Coming Christmas 2023
Edward Hett, a young inventor from Chicago now profligate with financial wealth from the sale of his multicolor printing press patent, purchased an old seaside wood frame hotel just off Beach Lane, which was starting to be known as Cedar Grove Avenue, as the end featured a spectacular cropping of cedars that had been a popular strolling site since the 1700s.
I just read the above article the other day, and had to write you regarding our family’s history at Clearwater Beach. I also realize the article was written before Hurricane Sandy, and so I am thinking of the devastation in that whole area and what’s left.
My husband works for Con Edison and so it’s not unusual for him to do a drive by — so he’s been telling me of the damages done.
My family (specifically my Mom–Anna Soccorso), used to rent a bungalow at Clearwater Beach from a gentleman by the name of Mr. Johnson (don’t know his first name) beginning in 1952 thru 1960 and I would spend the summers there with aunts and uncles. The weekends were especially busy as everyone, literally, would come in and stay. My biggest memory was the card playing that went on beginning Friday and would end on Sunday! Another favorite pastime would be viewing the Coney Island display of fireworks every week from the beach — the sands would still be warm in the evenings and so you could dig your feet in while you were watching the display.
There was a Pete Safunni (phoenically spelled) who would run movies on Friday nights and whoever wanted to could bring in their chairs and join in. All of this outdoors, of course, but good god, the mosquitoes would be atrocious!
I have boxes of photos that will show you the beach and the opened field at the beginning of the colony right off Cedar Grove where we would play baseball games and had costume shows contest. My mother and I would take the bus from the ferry and it would drop us off right in front of the complex. I remember the horseshoe driveway that would take you in and around the whole colony. Most of the bungalows had outdoor showers and you would fight off the huge spiders that would hang out in the stalls and you would have to run the water to get rid of them before you entered! None of the bungalows had insulation, so they weren’t meant for year-round use. However, I remember a gentleman by the name of Milton, who, I think must have bought the bungalow, and made it year-round because we would see him every summer when we came back and he always had the same bungalow. He lived right on the beach just a few yards away from the hand-ball court and shuffle-board. I could go on forever with the memories but OH, how I miss those days. Once we left in 1960 we never saw the families again. Many of them came from Brooklyn, and we came from the Bronx.
It took me a while to realize that New Dorp beach is the same as Clearwater Beach. Every now and then I will do a google search on Staten Island and poke around the web pages to look for information about Clearwater Beach. This article was perfect!
The above is a bit choppy. As I was typing, the memories are flooding and so there is no particular sequence or sentence structure. As I said above, I could go on forever!
Hope you get this email. As Bob Hope would say, thank you for the memories — my photos keep me smiling of those wonderful times gone by.
On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 1:02 PM <email@example.com> wrote:
Nice to hear from someone in the old neighborhood. I think I remember Mr. Kale. The first Time I met him he was sweeping outside across from the church, I was about 10. He told me he had the hardest stomach in the world. He said, “Go ahead, hit me as hard as you can in the stomach” I really didn’t want to hit an old guy in the stomach or any where else. But he kept after me, “go ahead hit me with all you got, go ahead hit me.” So I gave him a little tap, he said “no, go ahead hit me really hard”. I gave it all I had, he didn’t feel it. After that I always wondered about him and just what that was all about? We used to go in the field and grab the candles the church always threw out there. We played in that abandoned garage near by there also. I remember laying low upstairs there when the cops came in to search for local kids hanging out in there.
I think I might have been up in that attic in your house at one time, I vaguely remember going to watch a snake eat a rat. I think I remember Jimmy Doughty; he lived right on the corner of Cedargrove. If it’s the same Larry Levine whose father was a baker, I knew him well; he lived a few houses down from me on my street. The marshal twins Timmy and Tommy lived on the other side of the street from me, as did Frank McGinnis.
Talk about the flashlight in the old hospital. One night I led a gang of us down the steps to the morgue to search for the scary guy with glowing eyes that was alleged to lurk down there. I led the way with a flashlight with the gang of guys behind me and as we got to the bottom of the stairs a guy with a black beard dressed in denim jeans and jacket suddenly walked out of the shadows and into the light, I turned around and everyone was gone and there I was with just this guy. He turned out to be an abstract expressionist-artist by the name of Jay Milder and he took me up to the third floor where he had an entire wing sealed off hidden there that he had set up for his painting studio. He had stretched canvases floor to ceiling some as big as thirty foot long. It was a sight to see. He told me not to let the others know about the studio and to keep an eye on it for him and guard it from the local kids, I was about 11 and he was 25. It turned out that he and his wife Sheila had rented the store front at the corner of Cedargrove and Boehm Street (my street). We became good friends. A year later I helped him move to a studio he rented in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. He went on to become one of the most prolific expressionist painters of our time. He taught at the New York School of Art and has galleries all over the world. Sheila was an artist also, she did silk screens and became a teacher in Manhattan. She still lives there. He operates out of a huge warehouse in Easton Pennsylvania now.
Click on the below link and Click on the short video
Meeting Jay Milder in the old abandoned hospital morgue in New Dorp Beach left me with a real inspiration for the rest of my life. At 12 years old when I helped Jay move to his new art Gallery in Manhattan We had lunch at the Horn and Hardart Automat, something I will never forget. In 2009 I left this post on this Internet site http://theautomat.net/discus/messages/1/2.html#POST1145 – under Memories of the Automat.
|Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 – 10:58 pm:
When I was twelve years old in 1959 I helped a good friend, Jay Milder a renowned abstract expressionist artist, then in his mid twenties move into his new studio loft in Manhattan. We had lunch at the Horn & Hardart Automat with another artist friend of Jay’s; an older, kind, but disheveled looking man wearing a fishing hat who introduced himself to me as Norman. Norman and I chatted through lunch. When we finished and were walking out the door, Jay turned to me and said do you know who that was that you were just talking to? I said no, he told me he was Norman. And Jay replied, yes he is Norman; Norman Rockwell.
I went to PS41 and New Dorp High School. I was there during the riots during the teachers strike when desks were hurled through the second story windows onto the crowded sidewalks below. But I have to admit I played Hooky for more of the time than I actually attended. Most of that time you could find me at Pinky & Jacks sucking down Chocolate egg crèmes and munching on buttered english muffins and french fries there on New Dorp Lane. Sometimes I would use my bus pass and spend all day riding the ferry boat back and forth listening to the wash board bands and other entertainers on the boat; or just walk all over downtown Manhattan all day instead of attending class. My uncle Earl Kinnersley (deceased) was The Captain of the Fire Boat – The Smoke with the NYFD out of the Battery in Manhattan.
Below is a photo from the NEW YORK TIMES on March 06, 1962. The top floor of the second house from the right is where I lived. I’m on the front porch with Drew Gardella (I believe he is deceased), but neither of us are very visible. One of the many times our street was flooded. That’s the beach at the end of the street. From the kitchen in the back of the house I could view the back of the stores (Vinnie’s) and the intersection of Herman Street and Cedargrove. We watched many of the gang fights from there.
Three photos of me spanning a 20 year period between 1956 – 1976
Spud New Dorp Beach SI NYC
CE KINNERSLEY U.S. ARMY MEDICAL CORP KOREA 1966
CE KINNERSLEY EDISON POLICE DEPARTMENT 1976
Because the city was going to take the property, my parents bought the only house they ever owned in Edison New Jersey. We moved into it in August of 1963. I finished High school there at Edison High in 1965 and was drafted into the Army and found myself in Korea in 1966.
I was devastated when I revisited my old neighborhood only to find it gone and covered in an over grown jungle of weeds. But I will never forget the life I so thoroughly enjoyed there, and those times, and my friends. I agree with Josh; it is a crime and a sin what New York City has done to that area. But they have always had a different political agenda that is fueled by money and greed
I hope America wakes up to the secret agenda being applied to our country right now, although it may already be too late. The media is censored, the lies are being told, and you are about to become The North American Union, the final quarter of the New World Order. America needs to wake up to the truth about 911.
From: “New Dorp Beach History” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “JOSH” <email@example.com>, “Bob Jakob” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
Sent: Monday, August 8, 2011 10:11:01 AM
Subject: Re: FELLOW RESIDENT OF NEW DORP BEACH
I’m Josh’s dad and I could have written most of the words in your email. I’m Jake and we lived next to Deacon Ross on Seafoam (before he became a deacon); back then, he ran the altar boys and did church maintenance, although Mr. Kale, who lived across the street on Cedargrove Avenue, was the sexton.
Like Josh and his brother, I graduated from Our Lady Queen of Peace. I’m a retired FDNY paramedic.
My “gang” hung out at the beach end of Waterside outside the Ocean Edge Colony’s clubhouse or in my house in “Jake’s Coffin” which was the unfinished attic decorated with street signs and Christmas lights. At one point, I had a 4′ fox snake who would entertain the guys by eating store-bought rats.
I hung with Kooch – his sister still lives in the place on Dustan with her husband, Ray Eger, retired FDNY lieutenant, who’s something of a real estate mogul, buying, selling, & renting houses in the neighborhood. I also ran at various times with Jimmy Doughty, Nick Riccio, & Larry Levine. There was also Johnny Potusek (sp?) who lived near the store-front clubhouse near Vinnie’s.
My sister (step-sister), Georgia Remsbecker, lived on Herman Street until forced out by the City. She and her father, Bill, moved to Roma Avenue. Bill married my mother. Georgia married Dennis Fagan, deceased, from Cedargrove Avenue near Garibaldi. Dennis was the brother of ’60’s NDHS football star Jimmy Fagan.
I remember the actual building, a abandoned hotel across from the Britton Cottage at Cedargrove & the Lane which became a lot with a big tree and a rope swing. A scary night could be spent exploring the old hospital behind Our Lady of Lourdes with flashlights.
Josh is investigating our history and the days before we got here. We miss our idea of New Dorp Beach and, although he knows the woods and fields of the area following the City’s condemnation, he sees the government taking away another part of our history with the recent destruction of Cedargrove Beach Club and the construction of the “park” along Cedargrove Avenue from the Lane to Ebbitts Street. Whatever history existed between Cedargrove and the beach is now gone.
Josh is trying to document the loss.
On Aug 8, 2011 12:13 AM, “New Dorp Beach History” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> ———- Forwarded message ———-
> From: <email@example.com>
> Date: Aug 7, 2011 11:23 PM
> Subject: Re: FELLOW RESIDENT OF NEW DORP BEACH
> To: “New Dorp Beach History” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Thank you for answering my email Joshua,
> I was more than likely your fathers paper boy between 1958 and 1962. I
> delivered the Staten Island Advance
> daily and The Star ledger on Sundays for quite a few years, That was my
> route; all those streets off of Cedar Grove and on up to Cuba Avenue.
> I had a good friend named Koochie that lived on Dustin Street and another
> named Louis Senno that lived right there on Seafoam near your dads house
> until his family moved to 18 Garibaldi Ave. I frequented Eddies store for
> candy in those days and Vinnie Fisher’s deli on the other side of the street
> for sub sandwiches and cigarettes. And I used to buy homemade sausage from a
> little Italian shop on Cedar Grove Ave somewheres there around Seafoam.
> I lived about four houses from the Beach on Boehm Street (not there any
> more) on the whole top floor of a three story home owned by a family named
> Gardella. There were 28 windows in our apartment and you could see the light
> house and watch all the ships coming in and out of NYC harbor from there. My
> mother had nine children and at that time there were six of us plus my
> parents and a dog living in that apartment.
> I really loved playing on the beach and in the old abandoned hospital
> further down the beach back in behind the Roman Catholic Church. During a
> hurricane we had one time, I got paid $10.00 to ferry old people out of the
> nursing home that was located in front of the old abandoned hospital in a
> row boat to dry land on the other side of Cedar Grove Ave. I was 11 or 12
> years old and made many trips all day for that 10 bucks.
> THE OLD ABANDONED HOSPITAL
> We used to build Bonn fires every night on the beach. I had my own gang
> called Kinnersley’s raiders. It was the Seaside bungalows that used to show
> the movies near the beach and all my friends and I would bring our own
> folding chairs and crash the show every weekend. And mind you this was all
> between the time I was nine and 15 years old.
> One thing that left a lasting impression on my life was on December 16th
> 1960 when two jets crashed in mid air over New York City, one went down
> in Brooklyn and one went down on us in that neighborhood. It had just snowed
> and there was a good foot of snow on the ground we heard the crash, and
> suddenly bodies, body parts and debris rained down out of the sky on all
> those streets in that neighborhood. I remember walking along the street and
> you would see red blotches in the snow and you would find burnt twisted
> pieces of metal with blood, skin and hair on them. There were headless,
> legless, armless torsos dangling in the trees and the smell was horrendous.
> Me and my friends help gather up the body parts and put them in pick up
> trucks that would then take them over to miller field where they laid them
> out and tried to sort them for identification purposes. And it seemed the
> pilot remained alive long enough to land what was left of the main
> fuselage on a narrow helicopter lane which saved our neighborhood from
> further disaster. There were no survivors from the jet that came down into
> our neighborhood and I believe only one survivor from the other jet that
> came down in Brooklyn. I remember even years later you could find twisted
> metal from those planes in the sand on the beach.
> Well that’s enough for now, I got to go walk my Shih Tzu – Saltydog. You
> should pass this on to your dad, I’m sure he can relate to much of this.
> Feel free to call me anytime, my phone number is (561) 880-1418. I’m a
> retired police detective living in Palm Beach County Florida now.
> Sincerely Chuck
> A FELLOW RESIDENT OF NEW DORP BEACH STATEN ISLAND NYC
> *From: *”New Dorp Beach History” <email@example.com>
> *To: *firstname.lastname@example.org
> *Sent: *Sunday, August 7, 2011 8:03:31 PM
> *Subject: *Re: FELLOW RESIDENT OF NEW DORP BEACH
> Hello Spud!
> Thank you for contacting me. I am only 30 years old, but my father has
> lived in our same house at 30 seafoam since the 50s. He is the one who
> inspired me to discover the past of new dorp beach, and how parks has
> destroyed it since the 60s. I would love to find out more about living on
> Let me know how to best contact you, or, just continue to email me, I answer
> it the best.
> Joshua Jakob
> On Aug 7, 2011 6:45 PM, <email@example.com> wrote:
>> Hi JAKOB, I am a 64 year old young lad who like you grew up in that same
> New Dorp Beach Neighborhood. I lived at 29 Boehm Street. I often played in
> the old abandoned hospital on the beach with my friends. I have very fond
> memories of my favorite neighborhood and found this article on you while
> searching my computer for photos and history of a part of my life I will
> always cherish. Would love to chat with you about this, We may even know
> each other. I used to bring my fold up chair and crash the movies they
> showed there at Seafoam. I can be reached at this email address. I really
> hope I will hear from you. My name is Charles Earl Kinnersley but then in
> that neighborhood I was known by my nickname Spud or Spudy. Thank you.
>> Sincerely C.E. Kinnersley
Every neighborhood needs a deli. A deli is a small market that sells deli meat as well as assorted groceries.
New Dorp Beach had four.
My first deli was the one located at Wavecrest and Cedar Grove. This is the oldest retail building in New Dorp Beach.
I knew it first as the Duo Deli, and it’s where I bought my first Rubik’s Cube. Tainted Love was playing on the radio, I was wearing LA Gear, it was very 80s at the time.
I believe it became the Cedar Grove Deli in the late 80s, and it had the familiar Wavecrest side layout, with the counter right along that wall and the refrigerators along the opposite Maple side wall. In the middle were several rows of assorted grocery fare, cans of Alpo and PacMan pasta with dust on top, a rack with some expired Italian bread.
But along the storefront wall, WWF Superstars stood. The greatest wrestling game of the arcade era. Hacksaw Jim Dugan. The Ultimate Warrior. Hulk Hogan. You can play as any of the Superstars era. This game is how video gaming in the 90s started in New Dorp Beach.
The game was replaced one day in 1991. The main force in this industry at this time was Staten Island Amusement. They maintained all of the coin operated equipment throughout the borough. Any quarter vending machine in any mom and pop shop, Staten Island Amusement was supplying. Any arcade game, it came from them. With arcade video gaming entering a peak, many stores were on board with fleecing children of the money their parents gave them or that they had earned by turning in bottles and cans found along the beach and in the woods. We were cleaning the woods because we were mindless zombies addicted to the greatest arcade game of all time, Street Fighter 2.
After that, Mortal Kombat, they built a small game room in the back, brought in the Terminator 2 pinball machine and the rest was history.
And then when that wasn’t going on, the side of the deli was always a suicide wall and the place where everyone ultimately congregated, since one cannot hang out in front of the deli all of the. One must also hang out on either side of the deli at any particular time to give the front a rest.
Around the same time that Street Fighter came out, someone had the bright idea to build a Chinese Restaurant called Emerald Bay on the dirt lot covered in weeds where Chris Guardino and myself captured several dozen snakes over the years. This new building introduced a new architectural feature to our games of Suicide… The ricochet. It restricted the game to the front part of the wall, which also resulted in more likelihood of smashing the lone hopper window in the brick wall.
This era of arcade entertainment and athletic handball achievement coincided with a golden age of sugar candy. Eye Poppers. Cry Babies. War Heads. Built on the shoulders of the Willy Wonka empire, which bought every out in the end. Fun Dip. Pixi Stix. Bazooka.
And every kind of snack chip, from Bravos to Doritos, every kind of soda from Manhattan Specials to Tropical Fantasy.
And then, as learned later on in the 90s, 1997, they had every type of beer, from Sapporo to Corona. Oh, what fun and revelry that deli induced through the indiscriminate sales of alcohol and cigarettes to the local minor citizens of New Dorp Beach. We would climb those dunes of sand, made of demolished rubble of the torn down clubhouses and resorts, and throw empty bottles into the woods hoping they would break but most would not, empty cans of Sapporo and unbroken bottles of Corona are still 5 cents each return, and now we were refunding the whole cycle all over again like our drunken uncles and aunts before us. And it was never someone’s mom or dad that bought you beer. It was always someone’s ne’er do well aunt or uncle.
That deli isn’t there anymore, but the building it was in still stands. It has the same shell, the same brickwork, the same apartment layout, and the same roof. The first level is now a church, and so continues the tradition of people gathering at the corner of Wavecrest and Cedar Grove.
The wave of illness crashes ashore in such a massive deluge that the bodies of homes cannot protect themselves. Million tiny pricks of nails and Protista, a flood like Sandy can have delayed symptoms.
Days later, the homeowners emerge with a bit more energy and with help.
Gotta expel this sickness.
Let us vomit up our interior walls and carpets and furniture,
And empty our innards onto the ground.
If we survive this, maybe we can live.
Houses can be more resilient than humans.
Leather paramedic work boots stepped in a puddle whose water suddenly grew deep.
My brother, seeking perhaps a bite from the local bar and restaurant, ventured into the night, hoping to find Griff’s open.
He quickly ran back to his apartment two blocks away, going up the leg of Hett just before Beacon and then up Beacon to Finley, just in time for the ten foot wall of water to finally arrive at around 8 pm on October 29, 2012. He crashed into the door of his landlady’s downstairs residence as black reedy swampy stormy ocean water vomited through every opening on the first floor of the house.
For an hour, hell was raging floodwater, which isn’t water but like sludge and shit and lumber and drywall with little nails stuck inside, and lots of weird metal, seeds, socks, random underwear black with dirt, seaweed, dead crabs, tampon appicators, and salt water.
I describe a portion at New Dorp Lane and by Hett and Finley, but I assure you, much worse stories can be imagined based on how our neighbors passed away on that day.
A gaze tethers our mind to another thing, in this case, to a tree.
A large elm tree grew on the shores of an island in lower New York harbor, big enough to be seen from the mouth of the Raritan Bay, calling people to come on in.
The tree pulled ashore a boat of French Huguenots who proceeded to move inland and form a small village so that they could worship freely.
Must have pulled enough people ashore to beat a path straight perpendicular into the heart of Staten Island, to cross its future rail line and terminate at the Crown tavern.
A tree can be a focal point, something you use to situate yourself. Before 2001, I could get around downtown by knowing where I was in relation to the World Trade Center, which towered above all in lower Manhattan.
A tree could be as towering, given time, soil, no one clearing the land.
Imagine climbing the ruins of houses fallen, maybe disrepair, or the last stage of demolition; then playing atop someone’s home where they once celebrated holidays in the summer.
Then let 30 years pass and watch the flora strangle the flora as they fight for sun amongst the trees run amok. One time, the Bronco could get by. Dad would pop the berm at the front, the first lane attempt at stopping the illegal dumping by blocking access to the old streets.
Children created a new world in the vacancy left by vague instructions to abandon all hope ye who live on the beach side of Cedar Grove. Kids on Seafoam, we didn’t build that.
“Don’t go in there, it’s private property. “
“That’s city property.”
“Devil worshipers are in there.”
Starting in the fall of 1985, I stared deep into its dark heart every weekday morning before 8:06 and then saw it again when I came home, in summertime, extending arms out over the Avenue telling us to hide under here.
Bus stop is on a sidewalk that seems like a building was there. One day a perimeter berm of dirt appeared and we could scale it and round around as the green mass of growth densified the opposite side of the street, like hiding some truth we can’t know. We could run around and round and as kids we thought we’d cast some spell and open some portal that would unlock some door that would restore this world that our parents talk about, of clubhouses and fences on the beach to contain the different peoples, the different colonies of bungalows that don’t seem to exist; Where a house or two still stood right on the street, until one day they didn’t.