I remember what a great feeling it was seeing the lights for the first time each year, and hearing the Christmas music on Jamaica Avenue. I remember gathering with friends and family and going out in the street and banging pots and pans at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
I remember sneaking onto the golf course with my sled and how many years it took for me to get enough courage to go down The Soup Bowl. I remember the early days of spring, gathering at Twin Fields, my baseball glove oiled and ready for another season.
I remember the Anniversary Day Parades, all the beautiful decorative floats and baby carriages. I remember Rollback Days and the rides on Jamaica Avenue. I remember the St. Thomas Bazaar and learning how to gamble as a ten-year-old boy.
I remember the first days of summer, when it seemed like I would be off forever, chasing my friends through Forest Park, the days never long enough.
I remember going to double features at the Haven and walking home with sticky feet. I remember going to the library and looking up things in their encyclopedias for school reports.
I remember getting my first job, for $1 an hour, at Phil’s Cheese and Cold Cuts. I remember getting a slushy out of Loft’s Candies at the corner of 91st and Jamaica.
I remember getting pizza at Carlo’s for 45 cents a slice. You got two slices and a large coke for a dollar.
I remember waiting for the Leader to arrive to read all the local news. Remember the police blotter?
I remember the first day back at school. For me that was PS 97 and PS 60. I remember my teachers, my classmates, my friends.
I remember going into Lewis of Woodhaven and seeing all the Halloween costumes hanging from the ceiling.
These are my memories and, no doubt, you have many of your own, but many will be similar to mine. Any time I’m around a bunch of old Woodhavenites and I hear a story being told, I see others nodding in agreement.
Because my stories are yours and yours are mine. It’s a part of our shared culture, a part of our DNA. It’s who we are.
And now, The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society is gathering it all together into one big book, a giant love letter to Woodhaven. It’s the kind of book you will happily show people so they can see what a special place it is that you hailed from.
We’ve got a lot of material and a lot of photographs, many never before seen. And we’ve got the participation and involvement of a lot of familiar names and faces, except for you.
We are currently accepting submissions of both pictures and memories for inclusion in our book. How special would it be for you to have a book about Woodhaven that includes a picture or memory that you shared?
The deadline for submission is February 14, 2021. You can reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you follow us on Facebook, we’ll be setting up a special place there. If you’d like to be a part of this special tribute to your favorite community, please get in touch with us.
When I was in my 20s, I walked into Lewis of Woodhaven and there, behind the counter, was a copy of The Story of Woodhaven and Ozone Park by Vincent Seyfried. I think I paid $5 for it, and it was the best $5 I ever spent.
The Seyfried book of Woodhaven sparked my interest in local history, as I’m sure it did for others. We hope our tribute to Woodhaven and its history will have a similar impact in years to come.