On the Sunny Side of the Street

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Just mention the name Louis Armstrong, or “Satchmo” and every one knows exactly who the man is.  That’s because this trumpeter, composer and singer is the most influential figure in jazz music, having come to prominence in the 1920s. His daring trumpet style and unique vocals changed the concept of popular singing in American popular music, which had a lasting effect on all singers who came after him, including Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

While much can be recited about Armstrong, the musician, not much is known about Armstrong, the civil rights activist.  As an entertainer, he had never considered his race to be a detriment to his career, having set a number of African-American “firsts.” In 1936, he became the first African-American jazz musician to write an autobiography: Swing That Music. That same year, he became the first African-American to get featured billing in a major Hollywood movie with a role in Pennies from Heaven, starring Bing Crosby. And, in 1937 he became the first African-American entertainer to host a nationally sponsored radio show  when he temporarily took over Rudy Vallee’s Fleischmann’s Yeast Show.

Ironically, it was the Black community who turned against him when the struggle for civil rights began. To many young jazz fans at the time, Armstrong’s ever-smiling demeanor, coupled with his refusal to publicly comment on political issues, seemed like he was out of touch with the situation. However, their perception of the man changed slightly when, in 1957, Armstrong made an angry statement, discrediting President Eisenhower for his handling of the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell.” Armstrong’s words made front-page news around the world. While some fans renewed their faith in him, not a single jazz musician who had previously criticized him did not forgive him.  However, today this is seen by many as one of the bravest, most definitive moments of Armstrong’s life.  A series of new biographies on Armstrong made his role as a civil rights pioneer abundantly clear and, subsequently, argued for an embrace of his entire career’s output, not just the revolutionary recordings from the 1920s.

In 1943, Louis and Lucille Armstrong moved to Corona, Queens, where they lived until their death. Today, the house is home to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.  The doors are being opened to the public during the month of February in celebration of Black History Month, with a  “Hotter Than That – 90 Years of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five” theme.  During the tour, visitors will receive a special collectible reproduction of one of Armstrong’s own scrapbook pages, hear audio of Armstrong reflecting on his music collection and learn more about his participation in the Civil Rights movement.

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The Louis Armstrong House Museum

34-56 107th Street

Corona, Queens, New York

February 1-29, 2016

Tuesday – Friday   10:00am to 5:00pm

Saturday/Sunday    12:00 noon to 5:00pm

www.LouisArmstrongHouse.org

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Spend Your February Break at Camp!

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Many working parents are faced with a similar dilemma every February when mid-winter school break rolls around – what to do with their children during that week? This can be a very complex situation, with solutions ranging from some parents taking a vacation from work to infringing on the generosity of friends or relatives.   If you haven’t figured it out yet, we have a wonderful suggestion sure to impress you, and guaranteed to provide a fun and educational adventure for your child.

The New York Hall of Science, also known as NYSCI, is hosting a Design-Make-Play Innovation Camp for youngster’s grades 1 through 4 from February 15th through the 19th.   Participants in this weeklong camp will have access to NYSCI’s Design Lab exhibition area, where students are inspired to be creative thinkers and problem solvers.  They will explore electricity and create their own house powered 
by LED lights. They will design a device that would help them survive on a deserted island. And, they’ll investigate the principles of light, create shadow puppets, and explore gravity, air resistance and air pressure while designing devices that will be launched from 20 feet in the air.  If you have a youngster who loves science, or one that is curious about the world around him/her, then NYSCI’s camp is the place to be.  Sign up now, as space is limited.

Register online at nysci.org/clubs-camps-folio, call 718-699-0005 ext. 320 or email aware@nysci.org.  The fee is $375.00 for non-members, $350.00 for members, and includes a mid-morning snack and lunch.

NYSCI is a science museum located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, only 15 minutes from The Alexander at Rego Center.  For a unique experience exploring concepts in science, technology and engineering through hands-on investigations check out other special programs and Innovation Camps available for children to enjoy.   Each Innovation Camp includes interactive activities; exhibit exploration, a student certificate and a free student membership.

New York Science

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Corona, New York

DESIGN-MAKE-PLAY INNOVATION CAMP

February 15 – February 19, 2016

9:00am – 3:00pm daily

718-699-0005 ext. 320

aware@nysci.org

 

nysci.org/clubs-camps-folio

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Ice, Ice, Baby!

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Meet Lauren Hunt, the founding skating director at the World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.  Ms. Hunt has dedicated her career to helping children discover the fun, friendship and discipline of the sport of ice skating; attributes she herself learned beginning with group lessons on public rinks as an eight year old youngster in the Bronx.

“For me, skating gave me a direction in my own life,” Hunt said. “I know that being a kid and teenager can be kind of hard, and in New York you can get pulled in a lot of directions. Skating gave me this thing that I always had to go to, and something I was good at, a new skill — it changed my life.”

In 2014, Ms. Hunt’s mission to bring the love of skating to others earned her the title of “ISI Woman of The Year” from the nonprofit international skating group that supports owners, operators and developers of ice skating facilities focused on recreational and fitness skating. Today, Ms. Hunt is responsible for building the largest Ice Skating Institute (ISI) program in the United States, with more than 2,000 skaters of all ages and skill levels participating.

“It’s so rewarding,” said Hunt. “You see these little kids come in who are not even people yet, and suddenly, after a few months or a year, they’re figure skaters. They’ve learned discipline. They’ve made friends. They’ve been mentored through the sport and it really moves me to see that.”

Aware of the expense attached to taking lessons, Ms. Hunt plans to grow the program by offering affordable options for skaters of all ages.  This would include group lessons, private instruction, clinics and camps for beginners and an annual Theater on Ice production.  As of now, seven-week Learn-to-Skate sessions start at $164.50; clinics start at $150.00 for six sessions or $30.00 per session; and private lessons start at $40.00 for one skater or $55.00 for two.

If you prefer, the rink at World Ice Arena is available for public skating.  Per session admission fee is $6.00 on weekdays and $9.00 on weekends and holidays; skate rental is $5.00.

Sunday:                      12:00 p.m.-4:45 p.m.
Monday:                    9:00 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Tuesday:                    9:00 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Wednesday:             9:00 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Thursday:                  9:00 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Friday:                        9:00 a.m.-5:15 p.m  – 7:00 p.m.- 9:50 p.m.
Saturday:                  12:00 p.m.-4:45 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.- 9:50 p.m.

Parents, you might be interested to know the rink will be open every day during the upcoming February break from school. Flushing Meadow Park is only a twelve-minute ride from The Alexander at Rego Center – how convenient is that?  See you on the rink!

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World Ice Arena

Flushing Meadow Park

125-40 Roosevelt Ave (at 126th Street)

Corona, New York 11368

Lauren Hunt – Skating Director

(718) 760-9001

lhunt@worldice.com

http://www.worldice.com

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Highlighting the Beauty, Grace and Spirit of the Community

 

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While you may not know Yvonne Shortt personally, you surely recognize her name and most likely, are familiar with the work she does for the community through Rego Park Green Alliance. Ten years ago, Ms. Shortt founded this non-profit organization to raise community awareness by using art to make a social impact. An artist, technologist, mathematician, activist, and mother, she believed her creativity and finely tuned skills, honed while employed in the corporate world, would get a message heard. She was right!

In her expectation that any community problems can be overcome, Ms. Shortt is dependent on RPGA Studio, a non-profit studio that uses creativity to solve community issues, and the volunteers affiliated with Rego Park Green Alliance that makes it happen. It is this collaboration that has enlivened neighborhood underpasses with art exhibitions, created ‘stat girl’, a card game designed to save lives and change the behaviors of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, and introduced CC3DP, a challenge in 3D printing, which focuses on building creativity and innovation in kids from grades 3 to 8.

Her latest undertaking is an effort to “highlight the beauty, grace and spirit of the community”. A free publication, entitled “District 29 — Rego Park-Forest Hills-Kew Gardens, the magazine will focus on detailed information about the three areas, and highlight profiles of local artists, business owners, school principals and neighborhood activists “who are helping to shape and impact our community”, Ms. Shortt stated.

Ms. Shortt has three goals for the magazine; one, to make it an annual publication, two, to keep area residents informed and three, to inspire neighbors to get involved with the group’s projects to beautifyKew Gardens., Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. For starters, Ms. Shortt welcomes your input, whether it is an idea for an article, or a suggestion of a person to be profiled. She may be reached at yvonne@regoparkgreenalliance.org or 718-433-4659.

Already in the works, the launch date of the inaugural issue is anticipated as “sometime” in spring, and will be available on line at and distributed in local stores throughout the three neighborhoods, as well.  Advance copies of the 96-page magazine will be available during a “collaborative build”, when the event takes to the streets – 63rd Drive in Rego Park, Austin Street in Forest Hills and Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens, to be precise – sometime between the end of April and the beginning of May, during which time residents will be able to help build phone booths made from large LEGO blocks. Inside the booths will be virtual reality headsets for you to explore and test.

“We like to teach the community about new technologies that are coming out,” said Shortt, whose group has organized numerous technology-related events, as well as training local teachers and students in 3-D printing techniques.

Rego Park Green Alliance

​43-01 22nd Street Street

Suite 252

Long Island City, New York 11101

718-433-4659

http://www.regoparkgreenalliance.org/

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

img_1944There’s something about Alexander’s Department Store that still lives in the hearts and memories of many . . . from buying a blue chiffon prom dress, or their first job at $1.10 an hour as a stock-room clerk, then being promoted to the sales floor, with a pay raise of fifteen cents an hour, to munching with their teen-aged friends at the lunch counter, and more. “Remembering Alexander’s in Rego Park” was written by Michael Perlman and posted on the Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – “Our Communities” Facebook page on January 5, 2016.  For those of you who have your own recollections of the Rego Park store, we know you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane. For those who live at The Alexander we hope you’ll enjoy the distinguished history and humorous stories associated with your address.

* * *

Rego Park was always known for its unique mom-and-pop shops, but that changed a bit on February 26, 1959, when Alexander’s department store opened on Queens Boulevard and 63rd Road.

On hand for the opening was Borough President John Clancy and 17-year-old “Queen of Queens” Roberta Rolling of Forest Hills High School, who fastened a trail line from a ribbon to a helicopter before it took off. Opening day also welcomed some 15,000 shoppers.

Alexander’s was named after the father of the chain’s president, George Farkas. Behind its signature red-and-white glazed brick façade, the “World’s Largest Apparel Store” offered quality fashions at reasonable prices. Farkas said of the company’s success that shoppers “like our supermarket kind of fashion selling.”

“There was nothing like looking for a $4.99 pair of Keds in my size under that pile of shoes, and then wobbling all over in string-tied shoes trying to make sure they were comfortable,” said former employee Bonnie Kimmel Phillips.

In 1959, a pair of imported English sister coats cost $12.99, and in 1972, patrons could sit at the popular Apple Tree restaurant’s long counters and enjoy a five-course dinner for $1.50.

“The Apple Tree had frozen yogurt when it was a new and modern treat,” said Janet Sonnenfeld Morreale. “Also, my grandmother purchased my clothing there and assorted candies and chocolates to fill the dishes on her coffee table.”

“My mom would take my sister and I to shop and have lunch, where there were free pickles on the table to enjoy while you waited,” said Madelyn Meo-Gall. “I would give anything to enjoy those pickles with my mom again.”

The first Alexander’s opened on 3rd Avenue in the Bronx in 1928, and other branches were on Fordham Road, 58th Street in Manhattan, and in White Plains and Paramus. The Rego Park shop, designed by Francis X. Gina, had three levels encompassing 260,000 square feet, as well as a 1,900-car parking lot.

“My most memorable evening shift was the day Kennedy was shot,” said parking lot attendant and stock boy Dick Falk. “I suggested to the toy department manager that the Jackie Kennedy doll be removed from the shelves.”

It was also the only store in New York to feature a subway entrance of its own, and had an automatic indoor railroad system to transport merchandise between levels. In 1966, the store expanded to 62nd Drive.

Alexander’s showed narrated color films featuring models of Parisian and Italianate imports, and by 1962 fashion shows were in full swing. Farkas displayed his Rembrandt and Van Gogh collection, creating “an atmosphere of elegance.”

“The big perfume back then was Intimate,” said stock boy Howard Chesin. “A fountain with Intimate flowed all day, and to this day I can’t stand the scent. That was also when monokini bathing suits became popular. When a girl would take one off the rack, you couldn’t find a stock boy in the whole store. The women’s dressing rooms had pin holes in the walls, and from the stock rooms we all lined up.”

Despite the popularity of Alexander’s, other chain stores and rising real estate costs led to its closure in 1992. Currently, the luxury residential building stands on what was once Alexander’s parking lot, bearing the name The Alexander.

“When Sesame Street was exploding on the airwaves in the late 1960s, some of the stars made a personal appearance in order to support its record release,” recalled longtime record department manager Stu Tarragano. “Bob McGrath met personally with neighborhood kids and parents. When the Mets won the World Series in 1969, they released an LP and some signed records. Customers included Paul Simon’s mom, Leslie West of Mountain, and the Ramones.”

“I loved going there on Saturdays with my best friends, especially to check out the record department, where I bought my Beatles albums,” said Patty Bugland. “I also loved Bobby Rydell, The Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, and Johnny Mathis. Also, when John Kennedy was campaigning in 1960, we even got to shake his hand; a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”

“In summer 1966, my salary was $1.35 an hour,” recalls stock boy Howard Bruce Weiner. “One day, I was looking at a Glenn Miller album, and a man next to me said, ‘You like him son?’ I turned, and it was Al Klink, Miller’s fourth tenor player. He autographed the album and I still have that LP today.”

Other guest appearances included “Sound of Music” star Theodore Bikel, who autographed folk albums, and Sam Huff of the New York Giants who introduced his football game “Mr. Defense” in the toy department.

“Candid Camera was filmed in the parking lot,” said Herb Shatz. “They put $100 partially under a tire, and people stood around trying to figure out how to get the bill out.”

“On Saturday mornings before Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Alexander’s would open just for the kids to go shopping,” remembers Sheri Tsanos Pinkerton. “No adults except for the employees were allowed.”

“When I was seven, I separated from my parents and got lost in the cavernous store,” said Mitch Palin. “I was found by security, given ice cream and a plastic cop badge. Every time I returned with my parents, I wore that badge and never got lost again.”

In some cases lifelong connections were made at Alexander’s.

“I actually met my husband at Alexander’s,” said former employee Sandy Goldbeck King. “He was studying to become an optician and working there part-time as well. In September, we’ll be married 37 years.”

“When they built the addition, there were extra glazed bricks stacked on the sidewalk,” said Jeffrey P. Morris. “We took two, and I used them as bookends for years.”

* * *

Alexander’s Department Store brought a lot of happiness to the residents of Rego Park in years past and continues to bring happiness today to the residents of The Alexander at Rego Center.

 

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A Borough to Love

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District Attorney Richard Brown believes Queens is the safest county in all of America, and backs up that statement by adding “with the last year closing on some of the lowest crime statistics in recent memory.”

Brown was sworn in Monday for his seventh consecutive full term as the district attorney of Queens County, continuing a 2010 record he set of being the county’s longest tenured chief prosecutor.

“I think the proudest moment that I’ve had in all of the 25 years I’ve been here is that we’ve been able to make a difference, a significant difference,” Brown said.  Over the last twenty-two years there has been an overall crime drop of 80% in New York City, and Brown is credited with being a major part of this reversal by spearheading his department’s use of cutting-edge programs and initiatives to effectively tackle crime.   He also credits the hard work of his staff of more than 300 assistant district attorneys, whom he says are “some of the best and brightest and most capable prosecutors.”

Although his career as a district attorney is obviously notable for its length and accomplishments, Brown walked a distinctive path of outstanding achievement far before taking office in Queens, having worked in public service in various positions for 55 years.

Admitted to the bar association in October 1956, he became a member of the judiciary in 1973, and appointed supervising judge of the Brooklyn Criminal Court less than two years later. In 1976, he became a justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and later served as a Supreme Court justice in Queens before returning to Albany to work as chief legal counsel to then-Governor Hugh Carey. He continued to serve another stretch as New York Supreme Court, before becoming an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, where he was twice re-designated.

Brown is still referred to as “the Judge” by many whom hold him in high regard.  He reveres the continued support he receives from the voters in Queens and takes this as a sign that he has made a significant difference in the borough he loves.

Spread The Love

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You love living at The Alexander – now start the New Year by doing a really good deed, and tell your family, co-workers, acquaintances and friends about the sophisticated, yet affordable, lifestyle to be enjoyed living at The Alexander at Rego Center.

Singles and young professionals will appreciate the close proximity of their daily commute to New York City, where many of them work. They will also be enamored of the ever-growing social scene and entertainment venues available right here in nearby neighborhoods, thus avoiding the hassle and cost of visiting the Big Apple for their entertainment.

Young families will want to move to The Alexander for different reasons; here they can afford a lifestyle that is simply out of their financial reach when living in New York City.  Then, there’s the factor of stability, and safety, that comes with living in a non-transient community, unlike their neighborhood in New York.  An excellent school system and local organized activities for their children completes their wish list.

Empty-nesters will love the appeal of The Alexander; the sophistication of the building, the sleek apartment, replete with every modern amenity, the conveniences of an on-site fitness center, 24/7/365 doorman and concierge service, storage facility, on-site parking, adjoining retail outlets, easy access to major highways and so much more. For this generation, living at The Alexander means less stress, and more time to relax and do the things they best enjoy.

To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task – Sophocles

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A Resolve For Every Morning of The New Year

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Many of us begin a new year determined to make significant changes that affect the way we live. For some that might be a promise to begin an exercise program, maybe a new job or career change, or perhaps resolving a personal situation that has caused some discomfort over the past year.  These are our New Years resolutions.

Although the spirit is willing, most times the mind is not, and by the end of January we find these resolutions are no longer in place.

This postcard from the early 20th century says it all . . . “What more can a poor man do”. But alas, that ‘poor man’ is human and, as we know, humans are creatures of habits – good or bad – but habits, nevertheless.  So don’t be harsh with yourself if you fail to follow through on an idea that seemed incredibly life changing only thirty short days ago.  Perhaps that explains the sentence “Resolve to renew all your old resolves.” See, you did the same thing last year too!  And, in spite of it all, it was a great year, and this one will be an even better one . . . so enjoy!

Happy 2016!!

How Much is That Doggie in The Window?

unnamedDo you have a pet in your family, or perhaps you’re considering adopting a shelter pet as a Christmas present for your child?

“Studies show there are many benefits for a child when raised with a pet in their home”, so say the experts at North Shore Animal League America.  We, at The Alexander, also understand the monumental impact a pet can have in a child’s development and most pets, including dogs up to 45 pounds, are welcomed.

North Shore Animal League claims children and pets are a perfect match, citing information developed by Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, in collaboration with Yale University’s School of the 21st Century and the Animal League’s development arm, The Pet Savers Foundation.  Some noteworthy findings are;

  • Caring for a pet can improve a child’s social skills, self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Learning how to positively treat a pet is likely to lead to treating people kindly and respectfully
  • Caring for a pet helps children to develop compassion, empathy and non-verbal communication skills
  • Pets serve as an expressive outlet for children and act as their most trusted confidants
  • Pets teach life lessons such as love, loyalty, trust, affection, patience, responsibility, respect for nature and living things, illness and death
  • Pets provide a great source of physical and mental activity
  • Pets provide wonderful company for children that do not have siblings

For more information about this innovative PreK-12 social and emotional learning curriculum that highlights the unique characteristics of shelter pets teaching essential skills for academic and life success visit http://education.muttigrees.org

You might want to visit North Shore Animal League’s Port Washington’s free adoption center on Thursday, December 24th between 9:00am and 11:00am and see their selection of puppies, kittens, dogs and cats; some mixed-breeds, purebreds and small breeds.   Oh, and the jolly man in the red suit will be there with candy canes for the kiddies.

Merry Christmas!

North Shore Animal League America

Adoption Center

25 Davis Avenue

Port Washington, New York

516-883-7575

www.animalleague.org

Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum

http://education.muttigrees.org

 

 

 

Shop Till You Drop!

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.Finish your holiday shopping yet?  Oh, still have gifts to buy?  Not a problem if you live at The Alexander in Rego Park.  A quick elevator ride is all it takes to visit Rego Center, Queens’ major shopping center located at your front door.  And, with a superabundance of national retailers here, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for.

OK, you’re here.  See how easy that was – no mess, no fuss – which, in this case, means no hassle – no unbearable traffic to fight and no worry about “where am I going to park this car?”  Now, take out your list . . . ready, set, go!

Let’s see – let’s start with Uncle Gus.  He’s been hinting for a new drill ever since his old one bit the dust.  (Yes, that was meant to be a play-on-words!)  Check out Sears – their selection of Craftsman tools is impressive, and their prices are always equally as impressive.

Remember what a disaster last Thanksgiving was for Aunt Edna?  She was so frustrated trying to carve the turkey with that dull knife.  Bet she’d appreciate an electric carving knife.   Stop into Bed, Bath & Beyond – they always have a wonderful choice of household gadgets.

See how easy that was?  Now, what do you want to get for your twin nieces?  Not sure what seventeen-year olds might want, other than a car?  Oh, how about gift cards from Ulta?  This way they can each pick out whatever they like.  And, while you’re there you should pick up some bath products to add to the gift basket you’re making for your sister-in-law.

One more stop at Sprint to see what deals they have on a smart phone for John, and you’re out of there . . . but not before you pick up everyone’s favorite Dallas BBQ ribs for dinner tonight. That’ll be a nice surprise.

Wow!  Six gifts purchased in just a few short hours of one-stop shopping at the Rego Center. So easy.  So convenient.  Everyone loves living at The Alexander at Rego Center, and you will too.  It will truly be the best present you ever gave yourself.

Happy shopping!

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