In the early days of the 20th century, the homes being built in Queens were fitted to be heated with coal. Homeowners were inconvenienced with the mess of burned coal, and tons of the spent ashes were deposited in what is now Flushing Meadows Corona Park. That ceased in 1934 when the city acquired the property for the World’s Fair of 1939-40.
But coal was already being displaced, as by the early 1920s a whole new option had opened up to homeowners: cheap heating oil. Everyone wanted an oil burner.
Among those who cashed in on the changeover was Frank P. Bangert. Born in Brooklyn in 1882, Bangert remembered helping clean coal ashes out of his parents’ basement as a young boy.
In 1922, Bangert, who lived at 43-11 163 St. in Flushing with his wife, Dorothy, opened up his heating company around the corner at 43-38 162 St. (old street address was 121 S. 22 St.). It was called Kleen-Heet.
Bangert could install a variety of oil-based heating systems. Customers no longer faced the work of removing spent ashes from their basements — and the city no longer had to dump them in Flushing Meadows.
Bangert had a lucrative business for a number of years. But by the late 1930s, most of the coal conversions to oil in Queens were done, and business dropped off as all new homes were being built with oil burners already installed. Bangert’s services were no longer needed.
Like just about everything else, oil is no longer as cheap as it was. Customers being crushed by high heating bills are now seeking a new alternative to oil, just as they had done with coal.