The old TV show “Naked City” famously told us there are eight million stories to be told in New York, one for every resident. That would be about 2.3 million for Queens, a bit more than can be told in one edition of one weekly newspaper. But in this, the Queens Chronicle’s 36th Anniversary special supplement, “Our Borough, Our Lives,” we relate the tales of 26 people from our shared home in a way that television would not.Many of the subjects are well-known, many are not. And even those who are talk about aspects of their lives and their communities that aren’t necessarily in the public eye.
Bob Holden and his pal Pete Savage were walking up Eliot Avenue in Middle Village one day in 1968 looking for girls — they were 16, what else would they be doing? — when they saw two up ahead near Lutheran Avenue, going the same direction they were.
Savage went up the block to check them out. He came back quickly with a blunt report.
There was never much doubt that Dr. Vince Parnell Jr. would go into medicine, just like his father, Dr. Vince Parnell Sr.
“My father was a physician who practiced at Flushing Hospital for 30 years,” the younger Parnell said. “So I think to some extent, if your dad’s a fireman, you want to be a fireman when you grow up, and something like that was my pathway.”
After more than 70 years of painting, artist Marion Maas has put away her brushes.
Until recently, she painted every day — and her Rego Park home can prove it.
At the age of 33, lifelong Whitestone resident Jason Antos has already published five books on the history of his native borough, but even more amazing is what piqued his interest in the subject in the first place.
“My love for local history started in elementary school,” he said. As youngsters were wont to do back then, Antos and his childhood friends spent much of their time playing in the street.
A blizzard was making its way through Queens in March of 1983 as Mary Ann Carey waited for Community Board 9 to take a vote on whether or not it would hire her as the new district manager for the area.
“Everyone kept leaving because of the blizzard,” she said. “I kept saying, ‘Oh no, that was one of my supporters’ as they left.”
For outside observers, the worst crisis to ever befall the small community of Broad Channel might seem like it happened two years ago. But for lifelong residents like Dan Mundy Sr., Hurricane Sandy was just the latest in the many crises the small community in the heart of Jamaica Bay has had to weather throughout its history, including a time when the very existence of the neighborhood was at stake.
And Mundy was there for many of them.
Millicent O’Meally has lived in Flushing for more than 50 years. The changes she has seen — from sleepy community to fast-paced transit hub — are dramatic and life-changing.
“I enjoyed downtown when it was like a little country-type location,” O’Meally said. “There were little shops you could go in and out, even to get food for dinner. It was quaint.”
One traditional restaurant has an unlikely modern fan base.
Papa’s Kitchen, a petite eatery that feels more like a family’s home, is on Woodside Avenue and 66th Street, close to the heart of “Little Manila,” on Roosevelt Avenue.
As a young man growing up in Ozone Park, Joe Addabbo Jr. had more reason than most to stay out of trouble. While most kids might be worried about parents, principals or even police catching them doing something wrong, Joe Jr. was also concerned about public perception. Whether boyhood mistakes like putting a carelessly thrown baseball through someone’s window or more serious teenage risks such as alcohol or drugs, he had an extra reason to steer clear: He didn’t want to cause his father, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Addabbo, to lose an election.
“I was afraid to walk on my neighbor’s lawn because it might cost my dad a vote,” Addabbo said. “I felt that because of who my father was, I had to show respect to the community.”
Down Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, past the trendy joints such as Woodbines and Alobar, the neighborhood begins to look more like it did 30 years ago — industrial and urban — drastically different from the modern greenspace waterfront and shiny towering apartment buildings.
But behind a brick-layered warehouse used by the Department of Transportation is a cultural oasis that won’t be found in TimeOut New York.
Growing up an Italian boy in 1940s Glendale, a heavily German neighborhood, wasn’t easy for Vincent Arcuri Jr.
Old German women threw rocks at his mother over her nationality and called her a Gypsy because she had seven children.
There’s a reason they say hard work, laser-like determination and people skills can lead to great success in business: because it’s true. Just ask Thomas Chen.
Chen came to the United States from Taiwan in 1982, when he was 27, with just a few dollars in his pocket and no English skills whatsoever. Settling in Elmhurst, he was alone for his first year here, having left his wife and their young son back home. His first job was ironing shirts and pants in a garment factory in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
It took a year on Long Island — a detour from what would become teacher Larry O’Connell’s 26 years at Forest Hills High School — to realize his love for Queens.
“I was much more comfortable with the Queens kids,” O’Connell said.
Like a sensei teaching his students not just the moves of karate but the philosophy behind the art, master musicians Joe and Jeanette Fuoco will instruct you about far more than the right notes to play if you venture into their Glendale center.
The Fuocos are not just top-notch musicians — he can play any instrument and began performing and even teaching in kindergarten, while she’s the best rhythm guitarist he’s ever heard — they’re true community people who love the area they grew up in and have served for decades. Both hail from Ridgewood and went to Christ the King High School in Middle Village, where they met back when Jeanette’s last name was Piccininni.