Frederick Safka, the 22-year-old son of Ukrainian immigrants, married Pauline (though everyone called her Polly) Altomare, 20, the daughter of an Italian fabric-pattern cutter, in 1946.
A year later, on Feb. 3, a baby girl they named Melanie — named for Frederick’s mother, Melainia — was born. The new family moved into a beautiful English Tudor building at 48-17 39 Place in Sunnyside, on a dead-end block where it would be safe for kids to play.
Polly, a singer, eagerly entered her 4-year-old daughter in a talent-contest radio show called “Live Like a Millionaire” in 1951. A few years later, they left for the suburbs of Red Bank, NJ.
With her mothers’ encouragement, Melanie sang and wrote music. In 1968, the young girl married record producer Peter Schekeryk. Together, they made a momentous, show business decision.
She dropped her maiden and married names from the marquee and became known simply as “ Melanie.”
Her hit song “Lay Down (Candle in the Rain)” about performing at Woodstock gave her worldwide recognition. More hits followed.
Melanie’s original home in Sunnyside looks as beautiful today as it did when she was a little girl.