A wine and cheese bar called the Rainy Nighthouse opened in 1972 at 248-14 Union Turnpike, in the quiet, family-oriented community of Bellerose. Located on the site of an old bicycle repair shop, it was a big hit and a much needed nightspot for the residents of the area to unwind. Management later added comedy, with John “Jackie the Joke Man” Martling doing stand up there. He went on to write for the Howard Stern show.
But there was no joke about what happened outside the club on the night of Dec. 11, 1975. Two or three white girls, who were 15 and may have had too much to drink, decided to beat up a 12-year-old black girl. Frederick Pirone, 52, a subway clerk, tried to break up the fight. According to initial reports, the attackers then turned on him, struck him in the head and kicked him when he was down.
Pirone was found outside his car and pronounced DOA at Long Island Jewish Hospital. Since such things “never happen in Bellerose,” as they say, the media nationwide pounced on the story.
But days later it was revealed that Pirone actually died of a heart attack, not from injuries inflicted by the girls, who were not charged in his death. In any event, the good Samaritan was gone, leaving behind a wife and two daughters. Ten years later, the drinking age was raised to 21, and today a print shop sits where the old bar was.