Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Greener Horizons at Iconic West Side Tennis Club

By Michael Perlman

Tennis Captain Ed Flamos, tennis legend Virginia Wade, & WSTC President Monika Jain - Ribbon cutting, Photo by Michael Perlman

It was history-in-the-making for the West Side Tennis Club on May 28. The sun seemed to shine even brighter, as West Side Tennis Club members and guests were first to play in traditional white attire on the newly resurfaced field of eight state-of-the-art grass courts between a stately Tudor clubhouse (1913) and Forest Hills Stadium, America’s first tennis stadium (1923). This was followed by a patio luncheon overlooking a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring British number-one Virginia Wade, the first U.S. Open champion in 1968, who is now a NYC resident. It also felt like a rebirth, since events were off limits due to the pandemic.
Playing the new grass courts, Photo by Michael Perlman

“I am excited to be part of this amazing event, and I’ve felt so welcomed by every member,” said Jason Weir-Smith, the new director of racquet sports who led the ceremony.

“To have been able to take on successfully a transformational upgrade of our grass courts at this moment in time,” said WSTC President Monika Jain, “is a testament to our Board of Governors, our playing members, and our commitment to our mission.” The Grass Court Committee was chaired by Chip Smith and Sarah Mannion. She credited a team effort in the works for over two years. “We want to offer the best racquet sports experience in New York.”

Tennis legend Virginia Wade, Club CEO Mario DiPreta, Dir of Racquet Sports Jason Weir-Smith, President Monika Jain, Photo by Michael Perlman

Virginia Wade was a guest of honor. “I had a real Déjà Vu watching all these good players out today. I know what good grass is like, and grass technology is so sophisticated these days, and the way that they can produce turf for all sports. It’s so exciting that this club chose to have advice from Wimbledon.” She told attendees, “All you good people, keep hitting the ball in the middle. Make sure that you’re very strict about the courts by the shoes that you wear, since we don’t want to damage these precious courts. One day I will manage to come out here and test it for myself.”

She also explained, “The WSTC lawns will become the envy of every tradition-loving club and player, and for those lucky enough to play on them, it will be a blissful experience.”

A ribbon was held across the net by President Monika Jain and Tennis Captain Ed Flamos, where Wade cut it with what Weir-Smith humorously portrayed as “a small pair of scissors.” That led to a champagne toast.

Celebrating the occasion, Photo by Michael Perlman

After the WSTC relocated from the Bronx to Forest Hills in 1913, grass was laid for seven courts, and by the following August, a Davis Cup match would attract an audience of over 12,000, transforming tennis. The hallowed WSTC grounds were where legends including Bill Tilden, Bobby Riggs, Ken Rosewall, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, and Chris Evert made their mark.

Tennis greats Virginia Wade & Rennae Stubbs, Photo by Michael Perlman

In more recent times, the courts were considered past their prime with spongy and bent grass, and its overhaul would follow a decade of success stories with the revitalization of Forest Hills Stadium, two new European-style red clay courts, the renovation of one hard court for pickle ball, the upgrading of three platform tennis courts, and significant membership growth.

After Newport’s International Hall of Fame resurrected its turf venue, it inspired the WSTC leadership to examine its feasibility, which would cost $650,000 and deliver improved playability and consistency. The project was designed by Tom Irwin Advisors, a Massachusetts-based firm under Ian Lacy, the former head of Great Britain’s Institute of Groundsmanship Professional Services. Test pits were dug to evaluate layers of soil, and Lacy and his colleagues recommended a plan to replace the grass, upgrade the irrigation system, enhance the underlying dirt by adding a sand mixture for playability and durability, and regrade the courts. The scientific grass is a modern blend of three varieties of rye, and is now consistent with Wimbledon, the Newport Hall of Fame, and London’s Queens Club. Part of the upgrades were attractive Wimbledon-style wooden tennis posts with brass winder mechanisms and “West Side Tennis Club” etchings, and tennis net center straps.

The West Side Tennis Club etchings on new traditional wooden posts, Photo by Michael Perlman

Rennae Stubbs, 2nd from left, Photo by Michael Perlman

“My favorite surface in the whole world is grass,” said Rennae Stubbs, a legendary Australian tennis player, coach, and Racquet Magazine podcast host who was among the special guests. “It was the first time I ever played here, and it was great to be part of opening the courts for the first time this year. You just have to look around to know you’re in a historic tennis club. It’s nice to have Virginia Wade, such a great champion, to cut the ribbon and enjoy the day with.”

Enjoying the occasion, Photo by Michael Perlman

WSTC members in traditional white, Photo by Michael Perlman

Christian Kilrain Carter Coleman said, “It’s not only a WSTC historical moment, but one in my life, since it is the first time I played on grass. This is my new standard and where it all begins for me.” He continued, “It’s amazing to see Virginia Wade, one of my tennis idols. I remember when she won in 1977 at Wimbledon, when I was just a kid, getting into tennis. It’s also amazing to see Rennae Stubbs, a four-time Grand Slam champion (women’s doubles), and people from Racquet Magazine. Everyone here adds to the equation, and brings together a beautiful tennis community.”

Longtime WSTC member Dr. Juan Reyes said, “The new grass courts are much better, since the ball bounces higher and we can rally and really enjoy it. Before the ball would hardly bounce.” He called it a step in the right direction and a reason for delivering value to the membership. “It is nice to see the old-timers and the younger generations remembering them,” he continued.

WSTC executives alongside tennis legend Virginia Wade, Photo by Michael Perlman

“This is one of the most revered sites, as the first home of the U.S. Open, along with a great history of players such as Billie Jean King and Virginia Wade, who really put women’s tennis on the map,” said Frank Milillo, a pickleball ambassador. “The courts have always been top notch, and it’s exciting to see how well the Club improved it with a new lawn. This is where the sport grew, and now it’s coming back to its roots.”

Rennae Stubbs testing the new grass courts, Photo by Michael Perlman

Friday, May 21, 2021

Preserving The Memory of Acclaimed Sculptor Arnold Stone

By Michael Perlman

Floating Leaves sculpture fountain by Arnold Stone, Photo by Michael Perlman

Most recently, the nearly 2-story “Floating Leaves” sculpture fountain of the shuttered Parkside Chapel at 98-60 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, was relocated off-site. This was after Rego-Forest Preservation Council’s initiative to secure an early 1960s prized work by the late sculptor Arnold Stone to a new home, ideally at a nearby cultural institution. Parkside Chapel by notable architects Henry Sandig and Robert Kasindorf, was designed as tribute to the Israelites, the Ten Commandments, and the Sinai desert, and offered a Modernist twist on traditional symbolism. 

Arnold Stone building the Floating Leaves sculpture fountain in Sea Cliff, Courtesy of Paula Stone

Arnold Stone, an award-winning sculptor, painter, illustrator, and a dentist, passed away at 49 in 1971, but his memory is very much alive thanks to Paula Stone Borge, his daughter, and Robert Andrew McKie, his stepson, who are preserving his artwork and sharing stories. 

Dr. Arnold Stone, a native of Boston, relocated to Flushing, Bayside, and then a Victorian at 285 Prospect Avenue in Sea Cliff, a seaside L.I. village which became increasingly known for its Bohemian character and art galleries. Dr. Stone’s extensive rundown of exhibitions included The Heckscher Museum of Art, Guild Hall, the Alba House Gallery in Sea Cliff, Plandome’s North Shore Unitarian Center, and the Ruth Dean Garden.    

Stone considered Sea Cliff as an ideal place to call home. “The town was filled with sailors, musicians, painters, sculptors, and writers. Children were free to explore the many parks and beaches and ride bicycles everywhere. Our living room was always filled with a diverse group chatting about the social and political concerns of the day.”

Her room overlooked her father’s studio, where “Floating Leaves” among other prized works were born. She recalled, “I felt happy falling asleep to the sound of his sledgehammer hitting the anvil. He would listen to a jazz program by Ed Beech, and would call in to the station with requests, and Ed Beech would say, ‘Here is one for Doc out in his studio.’” She continued, “I loved the cozy feeling of knowing he was in the studio, doing something he loved.”  

The concrete garage yielded a fireproof setting for welding sculptures out of metal, using a forge, various torches, and anvils. She said, “There was also plenty of room for painting, carving stone, and drawing. It was very light inside, due to skylights and large windows overlooking Hempstead Harbor.”  

Stone remembers her father creating the sculpture fountain in his studio, during her childhood. She explained, “It is comprised of a series of large copper pans, shaped to resemble leaves. Angular lines of steel surround it, providing a contrast to the warmth of the copper leaves and the solid copper wall (which was until recently behind the sculpture fountain). I think the contrast between the interesting strong straight-edged lattice and the flowing leaves filled with streaming water is like modern architecture set among natural elements.” Her father was a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. She continued, “I think about the cooperation between manmade elements and structures and nature. Copper is a natural element in the earth, but steel is manufactured. It is also suggestive of the contrasts in our lives.”

Her father created smaller fountains for residences, sculptural features for public spaces, and freestanding sculptures for many private collections, but this was the largest public work. She explained his passion for fountains. “It provides a lovely atmosphere for reflection and meditation and symbolizes the flow of life. We lived on the edge of Long Island sound and loved the sound of waves, seagulls, and the fog horn we could hear at home. His goal with this fountain was to provide a simple, beautiful, peaceful space for feelings and thoughts.”

She would work as a professional photographer and cover the news. Aside from music, she and her father produced art. “My father taught me how to carve stone, and we made jewelry together. I was with him while he made his artwork and gardens.” She feels that her interests of visual arts, music, theater, and science mirror those of her father, who was very interested in architecture. We also always try to help people. We grew up attending marches for equality and demonstrating to end the war in Vietnam.”  


Arnold Stone at his exhibition with Metamorphosis & Mississippi Jury, Courtesy of Paula Stone

Stone and her brother take pride in being the stewards of some of his sculptures, but explained, “He made so many, and we do not know who bought them and where they are.” They have Mississippi Jury, Monument, SST, ABM, Icarus, King Canaveral, Metamorphosis, another tall figure and anti-war figure, and several table top figures and abstract sculptures, and some metal and carved stone.

She said, “We would love to know who has the largest anti-war piece, a soldier’s head mounted on two large wagon wheels balanced by two bowling balls below, and we would like to know about a very tall, life-size Metamorphosis. We would like to know about any of his works, since we have no records.”

“The legacy our father leaves behind is one of savoring life, education, taking an interest in current events, trying to make a better world, enjoying the marvels of the earth, and biology, geology, technology, theater, dance, music, painting and sculpture, and humor,” said Stone. She admires his love with life and curiosity about everything. “He helped me learn how to find joy and wonder in almost everything, and to approach life with empathy, affection, humor, and gratitude.”

Robert Andrew McKie explained his stepfather’s interest in literature, art, and music. “He was an authority on jazz. He was a drummer throughout college. His interest in led him into early experimentation in high fidelity sound reproduction, which back then meant building a lot of your own equipment. About this time, he decided to exercise some of his G.I. Bill benefits and take courses at the New School for Social Research. At first, he made jewelry, then took painting and sculpture classes.” Today he takes pride in carrying on Dr. Stone’s interest in music, love of books, and fascination with museums.

McKie was a very early computer scientist as of 1965. He was a visiting engineer at MIT, working on Project Athena, which was to revolutionize how undergrads were taught as in an interactive multimedia system.

He remembers Sea Cliff in 1958 for its great mixture of residents. “On our street, we had a Wall Street lawyer living next to a plumber, who in turn had a concert violist as a neighbor.”    

McKie pointed out that while Dr. Stone served his dental practice patients with care until his death, his heart was not in it. “He would often duck out between scheduled patients to work in the studio. His arms became very muscular with all the metal and stone work. Generally, he would work long hours in the studio, often just dashing to eat quickly and return.” 

As for the sculpture fountain, he said, “It should take a very special space, as it was designed around a corner alcove. I would consider contributing to its resurrection, and as for other works, I would love to see them on public display permanently. I would consider giving up ‘Mississippi Jury’ to the right venue.” McKie also owns one small painting from the ‘Bayside’ days of a series of clowns/mimes, an alabaster hippopotamus, an oil painting of a hippo, a bronze seagull, and his record collection.

Many friends from his Sea Cliff days have pieces of Dr. Stone’s artwork, which they cherish. One of his friends is Jerry Zimmermann, who said, “Arnie will never die. He is a force in all of our memories. The 50 years from his passing seems like an instant relative to the force of his being." 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Tribute To Black History At The Iconic Forest Hills Stadium

By Michael Perlman

Forest Hills Stadium, which became America’s first tennis stadium in 1923, was adapted as a concert venue in 1960 for the Forest Hills Music Festival, a summer tradition. Behind the Romanesque façade, comprised of an arched colonnade with crests and stone eagles perched up high, is a broad chapter in music history, where black artists made their mark at the 14,000-seat stadium and helped many build an international presence.

February is embraced as Black History month, a significant time for reflection on past achievements while looking ahead. At Forest Hills Stadium, there were over 20 black musicians who took center stage. Among them are Diana Ross & The Supremes, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Jr, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Donna Summer, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival pamphlet featuring the concert lineup & Forest Hills Inn ads, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Courtesy of The Chess Drum

The advocacy of Carter G. Woodson, an African American educator and historian, who is known as the “Father of Black History” created “Negro History Week” in 1926, when the iconic Stadium was only three years old. One week in February was designated to commemorate the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. However, it was not until 1970 that the initial celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State University, and became national in 1976, when President Ford encouraged Americans to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor.”

Ella Fitzgerald in 1963 Forest Hills Music Festival program

On August 5, 1961, fans of Ella Fitzgerald, an Addisleigh Park resident, afforded the opportunity for what was considered excellent seats ranging from $2.25 to $4.50. For the July 13, 1963 engagement, Rolls-Royce limousines accommodated press representatives to and from Manhattan. She performed with Dave Brubeck, and adding to the character of the concert experience was the widespread scent of “My Sin.” A July 18 “Jet” publication read, “in keeping with a new arrangement by the producers wherein each night, prior to the performance, the Forest Hills Stadium will be sprayed throughout with the perfume.”

Ella Fitzgerald, November 1946, Photo by William Paul Gottlieb

Harry Belafonte singing in 1954, Courtesy of Library of Congress

Singer, composer, social activist, and actor Harry Belafonte, who was an East Elmhurst balladeer, appeared on August 25 to August 27, 1961, and had a return engagement on July 31 to August 2, 1964 with Miriam Makeba. On July 31, he exhibited perfect pitch and flawless tempo, and his repertoire included “Every Night When The Sun Goes Down,” “Glory Manger,” and “John Henry.” During the second half of the program, Miriam Makeba, with her graceful movements, performed tunes in English and South African. Under a harmonious expression, he performed “Jamaica Farewell” and she sang “The Click Song.”

Miriam Makeba on March 7, 1969

Nina Simone in 1965

Nina Simone was warmly welcomed on August 3, 1963 and performed favorites such as “Little Liza Mae,” “Porgy,” and “May Man.” Following her was Ray Charles, who was greeted by a thunderous applause. Program numbers ranged from a hushed “The Thrill is Gone” to a swinging “Don’t Set Me Free.” He was accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra and occasionally by The Raelettes, his female vocal group. The 1963 Forest Hills Music Festival program called him “a living musical legend on ABC-Paramount Records.”

Ray Charles & Nina Simone, August 3, 1963 concert ad

On August 27, 1966, Ray Charles set a box office record at the Forest Hills Music Festival and was joined by the 15-piece Ray Charles Orchestra and The Raelettes. Another noteworthy appearance was by Frederick Nelson III, a 6-year-old organist who performed a spirited “Wade in the Water” and “Watermelon Man.”

Ray Charles in 1963 Forest Hills Music Festival program

“The world has known two authentic musical geniuses. One was Beethoven and the other is Ray Charles,” said Sammy Davis, Jr in a public statement around that time. Also, in a Life magazine seven-page feature, he was praised with the following statement: “Every singer in the business draws from Ray Charles, but no singer has it or dispenses it the way Ray Charles does.” He was nicknamed “The Genius of Soul” and considered one of the world’s most popular artists since his hit tune, “Georgia On My Mind.” Two decades later, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which stated, “Charles used his explosive musical talent to combine gospel and blues into the then non-existent genre of soul. To him, soul music was a way of life.”

Trade ad for Ray Charles single 'Yesterday' in Billboard, November 4, 1967

Johnny Mathis, 1967 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Johnny Mathis’ August 4, 1962 concert featured hits including “Misty,” “Wild Is The Wind,” and “Come To Me.” His August 10, 1963 show marked his only New York appearance and his commitment to donate half of his earnings to Reverend Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Highlights were “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “Marla.”

Johnny Mathis, October 2, 1960, MCA-Music Corporation of America

On August 21, 1965, Mathis performed a medley of his classics consisting of “Chances Are,” “Twelfth of Never,” “More,” and “When Sunny Gets Blue.” Several numbers were complemented by a chorus of eighteen talented children known as the “Young Americans” who also engaged the audience with a warm-up of songs and much laughter, and a focal point was the moving rendition of “Shenandoah.” A 30-piece orchestra was the ideal fit for Mathis and the Young Americans. Mathis also performed in 1961, on August 4, 1962, August 15, 1964, and on July 8, 1967.

The Exciters, December 1964, Billboard

Also performing at the Stadium was pop music group The Exciters who sang their hit “Tell Him” on August 28, 1964. Carl Holmes & the Commanders took the stage on August 28, 1965, and one of their hits was “Mashed Potatoes.”

Carl Holmes & The Commanders

The Temptations, August 1966, NY Amsterdam News

N.Y. Amsterdam News ran the Forest Hills Giveaway contest in 1966. It stated, “Your letter must be postmarked by August 15 if you expect to be in the judging for free tickets to see The Supremes, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder the evening of August 20 at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Don’t despair, however, if your letter doesn’t get in on time. You have until August 22 to enter the contest to win free tickets to see Ray Charles give a concert at Forest Hills on August 27.” For a 200 words or less entry, a fan had to write “Why I would like to see The Supremes in concert” or “Why I would like to see Ray Charles in concert.” A free ticket was offered to a total of 25 winners for each concert, thanks to Forest Hills Music Festival producer Leonard Ruskin. He said, “We feel that in this way many people who might not otherwise be able to attend the concerts will be able to.”

In 1966, Stevie Wonder was only 15, blind, played the harmonica, piano, and drums, and sang with earthy vocals and blues sentiment. The Supremes, comprised of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard, were recognized as a highly polished and sophisticated singing group. Although known for their rock ‘n’ roll style, their repertoire largely consisted of ballads. Originating from the south, The Temptations are a quintet that was boasted for graceful choreography and great voices.

Sammy Davis, Jr ad, July 1966, NY Amsterdam News

Sammy Davis, Jr in 1966 on The Perry Como Show

The era offered unique ads, such as one from the summer of 1966 announcing the July 8th and 9th concerts, which read: “You don’t have to fly to San Juan; You don’t have to drive to Kiamesha Lake; ‘cause you can see Sammy Davis (Jr.) with Count Basie and His Orchestra and Jay & The Americans right here at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.” Sammy Davis Jr, who also appeared on August 11, 1962, was a singer, actor, comedian, and dancer, and is noted for his impressions of other celebrities. On July 17 to July 19, 1965, Count Basie opened with Frank Sinatra. On July 25, 1964, Count Basie performed numbers such as “April in Paris,” “Swinging Shepherd Blues,” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Basie is remembered as a jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and organist, and was the recipient of 9 Grammys. He was the foremost musician of the Big Band “Swing” era.

Bandleader Count Basie on piano

On July 8, 1966, William B. Williams, “the voice of WNEW Radio,” introduced crooner Sammy Davis, Jr. as the “world’s greatest entertainer.” He rhythmically snapped his fingers and sang “This Will Be My Shining Hour,” which came true. During his second number, “Change Partners,” he carried a mic as he walked to the lawn distinguishing the stage and the audience. Then he shifted to a humorous monologue, Anthony Newley, Rodgers and Hart, and R&B tunes, and left the audience wanting more. He later starred in “Super Night at Forest Hills,” a 1977 televised musical comedy, where he is joined by Arthur Ashe in a play, Alan King and Buddy Hackett portraying old-time tennis pros reuniting, as well as Andy Williams who commemorated tennis through songs.

The Four Tops, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

The Four Tops & Marvin Gaye ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

The Four Tops, a male vocal quartet from Detroit that performed on July 29, 1967, were memorable for their hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and thigh-slapping, as evident in their lyrics in “Shake Me. Wake Me” and “Reach Out and I’ll Be There.” Other tunes were “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “In The Still of The Night,” and “I Can’t Help Myself.” A great energy swept the stadium with one of the groups that helped popularize the sound of Motown of the 1960s. The Four Tops also appeared with Marvin Gaye and King Curtis and His Kingpins on August 24, 1968.

Marvin Gaye, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Bee Gees & King Curtis Atco Records ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, November 5, 1968

The Jimi Hendrix Experience opened for the Monkees on July 14 to July 16, 1967, which was unique since their style was distinctive between acid rock and a pop band, respectively. On July 16th, Hendrix threw down his guitar and exited from Monkeemania, and tour promoter Dick Clark was left speechless. During one of his performances, he envisioned concertgoers to sing along with “Foxy Lady,” but instead they screamed “Foxy Davy,” being obsessed with Davy Jones of the Monkees. Hendrix left the tour amicably, and it was not a total loss, since his hit “Purple Haze” climbed the U.S. singles chart.

Jimi Hendrix at Forest Hills Stadium, 1967, Courtesy of Forest Hills Stadium

Nancy Wilson ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Pop singer Nancy Wilson and the 5th Dimension opened the 9th season of the Forest Hills Music Festival on June 22, 1968. The quintet was recognized for their repertoire ranging from soul to pop, where their blend of rich harmonies grants a five dimensional sound. The group also performed nearly 20 hits on August 16, 1969 including “California Sun,” “Up, Up and Away,” and “Hair.” A highlight of the evening was the finale arrangement of “Aquarius” / “Let The Sunshine In,” where the musicians engaged in groovy dancing and ventured off the stage and sang to the fans.

The 5th Dimension ad, 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Shorty Long at the piano

1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Matchbook cover for 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival featuring Diana Ross & The Supremes, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Diana Ross and the Supremes appeared with Stevie Wonder and Shorty Long on August 3, 1968. Diana Ross was the hostess and gave the stage to Shorty Long, performer of “Here Comes The Judge” and “Never Going To Give You Up,” two hits which were enthusiastically received. Stevie Wonder followed with a routine noted for his groovy pace, and began with “Precious Sweetheart,” followed by hits such as “Place In The Sun,” “Uptight,” and an instrumental rendition of “Alfie” on the harmonica. The stadium echoed from foot-stomping and thunderous clapping. “Big Stevie,” who was considered a young veteran of the stage, also self-accompanied numbers on electric piano and drums. Then came “pride of Motown” Diana Ross and the Supremes, who performed a medley consisting of “Stop in The Name of Love,” “Come See About Me,” and “Love Is Here.” That was followed by a humorous performance of “Queen of the House.”

Diana Ross concert ticket, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Richie Havens in 1974, Courtesy of William Morris Agency

From $3.50 to $6.00, fans could see Richie Havens on July 19, 1969. He consolidated soul, folk, and rhythm & blues. He was no match for rock singer Janis Joplin who placed a Southern Comfort bottle on the piano and told police to get off the stage or she will not sing, and then they backed off. Joplin would blast her songs, but Havens was known for his easygoing tempo.

Dionne Warwick from her August 29, 1969 television special

Dionne Warwick appeared with Sam & Dave, a soul and R&B duo on July 12, 1969. “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin’” were among their most popular tunes. At that time, her most popular numbers were Burt Bacharach tunes such as “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” She is considered among the 40 largest hit makers of the rock era based on Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Singles Charts.

Sam & Dave in Billboard, October 26, 1968

Concertgoers witnessed a surprise package on stage on July 23, 1977, and when it was torn open, Diana Ross emerged. Her ballads consisted of “Send in the Clowns” and “The Lady is a Tramp.” Then she said she would turn the stadium into a discotheque and hits included “Love Hangover.” The N.Y. Amsterdam News read, “She asked a young man in the audience who was wearing a ‘Diana is Dorothy in the Wiz’ sweatshirt to dance with her, and he, overwhelmed and willing, did just that.” “I love you, Diana” became the rule by fans throughout the evening.

Donna Summer & Brooklyn Dreams July 28, 1979 ticket, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

A fan could purchase a $20 ticket for a portal box seat for “A Summer Night’s Dream Show” on July 27 and July 28, 1979 featuring “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer and special guest Brooklyn Dreams. These sold-out concerts brought her hits into the spotlight including “I Feel Love,” “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” “Love To Love You Baby,” and “Bad Girls.” That month she topped the Hot 100 singles chart, Billboard 200 albums chart, and the Soul singles chart. She is the recipient of five Grammy Awards.

Donna Summer in the recording studio, September 1977, Casablanca Records

The whimsical 1968 Forest Hills Music Festival program, Courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council