Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking Great ‘Panes’ to Attract Patrons

Rose & Eye windows spruce up West End

By Joseph Kellard

Michael Muratore and Stefano Malluzzo have brought a bit of Fifth Avenue to the West End. Each month, the owners of Rose & Eye, a women’s boutique on the corner of West Beech Street and Wyoming Avenue, dress up large display windows with a fresh theme according to season, anniversaries and the hottest fashions.

In July, their summer-clad mannequins stood with surfboards, a theme they based on “Beach Party,” an early 1960s Annette Funicello movie. They rang in 2008 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the peace sign, with T-shirts emblazoned with the symbol popularized by hippies. This summer they displayed maxi dresses and jumpsuits, two of the season’s biggest trends, and used poster-sized photos of colorful hot-air balloons as background art.

Muratore and Malluzzo have noticed that their windows sometimes stop traffic, as curious drivers gaze in from their cars on West Beech, and during the holidays children who get off school buses at a nearby stop run up to get a better look at their festive displays.

“One of the ways we attract our customers is through the windows,” Muratore said about his moderately priced store, which offers everything from jeans to wrap sweaters to party dresses. “It causes them to want to stop and look in. They may get the impression that we’re real expensive, but really we’re not.”

This month, Rose & Eye’s windows are split between Christmas and New Year’s Eve themes, with hand-made snow girls, a takeoff on Frosty the Snowman, sporting a variety of Long Beach sweatshirts with starfish images. Their carrot-nosed faces were sculpted in a storage room where the owners prepare the window displays, mounting and dressing the mannequins, painting the backgrounds and printing the eye-catching art and photos that they order.

It took Muratore and Malluzzo almost two weeks to complete all the prep work for this month’s windows, and another two days to put everything on display.

In October 2008, the shop displayed the artwork of West School students to complement Halloween-themed windows. Denise Collins, the art teacher at the neighborhood school, was shopping at the boutique one day when Muratore, whose two sons are students there, approached her with an idea.

“He asked if we could get the kids to create some artwork to feature it in the windows,” Collins recalled. “The kids loved the idea. It’s nice for them to see their work on display.”

Her second- to fifth-graders supplied some 40 pieces of artwork, including skeletons, collage masks and pumpkins with paints and pencils. Now Collins’s students are working on a Valentine’s Day theme for the windows, recreating the 1973 “LOVE” stamp by Robert Indiana and creating “fabulous fictional couples,” from Popeye and Olive Oyl to Homer and Marge Simpson.

“Pretty much they’re doing the artwork, and will build elements around the art,” said Muratore, who worked in department stores for 20 years but never dressed windows.

Soon after he and Malluzzo bought their original, empty West End store in March 2007, they installed the display windows. They put in even larger windows when they expanded twice, to spaces previously occupied by a scooter shop and a law office.

“Basically the two of us, who had worked at other stores, we dreamed that one day we’d have our own store and have these great windows,” Muratore said. “We stepped forth and did it and it worked.”

Photos by Christina Daly and Courtesy Rose & Eye

‘He Never Stopped Trying to Help The Vets’

William Green, VFW commander, dies at 66

By Joseph Kellard

It was a minor change among the many William Green brought to the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Long Beach. As its commander from 2000 to 2004, Green began displaying on the walls two framed photo collages of members during their youthful days in combat zones, from Europe to Afghanistan, that became conversation pieces at parties and allowed the vets to brag.

During his term, Green also increased the post’s membership by about 50 percent, and the number of active members more than doubled thanks to his efforts, according to long-time member Ed Grant, who served in the Army in Vietnam and was deployed to the demilitarized zone in Korea in the late 1960s. “Billy reached out to everybody by not trying to make it a private club,” Grant said of Green’s recruiting philosophy.

Joseph Clarino is a Vietnam veteran who was among Green’s recruits. “He was relentless on me to join the VFW,” Clarino recalled. “It took him quite a while but he got me. He convinced me that we could do more things together and get involved in the community.”

Clarino read a eulogy at Green’s funeral at Christopher Jordan’s Funeral Home in Island Park on Monday. Green died last Saturday at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside. He was 66.

Alice Green, his wife of 36 years, said he held strong to his commitment to never turn away a veteran who wanted to join the VFW, and he always stood up for them. “Even before he became commander, he always tried to find out what veterans were and weren’t getting from the Veterans Affairs,” Alice said.

Her husband believed he was right in everything he did, she said, and Grant characterized him as a man who was persistent and insistent in his convictions. “With Billy it was often the my-way-or-the-highway attitude,” Grant said, “and that could create some divisiveness, but he had the strength to keep pushing for things that he wanted.”

One of the most important things Green wanted — and got — was tighter relationships among his members. He brought together members from different age groups and combat theaters, taking them on bus trips to West Point for football games and lunches at German and Italian restaurants from Manhattan to Suffolk County, Grant said.

“Very often there was a dichotomy between the Vietnam vets and World War II vets,” he explained, “and Billy was instrumental in getting everybody together to share the experiences we had.”

The camaraderie regularly inspired a group of 25 or more members to trek to the V.A. Medical Center in Northport to run an annual July barbecue and a Christmas party for disabled veterans, and members attend a half-dozen other functions throughout the year, all of which Green started.

“Billy was a very good and active commander,” said current VFW Commander John Zimmerman. “He was very passionate about being the commander. He just wanted to do a lot for veterans.”

Born on Flag Day, June 14, 1943, Green grew up in Manhattan, where he met Alice. He was drafted in 1963, became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. He jumped into the Dominican Republic on a mission to avert a communist takeover there in 1965.

Before the unit returned to Vietnam, Green was discharged, and he joined the reserves, in which he was active until the mid-1980s. He rose to the rank of sergeant and joined the Green Berets.

After he and Alice married in 1973, they had two children, Michael and Jennifer, and moved to Long Beach in 1984. Among Green’s hobbies was skydiving, until an accident sidelined him.

“He was a very giving person,” Alice said. “He loved his family and loved life — definitely. And he never stopped trying to help the veterans until he couldn’t do it anymore. They were his mission in life once he got started on it.”

Green is survived by his wife and children as well as three grandchildren, Michael, Sean and Joseph. He was buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton.

Photo Courtesy Green Family

Yes, But Would They Still Jog in Siberia?

Long Beach runners don’t let cold weather stop them

By Joseph Kellard

One day when Larry Moriarty took his routine run along the length of the boardwalk, he crossed paths with just five people — which including motorists on Broadway and a maintenance man picking up garbage. Moriarty recalled that the temperature that day was 8 degrees.

Moriarty is among the Long Beach residents who exercise on the boardwalk all year, undeterred by frigid temperatures and the Atlantic’s piercing winds. What’s more, he is among a handful of runners who hit the wooden slats as early as 5 a.m., from three to six days a week, usually totaling five miles each outing.

“You get warmed up fairly quickly and it really is quite a nice experience because it’s so quiet,” said Moriarty, 40, who dresses in layers, including a balaclava covering his head and face.

A forensic accountant who often travels for his job, Moriarty first laced up running shoes about three years ago to burn some calories and maintain his health. When asked why frigid weather fails to deter him, he matter-of-factly replied, “Why would it?”

Then there are Long Beachers like Nancy Koff. She has run all year long, on and off, since she moved to Long Beach in 1985, and there was a time when she didn’t blink when the cold and snow arrived. But now, at 55, she takes a different approach.

In the summer, Koff and her iPod reach the boardwalk around 8 a.m., and in the winter she has the luxury of starting even later, since she is a family therapist and doesn’t open her Bellmore office until 1 p.m.

“I’m older now and it’s just kind of disgusting and miserable running in the snow and rain,” Koff said. “Even if it’s just a very strong wind I might not go. It just gets a little bit harder to deal with the elements as you get older.”

Depending on how she’s feeling, she generally tries to get in four runs a week, starting at Neptune Boulevard, on the east end of the boardwalk, and running to the west end, at New York Avenue, and back, 4.4 miles in all. When the weather is particularly nasty, Koff will run just half the distance, to around Magnolia Boulevard.

And on the worst days she heads to New York Sports Club on East Park Avenue or Pure Fitness in Island Park, where she works with a personal trainer. But compared with the boardwalk, the gym treadmills are drudgery. “I hate it,” she said. “I’m counting every minute that goes by and the calories I’ve burned. The time really flies when you’re outside, especially on the boardwalk because the scene is so beautiful.”

Part of what pushes Koff to run in the cold is a philosophy, one she imparts to her clients in therapy, that says to get up and move move every day, whether to run, skip rope or just walk.

Having the right gear, especially the right hat and gloves, she said, is key to exercising outside when the mercury heads south.

Katie Sell, an exercise physiologist at Hofstra University and a Long Beach resident, concurs. In cold weather the body directs blood and heat to vital organs such as the brain, heart and liver, Sell explained, so wearing the proper hat, gloves and even socks becomes especially important. Dressing warmly protects runners not only from frostbite, but also from decreased sensory ability, she said.

Sell suggested that cold-weather exercisers like Moriarty and Koff wear materials that “wick” sweat away from the skin, which is especially important in the cold, and that they dress in layers.

“Advanced runners know to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a T-shirt, and then another long-sleeved shirt, while a new runner will put on a T-shirt and a big heavy fleece,” she said. “But you can shed the layers as your body temperature goes up, and also they don’t get damp from sweat so you can put them on afterwards.”

Sell, a native of England, is used to exercising in cold weather, though a bum knee has sidelined her running routine, so she plays tennis in the winter.

She makes sure that she always has water, even in sub-freezing weather, to stay hydrated. “You should bring a bottle of water with you, but not ice-cold water,” Sell said. “You have very delicate tissue in the back of your throat, and in the cold air it needs to be warmed a whole bunch more. Tap water is good.”

While Nat Cooper rides his bike each spring and summer day with his 4-year-old son, he runs on the boardwalk only when it snows. A former amateur bodybuilder on whose knees heavy lifting has taken a toll, Cooper finds that the snow cushions his knees as he runs just a few blocks — usually from Neptune to Monroe Boulevard — and he also
enjoys the scenery.

“There’s something about being out in the crispness and the coldness that I look forward to,” he said. “In the wintertime there’s just something so beautiful about it when there’s that little bit of snow.”

Photo by Arthur Findlay

Lido Beach Real Estate Holds Its Own

Dune-front home sells for $3.3 million

By Joseph Kellard

Home sales in Lido Beach are up and inventory is down since the housing market crashed last year. Early last December there were 37 listings in Lido Beach, and as of last week there were 18, according to real estate agents who sell in the area.

Broker Thomas Tripodi said that his group of agents at Prudential Douglas Elliman, on West Park Avenue in Long Beach, closed 10 of the 20 homes sold in the past year, which ranged in price from $419,000 to $3.3 million. The biggest sale was a house on the dunes at Prescott Street, which sold for $300,000 less nearly three years ago, during a sellers’ market.

“The owner sold it for 10 percent more at the bottom of the market,” Tripodi said. “It wasn’t upgraded [with renovations] at all. It’s about location. There are only 12 houses directly on the ocean in Lido.”

Pat McDonnell, owner of Lido Beach Realty on Lido Boulevard, said that the homes for sale now range from $519,000 for a home on Lido Boulevard to $3.2 million for a house on Blackheath Road on Reynolds Channel.

Tripodi and McDonnell agreed that while the weak economy has hurt the local market, Lido Beach has not been hit as hard as other Long Island communities, which have seen many more foreclosures. They point to Lido’s well-maintained beaches, golf course, tennis courts and luxury condos, the Lido Towers, all of which help keep prices stable, giving brokers the luxury of being able to wait for buyers.

“I think, reflective of the economy, the market has been a little down, but I don’t think we will ever, ever be as affected as other areas are,” said McDonnell, who has worked in Lido Beach for 30 years.

The hamlet has about 860 homes and nearly 3,000 residents, and owners tend to be doctors, lawyers and financiers with similar incomes. Many of the people who have moved there in recent years have come from Manhattan, the North Shore and Garden City, but particularly from Atlantic Beach and the Hamptons.

Tripodi said that most buyers are people who otherwise would have bought homes in the Hamptons — including the buyer of the oceanfront home on Prescott — because they find the beaches comparable and like the fact that they are just 28 miles from Manhattan. And homes in the distant Hamptons or Montauk can cost many millions more.

McDonnell has seen the same trend. “Believe it or not, there are still people who say, ‘How did we not know Lido Beach was here?’” she said. “We’re getting people coming in from the East End who don’t want the commute [or are] deciding to give up the second home and make a permanent home here, where they can commute easily to Manhattan.”

Due to the interest in the dunes area, where there are 283 homes, Tripodi said, prices have seen the smallest declines there in the market downturn. Before last fall, sale prices were all $1 million and above, whereas now some are as low as $800,000. “Because it’s a special area and it has location, a lot of people buy it as a second home,” Tripodi said. “There weren’t a lot of desperation homes.”

McDonnell pointed out, however, that for the first time in years, there is a foreclosure in Lido Beach, on Luchon Street in the dunes, a house that she said is selling for $1.2 million.

In the neighborhoods north of Lido Boulevard, in between Lido Beach and Long Beach on the channel, colonials and split-levels are going for $650,000 to $1.2 million. Tripodi said that he recently sold one house on the bay for almost $2 million.

Miriam Gold, of Paul Gold Real Estate on West Beech Street in Long Beach, who has sold homes throughout the barrier island for 46 years, said that in a decades-long trend, residents have migrated from west to east — from the West End to Westholme, a neighborhood east of New York Avenue, and from the East End, east of Long Beach Boulevard, to Lido Beach.

“They’re still selling in the Canals neighborhood to move into Lido because that’s the next jump for a bigger home,” Gold said. “So there’s that bit of migration that has helped some business. But the prices aren’t as strong as they used to be. But any place that is in great condition and is in a spectacular location like Lido, it sells.”

Gold said that most sales on the barrier island this year have been in the lower price ranges, and she expects that some sellers will look for more expensive homes as in Lido, particularly now that the $8,000 Federal Housing Authority tax credit that once applied only to first-time home buyers has been extended. The extension not only increases the credit’s availability to single purchasers with a maximum income of $125,000, but it now also applies to people who have owned a home for at least five years and provides a $6,500 credit for a new home.

“The million-dollar price range, I feel, is going to open up in the coming year,” Gold said. Tripodi said he believes it is impossible for buyers not to find a good deal in the Lido market right now. But he tempers this confidence when he considers the future. “I think we’ve pretty much hit the bottom,” he said, “but I don’t know if it’s going to turn back right away.”

Tripodi believes the forecasters who say interest rates will have to climb back to 8 percent. “So if you take out a $1million mortgage,” he said, “it will be $30,000 extra for the same exact house.”

Photo by Arthur Findlay

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lies from Southeast Asia

Vietnam vet writes book on war correspondence with anxious family

By Joseph Kellard

When Howard Kalachman was a soldier on sandbag duty at a U.S. army base in Vietnam, he was struck by a 200-pound piece of pressed steel plate flung from a helicopter propeller that, had it hit him differently, might have decapitated him.

“I was actually dead, but was brought back,” said Kalachman, whose neck still bears a scar from the accident. “I’m glad I was, because I have a beautiful daughter.”

A month later, after his hospital stay, Kalachman did something unusual: he told his parents the truth about his injury and the circumstances surrounding it. “They wouldn’t believe me, no matter how many times I wrote to them about it, and figured I was injured in combat,” said Kalachman, who served in Vietnam for 13 months in 1967 and 1968, while the Tet Offensive raged on.

Now Kalachman, 65, the new commander at the Long Beach American Legion, is publishing a book about his correspondence with his family during the war. While he sent letters about the war’s harsh realities to his brother, Marvin, his letters to his parents stressed only the positives. Hence the book’s title: “Hi Mom, I’m O.K.! And Other Lies from Vietnam.”

“My mother was a worrier and my father had a heart condition, so I couldn’t tell them what was really going on,” Kalachman said. “So I fudged my letters to them a bit, just told them the good stuff, and was basically writing to my brother some of the facts about what was really going on.”

Kalachman said he had several brushes with serious injury or death, both in and out of combat, including his fall into a hole, an underground tunnel in which he stopped his slide before he crashed to the bottom.

While in a war zone, he was ordered to destroy his letters from home after he read them so there would be no chance that they would fall into the wrong hands and be used against him. Near the end of his tour in Southeast Asia, he became a clerk and composed letters to the next of kin of dead soldiers.

“Hi Mom” consists mostly of his letters to his parents and his brother, along with present-day commentary and some 100 photographs. Published by Trafford Publishers, the book is due to hit and the online bookstore at Barnes & Noble next month. Depending on how well it sells online, it could wind up on bookstore shelves.

“I consider it a thoughtful, poignant and often humorous book about the complexities of writing home from a war zone to an anxious family,” reads Kalachman’s synopsis.

He started writing the book about three years ago, after he retired as an educator and administrator the New York City’s public schools — about the time he moved to Island Park after living in Long Beach for 26 years. “It was really very cathartic writing it, because I really had forgotten a lot of what had happened, and this forced me to think about it,” said Kalachman, who also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Island Harvest and speaks publicly on behalf of the Make A Wish Foundation.

As the American Legion’s new commander, Kalachman wants to focus on recruiting younger veterans into an otherwise graying organization of 100 members. He also hopes his book reaches a younger audience doing battle overseas today. “I think the climate for this book is very good right now, due to our ongoing involvement in two wars,” he said. “So I’m hoping what I wrote will resonate with either those who are in the service or have loved ones in it and can understand what’s going on.”

Photo courtesy Howard Kalachman

Signs of Life in Long Beach Real Estate Market

By Joseph Kellard

Long Beach broker Joyce Coletti has had more closings since January, 45 in all, than she has had in many years in Long Beach. About 60 percent have involved first-time home buyers who have taken advantage of an $8,000 tax credit made available through the economic stimulus bill that President Obama signed in February, which he extended by signing another $24 billion stimulus package on Nov. 3.

“I’m seeing more Federal Housing Authority loans than I’ve ever seen before,” said Coletti, who works for Prudential Douglas Elliman on West Park Avenue. “They’re for people who really don’t have much money but have good credit. So they can put down three percent, which is nothing.”

But while Coletti and other Long Beach real estate agents report a slight surge in home sales due in large part to the tax credit, they acknowledge that the market has otherwise stagnated since the financial collapse last fall, and they express a mix of uncertainty and cautious optimism about an economy in which the unemployment rate continues to climb.

“I’m not finding the market is otherwise getting any better,” Coletti said. “I’m seeing it getting slower.”

Karen Adamo, a broker with Petry Realty in the West End, said that because of the slight surge from the home buyer’s credit, Long Island real estate agents had been pushing the federal government to extend it beyond its Nov. 30 deadline.

“That’s because we did see sales go up, we did see a surge, but in the lower-priced homes, in the $300,000 to $400,000 range,” Adamo explained.

According to the terms of the extension, a first-time home buyer must sign a contract on a home by April 20, 2010, and close by June 30. The extension also increases the credit’s availability to single purchasers with a maximum income of $125,000, up from $75,000, and to couples with a top income of $225,000, up from $150,000, and those who have owned a home for at least five years a $6,500 credit for a new home.

The Windward, a condominium complex at 251-255 W. Broadway, between Laurelton and Lafayette boulevards, is one building where the developer is not accepting federal loans, but its condos are selling just the same. The three-story, 29-unit building offers 400-square-foot studios and 800-square-foot one-bedroom units that sell for $229,000 to $369,000.

Coletti has sold all but five of the condos since July 2008, mostly to teachers, police officers and firefighters who took out conventional loans and put 10 percent down. “It’s carrying my salary,” Coletti said of the building, which has accounted for a majority of her closings. “I’m having a very good year from that building.”

Adamo, Coletti and Neil Sterrer, owner of Sterrer Realty on West Beech Street, all said that the lower-priced homes, $400,000 and under — particularly studios and one-bedrooms in co-op buildings — as well as homes priced at $800,000 and higher, including the most expensive waterfront homes, are selling the most, although the latter are not moving as quickly. “There is an implication that those two markets are OK,” said Sterrer, who is the co-chairman of the Long Beach-Island Park Brokers Council.

At the Aqua, an eight-story luxury condominium complex overlooking the ocean on Shore Road, 14 of 36 units have sold, with seven in contract and seven closed, according to Jan Burman, president of Engel Burman Group, a Garden City-based developer of properties from Montreal to Miami. Among the units that have sold were three of the building’s six penthouses, the most expensive condos in town.

“We’re doing good and we still have a tremendous amount of interest,” said Burman of the condos, which range in size from 1,730 to 2,400 square feet and in price from $1.3 million to $3.3 million.

In May, when the building was completed, Burman said, he started closing on units that were in contract from last year. “Having sold 14 since May we’re pretty happy,” he said.

Asked to project six months to a year down the road, Burman said, “I guess I’m cautiously optimistic. Obviously, a better economy would mean better sales across the board.”

Sterrer noted a virtual shutdown in sales of mid-priced homes in Long Beach and across Long Island, a trend that began about three years ago, when the real estate market started its downturn. “The $400,000 to $800,000 homes are taking 30 percent hits in order to sell,” he said. “The only people willing to do that are the people with no mortgages.”

Meanwhile, home prices have dipped as much as 15 percent since last year in Long Beach, and from January 2008 to January 2009, the Nassau County Department of Assessments reduced the assessed value of homes county-wide 17 percent, which will be reflected in homeowners’ school tax bills next October, according to County Assessor Ted Jankowski. “We’ll be doing a new assessment for this coming year on January 2, and we anticipate that, again, assessments will continue to go down,” Jankowski said.

One constant in Long Beach is the inventory of rental units, which remains among the highest in the county, Sterrer said. Generally, studios run from $900 to $1,000, one-bedrooms from $1,100 to $1,300, two-bedrooms from $1,300 to $1,700 and three-bedrooms from $1,600 to $2,500. “The lower end,” Sterrer said, “is selling right now — the singles and the two people getting together to save money.”

Photo by Joseph Kellard

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bars Suit Up for Football Season

By Joseph Kellard

For Long Beach sports bars, the football season offers a profitable segue from the busy summer months. When the NFL kicks off in September, establishments are quick to fly Jets and Giants flags, dress employees in team jerseys and serve drinks in football-shaped cups, all while showing a dizzying variety of games each Sunday on multiple high-definition or plasma flat screens.

“We try to recreate the stadium atmosphere,” said Tom Corning, who has owned Minnesota’s on West Beech Street for 15 years. “And people will come off the beach in flip-flops and their beach chairs, wearing a football jersey.”

Last Sunday featured two top early-season matchups, Jets-Patriots and Giants-Cowboys. “Having those two biggest rivalries on the same day, it’s just going to be a very good crowd for the whole day,” said Ben Fraiser of the Beach House on West Beech Street.

Both Corning and Fraiser, who managed sports bars for many years before opening the Beach House three years ago, said the crowds at their bars on Sundays are diversifying, as more hard-core male fans come out to watch the games with their girlfriends or wives. “Not anymore is it just guys coming out to watch the game,” Fraiser said. “The crowd now includes couples and families — it’s groups of girls in their Jets jerseys.”

While buffalo wings, sliders and other finger foods are the rage on Sundays, Minnesota’s looks to tap into the growing number of female fans by highlighting brunch and more health-oriented foods, with 30 new items, including Latin lettuce wraps with sautéed chicken. “The whole menu is geared toward women because they’re becoming just as big fans as their boyfriends and husbands,” Corning said.

On Sundays, the Beach House offers beer and wings samplers, quesadillas, fried calamari, slider burgers and crab cakes, and runs drink specials all day. “Football skyrockets the brunch business, and brunch really brings the women out,” Fraiser said.

Meanwhile, at Billy’s Beach Cafe on West Park Avenue, owner Billy Romm estimates that about 25 percent of his football Sunday business is takeout. “A lot of food goes out on Sundays just to homes,” Romm said.

The owner of his establishment for 23 years, Romm said his average patron is middle-aged or older — and that the greater affordability of flat-screen TVs has put a dent in his business. “It’s not like it was 15 years ago,” he said. “Now it’s a lot easier for the public to do this in their own home.”

Romm also believes that stricter DWI laws and the ban on smoking in bars, as well as the ailing economy, have negatively impacted his business. “The crowds have diminished, and I’m really caught for a way to bring them out again,” he said.

Beside the food, Romm said, he believes that one reason people still come to his bar is to watch all the games at once, which some home television packages don’t offer. “That’s an advantage for some crazy sports fanatic degenerate gambler,” he said.

With mostly 20-somethings populating West End bars, fantasy football, in which fans form their own leagues and teams and draft pro players, also factors considerably into their crowds.

“They’re not just watching their teams anymore; they’re watching to see which ones of their fantasy players are scoring points,” Fraiser said.

Changes in the NFL’s television schedule have also affected bars. This season marks the third year that the premier nationally televised game takes place on Sunday night, starting at 8:30, instead of the once more highly rated “Monday Night Football,” which kicks off after 9 p.m. “Go back 15 or 20 year ago, people on Monday would stay out to 1 a.m. if the game was still going on,” Romm said. “It’s not like that anymore.”

In an effort to make up for the drop in business on Mondays, Fraiser runs all-you-can-eat wings specials during the game, and Corning keeps most of the same Sunday specials on Mondays.

As winter approaches, bar owners keep their fingers crossed that the Giants and Jets will be playoff contenders. But even if those prospects are dim, the fans still come to watch the games.

“It’s not as if you see less people,” Fraiser explained. “You see less people coming in dressed in their jerseys and really chanting.”

Of course, if the Jets and/or the Giants make it to the postseason, business will reach a cold-weather peak. “So by December or January, it’s crazy,” Corning said. “It’s like being at the stadium each Sunday.”

Photo Courtesy Arthur Findley

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finding Solace By the Sea

9/11 boardwalk benches serve as memorials for families

By Joseph Kellard

“It’s the right spot to be,” Mary Ann Marino said of a bench on the Long Beach boardwalk that she and her family dedicated to her firefighter son, Ken, soon after he was killed at the scorched World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ken’s remains were never found, and although his name and image are part of many memorials, from his native Oceanside to Manhattan, the bench has come to symbolically substitute as his final resting place. “We don’t have any place to go,” said Mary Ann. “We never found Kenny.”

While the gold lettering of the bench plaque’s inscription has faded after nearly eight years, the words remain: “Love is eternal. It has no beginning and no end.” Like other families who have dedicated benches to their loved ones killed on 9/11, Mary Ann and her husband, Pat, as well as Ken’s widow, Katrina, their children, Tyler and Kristin, and his sister, Lynda — who are all listed on the plaque — continue to visit his bench throughout the year to remember him.

His parents recall that Ken carried his boyhood dream to fight fires into adulthood, when he grew into a burly 6-foot-5 man who earned a reputation as a serious, knowledgeable firefighter passionate about his job. He moved to Long Beach in 1987, volunteered at the city’s fire department and earned his keep at the post office. Three years later he joined the New York City Fire Department, but continued to volunteer in Long Beach until 1997. After he moved his family to Monroe, N.Y., he rose through the FDNY ranks and eventually joined Rescue 1, an elite Manhattan unit that was among the first to arrive at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Marino died at age 40.

Each Sept. 11, the Marinos head to the boardwalk with flowers in hand after they attend the morning ceremony in lower Manhattan. They had Ken’s bench placed as far west on the boardwalk as possible, near Grand Boulevard, to be near the West End apartments he rented as a bachelor.

“We put the bench there, and it’s a place that gives us a little solace,” Mary Ann said. “On Christmas and Thanksgiving sometimes, and certainly always on Sept. 11, we’ll sit there and look at the ocean, because Kenny loved Long Beach and the ocean and he would ride his bike on the boardwalk.”

Fellow Oceansider Arlene Nussbaum visits two benches dedicated to her son, Jeff. She bought a bench for him at Lafayette and the boardwalk, near where his brother, Craig, has lived for many years, and Craig got one for him at National beach.

“There’s a closeness there,” Arlene said when asked to distinguish between visiting Jeff’s benches and Beth Moses Cemetery in Farmingdale, where he is buried next to his father, Jerry. “He loved the ocean and would meet his brother and friends on the boardwalk at National when they went to the beach. I feel he’s living there now.”

Jeff was 37 and a senior vice president of foreign currency for Carr Futures Associates at the Trade Center when he was “murdered,” as his mother puts it. When Arlene learned of the bench dedications, which were offered in the months right after 9/11, she quickly got one for Jeff. But it took her 10 heart-wrenching days to compose the inscription: “When we look at the sand we see your footprints. When we see your pictures, your eyes look into ours — Your voice is in the wind whispering to all. When our eyes fill with tears, we are holding the joy of your love. You may not be here today but you will always live in our hearts. All our love forever & ever.”

Jeff had a fun-loving personality that drew people to him, his mother said, and he had many friends who he liked to head out to the Hamptons with each summer.

Each Sept. 11, when Arlene and Craig visit Jeff’s benches, they adorn them with balloons, flowers and American flags. This year they have decided not to attend the annual 9/11 Sunrise Memorial in Point Lookout. “I’m reliving everything and it’s very, very difficult,” Arlene said. “Craig and I both felt that it’s putting too many knives in our hearts.”

She added that she doesn’t know what to expect when she visits Jeff’s benches on Friday, after an eerie experience she had last year. Someone had planted a row of American flags on the boardwalk guardrail at Lafayette, and all of the poles were straight except for one, directly in front of Jeff’s bench. “A gentleman went over and straightened out the flag pole, and two minutes after he left, again it moved to an angle,” Arlene recalled. “This happened four times! Jeff was there. It wasn’t even windy, and if it was, why only one out of 25 moved? … If you believe in that, this is what keeps many of us going on with day-to-day life. That’s important.”

Long Beach resident Rob Carlo found it unusual that a crowd had gathered around his brother Michael’s bench as Rob emerged from a swim in the ocean off Grand Boulevard on Sept. 11 a few years ago. They turned out to be Michael’s childhood friends from their native Whitestone, who since 2002 had made it a ritual to visit his bench before sundown on the anniversary. Mike had been a firefighter with Engine 230 in Bedford-Stuyvesant since 1994, and was killed at the World Trade Center at
age 34.

His brother has joined his friends ever since, along with as many as 30 other family members, fellow firefighters and neighbors from Tennessee Avenue. “It’s the one time I get to see my brother’s friends,” Rob said, “and it always feels like he’s there, because when I see them all around we start sharing stories about him, and someone always has a new one.”

Rob, a retired firefighter from Ladder 23 in Harlem who arrived at “the pile” in lower Manhattan later on Sept. 11, rented a house in Long Beach with his brother in 1999, and in subsequent years moved there permanently. They played volleyball together on the beach where Michael’s bench is today.

“I just thought it was a good idea to better the boardwalk and to remember Michael,” Rob said about buying the bench. He visits it each Christmas to hang a wreath, and on Friday he may decorate it with an American flag during the annual gathering.

Rob described Mike as a life-of-the-party type who enjoyed socializing and spending his time on the water, kayaking and boating. Rob chose his brother’s favorite quote, one by Mark Twain that he kept on a Post-It note over his desk, for the plaque inscription: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did. So throw off the bowline, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade wins in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

History Book in the Making

Historians compiling a pictorial tome on Long Beach

By Joseph Kellard

Did you know that Sutton Place restaurant-bar on West Park Avenue was once a library? Or that the Magnolia condos across the street were an elementary school? Perhaps you’re unaware that Lindell School was once the high school.

Well, there are pictures to prove it, and they are among hundreds of vintage snapshots now being considered for a pictorial book on Long Beach.

Next year, Arcadia Press, a publishing company specializing in regional histories, will release a Long Beach book as part of its Images of America series. Started in 1994, the series has published 4,300 titles that feature photos of towns nationwide, including Oceanside, Levittown, Hicksville and Syosset.

“I know Long Beach is a historically rich area, and we’ve gotten a lot of requests from readers and local retailers who’ve wanted a book on Long Beach,” said Rebekah Collinsworth, Arcadia’s acquisition editor.

About five years ago, Arcadia approached the Long Beach Historical Society about compiling a book, but the society’s trustees declined, wanting to create their own book. But last winter the company reconnected with the Historical Society, along with two other local historians, and thereby created a rare competition. The Historical Society’s application was chosen.

“Sometimes it’s tricky trying to find somebody who is qualified and interested, and everything kind of fell into place with this group,” Collinsworth said. “They’ve been wonderful to work with and are super-enthusiastic.”

The Historical Society was given the task of submitting 220 carefully chosen, pre-1960s photographs, complete with descriptive and anecdotal captions, by November. Long Beach families and individuals of note, buildings and houses long gone or still standing, landscapes, sports teams, schools, firehouses and places of worship are some of the many subjects Arcadia wants for its books. The publisher also wants enough intriguing information, capturing the goings-on in towns at important times in the nation's history, to attract a wider readership.

Carole Geraci, president of the Historical Society, said the book, in part, will center on Long Beach’s various neighborhoods and the variety of people who have settled in the city. “We’re looking for pictures that tell a story, that highlight how Long Beach started as a summer resort on a barrier island and developed into a very diverse city,” Geraci explained.

Arcadia requires original photos, not the many photocopies that comprise most of the Historical Society’s archives. So in addition to its own collection, the organization must look to the public to help provide some pictures from yesteryear.

David Roochvarg, a Historical Society trustee, said the best part of being involved in the project is the ability to sift through and scan all these photos for Arcadia. “What’s most gratifying is learning more about Long Beach history, which I have an interest in already, and just combing through the museum’s archives,” Roochvarg said. “I have to be careful about wasting too much time reading about the fascinating history. You get caught up in all these great stories.”

In addition to the many photos that are due by November, the society had to come up with five photographs as potential cover shots by this month. Both Roochvarg and Geraci said the project’s downside has been the stress of meeting such deadlines.

In the end, though, the beneficiary of the book’s royalties will be the Long Beach Historical Museum, and there will finally be a comprehensive book on Long Beach from its early days to today.

“It’s been done in bits and pieces, but never in one book.” Geraci said. “And even though this book will be done mostly in picture form, there will be enough text to connect the dots.”

Photo: Courtesy Long Beach Historical Society

Friday, August 21, 2009

Indy Bookshops Face Tough Struggle to Survive In a Digital World

By Joseph Kellard

“Do you have any James Patterson?” a customer asked Matt Schab, owner of Lazy Days in Long Beach, last Saturday afternoon.

“I don’t think so — you’ll have to search around,” said Schab, whose independent bookstore has been looking rather disheveled since he announced it will close later this month.

Neon-colored sales signs adorn the store’s front window, and once well-stocked shelves are now much less crowded with books. Lazy Days is the latest casualty among independent booksellers that once peppered the South Shore. Just as record-and-CD stores have been done in by iTunes, book stores have been undercut by the likes of

Schab, who managed the now nonexistent National Books in Kew Garden Hills before he opened Lazy Days in 2002, admitted that he knew what he was getting into even then, as online bookstores were burgeoning. Few of his early customers went online for books, but as the years passed, fewer of them browsed in his store and schools stopped coming in with reading lists. Schab said that losing half of his special-order business to and eBay hurt his bottom line.

“You do it because you love books,” he said of the store, which offers used books, records, VHS movies, antiques and framed artwork.

While Schab said he will dearly miss his customers, some of whom have become friends, he expressed some relief that he will be taking his books home to sell them online, on Web sites such as and, while he works at the Long Beach Library and studies for a master’s in library science.

“There’s more money on the Net, and it means less hours for me and more time with my family,” said Schab, who works alone almost daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

But despite the e-book business and Google’s blossoming online library, other independent stores, new and old, are finding ways to survive. Last summer, Tim Schmidt took the 15,000 books he had stockpiled in his Oceanside home, where he ran an online business, and put them in the basement of his new store, Village Book Shoppe in Rockville Centre, where he sells new and used books.

“The business just outgrew my house, and I figured the next step to grow was maybe get a retail store and run the online stuff from the basement,” Schmidt said.

His used books — everything from Harlequin romances to histories — sell at half the retail price, and his online business allows him to have a large bargain book section upstairs, with new releases and New York Times bestsellers. “The online and retail store play off of each other,” Schmidt said. “If I have a book that’s not selling on the retail end, I’ll bring it downstairs and sell it online. If I get some cheap online book, I can bring it upstairs and offer it to retail customers at a discount.”

Schmidt’s shop replaced one called Barely Bent Books, and now his is the only bookstore left in Rockville Centre after the Odyssey Book Shop closed in January.

Meanwhile, the closest major chains are Borders in Westbury, Barnes & Noble in Carle Place and Waldenbooks in the Roosevelt Field and Green Acres malls. Schmidt said their distances work to his advantage. “A lot of the customers want to stay local,” he said. “They don’t want to drive up to the big guys at the malls.”

His closest competitor is Chapter One Books in neighboring Oceanside. Owner Arlene Toback said that while she must contend with the distant discount chain stores and, they are only indirect competitors. “Does it hurt you? Ultimately yes, because you’d have more traffic,” said Toback, who opened her store six years ago and sells only new books. “But do I consider that my competition? No, because people who are going to shop that way are going to shop that way. People who come in here want to get things at the moment.”

Toback said her store emphasizes customer service. She provides a one-day book-delivery service, has a reading list section for Oceanside and many neighboring school districts and parochial schools, and hires people who read and know the books her customers typically enjoy. "I want to be able to talk to my customers about the books we’re selling," said Toback. “... And getting to know your customers is a great part of it, too. It’s key.”

With established bookstores, like Booklovers Paradise in Bellmore, the allure for many customers is their old or rare volumes and their ambiance. On a recent Friday afternoon, Sarah Tamsuy of Malverne stopped in at Paradise for the first time, asked owner Amnon Tishler if he took credit cards and browsed for classic novels that are on her college reading list for next semester. She walked carefully around the shop, which overflows with 50,000 books, many of them stacked waist-high on the floor. “I kind of like this atmosphere,” Tamsuy said. “I feel like there’s more to find and you can spend all day here.”

Tishler, who opened Paradise in 1990, said his store stays afloat because it is the only one of its kind for miles around, especially now, with the demise of Odyssey Books and Lazy Days. “I own the store now — I don’t pay rent,” Tishler added. “My daughter is out of college; I don’t need tons of money to make a living anymore. But for a young person to open a retail used, rare bookstore, it’s almost impossible.”

Like Lazy Days, Tishler’s walk-in business has shrunk dramatically, since virtually all the books in his store can be found for much less online. Many customers are looking for sports books, and military and history books about World War II and the Civil War are also big sellers. Half his sales now are through

Tishler started his online business in 1998. “I kind of saw the writing on the wall,” he said. He competes online by providing precise descriptions of his books, including the number of pages and their conditions, which outlets like often lack. “But there are still people who like to look and touch and smell the book before they buy,” he said.

While he is sad about the decline of the used bookstore, Tishler has resigned himself to the online world. “You have to go with the flow and the changing times,” he said.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

‘He was absolutely a leader’

Lewis Harris, innovative firefighter, dies at 87

By Joseph Kellard

Lewis Harris and Stanley Hirschfield had much in common, starting with their boyhoods in the Bronx. The same age, the cousins were Boy Scouts and lifeguards together. During World War II they enlisted in the military. And they followed their fathers’ bootsteps into the New York City Fire Department.

But in his poetic eulogy to Harris, a Lido Beach resident who died at 87 after a lengthy illness on Aug. 6, Hirschfield underscored his cousin’s distinctions throughout their lives.

“Lew would study, I would play and our differences in a way brought us both together, closer every day,” Hirschfield, 87, a retired mechanic from Massapequa, read to some 500 mourners at Harris’s elaborate, firematic funeral at Congregation Beth Shalom in Long Beach last Sunday.

“He went the way of scholars, I dickered with machines, I enlisted in the Navy, he entered the Marines.”

Harris and Hirschfield joined the FDNY in the late 1940s, with a company in Harlem. He went on to a distinguished career with various companies throughout Manhattan, marked by leadership, mentoring and innovation.

“When it came to firefighting, Lew was one of the best, and it didn’t take him long to rise above the rest.”

Harris developed and patented fire equipment. Because a 2-inch hose was too powerful to hold and a 1 1/2-inch was too small, he created a 1 3/4 -inch line that enhanced speed and mobility, according to PLLFD Chief Dennis Collins, a retired FDNY firefighter. “He was just the best,” Collins said of Harris’s devotion to his work. “He was all fire department.”

Harris became the FDNY’s chief of training, communications and operations at Randall’s Island, where he built a new training center and developed and patented two types of nozzles and a pull-down alarm box system. His other contributions were the Starfire System, which computerized the fire department in the 1970s, and the introduction of the Jaws of Life to the PLLFD, which, according to Collins, may have been the first company in Nassau County to use this tool, which helps extract motorists from cars involved in serious accidents.

“When I first met him, I was a teenage lifeguard down at the beach in Lido,” Collins recalled. “And most guys who came down would take shoes to hold down their blankets. He would come down with Local Law 5, a big building code book which was about the size of three Bibles. And that was his reading for the day.”

A graduate of George Washington High School in Manhattan and NYU’s College of Engineering, Harris was a fire science instructor for 15 years at the Delahanty Institute, a now defunct civil service school, and taught fire administration at Queens College.

“He served his country well in that vast Pacific hell, and did his duty on Okinawa. For his actions and his skills, and his leadership in the hills, he was awarded the military medal Bronze Star.”

Born May 11, 1922, in the Bronx, Harris grew to 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds, and was a lifeguard at Rockaway Beach, where Hirschfield introduced him to his future wife, Soni Silver, before he enlisted in the Army in 1940. He was soon transferred to the Marine Corps, which needed engineers, and became a demolition officer and an expert in mine disposal. First Lt. Harris served in the Tinian Unit in the Northern Mariana Islands during the invasion of Okinawa. After Japan’s surrender, he and his unit went to China to help repatriate the Japanese.

When he came home, Harris returned to lifeguarding and, with Hirschfield as his best man, married Soni in 1945. The couple moved to Lido Boulevard in Lido Beach, where they raised three children, Glenn, Heidi and Stefanie, and Lewis volunteered for the PLLFD.

“As a father, as a son, as a leader, he was one who inspired every person that he met.”

Glenn Harris, a Lido Beach resident and an FDNY firefighter, remembered that his father took him on fire calls when he was a boy. “Whenever any crisis happened and I would go to fires with him, just watching how my father would lead the men and doing what they did, he was such an inspiration,” Glenn said.
His father was a tough firefighter who was otherwise quite gentle with his children and grandchildren, Glenn added.

Heidi Harris Weitz's daughter, Samara Weitz, 21, said that her grandfather’s dedication to the fire department was equaled only by his dedication to his family. “Nicole, his other granddaughter, was a gymnast who was internationally ranked and actually made it all the way to the Olympic trials but broke her ankle there,” Weitz recalled. “He was so dedicated to her and pretty much paid for her whole gymnastics career. He would drive her to practice all the time. And he would pay for my dance classes. He was a second father to both of us.”

Her grandfather, Weitz recalled, loved the beach and sailing boats from Maine to the Caribbean, and was an avid lifeguard, swimmer and runner.

Mindy Warshaw, a Long Beach resident and a close friend of the Harrises, called Lewis an icon and a giving person whose mission in life was to save lives. “He had integrity and was a man you had a lot of respect for,” Warshaw said. “He was just an awesome and amazing man.”

Warshaw said that in recent years, as his health declined, Heidi Weitz converted part of her Blackheath Road home into an apartment for her parents, where her father died.

“There are very few people you will meet in your life like Lew,” Hirschfield said. “Anything good, he did. He was a straight shooter, he was a good athlete, and anyone had a problem, they went to him. He was absolutely a leader.”

Harris is survived by his wife, 85, his son, 55, and Weitz, 53, all of Lido Beach, and seven grandchildren. The Harrises’ daughter Stefanie pre-deceased her father. He was buried at Beth Moses Cemetery in Farmingdale.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Locals React to Iranian Unrest

By Joseph Kellard

The Lido Beach woman insisted on anonymity, fearing repercussions against her or her relatives in her native Iran — whom she lost contact with when the government began blocking phone lines there.

As hundreds of thousands of Iranians have poured onto Iran’s streets to protest the controversial June 12 presidential election, clashing with the Islamic regime’s armed forces, and as images of gunned-down demonstrators have filtered from YouTube and Facebook to CNN and Fox News, the Lido woman has watched both networks almost nonstop — though from time to time she cries so hard that she must turn off her television.

“They’re killing innocent people on the street who didn’t do anything,” the woman, 55, told the Herald. “They just want their voice to be heard. It’s not a crime to want to know where their votes went.”

While protesters charge the regime with rigging the election in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the woman believes that, at this point, nothing less than a revolution will matter. “I think all the people responsible for killing those people, they should be hanged,” she said of the ruling Islamic clerics. “Or they should pack their bags and leave.”

The woman and her husband left Iran for Queens in 1979, just before the Islamic revolution. They settled in Lido some five years later and are among a small number of Iranians on the barrier island. But just over the bridge, in Island Park, there are Iranians who are not only voicing their outrage online, but taking part in demonstrations overseas, along with a Long Beach attorney.

Manaz Ramani, 53, who moved to Island Park four months ago from Canada, is posting daily messages on Twitter about the election and Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old Iranian woman who was shot to death during a Tehran protest. Cell-phone video of her dying in her father’s arms have gone global.

“When a regime like this does this to their people,” Ramani said, “imagine if they have nuclear weapons what they going to do. These are just the new Hitlers.”

Ramani, who fled Iran after the regime’s first five years in power, believes the demonstrators are using the turmoil over the election as a pretext for regime change. “They are using this to show their overall anger with what has been going on all these 30 years,” Ramani explained. “The jailings, the torture, their not being able to dress or listen to music they want. Just simple rights they can’t do.”

While Ramani said she understands President Obama’s non-meddling approach to the unrest, she feels that he is not doing enough. She said his diplomatic approach with the ruling mullahs “won’t work,” and called on the U.S. government to go so far as to use armed force to help the protesters oust the regime.

“This is the best time to do it,” she said, “because now they have the support of the Iranian people. They need help, even just to have communication tools open.”

Others are calling for something different. Max Saatchi, a jewelry store owner in Island Park, has demonstrated for regime change since he was jailed and his store in Tehran was confiscated after he took part in a mass rally there in 1981. He and his wife, Amy, fled with fake passports and ultimately settled on Long Island with their sons, but still have more than 100 relatives in Iran.

Last week, Saatchi flew to Paris with Long Beach resident and attorney Frank McQuade to attend an annual conference to discuss Iran with American and European delegates and Iranian expatriates.

Coinciding with the upheaval in Iran, the event featured a 90,000-person rally in solidarity with the protesters, similar to other demonstrations staged last week in European capitals from London to Stockholm.

“In Europe they are more active and there are more people,” said Amy Saatchi, who noted that local Iranians rarely come forward to protest like her husband, who has demonstrated at many rallies outside the United Nations when Iranian officials have visited.

Max has remained in France this week, but McQuade returned home on Monday. “The agenda quickly became proactive,” he said of the conference, “as the expatriate leadership shifted to plans on how to use the crisis in Tehran to accelerate the push for democratic reform and regime change.”

The conference was sponsored by the People's Mujahadeen of Iran (PMOI), an organization that seeks European and American support of its effort to bring about change in Iran without U.S. troops or funding in order to restore a secular democracy, according to McQuade. The PMOI, he said, is waiting for the protest movement to gain strength and attempt to topple the government. “If the time is right,” McQuade said, “guns, fighters and organizers will slip into Iran to direct the popular protest towards regime change.”

The U.S. State Department, however, lists the PMOI as a terrorist group. In past interviews with the Herald, Saatchi has said that label is misleading because the PMOI’s aggression in Iran has only targeted the regime in order to replace the theocracy with a secular democracy, and that the Clinton administration had the PMOI put on the list to support and appease the "moderate" government elected in 1997.

McQuade said he participated in the conference primarily to lobby for U.S. support of the PMOI’s goals and its removal from the State Department list. And while, for now, he supports the Obama administration’s low-key reaction to the unrest in Tehran, he believes Obama ultimately doesn’t have the stomach to take on the Iranian regime. “His response to the protests, while prudent,” McQuade said, “does not come from a clever mind but from a timid heart.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hindu Temple Welcomes Worshipers Of All Varieties

By Joseph Kellard

Each Sunday morning, several minivans and SUVs are parked around the median outside 610 Laurelton Blvd. The unassuming two-story white house there is a Hindu temple, where sitar sounds from a Casio keyboard may be foreign to those of other faiths, but not the Hindu priest’s altruistic ethics.

“Rise to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves,” said Rory Ram, the 40-something priest who sat on the floor lotus-style at a service in March. That day, some 45 worshipers sat shoeless on white linen sheets that covered the living room-turned-sanctuary’s carpet, as the smell of curry from the kitchen permeated the house.

Later, during the standard two-hour Sunday service, a pre-teen boy who sat beside Ram echoed his message: “Service to others is service to God.”

Founded in 1989, the Maha Shiva Mandir — Temple of Great Lord Shiva — is one of only a few Hindu temples in Nassau County. Its congregants live mostly in Long Beach, but many come from throughout Long Island and as far away as the Bronx and New Jersey.

Jennifer Harricharran, an accountant and the temple’s secretary, lived and worshiped in Queens before she moved to Long Beach 19 years ago and helped found the temple. “It’s the only one for a few miles around, so it’s a little community,” she said. “In Queens they have about 30 and anyone can go to any of them. Here you basically have one place, so you have to be a family.”

Harricharran, the other founders and many worshipers are native to Guyana, South America, and they practice Sanatan Bharma, which means “an eternal way of life” and that their temple is open to all comers. “Because of the tolerance that we preach,” Ram said, “we’re able to accommodate everybody.”

As proof, he mentioned the temple-goers who come from many walks of life — lawyers, doctors, teachers, sales reps, the unemployed — and explained that some are of difference races.

Katrina Meyer of Oyster Bay first attended services at Maha Shiva Mandir last year with her boyfriend, and was made to feel very welcomed, she said. Meyer has since visited other temples in Nassau and Queens, some of them much larger. “It’s very intimate, the Long Beach gathering,” she said, “and I think it’s beautiful like that, and I really enjoy it because you really are coming together and you feel part of it.”

On Sunday, March 15, the temple emptied out early, because congregants were headed to a parade in Queens that celebrates Phagwah, the festival of colors, a holiday that ushers in spring and the Hindu New Year, and highlights the tolerance that is a central tenet of Hinduism.

“We cannot say there are certain hard and fast rules, that this is what you have to follow and do as an individual to be a part of this group,” Ram said as he prepared to leave. “It’s like many different colors: You have to appreciate each color for what it is, and you cannot say because I like red that red is the best color or higher than anyone else.”

Yet Ram indicated that courage, truth and helping others were attributes that makes followers more devout Hindus. And the temple’s elder priest, Ramnarine Tiwari, 78, suggested that Hindus face judgment days. As he described reincarnation, perhaps the religion’s most widely known belief, he said that at death, before a believer’s soul can live on in another body, the lord Shiva analyzes and assesses his actions on earth.

“Based on your merits, you may come back as a human being, the highest order of animal,” Tiwari explained. “... So you have to do your best to carry the right deeds — if you don’t, you will not be able to come back as a human being, but as a lower creature.”
Against a wall in the temple stand statuettes of several gods. Worshipers pray to them through another major god, Shiva, who represents peace and tranquility, said Ramcharran Harricharran, a co-founder of the temple. “Shiva shows you that you can control everything by controlling the mind,” he said. “If your mind is out of control, your life is out of whack.”

When regular temple-goer Ramrattie Persaud, a Long Beach resident and a phlebotomist at Nassau University Medical Center, was going through tumultuous times, she prayed to Durga Mata, the matriarchal power behind Shiva. “I was devoting more time to Durga Mata because I believe she is the destroyer of all evil,” Persaud said.

The temple’s services are filled with music. Congregants young and old play an array of instruments, from the dholak (a drum) and the dhantal (a medal rod that sounds like a triangle) to the mandolin and dish-sized gongs.

Ramcharran Harricharran chiefly plays the harmonium, an accordion-like organ, but during one service he handed it over to a young girl. Giving children the opportunity to take part is seen as a form of passing the Hindu culture from one generation to the next, said Ram, who added that music is among the most effective ways for people to understand the concepts he preaches.

“It is through participation, not through lectures, that one learns best,” he said. “The first form of devotion that a person can have is the ability to listen, and Hinduism provides this ritual of listening through music.”

When the temple was first established, the services were held in the basement of another home on Laurelton. Tiwari, a retired sugar chemist who arrived in Long Beach from Guyana 30 years ago, bought the house the worshippers now use with donations from congregants, and took out a mortgage with another founder.

“We had a handful of Indians living in Long Beach, so we thought of mobilizing ourselves together in order to offer prayers at large and to keep the community together so that they can remember where they came from,” he said.
The temple’s president, Mahadeo Persaud, said that the number of worshippers has never been higher, estimating that there are 150 in all.

“Right now,” he offered as an explanation, “people enjoy our priests.”

Meyer, who was raised a Lutheran but was also exposed to Judaism and Catholicism, said she believes that because people are taught from an early age to hold to one faith, they fear exploring other religions, but she likes to attend services of different beliefs. “When you go in there,” she said of the temple, “it feels very exotic, and it’s like you’ve entered into another country or realm.”

The Piano Is An Afterthought

Local church organists love their instrument

By Joseph Kellard

One wears worn, special dance-like shoes so he can shift his feet on the pedals more easily. The other, nearly six decades his junior, doffs his dress shoes to play in his socks. But while Dr. Denis Nicholson, 77, and Andrew Clavin, 19, prefer different footwear, they share a passion for the organ.

Nicholson has been the head organist at St. Ignatius Church, on West Broadway, since the Kennedy administration. Clavin earned the same title at St. Mary of the Isle Church across town last September. While the two men do not know each other, both said they prefer the organ to the piano, and both offered the same explanation why.

“The organ is a much more colorful instrument,” Nicholson said after playing at a recent Sunday Mass. “With all the different possible combinations of sound, you can more or less orchestrate the music.”

Calling the organ “the king of instruments,” Clavin said, “There’s just so many sounds and registrations to it.”

Nicholson plays a three-keyboard electric Rogers organ that overlooks the St. Ignatius sanctuary from its perch in the choir loft. He presses large buttons, called stops, that light up as they feed the organ’s mix of sounds, from flutes to violins to oboes. The console of his instrument bespeaks a musician at home in his element, with stacks of well-thumbed sheet music, a dusty lamp and a strategically placed mirror that he uses to get his cues from Msgr. Donald Beckmann on the altar below.

When Nicholson, a still-practicing internist in his West Penn Street home office, sets his stethoscope aside, he’s likely at St. Ignatius, whether practicing with the choir on Friday evenings, accompanying the choir at Sunday masses or preparing for the church’s seasonal concerts, such as Handel’s “Messiah” at Christmastime.

At a recent Sunday noon Mass, as always, Nicholson played his favorite Renaissance and Baroque pieces. “Those composers knew how to write for the human voice,” he said.
As worshipers filled the main aisle below, receiving Communion, he led the choir through “Prayer for Jesus.” Later, as the service ended and as congregants filed out of the church, Nicholson and the choir began “Take Up Your Cross.”

The music he plays, Nicholson said, is tied to his spirituality. He fondly quoted St. Augustine: “He said, ‘He who sings prays twice.’”

Across town at St. Mary’s, Clavin plays a two-keyboard Allen electric that stands beside the altar. In contrast to Nicholson’s clutter, Clavin’s instrument bears just a bottle of Poland Spring and a few song books he used during a recent Sunday noon service. At one point, his cell phone vibrated, and he padded off in his socks to a back room to take the call.

The cantor was absent that day, and Clavin has no choir, so he led the hymns himself, summoning his best baritone. He played “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” a hymn based on Psalm 90, and, being that it was Lent, his recessional hymn was “Lord, Who Throughout These 40 days.”

In the past four years, Clavin has played at a number of congregations in and around his native New Hyde Park and beyond. He carries a business card and isn’t shy about handing it out. Last year, through a recommendation, St. Mary’s asked him to play at a funeral. He was later invited to play at all of the church’s funerals, weddings, and weekend services.

Nicholson, too, got off to an unusually early start as an organist, playing for the first time at St. Ignatius when he was 17. He grew up in Manhattan, visited Long Beach with his family each summer and sang in the St. Ignatius choir before playing the parish’s original pipe organ at Sunday Masses.

From 1957 to 1960, Nicholson served in the U.S. Public Health Service and was stationed in Boston, but he drove to Long Beach each weekend to perform at St. Ignatius. “This is where I used to come and worship, but I also love the acoustics in this church — they’re tremendous,” he said. “I’ve sung in many other places, but the acoustics here are unreal.”

The day after he finished his medical residency at a Bronx VA hospital in 1963, Nicholson moved to Long Beach, opened a practice and has been working — and playing at St. Ignatius — ever since. Among his most memorable performances with the choir was a 9/11 ceremony a few years after the attacks, when they performed Brahams’s “Requiem.”

Clavin’s experience is measured not in years, but in the many places of worship he has played. What distinguishes St. Mary’s? “It’s a very homey parish,” he said.

His parents bought him a keyboard when he was 9, and he taught himself to play after Sunday church services. Now he’s learning piano as well, but not because he is switching allegiance. A sophomore liberal arts major at Nassau Community College, he is studying piano to help him with his music-reading skills.

And while not settled on a career just yet, he is certain where he wants to go musically. “I definitely want to see myself playing organ for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Businesses must court the Millennials

Marketing instructor stresses embracing interactive media

By Joseph Kellard

Leone Baum has problems with the way younger people are communicating, with text and instant messages, MySpace postings and Twitter updates. “I don’t think it’s helping our social situation by never looking at or touching people,” said Baum, vice president of the Hempstead Chamber of Commerce.

While some sociologists may agree with Baum, Mitch Tobol, a partner in the Amityville-based marketing firm CGT Marketing, sees that attitude toward interactive media as bad for business. “Instead of trying to push it away, embrace it,” Tobol stressed to Baum and some 70 other businessmen and women at a seminar on March 12, titled “Successful Marketing in Challenging Times,” at Hofstra.

Tobol’s oft-repeated theme is that there are always business opportunities, regardless of the economic conditions, and one of the places to find them is the rapidly expanding world of blogs, iPhones and Google alerts.

“It’s not just about the economy,” he said. “If you want to market successfully, you need to understand the environment you’re in.”

While Tobol’s PowerPoint presentation touched on everything from branding to pricing to purchasing patterns, he tied it all to what has become the marketing world’s major focus: the Internet and youth. As the relevance of the baby boom generation and traditional marketing methods — particularly advertising — wanes, interactive technology, and the new generation of “millennials,” are on the rise. By 2015, this generation, generally acknowledge to have begun in 1977, will become the U.S.’s largest demographic segment.

This has already caused seismic shifts in marketing, with tech-savvy consumers who can instantly find competitive services and products, Tobol explained. “The marketing message is now in the hands of the consumers,” he said. “They are all-powerful.

Technology allows them to send and receive messages in seconds, and they tell everybody — everybody — what they are thinking. This is a totally new dynamic in marketing. If you are not aware of it, you need to be.”

Today, consumers can register their evaluations of businesses and their products and services on, which offers “unbiased reviews by real people,” and similar Web sites. “When someone writes something bad about your business, engage that person,” Tobol said, noting that complaints are a window into a company’s weaknesses.

He talked about how CEOs of major companies, including General Motors, keep daily blogs, making it possible for consumers to write to them — access those consumers have never had.

Tobol stressed that in the age of the Internet, it is critical for businesses not only to have a Web site, but make it distinct from those of their competitors. “It’s where more and more people, every single day, will experience your firm for the very first time,” he said.

Gary Curley, a plumber from Suffolk County who attended the seminar, said he is “old school” when it comes to his Web site. “He mentioned constantly updating your site and being interactive with it,” Curley said. “That kind of put the light on me a little bit there.”

After listening to Tobol, Curley said, he understood that he needed to make better use of social and business networking sites to promote himself as an extension of his company. “He really opened my eyes to the fact that using them could be a good marketing strategy,” he said.

Tobol described Facebook, MySpace and other networking sites as the “new frontier” in marketing. He cautioned that while some people successfully use Facebook for business, the site focuses primarily on social networking. “If you go full force in business on it,” he said, “a lot of people are bound to turn you off.”

Many merchants fail to take advantage of the business-to-business sites LinkedIn and Plaxo, Tobol said. Another attendee, Carine Ulano-Firestone, who sells jewelry, gifts and accessories online from her Bellmore home, said she was in the dark about these sites until she attended Tobol’s marketing courses at Hofstra’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program.

Another member of the audience, Pat Savella, who owns a decorating business, said she plans to take Tobol’s advice to nurture existing clients — the people most likely to do business, who he termed “low-hanging fruit” — because they are the best return on any company’s marketing dollar. “I’m going to try go back to those customers instead of trying to deal with the ones who are always trying to lowball everything,” Savella said. “I’ve learned to appreciate the clients I have and work with them more.”

Baum, who regularly attends business-related seminars and relays what she learns to the Hempstead Chamber, said that Tobol had impressed on her the importance of business Web sites and interlinking them. “A lot of our businesses in our chamber already do have Web sites,” she said, “but some are terrible, and I do think that they should be linking their sites with our Chamber and other Chambers.”

Home Sweet First Home

Rookie buyers crowd Long Beach housing market

By Joseph Kellard

In January, Ray Sackman closed on his first home, a one-bedroom, one-bath condo on West Broadway. The 28-year-old mortgage trader — who has an apartment in Rego Park and splits time between the two —is part of a nationwide trend that has not escaped Long Beach.

That is, a growing number of home buyers are first-timers, many of them 20- and 30-somethings capitalizing on lower prices and interest rates in the wake of the mortgage and banking crisis. According to the National Association of Realtors, 41 percent of buyers in 2008 were first-timers, up from 36 percent in 2006.

Although local real estate agents have no precise data on this trend in the city, some of them said that over the past six to nine months, first-timers have mostly snatched up condos or co-ops at prices ranging between $250,000 and $400,000 with interest rates at around 5 percent, down from the pre-crisis 6 to 6 1/4 percent rates.

“People who have something to sell must wait until they’ve freed up their cash before they do something,” said Miriam Gold, owner of Paul Gold Real Estate. “So the first-time home buyer is really in a good position.”

Sackman said that in addition to the favorable market, he wanted to buy in the community where he has been surfing for many years. “I just decided that it was time to get a place of my own and that I also get a place where I can escape,” he said. He looked at many homes on the Internet before contacting a broker, and viewed six condos in Long Beach before deciding on his new home. He took out a loan on the $340,000, 700-square-foot unit and put down 40 percent.

Joyce Coletti, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, said that most new buyers are taking out loans, but banks now want to see anywhere from 20 to 40 percent down, when a few years ago the average was 10 percent or less — even zero. Coletti said that business has picked up considerably with the federal stimulus package offering home buyers an $8,000 credit.

Gold said that new buyers are moving in all around town, and Coletti said that at the Windward condos on West Broadway, where Sackman lives, 14 out of the 28 units have been sold to first-time owners at prices ranging from $199,000 to $399,000. Teachers, firefighters and police officers, she said, are buying one-bedroom, studio and Junior 4 units, the last having a separate dining area that can be converted into a second bedroom.

One New York City police officer, Lou Casto, said he didn’t need a loan, and put 23 percent down on a $220,000 oceanfront studio with a terrace at 250 Shore Road. Single, living in Bayridge and prepared to close on his new unit by next week, Casto, 39, had already rented two other places in Long Beach. After much research, he decided to buy in the city, and took the first place Coletti showed him.

“I like the beach, I like that it has the railroad with direct access to the city, and I like the gyms and movie theater,” Casto said of Long Beach. “It’s like a Bayridge on the ocean.”

Coletti noted that a comparable unit in Casto’s building sold for $260,500 in April 2006. She said the market began to fall in Long Beach around September 2007, and since then prices are down on condos and co-ops by 15 percent, and on houses by 20 percent.

According to sales data collected by the New York State Association of Realtors, the median sales price of single-family homes in Nassau County in the fourth quarter of 2006 was $480,000, and for the same quarter of 2008 it was $425,000, an 11.5 percent drop.

Josephine Lobel owns a home in Island Park that her husband, Adam, rebuilt when they bought it three years ago, but they recently bought their first home on the barrier island. The couple moved quickly to buy another fixer-upper, a split ranch with four bedrooms and two baths on Regent Drive in Lido Beach, and is still trying to sell their Island Park home. They paid $460,000, putting 20 percent down on their new home, which, Coletti said, would have sold for $500,000 just a couple of years ago.

“This house really was a no-brainer for us,” said Josephine. “It’s a big corner lot at a really good price for Lido Beach. We jumped on it because whatever condition a house is in, my husband can fix it up.”

Josephine, who grew up in the close quarters of Long Beach’s West End but wanted to raise her family in a home with more property, said she looked at many homes on the Internet before visiting about five.

Gold and Coletti said that in the recent past they would only have to show three to six homes to prospective buyers, but these days they show as many as 15 to 25 before customers make decisions. “People are being cautious and just being certain about what they want,” said Gold, adding that she has seen two buyers’ markets in her 45 years in Long Beach real estate. “A lot of people don’t know exactly if they want a home, a condo or a co-op, so it’s been a little bit of an educational process.”

Coletti, who is recognized for selling the most homes on the barrier island each year for the past decade, said today’s buyers are showing considerably more discretion, especially when it comes to price. “In 2006, if you showed them a nice apartment, they bit on it right then and there,” she said “Now they want to see 15 other one-bedrooms before they make up their mind because they need the lowest price possible.”

Coletti noted that what’s also new is that some potential buyers are bidding on two or three units at a time. “It doesn’t matter if they like a place a lot or not,” she said. “They’re all looking for the best deal first.”

Spin Drills Replace Depositions

Point Lookout attorney closes law books to train triathletes

By Joseph Kellard

Kerry Simmons grew tired of figuratively banging her head against the wall as a civil defense attorney. So now her energetic voice bounces off the walls of the Hofstra swim center, where she trains triathletes full-time.

With stopwatch in hand, in sneakers and an oversized T-shirt, Simmons trotted back and forth along the length of the pool on a recent Tuesday evening, instructing and encouraging 13 triathletes in the water below her. Simmons directed the mix of men and woman to swim at full speed while crowded together, to simulate the chaotic start of a triathlon.

“Ready, go!” she yelled repeatedly, and as her charges churned through the water, she counted the seconds aloud: “... 34, 35, 36, 37…”

Meanwhile, her husband of three years, Kevin, an attorney, a triathlete and her business partner, worked poolside with a quickly winded newcomer, Joe DeSimone, demonstrating proper freestyle stroke technique. “The quick drills were just too fast for me,” said DeSimone, a Williston Park resident training for his first triathlon this summer.

Kevin Simmons explained that the drills he and his wife use on their trainees are designed to fatigue the swimmers from the start. “The race starts fast, you get tired and then you have to learn how to relax and change your pace for the middle of the race,” he said.

The Point Lookout couple started their new business, First Wave Tri, in January with six triathletes. Since then they have recruited some 40 more students of varying skills, ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s. Kerry Simmons’s success in the sport has been a major draw: She is well known in the rapidly growing triathlon community in the metropolitan area and beyond, a three-time USA Triathlon All-American and a three-time Team USA national and world team member. She is ranked among the top 10 triathletes in the nation in her age group, 40 to 44.

Kevin, 57, a 25-year veteran of the sport, is ranked No. 1 in his age group in the Northeast. He is also the senior attorney at a practice in Syosset whose clients include Fortune 500 companies --- and where Kerry worked briefly after a 10-year stint as a prosecutor for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.

Most recently, she spent four years working for a civil law office, and that experience was the springboard to her new life as a triathlete trainer. “With civil law, it was just two opposite ends always butting heads,” Simmons said. “It just got difficult to spend your days fighting all the time.”

In what she calls her “aha! moment,” Simmons was working on a case in which her female client was suing a store where she injured her toe. Simmons was one of eight attorneys in a room taking her deposition while they argued among themselves. “I remember looking around the table and thinking, What are we all doing here?” she said, her voice as high-energy as her poolside demeanor. “What’s the point of this? It just seemed like an odd way to spend your life and career, fighting over a stubbed toe, on a case costing thousands and thousands of dollars that clearly could have been resolved on the first court appearance. At that moment I thought, I have to do something else. I have to do something I’m passionate about.”

In January 2008, after a long career as a competitive swimmer and seven years of competing in triathlons, Simmons earned her certification as trainer. A year later, as far as she and Kevin know, they are the only full-time triathlon team on Long Island.

“Our goal is to have a very close-knit group of athletes that get a lot of personal care and attention, that we coach on a really one-on-one basis — and that they know they’re getting from us a quality program,” Simmons said. “We’re very hands-on. We know all our athletes.”

In addition to their Tuesday swim drills, the group bikes together in a spin class on Sundays at North Shore Fitness in East Meadow, after which they run together in neighboring Eisenhower Park.

When Jennifer Morrissey of Williston Park joined First Wave Tri in January, she couldn’t finish a lap in the pool, stopping four times along the way. A runner, Morrissey was looking for a new challenge, and now she is training for her first triathlon, in Pawling this June.

“They’re great, very encouraging,” she said of the Simmonses, then added, with a laugh, “And they’re not mean.”

The couple train athletes mostly for short, sprint-style triathlons that include a half-mile swim, a 12-mile bike leg and a 5K run. But others are advanced enough to compete in an Ironman, the sports’ most demanding event: a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile second leg on a bike and a full 26.2-mile marathon.

Rob Kolb, a Long Beach resident and an educator in Lynbrook, is preparing for his first Ironman in Lake Placid this July. Kerry Simmons listens and leads better than anyone else he has worked with, he said. “I’ve had coaches with tons of experience, but it’s all about the person, it’s all about the character, it’s all about who you want to associate yourself with, who you want to emulate,” Kolb said. “That’s what I tell my kids: The person you want to emulate is the person who you want to coach you.”

The First Wave Tri training plan includes a detailed description of every workout, a nutrition plan, a focus on race goals, and Kerry’s high-energy, personalized feedback. “We bike, swim and run with them,” Roberta Leventhal of Roslyn, one of the elder trainees, said of the Simmonses. “They care more than anyone in the world and they’re fun. They’re a great duo.”

Leventhal has competed in a few triathlons, but didn’t fare too well. Now, under the tutelage of her new trainers, she anticipates better results, and her newfound confidence is obvious. “This year,” she said about her upcoming races, “I’m going to kick butt.”

Reviving the Walks

New civic association to address neighborhood neglect

By Joseph Kellard

Call it the second coming of the Walks Neighborhood Association. The Long Beach civic group, established in 1998 but disbanded a couple of years later, has been resurrected by a group of newer residents.

According to President Allison Kallelis and grant officer Jamie Lynch, the first association fizzled out because City Hall was unresponsive to its calls for neighborhood improvements. The new officers, however — who have recruited some original members — hope to turn the page and begin a new chapter with the city.

Kallelis and other Walks residents have met several times with City Manager Charles Theofan since last summer to discuss their concerns about the historic 10-block neighborhood that is without street access, driveways or garages. Most problems relate to parking, sewage and homes that are expanding or subdividing properties.

Kallelis said that the city’s zoning board has made some favorable decisions on development and other building issues in their neighborhood. The association leadership was scheduled to meet with Theofan again this week to discuss parking, and it has invited the City Council to its May 4 meeting.

“The meetings with the city so far have been very productive,” said Lynch, who has lived on May Walk with his family for five years.

At the March 17 City Council meeting, Lynch, Kallelis and some 25 fellow Walks Association members joined other city residents seeking to obtain funds through the city’s community development program. The Walks Association wants the city to install new decorative street signs and light posts. They have planned fundraisers to pay for other beautification projects.

The neighborhood is bounded by West Park Avenue to the north and West Beech Street to the south. A total of 10 walks run north-south, paralleling Lindell Avenue, the eastern border, and New York Avenue to the west. There are about 28 houses per walk, and 300 in all.

Kallelis, who moved from Yonkers to September Walk with her husband, Alex, eight years ago, said that residents began building new, larger homes or expanding existing ones about four years ago, during the housing boom. But the neighborhood had no representation on the zoning board.

“Some of the neighbors and I were talking and we were saying, ‘This is ridiculous, we have no power. If we had a bigger voice, maybe we could get some things changed here,” Kallelis recalled.

Last year she talked with Jim Hennessy, a former City Council president who grew up and still lives in the Walks, and other long-time residents. They organized a meeting last fall, and Kallelis estimated that about 10 percent of the neighborhood attended. In December the group elected a five-member board, and they have been holding periodic meetings since.

“There were a lot of people eager to be involved,” Kallelis said, adding that there are some 50 association members who participate to varying degrees.

Bob Reed, a board member who has lived on September Walk for a year, said he believes that a key to the association’s success is to generate good will among neighbors. “It’s important for residents to get to know each other, and the best way to do that is through courteousness,” said Reed, who lends a hand in shoveling snow from the narrow sidewalk. “From this, you’re likely to get more participation and representation.”

Focusing first on beautification projects, the group would like to replace the 50 street signs that are bent, rusted or have been vandalized, at a cost of about $35,000. Members also want to install light posts, but Theofan said that project may not materialize for another year or longer.

Each year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides grants to Long Beach’s Community Development program, a portion of which can go to nonprofits like the Walks Association to fund improvements.

“The Walks have been a much-neglected neighborhood in our community,” Theofan said. “It’s about time we give them the attention that they deserve.”

Beyond beautification, the neighborhood faces some large-scale infrastructure issues attributable to long-term neglect. The aging sewage system needs to be replaced, but its pipes run through residents’ yards because of the absence of streets. Further complicating matters in a neighborhood known for its tight quarters are state health regulations that require sewer pipes be a certain distance from water pipes.

“So you have to figure out the practical problems of where you’re going to put things,” Theofan said. “These items need to be tended to, and it’s just a matter of when. But we’re starting the process of seeing what needs to be done, accessing it and looking at the cost and trying to put it into the capital improvement plan.”

Lynch said he understands that some projects may take some time to get under way, particularly in a struggling economy. If the city is not responsive, however, as some walks residents have complained in the past, “Then we’ll have to make monthly visits up to City Hall,” Lynch said. “Maybe even weekly, if need be.”

The Walks’ military beginnings

The historic Walks neighborhood was first developed in 1917 and 1918, when the U.S. military took over the Nassau Hotel (now the Ocean Club condos) and Long Beach was turned into a military settlement.

The original uninsulated, prefabricated bungalows were built for $2,500 by Milton Kolb, who also developed the first three blocks on the West End: New York, California and Pennsylvania. The prefabs were installed on property owned by Brooklyn developer and former State Sen. William Reynolds. The homes were meant for summer use, so they
came with front porches and faced either east or west so they could capture the breezes from the ocean and the bay to the south and north.

“The whole design of the walks was to build houses without street access, but an aside was the breezes,” said Roberta Fiore, a Long Beach historian, who noted that for $500 more than the selling price, a chimney could be built for winter use.

In 1928, single-level bungalows were built alongside the original homes by Louis Bossert, a Brooklyn lumber producer who developed the future city’s second wave of homes after World War I. St. Ignatius Church on West Broadway was built for the Walks community in 1926.

In the mid-1950s tenants began living in the Walks year-round, and by the 1970s, by most accounts, a majority of residents did so. “When the Walks became an all-year-round community, the expression then was, ‘Throw some heat in the bungalows,’” Fiore said. — JK