Thanks to Ken
Banker for the
In the winter I can remember ice skating up by the Square Club near the entrance to the Park. The hole in the front
of the building and the broken piano inside, the way the ice was all around the building. We would iceskate up here from after school till dinner time, then maybe go back for
more. The usual practice was to be home by the time it got dark. I can remember people helping other people get their cars up the hills or out of parking spots after a snowfall,
there were no front wheel drives and many people put chains on their rear tires. Of going out early in the morning sleigh riding down the hill by my house before Joe got there
with the "Trojan" plow. When Joe would make hills of snow from what he had removed from the streets we
would play King of the Hill. Of how all the boys would meet up by the bus stop while it snowed so that we could hitch the
buses out of Edgewater. A lot of kids let go just before the steep hill at the entrance because our hands were holding on under the bumper and as the bus
went up the hill you could lose a few fingers if the bus was weighed down enough in the back. Of course, some of us took the bus all the way to Shell gas station by the overpass.
What a ride! If the snow kept coming we'd hitch all around the Park. I remember Joe Aranholz had a 64 or 65 Falcon, and he'd stop and let us pile on the bumper. A lot of
people would try to get away from us by gunning the engine or stopping and yelling at us. So we loved guys like Joe. Later on we'd cross the highway so we could sled down the
steep enbankment of the highway.
I can remember walking to the Bakery to get a loaf of "sour rye sliced" bread on an early winter week-end morning and discovering that our
great Volunteer Fire Department had pumped water
into the A-section playground so we could ice skate. It was always a great sight to see the
ice glistening, untouched, for the moment, by ice skates. It would get your heart going to get done with your "chores" and grab your skates for a full day of skating.
So much of a kid's life was spent outdoors.
I can remember going up to the Sand Dunes with my bow and arrow and seeing guys like Mark Reith up there already with
their compund bows and targets set up fifty feet or more away. If we were really lucky we would go up to the Archery Range that used to be up on the right side of Shore Road,
opposite the middle of the golf course. There were targets set up all over and archery was a big thing back then. Boys got bows for Christmas just as much as air rifles or BB
guns. There was a whole lot of stuff involved in growing up. Not like today when kids sit in front of TV monitors and play action games. We actually got out
there and did it.
I was lucky enough to have my older brother Bruce who was a great brother. I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow with
him. I also learned to sail with him. I learned to fish with him. Scooba-dive. He spent alot of time with me and Arline, his wife, treated me like her own. I spent alot of time across the street,
at their house. My parents were old enough to be my grand-parents and they had slowed down somewhat after already raising three boys. My brother took up the slack,
and I've always been grateful to him and his wife, Arline, for being so good to me.
I can remember Mrs. Harris throwing people out of
her store on cold winter school mornings because there was no room for her customers. How many times we faked it by going to the back of her store, into the phone booth, and
pretending we were making an important call. Mrs. Harris was no dope though. She knew all the games and after 3 minutes she'd be walking back to the phone booth, forcing
you to talk nonsense into the receiver or just giving up and returning to the cold outside. The winter clothes we had back then were not that warm but they sure were heavy. And
if it had snowed we'd have those boots or "galoshes" on that were made of rubber, went over your regular shoe and were secured with several buckles across the front. I
can see them now. Ah! The good 'ole days. Remember the old cigar store Indian outside her store?
I remember buying kites in her store (and a roll of
string from the Bluebird Bakery) to go up the Sand Dunes or down to the beach, depending on how the wind was blowing to fly them. Made of paper that had a drawing or picture on it
and was secured to two crossing sticks by string that was part of the kite and was attached to the sticks through cuts made in the wood to accept it. Very rarely would anybody
buy a "box" kite as they were considered too involved. Some kids took their fishing poles with them and utilized the reel with monofilament line, which was lighter and
stronger than the regular bakery string. Most of the time, we'd lose the kite as either the string would break or it would sink so low as to get caught up in a tree or something. It
was still fun to see how high we could get it. Even if it meant losing it.
We, as kids, were always checking Mrs. Harris' front windows all the time for new stuff. She always had
great stuff for a kid in her front windows. Remember the tops she used to sell. You could get a cheap wood
top that came in colors, like red or green for maybe a quarter. Every boy had one. You'd wind the string around it and with the end of the string tied in a loop and securely
fastened to your finger, you'd throw the top to the ground. As it hurtled to the ground the string would unwind, forcing the top to spin very fast. The top was tapered to a point on
the bottom that had a medal pointer insert in it. Not unlike a small nail. While the top was spinning, you would hold both ends of the string and then throw your string
over it. Then you'd scoop the top up in the center of the
string. The spinning kept the top from defying gravity and you could hold the top spinning, pointing sideways until it slowed so much it would drop to the ground. (If you've held a
spinning bike wheel by the axle and tried to move it sideways you know what I'm talking about). Several kids would get together and try to split your top in half by aiming
at it (and it would split if hit hard enough). We spent a lot of time trying to be the best at this. Then Duncan
came out with a specialty line of tops. They were fat and beautiful and came in different colors but they weren't made of wood. They were made of plastic and some of them might even
have been clear. I can't remember. (Does anyone know?)
Duncan also made a line of specialty yo-yo's. I think everyone knows what a yo-yo is. Their yo-yo's were
also made of plastic and some were clear. Of course Mrs. Harris also sold regular wood yo-yo's and many a kid practiced "walking the dog" among other tricks
with it. Mrs. Harris also sold a lot of balls;
Spauldines (actually spelled Spauldings but for some
reason no one called them that. That's what I mean about young kids learning from the older kids. This kind of thing went on all the time. Ask anyone born after WW2 about a
Spauldine and they'll tell you the same thing. And the other kind of ball was a Pinky. Cheaper than a
"Spaldine" and not quite the same bounce but they were OK. You could also get a stick ball bat there. I can remember buying chalk sticks to put in socks and beat into powder and buying balloons to fill with water, both items necessary for a good Holloween. Mr and Mrs. Braren
would sell old eggs, just for throwing. We would roam around Edgewater in packs, in gangs, looking for kids from other groups to pounce on. And girls weren't spared either.
I can remember the old-timers getting together to play cards in George Petit's gas station. Edgewater had everything
back then. One of the things the gas station was responsible for was the upkeep of the old fire engines. Edgewater had a 20's Model T Ford, even had a crank in the front. Next was a Duece and a half
(two and a half ton) GM 4 wheel drive firetruck. Then there was a 50's (maybe 53-54) Chevy and finally a early 60's Jeep (sort of, but not really), 4 wheel drive. The older
vehicles were kept in the garages and were taken out for the many parades Edgewater had every year. Later the gas station was taken over by Frank Puglesi, whose sons, Mike
and Frank worked there. Somewhere during their reign they stopped selling gas. From then on you had to go to Shell. The problem with that was it was convenient for kids with
boats to bring their 6 gallon tanks there rather than spend the extra money for gas on the water. After the Puglesi's came Kevin Farrell. Kevin did things in a big way. He
excavated and put in a bay where you could walk down under a car. He also restored a back-hoe that he later used for building his house on Longstreet Avenue. And what a house. I
called it the Taj Mahal. He built it from scratch with blueprints himself. He had wood floors throughout that had clear polyurethane on them and looked to be about 2
inches thick with clear. He was always a very talented guy. When I was a kid I would walk down by Doggy Beach and look at his race car Vette's. As I remember it he
had at least two. They were like funnycars, pro stock stuff. He also drove a blue '65 hardtop Vette with a 327 and a 4 speed. So, anyone good with cars was someone I looked up
I remember Angelo the Shoemaker speaking broken
English in his heavy Italian accent shining our shoes while we sat in one of the high seats and repairing everyone's shoes. Of putting double taps on our shoes. Double taps were a little something we did, not only for the sound, but for hitching on the backs of trucks, especially oil
trucks that had a very high rear bumper. You would hold yourself up, under it, and slide along the blacktop on your taps.
I can remember 3 barbers named Joe. One after the other, after the other. We'd be sent up there for the customary
"trim". As some of us went to Catholic school, the barber was important. This is where some of us learned about "comics". There were comic books about
Superman and Batman and later Superboy and a whole bunch I can't even remember. I, myself, was not a big comic book fan, but for most boys, this was where you would read
them. Later on, in the mid 60's the barbers starting talking about the "British invasion and how long hair was gonna put 'em outta business, which it eventually did.
Joe's Barber Shop was closed down by the 70's.
I can remember Joe the cop, who had that little office which later became Edgeway cab. I can remember the older teen-agers who hung out in the Edgewater
Boat Yard and flew their pigeons from the cages on top of the old work barge. If you've ever watched a real old
Popeye cartoon the opening credits show doors of an old barge opening and closing. I always thought of the Edgewater Boatyard barge when I saw that. Anyway, I think I
remember people like the Shutz brothers; Freddie and Stevie and Jimmy Brown doing this. A lot of people in the city had pigeons back then. It was amazing to see how these
birds operated in the air. It was actually incredible to watch.
In the summer I can remember standing room only on the sea walls from Alden to Doggy on the 4th of July. It was incredible how different people were back then. I mean the seawalls would be packed. And naturally, you'd
have somebody throw fircrackers into the crowd rather than off the seawall. This seemed to be an accepted practice though. I never saw a fight start over someone doing
this. It was almost, at least with the guys, if you got mad you were a punk or a baby. I was one of those kids who was up at the break of dawn on July 5th searching the beaches for
fireworks that didn't go off. A lot of kids did this too. If you were really lucky you might find an M-80 or cherry bomb or two. Mostly though you'd find bottle rockets and loose
I can remember the Big Oak diving board out in the
middle of the beach. You had to swim to it at high tide and you could look straight up the main road to the top of the hill. Anyone walking down to Big Oak would know right away if
it was high tide if there were people on the board. We even had names for the big rocks that you had to watch out for when you dove in. For instance, if you dove to the left,
you had to watch out for Horseshoe Crab Rock. Another rock we called Eel Rock. Everything had a name in Edgewater. Remember the sliding pond on Big Oak? How about the
2 Chris Crafts named Peg O'
My Heart (the name of a popular song from years before) and Empty Pockets (from Little Neck, I think). I can remember water skiing off Peg O' My Heart, a 40's Chris Craft with a Chevy V8 owned by Cliffy
and LLoyd Dean (and originally, I think, their parents). This boat was beautiful! And to be one of the kids chosen to go water skiing was unbelievably great. You'd
get in the boat and look along the shoreline where you knew everyone was looking at you with envy. And the sound of the exhaust as it got muffled when the water came over it. I
remember all the wooden boats and the smell of
canvas and gasoline. I can remember sitting on the jetty cutting up old screens to make nets for
the killies so we could go fishing. After you made your screen net and tied string to the four corners and then
to a central one you'd put something white, like cardboard, on the sand, then drop the net down over it. This way, you knew when the killies were over the net. Sometimes we'd
use bread and coat the net with it to both attract the killies and also to see them. And waiting for low tide so we could dig for big sand worms and blood suckers. This, and everything else a kid learned from his father, his brother or the older guys who were always hanging out.
I remember Ozzie, the fisherman, who lived on the water down by Killie Rock, probably about 6'3" or more, always in his overalls, wearing his glasses, out in his little dingy
with the 3 horse Evinrude, going fishing every morning of the summer. And I'm not exaggerating, he loved to fish. And he wasn't the only one. My brother Bruce and I would be
out the door by 5 A.M. For a young kid, being able to go out in a boat was paradise. One of our favorite places for the gang was Half-Moon Beach, out past Little Neck on the Long Island
shore. We would sometimes spend all day over there. We'd bring food and cook out over there. Sometimes we had 2 or 3 boats filled with our friends. I remember that around 3 P.M. it would
get rough most days and coming back we'd be fighting the white caps. Sometimes we would stop at the end of City Island. They had a big pier at the end where everybody fished and there
were restaurants on each side of the street.
How about the Dance Hall on the week-ends. Many people don't remember the Dance Hall as it was torn down in the mid
60's. The dance hall ran parallel to the B-section parking lot behind the fence where the Stores trailers were. and it ran to the Firehouse Main Road. It was probably 30 to 40 feet high and
had a wood floor like a basketball court. On the far end, by the Main Road was a raised stage for the band. I remember the song "Wipeout" being played by a
band after the Labor Day races one year. This is where the EAA had their bazaar and
medal and trophy awards ceremonies. I remember how they would open it up on the week-ends for the kids to watch movies or play basketball.
How about the
great EAA during the Labor Day
races. I can remember Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You Babe" blasting away while Mr. Keenan anounced the races. He was the voice of the races for years and years. Remember how the beer flowed back then and everyone let their hair down. Remember the Girl's
band marching and the fire trucks following on every ocasion. TheVolunteer
Fire Department handing out ice cream on the 4th of July. The Bluebird Bakery where we'd go every school morning for cheese buns, apple turnovers and hot
chocolate or coffee. Remember Pete, the baker, who used to stick the coins in his ears while waiting for the bus? And we can't forget Braren's Deli who made the best German potato salad in the world. And how they displayed all the trophies and medals for the Labor Day races. How
about Noble's Hardware store, run by the Noble brothers, Bob and Jim (with his cigar) who had everything you could ever need. And the Candy Store ran by the Gerards who also was at every Labor Day event with their mobile
trailer. Later, the Candy Store was run by the Mahoney's. Bill, the father, put a pool table in the front and we would spend hours in there
playing pool. What he didn't know (at least for a little while) is that we figured out how to get the balls to drop without putting any money in.
I remember the Alley Cats of B-section who would spend countless summer days and nights together in their
yards partying, connected together by their alley. One of their favorite songs was: "They're Coming to Take Me Away". They were so close they would even take vacations together, like to the
I've got a million stories as I've
known easily over three hundred people in and around the Park.Edgewater was paradise back then and like the saying goes, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone." But you still have your memories and I want to
put them here on this website. Send me your memories and your pictures.
The Honor Roll
I especially want to honor the people that went the extra mile
to make our lives better and kept us safe from fires and potentially life-threatning emergencies, like:
Joe Arata, the
Foreman of the Corps who has kept Edgewater running all these years. Got any idea what's involved in keeping Edgewater's water pipes and sewer lines in working order? Of
course not! Because no one thinks about these things but Edgewater, unlike the city grid, has it's own system that was put in years before code was strictly adhered to. He deserves a trophy
and a lot of green in his Christmas cards. Keeping up with a miriad system of pipes is mind boggling. Every time someone had a problem, they'd call the Office and Joe would
come down. Every time someone dumped a car they'd call Joe. He was both caretaker and cop and there wasn't much at all going on that Joe wasn't aware of. He knew everybody by their
first name and he was always an easy guy to get along with. He's dealt with more teenagers than anyone should ever have to and he had a way of
winning them over. Everyone respected Joe, he's a good guy. He's single handedly kept this place alive, out at 4 A.M. on snowy mornings clearing the streets. Taking care of the
lights when something went wrong. Listing to people complain to him all the time. Patching the roads and the seawalls all the time. Putting up ramps to the beaches every
summer. Not to mention manning the fire trucks during the weekdays when the Volunteers
were off working their day jobs. He's been on the job since the early 60's! When Edgewater went Co-Op, he didn't know if he was going to lose his job. The new "bosses",
like John Bloom (remember him?) wanted him to map out all the utilities in Edgewater (just in case). That was his "Ace in the Hole" to keeping his job and although
he agreed, you should ALL be glad he stayed on the job. Now, like I said, make sure he gets a lot of green in his Christmas cards!
Peters, of Alden Park, who every year before the start of the summer would take it upon himself to
repair the Alden Park jetty with fresh wood and cement and put up the great diving board on the side of the jetty. He took care of that whole beach by himself year after year and
deserves our respect for his kindness to all the kids and adults that used the beach.
A few other guys who need to be remembered are:
Philip and John Mc Ardle. I've known these guys since I
was six. They went to the same school, St. Frances, and were in the same grade. They had an aunt that lived on my block and we would hang out at her house. The first time I saw an F-86
fighter plane was a model they had and I thought the Sabre jet was the most beautiful plane I had ever seen. You have to understand that we lived in the approach path for La Guardia field and we would hear the
drone of the very slow prop planes headed for the airport as they flew overhead. Jet planes were just starting to be used commercially and we'd look up at any Boeing 707
that came by and marvel at it. It was a time in history when everything was changing. Anyway, I hung out with these guys for years. We were in the Alter Boys and the Sea Cadets, even
the Drill Team together. Later, they joined the E.A.A. and the Firehouse and we went our
seperate ways. Whenever the Fire House alarm would go off, if these guys were home, they'd bolt out of their house, running up towards the Fire House. It seemed like only
seconds after you'd hear the sound of the siren from the fire truck as they headed for the emergency. One of the less than memorable memories I have of Phil Mc Ardle
was with him and a couple of other Volunteer Firefighters pushing my 4000 pound car backwoods up a 20% incline of the main road when we met up head to head on the main road
and my shifter messed up and I could't back up to get out of the Fire Truck's way. Meanwhile, the seconds are ticking away (they used to record the response time back then),
the siren is screaming and I'm looking at them through the windshield. So anyway, I managed to turn onto a side street and they jumped back into the truck and took off. Sorry
Phil. I have always felt bad about that. He never said a word to me, never cursed me out. As a FDNY firefighter, he became a HAZMAT officer and even travelled to Russia
to teach their people. A very dedicated guy.
Banker. Me and Kenny were often at opposite ends of the spectrum, but let it never be said that I don't give credit where credit is due. Kenny was one of
those guys who grew up in Edgewater. When he was young, his parents sold the house and they moved away. A girl named Susan Golio lived there with her parents. They later put
the house up for sale and Kenny bought it back! He was always an Edgewater guy though. He belonged to both the EAA and the Firehouse. Whenever the alarm went off, if he was
home, he'd bolt out the door. Many times I watched him and Phil Mc Ardle running up to the Firehouse, and within seconds, the truck would be up and running, alarm screaming as
they headed out. Many new people in Edgewater don't realize how important guys like these are. It's one thing to sit on the sidelines and critisize, talk the talk, but's it's another
thing to be devoted to saving lives and property. It's hard work. If Edgewater didn't have it's own Fire Department with guys as devoted as these, there would be no Edgewater. Believe it. There
have been other communities who had Volunteer Fire Departments that have since folded (like Silver Beach). And donate to them. It might be you or one of yours who is saved by them in
the future! You never appreciate who you have 'till they're gone! By then, it's way too late!
Make sure you show these guys the proper respect for their hard work!
They've EARNED it!