A Former Ridgewoodite Shares Memories For Times’ Readers
For the younger generations
Mrs. Meyers shared a number of snapshots and other photographs with the Old Timer, saying she had been meaning to write her memories of growing up in Ridgewood for many years. She wanted to pass information down to the younger generations of her family and wondered if the readers of the Times Newsweekly would have any interest in her memories.
She was encouraged to proceed with documenting her life, as many readers enjoy the experiences of local residents in less complex, but often difficult periods of our history.
Virginia Gardner was born January 1927 in Brooklyn Hospital. Here is her story:
She was brought home to an upstairs apartment at 2032 Grove St. where her parents had lived since their marriage in 1922. Also living in the apartment was her grandmother, Ida Kerber and her uncle, Charles Kerber.
The three-story brick house between Grandview and Fairview Avenues was owned by the Geist family, who also occupied one of the apartments. She noted that she lived in three different buildings on that block (2032, 2038 and 2033) at various times before moving further out on Long Island in 1956,
The Gardner-Kerber family only lived in the Grove Street apartment for 2 or 3 years after Virginia’s birth, and they then moved to a two-family house at 68-18 64th Pl., Glendale. Virginia’s uncle, Charlie Kerber, had married and moved to an apartment on Madison Street, so there were just four now living in the first floor apartment.
Difficult times -
The Great Depression
Mrs. Meyers makes note of a difficult period in the lives of most Americans, and people in many other countries in the Western world, the Great Depression.
She writes: “ ... these good family times were abruptly changed when my father left us in March 1932, the height of the Depression, and we had to seek less expensive living quarters. We then moved to 59-24 Putnam Ave., a four-room cold water flat in a six-family house between 60th Ave. and Forest Ave.
“Our family now consisted of me, my mother, my grandmother, and her brother, Louie Nicholas, who supported us.
Remembering the neighbors
“The other occupants of that house were the Thadens, a French- American couple who had the apartment above us. They were childless, so they often let me play in their apartment.
“Above them were Mrs. Schmidt and her daughter, Helen, about five years older than I. In the apartment next to ours lived the Allgiers who had a son about my age. I remember his large collection of metal soldiers which we hid behind chair legs, etc. and had “wars.”
“I don’t remember who lived in the apartment above them, but on the top floor were the Dietzes. They may have owned the house or they were the janitors. There were two teenaged boys — one was Dickie but I can’t remember the other boy’s name. Mrs. Dietz used to make her own soap which was probably common in those Depression days, but it was fascinating to me.
The best memories are
of lifetime friends
“My very best memories of my childhood were the nine years that I lived on Putnam Avenue. There I met three girls who were to become lifelong friends.
“In the house next door lived Doris Thumser, a girl just six months older than I; Constance Walters lived two properties away in the other direction and was about one and a half years younger; and Helen Low lived across the street and was exactly one year younger. The important point that made us inseparable friends was the fact that we were “only” children— no siblings and our parents were happy to have us play and eat in each others homes.
Playing on the steps of the Queens Labor Lyceum “Since in those summer days we played outside from morning until dinner time, I have fond memories of all the games we played. We were fortunate that the Queens Labor Lyceum was on the corner of Forest and Putnam avenues and it had a very large wide concrete staircase that led upstairs to a catering hall. We used that staircase as our “apartment house” and each girl had three or four steps as her home with her doll.
The Dy-Dee doll
“One of the favorite dolls of that time was the Dy-Dee doll–the first of the bottle-drinking, diaper-changing dolls that later included the Betsy- Wetsy and others. The other dolls we played with very often were small, about four or five inches, and we had small enameled metal carriages about eight or nine inches long.
“We tied a string to the carriage handle so we could pull it along behind us. I have searched in antique shops and have never seen a carriage like that or met any other woman my age that had such a thing–but we played more with those than with or big doll carriages.
“Someone in the neighborhood gave us a stack of cloth squares in all different colors and patterns and we made clothes for those little dolls with the help of two teenagers, Helen Schmidt, who lived in the same house as I, and Marie Kahaly who lived across the street
Old Timer’s Note: The Queens Labor Lyceum, at the northeast corner of Forest and Putnam avenues was originally the Joseph Meyerrose mansion, erected in 1906; the building still stands today.
Meyerrose was born in the 1850s in his father’s farmhouse on Woodward Avenue, a short distance north of Catalpa Avenue. He served for a number of years as captain of Ridgewood’s private police force. The force was funded by the area picnic park proprietors and major businessmen to maintain order and keep the peace each weekend when hordes of men traveled from New York City and the City of Brooklyn to visit the many German picnic parks and beer gardens in rural Ridgewood.
Meyerrose also served as Queens County sheriff, one of several Ridgewood area men who filled this office and who collectively were known as the “Ridgewood Dynasty”. The Meyerrose Mansion was also occupied for a time by Frank Adel, an attorney and later a judge, who was the sonin law of Joseph Meyerrose.
To be continued
Post new comment