Myrtle Avenue, whose name derives from the abundance of myrtle trees lining the street, has been a major thoroughfare since the early 19th century. A stagecoach line originally ran along it, and later a trolley car. But death once stalked it too.
On Oct. 1, 1937, Anthony Falese, a petty officer in the Junior Naval Reserve, and Joseph Haas, both 14, played hooky from school. With a stolen rifle they went target shooting. Getting tired of aiming at trees in Forest Park, they decided to shoot at passing cars and trucks on Myrtle.And the trolley.
Their recklessness killed Shirley Kopp, 17, who was struck in the left temple by a .22-caliber bullet on her way home from school. She was the youngest of the three children of Frank and Alice Kopp, of 78-37 64 Place in Glendale.
The two boys were quickly picked up. Their confession to Assistant District Attorney Vincent Kowalski was so freely admitted they seemed not to fully understand that they had taken a human life. Due to their age, they most likely received youthful offender status, and the records were sealed.
On April 26, 1950, the Myrtle Avenue trolley was replaced by the Q55 bus line. For many years the silver spines of the trolley tracks would show after a cold winter when the asphalt cracked, to remind all of the line that once ran there.
Haas died in 1975 at age 52. Anthony Falese’s whereabouts, or date of death if he is gone, could not be determined.