cut down, she said ‘nothing will grow there.’”

Grace recalled, “I laid out a case for the benefits of mature trees; beauty, shade, reducing A/C costs, flood prevention, a haven for birds and other animals, air purification, noise reduction, privacy, and increased property values. From the bottom of my heart, I said ‘If you cut down those trees without asking for input from shareholders, you will never be able to undo it, and people are going to be very upset.’”

The following day, Grace approached neighbors in her lobby, with its picture window view of red-splotched trees. She said, “It seemed from their reactions that many were surprised to have a neighbor speak to them after years of walking by without saying hello. When I asked if they knew the trees were being cut down, most were horrified.” She then compiled their contact details. “It was resolved that we should write a petition to the board to stop the planned ‘TreeAsco.’ As I was in full-blown community organizer mode, I received a text from my board member friend that plans to cut the trees were ‘put on hold for the moment.’”

Nevertheless, the consensus was to meet as a group to further discuss the issue. She explained, “We are a delightfully international group, and some of us have served on other co-op boards. Our action plan was to write and distribute a flyer to all residents, letting them know about the plans for the courtyard and raising concern about management’s failure to solicit input from shareholders and clearly communicate plans. We also included a list of ideas for the courtyard’s use and invited residents to brainstorm.” They launched a gmail account and invited everyone to join the Mayflower Maples discussions. In response, the board held a Town Hall meeting and created one shareholder committee to make recommendations on landscaping and another to compile ideas for the use of a new common room, attached to the state-of-the-art gym that they funded last year. “They scuttled the plan to destroy the trees, and my board member friend apologized to residents for not soliciting input,” said Grace. 

New fountain in the Mayflower's inner courtyard, Photo by Michael Perlman
The 1941 Mayflower prospectus reads, “This building will contain a well landscaped center garden, affording a beautiful view. The garden will be well kept, and insures an inspiration for serene living.” It also states, “The Mayflower is in the original Forest Hills, where all buildings are planned and designed to blend in harmoniously with the surroundings, and give ample light, air, and comforts of living.” Grace responded, “Years ago, when I first read the prospectus, it made me sad. The garden was in a state of disrepair when the building went co-op in the 1980s and remained an eyesore until last year. It will be beautifully restored this summer and that feels great!”

Board President Janice Goldhaar, a thirty-year shareholder said, “I am happy that the plan has been revised to incorporate some of the trees into our landscaping plan. Trees certainly symbolize life. The Board invited the Maples to meet so we could share ideas. We welcome the input of all shareholders and for them to be more engaged.”

Treasurer Carolyn Harrs explained, “Our approach was to create a similar fountain to the one in our building’s front. In our landscaper’s original thought process, the huge trees were a problem. We needed sunlight for plants to grow. Now the design will have to change, so the type of plants can be accommodating to shade.”

Many improvements followed since the Mayflower Maples’ founding. Goldhaar said, “We discovered that many shareholders were looking for more communication, hearing about the process of running our co-op, and why we made certain decisions. The Board responded by forming committees, having monthly Town Hall meetings, establishing a gmail account for questions/comments to the Board. This is in addition to communication via Robo calls and paper notices that are sent to residents. We are also happy to have recently built the community room space.” It has accommodated meetings and activities such as CPR classes, the book club, and a knitting club.

Gathering on couches overlooking the courtyard, which would have been rare for residents in prior years, Mayflower Maples members had much to share. Twenty-four-year resident Iris Gretano said, “I love the feeling that our trees convey, which makes me feel refreshed. Communication brings people together and teamwork is very essential. This could not have been accomplished alone.”

Three-year resident Jenny Lugo lives in the Mayflower with her husband and baby. “When we were looking for an apartment, we first noticed the amazing courtyard and its trees, and the fact that you can see it from both lobbies is beautiful and a hidden jewel. When the Mayflower Maples was born, a new sense of community began growing with our trees. Now people are more mindful of one another and have a vested interest in the building, and hopefully we can think of more ways to harvest our Mayflower community.” She also shared her vision for the courtyard, drawing upon a point where some residents are retired. “Besides the community room activities, we are thinking about cost-effective ways of contributing to people’s well-being and happiness such as by developing a Mayflower community garden. Many of us are invested in nature, so why not provide an outlet for residents to do gardening, provide a healthy outlet, and beautify an area?”

“We can be seen as a microcosm for our interaction with life and the world, which starts at home,” said Lulu Brotherton, an 18-year resident. Citing warmth, understanding, and making new friends, she said, “Now my relationship to my building is very different from most of the time that I have been living here.” Revitalizing the courtyard further inspires her vision. “I am a big fan of public space. Everything would need to be agreed upon, but there may be ways to derive energy more efficiently such as with solar panels, a roof garden, and underground composting.”

“When my wife and I moved in 21 years ago, I was really disappointed to learn that the courtyard was off-limits,” said Phil Kalish. “Originally, the board did not release minutes and proceeded without building input, but the Mayflower Maples had an effect in encouraging the board to become more transparent. We did a survey to determine if residents would like to go outside and enjoy the courtyard, and the overwhelming response was yes. Our building has a landscaping committee, and by the time our courtyard is complete, it will be a real asset.”

The Mayflower has proven to be a quality address. Grace said, “I appreciate the warmth of our unique rose-colored marble lobby floors, decorative fireplaces, and other lovingly-restored details. Our apartments have high ceilings, arched doorways, built-in bookshelves, hardwood floors, large windows, and many closets. Rooms are generous in size.” She explained an especially meaningful perk. “Those residents who overlook the courtyard can sometimes spot Sam, our resident Cooper’s hawk, who often perches in one of the maples.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Rego Park Descendant Marion Legler Tells All

By Michael Perlman

Marion Legler, granddaughter of Rego Park developer Joseph Thone, points to Marion Court's 1929 terra-cotta relief & heavily encrusted archways, Photo by Michael Perlman
Signed photo of Real Good Construction Company developers circa mid-1920s, Courtesy of Bruce Powell
Back in 1923, the Rego Construction Company, also known as the Real Good Construction Company, acquired land in Forest Hills West and named “Rego Park” after their advertising slogan, “REal GOod Homes.” The typical story that is told is how the firm was founded by two natives of Germany; president Henry L. Schloh and secretary and treasurer Charles I. Hausmann, but now a piece of the puzzle long forgotten has been rediscovered.

In June 2016, Rego Park native Marion Thone Legler (born 1932), who resides in New Hyde Park, visited the neighborhood after 3 decades and explained the accomplishments of her grandfather Joseph F. Thone (1870 – 1955), another founding party and developer of the Rego Construction Company, who lived at 63-35 Bourton Street in Rego Park. Legler, who was raised at 61-30 Booth Street (now demolished), shared a detailed account of her childhood and early adulthood. She communicated with much passion and sentiment in the lobby of Marion Court at 62-98 Saunders Street (completed 1929), which her grandfather built 3 years before her birth. Legler was named after the building situated on Marion Avenue (now 63rd Avenue) and due to her grandfather’s interest in the name, according to her beliefs. 

Queens Blvd towards Remo Hall on Saunders St, Courtesy of Marion Legler & by Capitol Photo Service Commercial Photographers, 140 5th Ave
Rego Park homes, office, & stores to be erected circa mid-1920s, Courtesy of Bruce Powell
The firm developed 525 eight-room single-family “Rego Homes,” railroad style Colonial frame houses with porches between 63rd Drive and Elliot Avenue along Saunders, Booth, Wetherole, and Austin Streets, which sold for an approximate $7,500. Three apartment houses followed, which 70 families each called home. They were the Tudor-style Remo Hall at 61-40 Saunders Street (1927) and the Spanish Mission-style Jupiter Court at 62-64 Saunders Street (1927) and Marion Court. 

Marion Court, 1928 rendering, Courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce
Remo Hall circa late 1920s, Courtesy of Bruce Powell, Henry Schloh's grandson
Jupiter Court circa late 1920s by Times Square Photo Service, Courtesy of Bruce Powell, Henry Schloh's grandson
Designed by Benjamin Braunstein, they offer recessed facades and courtyards to maximize fresh air, light, and landscaping, which such developers considered an advantage over the urbanized city. Architecturally, Marion Court boasts terra-cotta reliefs of animals, leaded glass depictions of castles, and a roof garden where residents would once recreate and keep cool come summer. 

Terra-cotta reliefs of animals & florid vines, Photo by Michael Perlman
Other family members were active in civic matters. In 1928, her uncle named Joseph H. Thone of 62-87 Booth Street, became president of the newly founded Rego Park Tennis Club, and around 1929, became secretary of the new Men’s Club of Our Saviour Lutheran Church. 

Lutheran Church of Our Saviour circa 1936 photo from 10th Anniversary Book
 “Rego Park was a playground for children,” said Legler. “We used to sleigh ride down 63rd Avenue. We never had to worry about cars because there were very few.” On Queens Boulevard, her father William Thone owned a hardware store, which was one of a few shops concentrated on the south side, west of 63rd Drive. “On the other side, there were lots and swamps over where your big apartments are now,” she said. Small shops stood along 63rd Drive, as well as PS 139 (erected 1929), where she graduated from. She said, “We went from Kindergarten through 8th grade. They taught arithmetic, the sciences, English… grammar, and penmanship. In the upper grades, the boys took shop and the girls took home ed, which was learning how to cook, making beds; how to be a housewife and a mother.” Children went home for lunch. 

Victory gardening on 99th Street with Queens Boulevard Gardens complex in the background, June 1944
Victory gardening was prevalent during WWII and her school participated. “We grew carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, and celery.” Furthermore, she explained, “We would bring money and buy what was called stamps, which was like a savings account. You learned how to cook in the school, how to grow food outside, and how to save your money at the same time.”

She graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1950 and remained in Rego Park until her marriage in 1956 at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, which was followed by a reception at the popular Rego Park Community Club at 62nd Road and Wetherole Street. 

Legler reminisced Rego Park as a neighborly small town. “If you had a party, everybody was there. We would get home from school and drop our books, go outside and play. The parents all sat on the stoop at night, while we played Ringolevio and Running Bases until the street lights went on.” Other popular games were diamond ball and stick ball.

Legler explained the social scene. “On Queens Boulevard, there were several outdoor barbecue places that would play music, and we would be entertained for free.” Memorable spots included Lost Battalion Hall, Boulevard Tavern, Howard Johnson’s, White Castle, Fairyland amusement park, and the Elmwood, Trylon, and Drake movie theaters. As for a typical weekend, she said, “For 5 cents, you would go to the movies. You had to sit in the children’s section and a matron would walk back and forth with her flashlight to make sure you behaved.” Screenings included a cartoon, newswreels during WWII, and two feature films. “Occasionally, there was a contest between the films, such as a Duncan yo-yo contest,” she recalled.

The neighborhood children’s fixture was “Buddy, the Bungalow Bar man.” “We kind of chased Good Humor off the block,” she chuckled. Home deliveries were also the norm. She said, “Dugan’s and Krug’s were the bread people. In the beginning, they came on a horse and buggy. The ice man would also come and chop the ice, since you had an ice box.” Another necessity was a coal chute in the basement, since there was no gas heat. 

Marion Ave with Rego Homes development, May 29, 1925, Courtesy of Marion Legler
Legler’s mother was born in Norway, her father in America, and her grandfather in Germany. To this day, she reflects on her strong family values. She said, “Everybody had to be at the table. If you were late for dinner, you were in big trouble. Before we would leave the table, we would say, ‘takk for maten’ (thank you for the food).”

Sunday dinner was after church at 1 PM. The menu was mostly roast beef and sometimes turkey. She said, “The vegetables… you ate them. Most were creamed and were German or Norwegian style.” She continued, “Mom always made dessert. There was custard bread pudding, homemade pie, pineapple rice pudding from Norway, and Brown Betty.”

Employment was sometimes a challenge, such as when her father gave up his hardware store during the Great Depression. Legler worked a key punch machine for General Motors. She recalled, “In 1950, my salary was $33 a week, and that was before they took everything out.” Nevertheless, she explained, “We had food stamps, but they were good years. The families worked together.”

Today, Legler maintains an active lifestyle. “I am a computer programmer and I have 4 daughters and 11 grandchildren,” she said. She inherited her grandfather’s photo collection of “construction from day 1,” consisting of over 100 views including Queens Boulevard as a dirt road to its paving, early shops, homes, apartment houses, PS 139, and the ribbon cutting for the LIRR station on 63rd Drive.

Public School 139, Photo by Michael Perlman

Marion Court, Savoy Gardens, & Jupiter Court, Photo by Michael Perlman
Saunders Gardens on left & Jupiter Court on right, Photo by Michael Perlman

Remo Hall, Photo by Michael Perlman
Marion Court, Photo by Michael Perlman
As she toured Saunders Street and Booth Street, Legler felt preservation is essential. “Every effort should be made to maintain it. My grandfather knew how to build,” she said. Legler keeps in touch with her classmates. “I come back here and it’s my childhood. We played in these buildings, especially Marion Court, since it has an elevator, which was a big thing.”

Monday, November 11, 2019

11/16 "Reflections of Historic Forest Hills" Art Show at Jade

The community is invited to historian & artist Michael Perlman's art show opening on November 16 from 6 PM to 8 PM. His exhibit, "Reflections of Historic Forest Hills" features his local architectural photography, often embraced by nature, as well as his restored vintage community images.

Jade Eatery is located at 1 Station Square, Forest Hills Gardens. Admission is FREE & a Happy Hour special will begin at 6 PM.

All prints are for sale, & his exhibit will be on display through 12/15. Please invite your friends.

Michael Perlman will explain his perspective on photography & the restoration process, as well as showcase local historic sites. A toast to an enjoyable evening & community spirit!

Facebook event page:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Unsolved Mystery: The Fountain of Piping Pan

By Michael Perlman

Fountain of Piping Pan, Olivia Park circa 1915, Courtesy of Michael Perlman
“There is a mystery on our hands!” Decades ago, the “Fountain of Piping Pan,” also known as “Olivia Fountain,” a focal point of the one-acre Olivia Park bounded by Markwood Road and Deepdene Road in Forest Hills Gardens, mysteriously vanished despite restrictive covenants which have long-preserved the Gardens’ historic beauty. Now the community wants answers, with a vision of rediscovering or rebuilding the fountain.

This attractive, tranquil, and environmentally beneficial feature consisted of a young male cherub playing a pipe which overlooked a bird fountain alongside the right-hand pathway as residents would walk from Markwood Road. In 1915, The Sun published, “The presiding genius of the fountain is a small nude boy in plaster playing a pipe and the water tumbles over the stones at his feet down into a miniature lake, where the birds may disport themselves as in one of nature’s own sylvan retreats.” In response to The Bird Club of Long Island which formed that summer to safeguard bird life, the publication stated, “From Brooklyn to Montauk Point, branch clubs are being formed, bird refugees and sanctuaries are bring created, and other steps are being taken to make the bird population multiply, and the insect horde decrease.” The membership numbered 300 and spanned 40 communities.

On July 4, 1915, with a local chapter of the Audubon Society on site, the bird fountain designed by Underwood Road resident Beatrix Forbes-Robinson Hale (later Women’s Suffrage Club of Forest Hills president) and presented by the Russell Sage Homes Company, was dedicated to Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, who was praised for her passion for birds. As a case in point, she purchased Marsh Island to transform it into a bird sanctuary. Also part of her acclaim was her establishment of the Russell Sage Foundation, which sought to improve the social and living conditions in the United States. The park was originally named in her honor, and her vision was realized as it served as a natural amphitheatre due to its sloping topography and acoustics. 

Forest Hills Gardens resident Elma Rae who unveiled Fountain of Piping Pan, 1915, Courtesy of Michael Perlman
 A woodthrush began to sing, a hidden orchestra played “Morning” by Grieg, and an elf emerged from the forest, drank from a fairy spring, and offered a libation to nature. Irmgard, Baroness von Rottenthal performed five interpretative dances at the fountain’s dedication ceremony. The repertoire also consisted of “Anitra’s Dance” by Grieg, where the pagan girl carried garlands of flowers and expresses joy in living, “Eve” by Tchaikovsky, “The Butterfly” by Chaminade, and “The Bird Basket” by Lacombe, where a Dresden China Shepherdess abandoned her flock to feed the birds which she calls from the trees. The New York Tribune read, “The entire village of merrymakers surged around the natural amphitheatre in their brilliant costumes as she emerged from cover to worship the beauty on every side.” Operatic singer Vivian Holt performed “Hark, Hark The Lark” by Schubert. Then the fountain was unveiled by a young Gardens resident, Elma Rea, who dedicated it “to the birds in recognition of their services and charm.” The program also read, “It is at the same time given to the people of the Gardens, to whom this park belongs.” 

Olivia Park is one of the most serene and private Forest Hills Gardens settings, where stately homes minimally meet the eye. A 1918 edition of “Country Life on Long Island” read, “It was especially desired to shut this park off almost entirely from the street and to give it the restfulness and seclusion of a remote piece of woodland, and yet to make the interior more inviting, if possible, than the original valley. The long stone steps and bright gravel walks invite the passerby to enter, while the smooth green grass within temps him to stop and rest beneath the shade of the Dogwood and the Wild Cherry trees.”

Among the locals who value preservation and restoration is Tony Barsamian, who called the fountain fascinating, and is hopeful to solve the mystery. As a member of the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation Board of Directors and an active community participant, he said, “I have always believed that it is crucial to preserve and maintain the historic integrity of our unique community. People buy into the Gardens knowing that the homes cannot be arbitrarily changed architecturally and stylistically. Our process is designed to withstand the whimsical fashion dujour and trendy applications, which is why Forest Hills Gardens appears as it has looked for over a hundred years; a stunningly beautiful neighborhood in the midst of New York City.”

Another Forest Hills Gardens Corporation board member, Elizabeth Haberkorn, takes pride in how the park was used as an amphitheatre, historically for dances and performances by the Garden Players. Now she is working with FHGC to develop a plan to upgrade parks including Olivia Park. She said, “We are in the planning stage, and will work with landscape architects and residents to keep the parks holistically consistent and historically accurate, while making them more attractive and useful to residents.” 

Olivia Park in 2015, Photo by Michael Perlman
She also admires the park’s wildlife, trees, and its potential for recreation. “I have often watched woodpeckers and other birds in the trees. It is also beautiful in the fall with various colors of leaves. My son and I have sledded in the park for years. I recall one blustery winter day when two NYC cops joined in and raced down the hill.” 

As an avid gardener, she coordinated with FHGC nearly five years ago to plant naturalizing narcissus and daffodils along the wooded edges, and her son and other children also volunteered. Over the years, thousands of bulbs were planted. “Last year, at the suggestion of a resident, a renowned architect and landscape architect, we added 1,000 hyacinthoides hispanica, small blue woodland flowers among the earlier plantings.”

A similar version of this feature appears in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Annual "Spirits Alive" Event Honors Our Ancestors

By Michael Perlman

An annual event, “Spirits Alive,” resurrects the memory of our notable ancestors at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens. In late September, it once again proved to be a successful tradition, where local residents venture on a self-guided tour and meet actors in period costumes who portray their roles.

Back in 2004, Immaculate Conception School of Jamaica Estates students paid tribute to noteworthy individuals buried at Maple Grove by recreating their roles. Their teacher, Carl Ballenas, launched the Historical Wax Museum project, a social studies program. “I wanted the youth of today to meet the challenges of the future by remembering the roots of the past, and sought to bring it to the entire community,” he said. With the help of Linda Mayo Perez, former Maple Grove president, “Celebrating the Living Spirit” was born, and in 2005 the name was changed.

Russell & Kyle Pfalzer alongside monument with pictorial tribute, Photo by Michael Perlman
 Pfalzer family monument, Photo by Michael Perlman
Russell Pfalzer, who has 26 family members buried at Maple Grove, spoke in front of his family plot alongside a large collection of ancestral photos. His son Kyle was also present. “My family’s history is rooted in Queens County, and only the last generation moved East on Long Island. They worked the land, were three generations of farmers, and were German immigrants. My grandfather, George Jr, grew up on a farm in Woodhaven. My great-grandfather, George, was the last to farm in Queens, on a Forest Hills farm that bordered the LIRR. He was a tenant farmer who lost everything in The Great Depression. My father John used to bring over bags of coal to heat his house in the wintertime and used his Model A Ford to sell his cut flowers and produce on the street to help his grandfather out.” Pfalzer feels that “living generations are connectors between the past and the future.” “If we don’t try to remember and pass on the information, it’s going to be lost. They are part of the history of Queens County. They weren’t famous like the Van Sicklens or the Wyckoffs (farming families), but made a living, raised kids, did their best during hard times, and that should be remembered.” 

George Pfalzer, Russell Pfalzer's great-grandfather, 1863 - 1936, Courtesy of Russell Pfalzer
John H Pfalzer, Russell Pfalzer's father's WWII portrait in 1944
John & Anna Elizabeth Pfalzer,1860s tin image, Courtesy of Russell Pfalzer
James Laws Hutton, Photo by Michael Perlman
James Laws Hutton was born on a farm in 1847 in Ohio and came to New York City to earn his fortune. He died at 38, but taught his sons about the stock market. “In 1904, Edward who was only 29 years old, and his younger brother Franklyn, started the American Stock Brokerage firm called E. F. Hutton & Company in San Francisco.” Edward’s second wife was Marjorie Merriweather Post, one of the wealthiest women in the 20th century. “She was a noted businesswoman and philanthropist. She owned General Foods which not only made cereal but owns Jell-O, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, Log Cabin syrup, Birds Eye, and others.”

William Yepsen, Photo by Michael Perlman
William Yepsen was one of 27 servicemen on the Kew Gardens WWII Memorial plaque. He stated, “I was a Second Lieutenant. 504 Parachute Infantry, 1st Battalion, 82 Airborne Division, HQ Company. I stand at my father George’s grave at Maple Grove.” Yepsen enlisted on October 24, 1942 and became part of the Battle of the Bulge. “I became a casualty and was 32 years old. I was posthumously awarded the Silver Star,” he explained. 

Jane Heath, Photo by Michael Perlman
Jane Heath is buried with her distinguished husband, Henry Roswell Heath. She said, “I am a direct descendant of Roger Williams, founder of the colony of Rhode Island in America in 1636 and a pioneer of religious liberty.” Henry was born in 1845 in Massachusetts. He served in the Civil War, was wounded at Ball’s Bluff, and was taken as prisoner. In 1862, he was paroled by the Confederacy. “For the rest of his life, Henry would tell friends and family that upon returning to Washington, he was the first prisoner to shake hands with President Lincoln,” she said. 

James E. Ware, Photo by Michael Perlman
Maple Grove Cemetery Gatehouse, 1880
Architect James E. Ware’s spirit also came alive. He said, “I was famous for devising model tenements for the poor, as well as the first luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan. I created New York’s first armory, the world’s first fireproof warehouse, and my Osborne Apartments were the forerunner of the modern skyscraper. Its lobby is said to be the finest in all of the City of New York. My own parish was the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, which I also designed. In the 1870s and 1880s, my payment for designing the buildings here at Maple Grove was $100 for a plot of 12 for me and my family.”

Ione Vandever, Photo by Michael Perlman
Delaware native Ione Vandever relocated to New York and married Jacob Vandever, manager of the Nazareth Cement Company. She said, “He made a very good salary and we enjoyed a more privileged life and moved to a beautiful house in the newly formed town of Kew Gardens in 1913! We were one of the first families and lived at 226 Onslow Place.” She later explained, “Kew Gardens was developed by Alrick Platt Man. His father Albon founded Richmond Hill in 1868 in honor of the Man’s Family ancestral home in England. South of here, Richmond Hill can be found on a flat plain. Our land here is very hilly, and was created when the mile-high glaciers of ice from the great Ice Age melted and deposited soil and boulders creating the Terminal Moraine, what many call the ‘backbone’ of Long Island. The Man family used this beautiful land to create the Richmond Hill Golf Club and it had nine holes! One of the hazards on the golf course was a beautiful glacial pond called Crystal Lake. It was covered over in 1908, when they started preparing the land for the creation of our town.”

 Mary Ann Burkhardt, Photo by Michael Perlman
 Mary Ann Burkhardt, Photo by Michael Perlman
Born in Newtown, Queens was Mary Ann Burkhardt. She said, “One of my ancestors, Thomas Lawrence was the first Lawrence to come to America from England and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1635. Thomas eventually moved to Long Island and he was one of the founding families of Hempstead and Flushing.”Referring to James Lawrence, she said, “I am also a direct descendant of a US naval hero, who became famous for the battle cry, ‘Don’t give up the Ship!’” 

Richard Smith, Photo by Michael Perlman
Richard Smith alongside lots of memorabilia, Photo by Michael Perlman
Private Richard Smith, who lived on Metropolitan Avenue and was a Richmond Hill High School graduate, also came to life. He joined the Naval Air Force in 1942, but was honorably discharged in 1943. America was involved in a global conflict with the Pacific and the Atlantic. He said, “With even more determination and resolved than ever, I enlisted again and joined the U.S Army. I was sent to Field Artillery Replacement Training Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was part of “B” Battery, 309th Field Artillery, 78th Division. Tens of thousands of artillerymen were trained on the post’s extensive ranges.”

In 1944, he fought in Europe. “I gave the ultimate sacrifice and died in battle in Germany. Many from Kew Gardens joined the war effort, and 27 of us made that supreme sacrifice. At the intersection of Kew Gardens, where Lefferts Boulevard, Grenfell Street, and 83rd Avenue and Audley Street meet in a small garden by the Homestead Home, a WWII Memorial plaque was erected by Kew Gardens Post 1374. It honors the 27 who gave their lives during WWII.” 

 Adam Dove, Photo by Michael Perlman
Other notables who came to life include Ralph Rawdon, Walter Roth, Emily Huber, Adam Dove, and Virginia Smith. Ballenas said, “Spirits Alive has become a popular community event, and we are delighted to continue this annual tradition. I have written hundreds of scripts over the years, and I am already working on scripts for next year.”
A similar version of this feature appeared in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column:  

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The 6 Koi Art Show & Fundraiser, Jade Eatery & Lounge, 9/21 opening show & Event through 11/1

For Immediate Release

Rego-Forest Preservation Council Chairman Michael Perlman  (917) 446-7775

Artist & Gallery Owner David Chatowsky  (401) 835-4623

“The 6 Koi” from Rhode Island to Forest Hills: Art Exhibition To Benefit New York Police & Fire Widow's & Children’s Benefit Fund
NEW YORK, NY & NEWPORT, RI (Sept 16, 2019) – “The 6 Koi” exhibit, sale, & fundraiser is running from September 15 to November 1, 2019 at Jade Eatery & Lounge at 1 Station Square, Forest Hills Gardens, NY, which offers a popular gallery where artists gather. 

All are invited to an art show, sale, & fundraiser on September 21 from 5 PM to 10 PM. The exhibit is being organized by artist, humanitarian, and multiple gallery owner David Chatowsky, a Rhode Island resident who is returning to NY for another artistic and humanitarian opportunity.
Ten percent of all sales will benefit the New York Police and Fire Widow's and Children’s Benefit Fund, which provides financial assistance and support to the families of NYC police officers, firefighters, Port Authority police, and EMS personnel who have been killed in the line of duty. This initiative is in partnership with Chatowsky’s friend Lyle Carey, who is running in the NYC Marathon to raise 4k for the charitable cause.
Local historian Michael Perlman said, “On a trip to Newport, RI last fall, I am proud to have met a very talented and unique artist and humanitarian, David Chatowsky, and bring him to Forest Hills, NY on two occasions for highly beneficial causes. The arts are universal and can serve as a platform for committing good deeds.”  All works of art are for sale and will be presented to the buyer by Jade Eatery & Lounge on the day of purchase.   

Patrons enter Jade Eatery & Lounge, which offers a rare koi pond, home to 6 beautiful koi fish. Chatowsky said, “These 6 Koi are the inspiration for my art show. I am very familiar with koi and aquatic plants, since I worked on an aquatic farm in Palm City, Florida in my early twenties, and helped raise koi. I also grew many water plants such as water lilies and lotuses.” 
Acrylic paintings that are on display include “The Jonah Koi,” “The Samurai Koi,” “Koi with Water Lilies,” and “Red and Green Koi with Lotus Flowers.” “I hope my paintings’ variation in sizes and the fact that some are in color and black and white will stimulate the creative process in patrons,” said Chatowsky. 

The exhibition bears the potential to positively impact Forest Hills and the world. Chatowsky explained, “Animals make our lives more interesting. Their colors enrich our landscapes. All animals are here for our enjoyment, and we are their stewards. Therefore, it is our responsibility to create areas within the urban environment for animals, so future generations can be graced by their presence.  It is very important to use the gifts we have been given to bring peace and harmony into this world.”   
Chatowsky feels a bit like Jonah after he exited the giant fish. He said, “Unlike Jonah, I am selling the giant koi fish, which took me back to NYC. My message is not that of repentance, but environmental stewardship.”  

The collaboration between a Rhode Island artist and Jade “signifies the willingness of people working together to create a better future,” according to Chatowsky, who opened his first D. Chatowsky Art Gallery in Portsmouth, RI in 2016, followed by a second in Newport last year. His third gallery recently opened on Block Island. His diverse accomplishments also include permanent mural installations at the Florida Museum of Natural History, owning art galleries in Florida and New York, and coordinating humanitarian art exhibits in Los Angeles and Boston.

For a sneak peek of David Chatowsky’s “The 6 Koi” paintings, visit:

Event page:


“Ian Anderson Presents: Jethro Tull 50th Anniversary Tour” at Forest Hills Stadium

By Michael Perlman
Jethro Tull takes the Forest Hills Stadium stage, Photo by Michael Perlman
Forest Hills was on the map for the Jethro Tull tour, where the largely filled stadium was the quintessential venue for a 50th anniversary concert on the mild late summer’s night of September 14. Ian Anderson, who was born in 1947 in Fife, Scotland, is the sole original member of the British rock band “Jethro Tull,” as well as the lead vocalist and a flautist, credited for introducing the flute to rock music. Additionally, he is a multi-instrumentalist, who can also be found playing the guitar, harmonica, bass, and keyboard. 

Ian Anderson's flute & signature one-leg stance, Photo by Michael Perlman
The band debuted at the famed Marquee Club in London, and their success continued with 30 albums that sold over 60 million copies. In 50 years, Jethro Tull performed in 40 countries, performing over 3,000 concerts. Today, Anderson lives on a farm in England, site of his rehearsal and recording studio. 

Ian Anderson plays flute in front of his cultural background video monitor, Photo by Michael Perlman
Anderson’s quality lyrics engaged the audience and his showmanship were distinguished by his eloquence and witty nature. The stage became his dance studio, where he freely moves, and his signature single-legged flute stance was evident from early in his career. Two sets consisted of 18 numbers including “Dharma for One,” “Thick as a Brick,” “A New Day Yesterday,” “Warm Sporran,” and some of the most famous, “Aqualung” and “Locomotive Breath.” Traditional and cultural themes were apparent such as in “Bourée in E minor,” a flute-based spin on Bach’s classical piece, “Pastime with Good Company,” a King Henry VIII cover, as well as in “Heavy Horses” which mourns the loss of labor for England’s horses by favored machinery.

Anderson narrated select numbers. Before performing “Warm Sporran,” which has only been played publicly in the last few weeks, he said, “This is a piece that has sentimental value during the years that I spent in agriculture in the highlands of Scotland back in the 80s and 90s. I can often be found back then wandering through the glorious glens of the mountainsides, along the steep river banks, wearing nothing but a warm sporran.”

“This is the oldest theme of all,” Anderson said before performing “Pastime With Good Company.” “It wasn’t written by me, since I was still in short trousers back then in the 16th century when it was recorded as King Henry VIII’s madrigal in merry old England.” 

Jethro Tull, Photo by Michael Perlman
Fans ranged from diehards to first-timers. Eric Schreiber has been tuning in to Jethro Tull since the 1970s. He observed how over 50 years, the band journeyed through folk, progressive, and hard rock phases. He said, “Their trademark sound, which distinguishes Ian Anderson from other frontmen, is his prominent featuring of the flute. For a lead singer to alternate vocals with playing a wind instrument with his level of mastery is impressive. With some bands, the lead guitarist creates the band’s signature sound, but with Jethro Tull, it’s definitely Anderson’s flute and vocals.” He continued, “It was interesting how he chronicled the evolution of the band over the years with all of its members. His current band does a fine job of supporting him and did the music justice.” His favorite numbers were “A New Day Yesterday,” “My God,” “Aqualung,” and “Locomotive Breath,” and in response to the latter, he said, “It was kind of cool that you could see the LIRR from the stadium as that song was playing.” 

Jethro Tull with one of many outstanding backdrops, Photo by Michael Perlman
“When Ian came on stage, the sun was setting, it became dark just like in the theatre, and when he started performing, it was magical,” said Linda Glaser. “When I think of Jethro Tull, I think of Ian playing the flute with his toes touching his opposite knee. It was like time hasn’t moved since the 70s.” As for the band’s rapport with the audience, she said, “It was something I have never seen! Every song had a backup story, and past musicians were presented on video to narrate the songs.” She also fell in love with the venue’s ambiance. “The people we met in our row felt like long-lost friends,” she said. 

Ian Anderson belting a note, Photo by Michael Perlman
Peter Arato considered the high points the instrumentals, such as in “Bourée.” Additionally, he admired how Anderson entertained the crowd with retrospective stories of each tune between songs. He said, “An elaborate backdrop alternated between historic footage of Tull, a psychedelic light show, tributes by other musicians to the band’s 50th anniversary, and folks doing duets with Ian Anderson. The visuals really added to the experience.” His evening was also boosted by the stadium’s character. “There is probably no better or more intimate venue to see an outdoor show than Forest Hills Stadium, with a sense of history from the basic structure to the portraits of legends, both athletic and musical.” 

Longtime fan Steven Rosen sports his Jethro Tull t-shirt
“My memories came flooding back reliving my journey with them over 50 years,” said Steven Rosen, who found enjoyment in what he considers lesser known numbers, “Heavy Horses” and “Farm by the Freeway,” in addition to top hits “Aqualong” and “Locomotive Breath.” He praised Anderson’s rapport and professionalism. “Ian referred to seeing old friends again, which was nice to hear, and also let the applause die down before continuing the concert, which most bands in a hurry to finish do not.” 
Ian Anderson & his band take a bow, Photo by Michael Perlman
For Jane Firkser-Brody, it was a nostalgic night, which was reminiscent of the 1970 Jethro Tull concert at the Fillmore East. “Bourée” was her personal favorite, which largely made the crowd interact. She said, “I absolutely love the sound of a flute, and Ian Anderson plays as good as ever. Even though he is the only original member, his band sounds as if they have been playing together for years. Jethro Tull is made up of excellent musicians!” 

A portion of Kevin Wadalavage's Jethro Tull ticket stub collection
It was Kevin Wadalavage’s 14th Jethro Tull engagement, and he proudly retained his ticket stubs since 1972 at Madison Square Garden. He explained, “The musicians of early Tull, some of which were featured on the screen in the show, including Barriemore Barlow, Jeffrey Hammond, and Clive Bunker, were amazingly entertaining and skilled, and I would invite anyone to watch some of their early concert footage.” He continued, “Ian makes all the classic moves he has made for decades, and that is all we visually focus on with the band while they dutifully execute the notes.” He reminisced, “I first came to Forest Hills Stadium to see The Who in 1971, and having always lived in Queens, it has been a real treat to see the Stadium come back to life. I can see world-class talent and still be home in ten minutes.”

A similar version appears in Michael Perlman's Forest Hills Times column: