A Collaborative Effort To Learn More About Photographer Percy Loomis Sperr

About 10 years ago, when I first started searching for photos of old New York City I was drawn to the incredible archive of shots available on the New York City Public Library website (nypl.org). The website contains one of the best collections of New York City photography from the 20th century and is a treasured resource on the internet. It contains a wealth of photos from various periods dating back to the 1800s, but a particular strength of the collection is photos in the 1920s to 1940s range.

The reason for that strength is the work of photographer PL Sperr, who took photos mainly in the 1920 to 1940 period, thousands of them. Whether it was in the Bronx or Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Staten Island, hundreds of photos taken by Sperr could be found. I couldn’t help but be curious about him, but searches at the time turned up very little. So I decided to try to research the person whose photos were themselves such a valuable research tool.

I found a collection in 2013 of Sperr’s photos at the Mariners Museum and Park in Newport News Virginia, and through museum curator Tom Moore, I was directed to an article about Sperr written by Tony Peluso that gave some description of his life. From that and a few other tidbits I wrote a blog piece on Sperr in 2013. He was from Ohio, he aspired to be a writer, he particularly loved Staten Island, and walking was difficult for him because of a childhood disease, and his full name was Percy Loomis Sperr. It was a start, but unfortunately that was as much information as I was able to find, that is until now.

Thankfully a Staten Island CUNY history professor Susan Smith-Peter and her students in the fall devoted time to writing their own blog pieces about Sperr and did a great deal to unravel the details of Sperr’s life. They unearthed a lot of his work, including a lot of his written material, and other additional information about him. The following is the details of eight blog pieces from Smith-Peter’s class, all fantastic in their own right, all of which give us much more insight into Sperr and who he really was.

1. Sanie BardicBerenice Abbott and Percy Loomis Sperr: Influences and Divirgences
Sanie Bardic compared Sperr’s work to that of Berenice Abbott. Abbott is one of many peers of Sperr who have become household names in the historical photo industry, while Sperr has remained unknown. Bardic observes that Sperr seems more interested in looking at how his structures changed over time, and how he looked at buildings most closely than Abbott. Sanie notes that Sperr included more supporting landscape in his photos while Abbott just focused on the building. This might help explain why Abbott’s photos became highly regarded right away, as they had more social perspective, but that Sperr’s building comparisons and landscape shots are more useful now for those of us who want to see the historical framework of the photos.

2. Krista Borst — A Forgotten 1930s Photobook of Staten Island
Borst pointed out a few important stops on the Sperr timeline that we may have come across before but bear worth mentioning again so I am glad she did. Sperr had a bout with meningitis when he was a child, while he did survive, it left him handicapped for the rest of his life. So we have to take into account that Sperr, who may have taken the most location photos of any one person in the history of New York city during his era, did it entirely while on crutches. It only makes more fascinating his efforts. She also notes that he graduated from Oberlin College and came to New York in 1917. The 1917 date is significant because his photographic proficiency doesn’t really pick up until about 1924.

Borst also examined Sperrs 1937 book, Island Scenes which is a true rarity, it is something I had no idea he created. Sperr selected 130 photographs from over 5,000 he had taken, all covering Staten Island. This is notably different than the standalone short caption photos we are used to seeing from Sperr.

He was considered the unofficial photographer of the city, but in many ways he really was the little guy’s photographer as Sperr gave us detail about parts of the city we have never seen before. Sperr often included history behind his photos such as owners and date built of structures on the back of his photos. Borst points out that Staten Island was really the most unassuming of all the boroughs and the “ancient houses” there, Sperr seemed to have an attention to the historical legacy of his subjects.

3. Eli GottesmanA Contemporary Analasis of Sperr’s Photography
Gottesman looked at the 150th anniversary and historical pageant that took place at the Conference House in Staten Island which took place in 1776. He noted that it in retrospect, looking back now it reveals exposed prejudices and stereotypes of the time. Indigenous tribes were at the time portrayed instead of by Native Americans, by white people, something that has become considered insensitive by todays standards. Gottesman reveals the irony that at the time when then President Coolidge’s stated “that [the US] is the preeminent support of free speech throughout the world, that in reality most Americans were not experiencing full representation in American life and politics.” The concept that the photographer of the time reveals social injustice and even unrealized stereotypes is an important aspect of historical street photography and this is an excellent observation.

4. Jenny Giacomo-Kelly A Timeless Allure: Percy Loomis Sperr and the churches of Staten Island, New York
In her blog Kelly did her own photo comparison work, taking her own current shots of classic Sperr photographs and comparing them to Sperr’s shots of the same location. The first comparison Kelly did was the New Dorp Monrovian Church. She noted the following about the church “the congregation can be dated back to 1688, though a church was not erected until 1717. Adjacent to the church on three sides are three separate burial grounds dating back to the 1600s.” These are perhaps the oldest graves on Staten Island, existing here before even the church they nestle. The church itself suffered multiple fires and renovations throughout the years, but the building which was photographed by Percy Loomis Sperr was built in 1844 and still stands today.”

She did another three such comparisons and in doing so illustrates that Sperr’s work in some ways lives on forever because we can always do comparisons of what once was in a certain place in the city and what has changed to help us get a sense of our own area’s history.

While it is great that Kelly did this sort of photography comparison of Sperrs original work, more is needed. With his thousands of shots of distinct corners of the city, Sperr has given us an invaluable vantage point in time to see what was at countless locations in the city, hopefully in the future more will do similar comparison shots so we can compare the city now to its past self.

5. Kathy Long Percy Loomis Sperr: The Infinite Story of New York
Long reveals that Sperr served on the editorial board for the Oberlin College paper The Oberlin Review, adding to his pre-photography writing credits. She also unearthed another part of what Sperr did when he first got to New York City, taking photographs for Lumitone Press, a photo print company in which he took his first pictures of Staten Island.

We know Sperr was very fond of Staten Island, that he regarded it as the “Cinderella of Boroughs”. Long revealed that he was a writer for the New York Tribune in 1923 and 1924, at which time he was looking to embellish his stories with photos.

Some of the first photos Sperr took were of Staten Island library displays, so it is interesting that his own work would come to rest in the New York library. As Long says “Sperr’s attempt at making a career out of his passion for writing would be sadly short lived as there would prove to be more of a market for his photographs than his stories.” Sperr said “I am not much of a camera fan. My own interest is rather in the story than the picture.” Long found her own positive spin, stating that in its own way Sperr’s visual record of the city in its own way told a unique and interesting story. A theme that came up in many of these blog entries.

6. Adunola Sonaike Books on Wheels, Percy Loomis Sperr and the New York Public Library’s Staten Island Booklmobile
Sonaike connected Sperr’s work to that of the NYPL with its bookmobile project which made an effort to get books to the furthest reaches of Staten Island residents. When the NYPL implemented its bookwagon in the late 20s they had four locations, three on the south shore of Staten Island, but Sonaike believes this is because “of the socioeconomic status of those living on the South Shore” were more separated from the urbanization of the North Shore. People in such far removed areas probably had less access to transportation and to those library branches. It seems fitting that Sperr had such an interest in a library and that his work today can be found in a library.

7. Victor CruzPercy Loomis Sperr as A Newspaper Contributor
Cruz really did a great deal to help fill in more about those missing years of Sperr’s early days in New York once he moved here in 1917. Cruz found many newspaper articles from the early 1920s written by Sperr, and these articles helped reveal both his desire to be a writer, and where he pursued his writing interests.

Cruz found a piece Sperr wrote for the New York Herald-Tribune “Books that go do to the sea in Ships” in 1924, in which he asked the dispatcher at the Merchant Marine library what books were requested by merchant marines. In another piece Sperr interviewed an archivist in his 1924 article “asking the librarian” in which he looked at how records are kept and archived. In yet another piece Sperr inquired how maps were used for historical purposes and stored.

In 1924 Sperr wrote in detail about Staten Island architecture in his “Century Old Structures Link Staten Island To Historic Past” in which he looked at historic buildings and looked at their history. Cruz concludes “Sperrs writing career never blossomed in the way his photography did.” It is difficult to pinpoint why Sperr’s writing career failed, it is clear through the analysis of his articles that Sperr took his interest in the telling the story of the everyday New Yorker and transitioned it into his style of picture taking that he is known for today.

8. Gabrielle Courtien — The Seaport and Sperr
Courtien focused on Sperr’s love of ships and his joy of photographing seaport scenes. Gabrielle took a unique angle in addressing what may have been Sperr’s self perceived disappointment that he always wanted to be a writer and not a photographer. Courtien asserts that Sperr did in his own unique way in fact tell stories of his own with his photos, particularly when he focused on the seaport.

Sperr’s love for the waterways of New York, the harbor, the docks, the workers, and, the children who would “hang out there” is something Courtien observes that Sperr captured beautifully. Many New Yorkers live in the city, a metropolis surrounded and intertwined with waterways, and take for granted just how prominent and beautiful a role those waters play in making the city what it is.

These three photos Courtien found which make a compelling case for Sperr. A candid of a girl playing while sitting with her grandmother, another of a girl sitting while reading on a barrel while a boy plays nearby, and another of dock workers with the “booming metropolis” behind them. They all flesh out the role of water, and Sperr’s ability to see it.

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Courtien reminded me that I grow up within sight of the East River and Little Neck Bay in Bayside Queens, and I am probably guilty of taking the water around me and dismissing its beauty.


Sperr deserves his due as a photographer. He did not get the recognition Berenice Abbott and others did in the past, and his work as Sadie Bardic notes when comparing photos does come from a different perspective but captures many of the same subjects.

The thing that puts Sperr in front of other photographers of his era is the sheer volume of his work, the number of photographs he took. His archive at the NYPL is enormous. The great volume between 1927 and 1942 gives us a look into the streets of the city like no other; Sperr did his work street by street, house by house. If you want to truly get into the nooks and crannies of New York City, Sperr’s collection is the place to go.

While Sperr’s work has been available on the NYPL, the gap has been in finding out more about him, what motivated him, what interested him. There remains an irony in that Sperr wanted to take stories and used photos as a supplemental tool, but instead wound up relying almost solely on the photograph. What would Sperr think of today’s Staten Island, and what would he think of a world in which photography is instant and much of his work digitized? I think Sperr would be grateful that today we are writing about his work, telling his story, through the use of his photos and articles. I am grateful to Susan Smith-Peter for the work she and her class did is vital in helping to learn more about the man who photographed so much of New York City.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Over the Years

Ginsburg was born in 1933 and went to PS 238 and Madison High, in (as so many seem to be, from) Brooklyn. Ruth’s mother died just as she graduated high school, which affected her deeply. Her nickname in school was Kiki, and she was a serious student but as she says was never afraid to do anything the boys did, such as jumping across garage roofs. Her unique determination and strong will have become trademarks for which she is known.

It is hard to imagine the difficulty she faced blazing a trail as a woman lawyer in such a male-dominated profession at the time. She went even further, becoming a dedicated advocate for women’s rights. She eventually became only the second woman Justice on the Supreme Court in 1993. Here is a look at Ginsburg through the years

A photo on the right of Ginsburg at age two and below of her in her teens in Brooklyn.

In 1946, Ginsburg, 13, sits immediately to the left (his right) of Rabbi Harry Halpern at the East Midwood Jewish Center, a synagogue in Brooklyn, New York. Courtesy of Joan and Stuart Danoff.

In her high school days in Brooklyn.

In 1948, at age 15, Ruth was the camp rabbi at Che-Na-Wah, in Minerva, New York. Below, she is delivering a sermon.


1953 High School graduation and yearbook photo

Ginsburg when she was a senior at Cornell.

She met her husband Martin, who grew up in Rockville Centre, Long Island, on a blind date while both were at Cornell University. They married in 1954 when she graduated. She started at Harvard Law where the dean in all seriousness asked her why she was taking the place of a man at the school. She would transfer to Columbia Law and get her degree there. In the prestigous Harvard Law Review, 1957-8, Ginsburg at the far right.

 Ruth, and daughter Jane who today is 65 years old.

She was a professor at Rutgers in the 60’s and 70’s.

1972, Ginsburg, a professor at Columbia Law School (Librado Romero/The New York Times).

December 1979 with husband, Martin Ginsburg, children, James and Jane, off the shore of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Courtesy of Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Spring 1980, Ginsburg, after being nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

August 10, 1993, Ginsburg takes the Supreme Court oath from Chief Justice William Rehnquist, right, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Ginsburg’s husband Martin holds the Bible and President Bill Clinton at left.

New York 1996, Ginsburg, front right, with other prominent Jewish-Americans while standing in a maze on New York’s Ellis Island, as part of a project by photographer Frederic Brenner. Also in the front row, from left, are artist Roy Lichtenstein, actress Lauren Bacall, violinist Itzhak Perlman and playwright Arthur Miller. Adam Nadel/AP

October 1, 2010, standing, from left to right, are retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.  The only four women justices of the Supreme Court.

With Justice Scalia, who she became good friends with while on the court together.

June 1, 2017, U.S. Supreme Court. Seated, front row, from left are, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Back row, standing, from left are, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. 

For More Ruth Bader Ginsburg  you can watch the biographical ocumentary RGB  On Youtube or on Hulu and the life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg can be found here on Amazon.



Dr. Anthony Fauci: A Life of Great Images

It’s not hard to find a special appreciation for Doctor Anthony Fauci. He continues to benefit the country and the world through the development of vaccines and the application of intelligent medical practices. He has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, and he has been with the National Institute of Health since 1968. I did not know much about him until working on this piece, but now I know how remarkable a person he really is. Fauci has helped humanity triumph in the battle against diseases like AIDS, Swine Flu, MERS, Ebola, and many more. Taking on the Coronavirus is in many ways a continuation of something he has already been doing for decades.

Dr. Fauci will tell you himself how much he loves doing research and working with people. I also enjoy research, too, (as well as working with people), although the focus of my research is historical, not medical. I wanted to try to lay out the sequence of Dr. Fauci’s life through images as best as I could, in order to learn more about who he is and how he got here.

Roots in Brooklyn and Italy

Stephen Fauci, Anthony’s Father

Both of Fauci’s parents were children of Italian immigrants. Fauci spent his early years in Bensonhurst, a predominantly Italian-American area. His father, Stephen Antonio Fauci, was a pharmacist, who moved his family to the Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn to acquire a small building, where he operated a drugstore on the ground floor and his family lived in an apartment above. From an early age, Anthony (Tony) Fauci worked in the family business, tending the cash register, wrapping packages, and making deliveries. This is the corner of 13th Avenue and 83rd Street, where the pharmacy was right on the corner. (Fauci Family Collection)

Below: today, a real estate law office stands where the Fauci Pharmacy used to be. Above, the Child Photo: I came across this photo at childhoodphotography.com. The site was confident this was a photo of a young Anthony Fauci.



High School Basketball
Fauci went to Regis High School, a school for the academically gifted. Despite being only about 5’6″ Fauci became the captain of his school basketball team. Fauci is kneeling in front of the team, wearing number 4.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece on Fauci’s upset win over Fordham Prep, a team nobody expected his team would beat. Fordham Prep had Donnie Walsh, future super executive on its team. Regis came into the game with a 1 and 16 record. “Nobody gave us a chance,” said John Zeman, a Regis alumnus. “Everyone figured it was going to be a blowout.” But there was one teenager who looked at this demoralizing collection of data and came to a wildly optimistic conclusion. “Tony said no. We’re going to win this game. And we did.” (Wall Street Journal)

Holy Cross College
After Regis, Fauci went Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1962 with a degree in Classical Studies. Fauci is in the photo below, second from the right during a Biology Society Meeting. (Vocal Media)

1962 Holy Cross College Graduation

Cornell Medical College
Fauci next studied at Cornell Medical College. He graduated in 1966 with a degree in medicine, finishing first in his class. The arrow in the photo points to Dr. Fauci.


Internship, 1966-67
Fauci interned at New York Medical Hospital in New York City. He is circled below. (nih.gov photo)


NIH, LCI 1968-1984
Fauci went to work at the National Institute of Health. First as an associate and then in 1974, he became Head of the Clinical Physiology Section, LCI. He and Sheldon Wolff (circled in photo below) worked together to find a cure for Vasculitis, a disease which up until that point was usually fatal. As Fauci told NPR: “The vasculitis patients have overactive immune systems. Maybe if we gave them these toxic drugs, but in a much lower dose, it would lower the overreaction without killing them. And in fact, it not only did that, it cured the disease.” He and his colleagues, principally Sheldon Wolff, helped cure a disease that, as he has said, is not a disease that millions of people have, but people died from it, and they don’t die from it now.

Tackling AIDS
It came on suddenly in the early 1980’s. People were dying what Fauci called “horrible deaths” and it created an almost immediate health crisis. Fauci knew instinctively that he had to do something about it. Despite being warned by some that it would not help his career to do so, Fauci took AIDS head on.

Fauci felt his instincts and background, both as a New Yorker and a doctor and researcher, would give him the unique skills necessary to take on the disease and persuade an angry and frustrated AIDS community that he was on their side. It took time but as he continued to make progress, Fauci did win over the respect of many, including Larry Kramer of ACT UP, an important AIDS activist group.



In 1987, Fauci Presenting to President Ronald Reagan on AIDS.
Reagan at far left, Fauci at far right. Reagan is the first of six Presidents Fauci worked with. (NIH photo)

In 1987, Fauci with NIH director James Wyngaarden and Bush.
Fauci has said he has been offered the head NIH role several times, and he turns it down every time. He prefers the NIAID role because he feels he can be more influential while being less tied down with administrative overhead the higher position would require. (NIH)

In 1990, Fauci With President Bush.
A clip has recently emerged of then candidate for President, George Bush, at a 1988 debate, praising Doctor Fauci for his research on AIDS. Looking back, it’s inspiring to see the clip, and it’s hard to believe that the praise came over 30 years ago from a Presidential candidate. The clip can be viewed here. It’s a statement to just how long Fauci has been been at his post. He is now credited with battling back AIDS so that a person now treated with his vaccine has virtually the same life expectancy as someone without the disease.

Fauci With Mother Teresa.
This is one of the rare times Dr. Fauci appears taller than someone else. (Undated although it’s a 1997 Vanderbilt University photo.)


In 1990, Fauci With Senator Edward Kennedy. At Dr. Fauci’s Lab, Doctor Fauci is standing behind Kennedy. (NIH records photo)


In 1995, Fauci Presenting to President Bill Clinton. Fauci said Clinton had good instincts but always kept their relationship formal. (NIH)

Fauci With Chris and Dana Reeve December 15, 1996. (Fauci standing off to the right.) Reeve created the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation that is a partner with the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke. (NIH) 



In the 1990’s, Fauci With His Family. His wife, Christine Grady, is a nurse and bioethicist at the NIH. Oldest daughter Jennifer is a Harvard and Columbia graduate who has focused on young adult psychology; Megan is a Johns Hopkins grad and teacher in Louisiana. Alison who went to Stanford now works in software.


In 2008, Fauci Receiving Presidential Metal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bush. Bush said in presenting the award that Fauci showed courage even at an early age, by rooting for the Yankees while everyone else in the neighborhood were Dodger fans.

In 2012, Fauci With Sir Elton John in Washington, DC.

In 2014, Fauci With President Obama.


In 2020, Fauci with President Trump and Vice President Pence.

A photo of Fauci himself, with a wall of more photos I would love to get a look at. (Vanderbilt University photo). Fauci continues to be a welcome sight and an admired leader in our fight against disease in this country.


More Resources On Dr. Fauci and Sources For This Piece

USCF Video

NIH Information and Photos

Wall Street Journal On the Big Win

Biography.com Page

George W Bush Archives From Metal Presentation

History of Dr. Fauci’s Family

Dr. Fauci’s NIAID Director Profile Page

Debate Praise From Bush in 1988 on Fauci

NPR Profile Piece



More About Mary Sendek

Back in 2012 I did my first post on Mary Sendek. Her house stood from the mid 1870’s until 1980, but it was from 1963 until 1980 that the house stood in defiance and next to a big round Macy’s store and a Citibank branch. Last year I did a second post in which I included over 20 photos of the house and street where Mary Sendek lived. In total the post covered a period of more than 100 years.

Since my post last year, I have come across even more photos and information. These new items continue to add to the story of the unlikely neighbors on Queens Boulevard and 55th Avenue, Mary Sendek and Macy’s department store.

1. 1971 Daily News Photo
Seeing people walking so casually near the house makes me wonder if they ever thought it was strange when they saw it. Did they know the story of Mary and her defiance of Macy’s? Did they wonder why she did it?

2. 1971 Daily News Photo II
Although the Daily News didn’t print this photo until early April of 1984, it looks to be taken around the same time as the first shot. More people walking right past the house, no big thing to them.

3. 1940 Panorama Of Tax Photos
I spliced together several tax photos to get an idea of what Mary Sendek’s side of the street looked like in 1940 and her neighbors. Blackman Plumbing Supply, which is still in business today, stood next to her house on the right side.

4. Sendek House In Color 
Circa 1970 and the interesting thing for me is the photo reveals how well kept the house looks. The black and whites are a little unfair to it perhaps. Many thanks to Herb Shatz who directed me to this image. Herb helps run several Facebook groups with me including Old Images of New York 1950-1989 where we posted this photo first.

Is The House Still There?
Unfortunately no, and this is the question I get more about the house than any other. When Mary died in 1980 her family sold the house and developers demolished it and constructed the building, almost to the exact length of her property, that still stands on it today.

Demolition of Round Macy’s?
A rumor developed about a year ago that the big round former Macy’s, now a Target and other stores, was going to be demolished to be replaced for new residences. But just as quickly as it started, it was denied by the property owner. Who knows what will happen now with the world turned upside down, but as of the last reporting the building wasn’t going anywhere.

Photos of The “Sendek Notch”
The “Sendek Notch” was a cut that had to be made into round Macy’s because the far corner of Mary’s property actually went over into the circle that was the Macy’s structure. Below are some great photos, taken by Old Images of Queens group member Gary Dunaier, which examine the notch and property in ways I have never seen before.

Notch Photo 1
Looking west towards the notch. The notch’s creation actually cost Macy’s the loss of two parking spaces on the upper level. I wonder if there was ever a time, maybe before Christmas, that all the other spaces were full and a couple of shoppers couldn’t get into the store because they couldn’t find a space. (Photo taken by Gary Dunaier.)

Notch Photo 2
Taken looking east, and when I saw this Gary Dunaier shot I thought for a moment that the HSBC was expanding upward by about twenty stories, but it is actually a new apartment building going up across the street on the other side of 55th Avenue. (Gary Dunaier)

Notch Photo 3
Another shot reveals how tight space was and still is between Macy’s, the building that went up in the Sendek house space, as well as the round Citibank that went up just a few years after Macy’s. (Gary Dunaier)

Something About Mary
I’ve had a few conversations with Marjorie Melikian over the years. She is the historian at First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, which sits only a few feet from where the Sendek house footprint once was. Marjorie told me that back in the day she walked past the Sendek house and knew Mary. Marjorie says that a man who she believed was her husband was not in good health at the time may have been what affected her decision to sell.

Marjorie also sensed that Mary wasn’t given a lot of time to decide on Macy’s offer, that Mary had second thoughts, but by then it was too late, construction had already started, and Macy’s was no longer interested in her house. Marjorie also says that Mary loved her home and flower & vegetable gardens on her property. Another sign of how much she may have loved it there.

What Does It All Mean
The Sendek family always seems to have wanted to move on quietly from the chapter of the house. I sometimes feel I am intruding on something I shouldn’t be getting into, that this should all be left alone. I find it interesting that so many people can’t fathom her decision to turn down Macy’s offer. There is a certain admiration some of us have for her, whatever the real reason for her decision.

Maybe there are things more important than money, maybe if you live in the same house for thirty or forty years it becomes such a part of you that you can’t willingly leave it. In April 2020, a time in which we all suddenly have no choice but to stay in our homes most of the time, maybe nothing is more important, than being in the house you want to be in.

Mary Sendek’s House Over Time

A pictoral of twenty plus photos of the house that stood against the tide.

Mary Sendek bought a house in 1925 in Elmhurst. When the house was first built in the 1870’s the street it stood on was called Hoffman Boulevard. When the Queensboro Bridge was built in the early 1900’s the name was changed to Queens Boulevard, and the role of the street started to change.   

At the time in 1925 it was still somewhat peaceful. Sure it would grow, but that would take a while. Maybe when she moved there all Mrs. Sendek was looking for was a place to call home, a place she could spend the rest of her life and never have to move again. Maybe that’s all any of us are looking for. 

I have written about Mary Sendek before, matching up several photos of her house as it changed over time . But in the years since I last wrote about her I have come across many more pictures of her house, I worked on presenting them all in this piece. All in all it’s a 100 year photographic trip across time with the backdrop of the constant of her house.

This view is west from about 56th Avenue on what was then Hoffman Blvd, the Sendek house is mid way down on the right.


sendek1907This is looking the other way as the above shot. East from Broadway down Hoffman, the house on the left. 


Hoffman Boulevard and Thomson Avenues in northwest Queens were combined to create Queens Boulevard. A small part of Thomson Avenue actually still exists in Long Island City. 


Trolley routes lined much of western Queens until the late 1930’s when they were replaced by buses. A trolley blocks the view of the house in this photo.



The church at the far left of the photo was the old Presbyterian built in 1796. In 1895 a new church was bult across the street which still stands today. The old church was being used as a nursery school and for other secondary roles when a fire destroyed it in 1928.

Modest residences still line the street in the 1920’s. 


In the mid 1920’s the west side of the road was cleared for subway construction and widening. The houses had to be moved back or be demolished. The Sendek house was on the east side and so was unaffected by the change directly. This photo offers a good clear shot of the house.


may71926East along Queens Boulevard from Grand Aveue. This is a good shot to get a detail of the street from the church down to the Sendek house.


A period of upheaval, equipment is in the street for subway line work, utility poles standing out of place, and during it all the old Presbyterian church was destroyed by a fire. It was still standing but would have to be taken down.


One more sad view of the old church. It was torn down in May 1929. 


Subway is now below the newly widened street. Queens Boulevard looks very different from itself even ten years before, yet it is still mostly residences across both sides of the street, including the Sendek house.


If you look behind the Sendek house in the above photo you can see some of the space that will one day become part of Macy’s. 


I spliced two 1935 photos to make a little wider view of what the east side of Queens Boulevard looked like at the time.



The house in 1940. The Sendeks have only lived here for 15 years at the time.  (NYC Tax document collection) 

One of the  Sendeks neighbors to the west appears to actually be standing in the doorframe of the house when this tax records photo was taken. A new street, 55th Avenue is in the city plans to be created right where this house stands.  If the Sendek’s house was even a few feet to the west of where it stood it might have had to go with it. 

1940secondBlackman Plumbing Supply was the eastern neighbor of the Sendek family house for decades. The location is now that of the Citibank branch next to round Macy’s. 

blackmanblackman - CopyBlackman’s Plumbing in Flushing has a sign listing the 87-07 Queens Boulevard location. So they mean that house right next to Mary Sendek’s 87-01 address. This location is still  in Flushing, the company still has a website and online catalog. 


1951aerialAerial of Queens Boulevard before 55th Avenue is built from Justice Avenue to Queens Blvd. 85-67 Queens Blvd house still standing.



Aerial in 1954 showing 55th Avenue completed, the 85-67 house next to Sendek house is no more. The aerial also makes it clear that there were only about 10 houses Macy’s needed to buy land from to clear the block, if only Sendek had agreed. 


1961probmarysendekAThe block has been cleared out for construction by Macy’s with one exception, the now holdout Sendek house.  


1964houseThe air space of the Sendek backyard meant a small notch had to be cut into the round shape of Macy’s huge circle. 

With both Sendek and Macy’s resolved to their fates, construction is completing on Macy’s.  What Sendek may have felt about Macy’s impact on her life is hard to say. 



The Macy’s store in Elmhurst officially opened on October 11, 1965 and it was no small event in Queens. The community hoped to be getting a store the equal of everything that Macy’s in Manhattan had become.



The notch Macy’s had to cut in its round circle was just part of the story. Macy’s had hoped the entire corner would be an attraction to shoppers, instead they decided to downplay the corner, and try to cut it out of many promotional materials. 



In 1966 a round Citibank is opening where Blackman once stood. Mary Sendeks house on the corner remains. Her house is almost one hundred years older than the Citibank or the Macy’s. 


One thing to look at in respect to the original design is how different the entire landscaping and sidewalks that would have led people to the store. How much of an impact on the store did her house have? It’s hard to say. Within a few years the Queens Mall was built which would become a much more popular location. Macy’s itself would move there.


marysendekMary Sendek behind her house in 1965 in what is the only known photo of her. 


1969julyMayor Lindsay campaign, with first astronauts on the moon Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong. The Sendek house is just behind Armstrong’s arm. (LaGuardia Archive)


One more of the first men on the Moon parade in 1969, in this shot the house is clearly visible on the right. (LaGuardia Archive)


Citibank photo and Macy’s behind it. The photo seems to be intentionally  leaving out the Sendek house literally trying to pretend its not there.


Sendek lived through the entire decade of the 1970’s in her house, both Citibank and Macy’s were her neighbors.


Queens Boulevard must have seemed very different to anyone who knew it back in the 1920’s. Another modern architecture savings bank was built and a White Castle on this stretch of Queens Boulevard.  


Probably the last photo of the house, a year after Mary Sendek passed away.  The yard has been neglected for some time.  (NY Times photo).


Macy’s moved to the Queens Center Mall but its parent company attemped to make the round building work as a Stern’s store during the decade.


Today the space of the former Sendek house and backyard is a bank and office building. The Citibank remains next to it, and the former Macy’s is now called Queens Place Mall . The land Sendek held onto will probably never be incorporated into the rest of the block. It will forever be separate and the big building will always have the notch.

Footnote: Wikipedia states incorrectly that the circular design was in response to Sendeks refusal to sell which is not the case, Macy’s always intended to make the store round.

Hall of Fame 2019 Early Returns Impressions

We wont know who is getting into the baseball hall of fame officially until mid January, but we can get clues as to where the vote will go, thanks to Ryan Thibodaux and his hall of fame vote trackerThibodaux and his crew tally public ballots as they come in and you can get an idea of where things are going. I followed it last year and it made the run up to the vote much more interesting. It’s early right now, but even with just the first 14 ballots counted, you can start to make some sense of the ballot. The private ballots, the ones he never gets to see tend to have a few more no votes, so just factor that in, the final vote percentages will be lower.

Definitely In
Mariano Rivera is  getting in, you don’t need inside information to figure that one out. The only question is how close to unanimous his vote is going to be. Since nobody has gotten 100 percent, he would have to do what Ruth, Gehrig, and Ted Willams could not, to get every single vote, so don’t expect it to happen. It will be interesting to see if anyone who is going to vote no makes it public before the final vote is announced and tries to explain why. Edgar Martinez is off to a 100 percent in Thibodaux’s early showing too. And even though Martinez is on his last ballot, and no full time DH has gotten in before, it would actually be a surprise if he does not make it this time around. Roy Halladay with two Cy Young awards looks to have a good chance of being the third guy in. Halladay passed away in 2017 which makes him a sympathetic case too. He’s running at 85% on the early tally which at least tells you he has a good shot.

Trending Up
Mike Mussina rose to 65 percent in 2018, so he definitely could get in this year, but I wonder if Halladay’s presence holds Mussina back just enough to keep him below 75%. It would also set Mussina up for 2020 which just happens to be Derek Jeter’s first year on the ballot and then they could go in together. Mussina is at 79% right now, it will be close. Omar Vizquel got 37 percent on his first ballot last year, look for an improved tally this time, some purists don’t like to vote a yes the first time on the ballot. Right now he’s showing 64% on the early return, he might be setting up a run that will take a few years to complete.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens got around 57% last year, they have been steadily climbing since starting out down in the 30’s in 2013. They wont get in this year, but even if they get close to 60% the writing might be on the wall that one day they will. If nothing else it proves there is a wearing down of the resistance against them.  Bonds and Clemens are currently in the 70’s on Thibodaux’s early tallies, looks like the trend is continuing and even possibly accelerating.

Curt Schilling has been hovering around 50% for three years, and this is his 7th time on the ballot, so time is running out. Thibodaux’s tracker has him at 70%  so he could be setting up a run for the next year or two. Larry Walker climbed to 34 percent from 15 just a couple years ago, but this is his ninth ballot, so far this time he’s at 42.9% on the early numbers. Probably too little too late but you never

Not For A While
I don’t think either newcomers Andy Pettitte or Todd Helton are going to crack 30%. Helton will face Coors Field mile high air statistics doubters and Pettitte could lose votes over the HGH issue. Pettitte is currently at 28%, Helton 21%. Sammy Sosa is running 28.6%, Sosa has never broken 10% in his first 6 years on the ballot, so either Thibodaux found a bunch of Sammy Sosa fans to count early or Sosa is seeing an increase, Manny Ramirez is at 28.6% too after doing 22% last year. Manny is in his third year and hasn’t moved much on the ballot. If either sees an increase it might also indicate that erosion of the anti steroid vote.Scott Rolen got 10% last year on his first ballot, 15% this time would help him stay in the conversation, he’s showing 14.3%.

Maybe Never
Fred McGriff is on his last ballot and is going to fall short, he did 23% last year and so far he’s at 14%. Gary Sheffield is currently running at 7%, below his 11% last year result so he is not getting any love either. Andruw Jones only got 7% last year, he’s just fighting to stay on the ballot at all, and right now he’s showing 7%. Jeff Kent, Roy, Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Billy Wagner, and Michael Young dont show a single vote cast out of the first 14 ballots, maybe they’ve all just been forgetten, or maybe they are getting squeezed out by the others. Kent got 14% last year.

The balloting is still really early so a lot can change. But we will keep watching the tabulations, and have a good idea what is going on before everyone else.



The Q13 Movie Theater Bus Route Memorial

I grew up in Queens in the 1970’s in the northern part of Bayside known as Bay Terrace. There was no way to watch movies at home–no HBO, Netflix, YouTube. We didn’t have huge multiplex theaters; it was still the era of the small town movie house. I was too young to drive, but the local city bus route, the Q13 route which ran from Fort Totten to Flushing, could get me to them. On the route lay five separate distinct movie theaters. For a few dollars, I could see a film and at the same time get away from my parents for a few hours. It was a win-win if I could find the right movie at the right time at the right place.

The nearest theater to me, the Bay Terrace, was in walking distance. It was a fine enough theater, but it wasn’t my favorite for various reasons. I was too young to realize it at the time, but looking back, one of the reasons may have been the theater’s odd design. Outside was a large white brick wall overlaid with yellow stripes that was certainly unique but not particularly modern or classic. Whoever designed it must have loved yellow or gold.  The doors were lined with gold, the carpeting was yellow, the walls were yellow and white, and gold. The balcony, instead of being laid over the main seating section like most theaters, went further back up and away from the screen, so its seats were very far away. All that said, maybe the real reason I didn’t love the Bay Terrace is that it was just a little too close to my home. With other theaters just a bus ride away why not take advantage of seeing what they had to offer and put a little distance between me and my parents.

The Bayside Theater at 39th Avenue and Bell Boulevard was less than a mile south of the Bay Terrace, and it was a traditional old style theater. It was built in the 20’s (like almost every theater on the Q13 route other than Bay Terrace). But unlike the Bay Terrace, it felt like a movie theater should. The inside was red and velvety, and a small balcony sat over the main seating (the way a balcony should). For many years, the Bayside played cult films like the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Pink Floyd The Wall” at midnight on the weekends.

It wasn’t as easy to figure out movie start times, and as a kid it was hard to remember what they were even after you read them. The newspaper was vital to determine where to go and when to get going. Luckily my parents usually got one delivered.  We never checked reviews; I think we didn’t even know what reviews were yet. Movies with the biggest and most attractive ad in the paper “just had” to be good anyway, and the movie playing in the most theaters was usually the one to see. Newsday had a separate index of theaters showings and times. If for any reason there was a delay for a bus or if I had to wait on a slow friend, the plan to see a particular movie could be ruined. However, the next theater on the route offered what at the time was a unique solution, four different movies starting at four different times.

A movie house with four theaters by today’s standards pales, but in the 70’s, one theater with that many showings was quite special. If you missed one movie there was sure to be another starting soon. The Quartet was actually a $750,000 renovation of an old theater, the 1920’s single screen Roosevelt. None of us knew or cared what it had been before it was the Quartet, we just knew what it was then, and it looked and felt exciting. Big red numbers one through four represented each theater on the marquee, big black numbers one through four could be seen everywhere inside, literally leading you to your showing. The Quartet was fun, but it wasn’t in always happening downtown Flushing like the last two theaters on the route, the Keiths and the Prospect.

The Prospect on Main Street was a little like the Bayside. Nice, but nothing outstanding, it was an old style downtown theater.  The Prospect had already been turned into two screens by this time. If nothing else it gave me a couple more movie showings and times. The RKO Keith’s, a few blocks to the north where Main Street meets Northern Boulevard, was a theater that stood in a league all its own. During its heyday in the 1920’s and 30’s, it had featured vaudeville and other live shows. Forty years later, it still felt elegant. The lobby had a three-story high domed ceiling, surrounded by wide circular staircases leading up to the balcony. The twilight blue dome could be seen both inside the lobby and in the seating area. The column work was finely detailed throughout. It almost felt that it was beneath the Keith’s standards to just be showing movies instead of live shows.

Part of the trip, in addition to the theaters, regardless of where we went, was the surrounding businesses near each theater. The best Chinese food in northern Queens sat only a few feet from the Keiths’ at Lum’s. Gertz and Alexanders were right on Roosevelt Avenue by the Prospect Theater on Main Street. Right under the Quartet marquee stood Mike’s comic cards store. Little King restaurant was right by the Bayside and Baskin Robbins 31 flavors stood right next to the Bay Terrace.

Movie theaters changed by the 1990’s.  New multi theater houses opened up everywhere and the local town theaters suddenly seemed outdated. Some, like the Bayside, were sliced into four screens, but sadly it only seemed to delay its closure for a short time. By 2000, every one of the five Q13 route theaters on the route had shut down. The Bay Terrace was converted into an Applebee’s, as a sixplex opened at the other end of the shopping center. The gaudy white and yellow bricks painted over with a more muted burgundy. The Bayside vanished into storefront and offices. The Quartet’s four showings, unique in the 70’s, had become less than standard for theaters that now had ten and fifteen showings. The Quartet closed and is now a supermarket. There is virtually no sign of what was once the Prospect on crowded Main Street.

One of a kind in its best days, The Keith’s has also had a unique story after closure as well. Despite various attempts to turn it into shopping and housing complexes, every  company that has bought the property have run into one financial problem or another (sometimes ending in criminal prosecution) and nobody has been able to put up a new construction. The now landmarked lobby will have to be included into whatever is eventually constructed. Hopefully someone will be able to open the doors that have been closed for over 30 years. Historian and photographer Chris Kellberg has continued to photograph its beautiful interior work. He advocates for the renovation and reopening of the theater, citing other locales where the same has been achieved. Chris’s facebook group is here https://www.facebook.com/groups/220242754654213/

If you were to ride entire the Q13 today, you would not see a movie theater on the route. The adventure of seeing a movie along it is no longer possible. In their own way, these outings helped me gain my independence; so today’s youngsters in Queens will have to achieve that in other ways. I eventually worked up to using the bus to go to see the Mets in Flushing and the Knicks and Rangers in Manhattan. Thankfully those options remain today. The days of the movie theaters and the Q13 route, however, are now only a memory.

The Theaters Then and Now








Tex Antoine: A Career on the Air


Tex Antoine 1956

Tex Antoine combined a warm, friendly personality with talents as a cartoon artist to make himself the most popular weather forecaster in New York City for nearly 30 years. He won an Emmy for best local on-air personality in 1961, met his wife through his work in 1964, and eventually became an inspiration to the generation of weather forecasters who followed in his footsteps. In 1974, after 25 years doing TV weather, he was honored with a ten minute on-air video chronicling his work. Then in 1976, he made a shocking remark on the air and his career never recovered. The comment, a joke about rape, has not been forgotten by many. I wanted to try to understand the man who was so popular for so long, look at the remark that brought him down, and ultimately make sense of this man’s legacy.


Tex Antoine and Uncle Weathbee

Growing Up
Herbert Jon Antoine, Jr. was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1923. His father was a traveling salesman who, according to Tex, tried to sell everything he could but had little success doing it. His mother was a teacher who could always be seen with school books by her side. Tex said he and his family were poor; they spent the depression living out of a Franklin Touring car on the side of the road. He went to high school near Houston, Texas. While he was at a summer theater internship in Plymouth, Massachusetts, he discovered a love for the stage and the theater that would drive him to want to work in show business. He also was a boxer in his youth. His ex-wife Suzannah Glidden said he was very proud of his time in the Golden Gloves program. She explained that one of the fighting competitions was what first brought Tex to New York.


Tex’s Lynbrook House

New York
Antoine started in the Big Apple as a tour guide for NBC in 1941. Within a year, he auditioned for and landed a full-time position as an NBC station radio announcer. By 1945, he was taking part in a three person on-air news team in the morning, announcing for a soap opera during midday, and reading commercials and fill-in spots for the rest of the day. He continued on as an announcer for many years after he started doing the weather. Tex moved into a four bedroom house in Lynbrook, Long Island, and made many island area public appearances until the 1960’s when he got married. Many of those appearances were charity drives to fight diabetes, from which he suffered.

Television was in its infancy in the 1940’s as the industry had just begun migrating from radio to screen. On radio, a weather forecast could simply be read from paper, whereas TV required more visual presentation to work. Robert Henson, weather historian and author of Weather on the Air, writes, “The visual nature of television demands action in the form of weather maps and people who could explain them.” TV’s first weathermen were primarily military veterans and college professors because they were the only people who could provide any level of detail. As television audiences grew, stations looked for ways to make the weather more entertaining.

According to interviews, Antoine was approached in January 1949 by his bosses at NBC. They told him on a Thursday that he was going to be their new TV weatherman and to have a show ready for the next Monday. He was told to go to the weather bureau, learn as much as he could, and be ready to go when the cameras started rolling Monday. Luckily Tex had his talents as an illustrator. Ms. Glidden described him to me as a “magician with a pen.” He could draw anything and do it quickly; then with a few more seconds, morph what he had just drawn into something else.


Tex on the air in 1949

In preparing, Tex also created a wooden shaped stick figure character to go on the air with him as a sidekick. He said the inspiration for the character came from his days as a child in the south. He recalled a toy which allowed for magnetic attachments like ears, a hat, and a mustache. Tex said the name Uncle Weathbee came while en route to the weather bureau. The idea was the character and the bureau would save Tex from blame if a forecast went wrong. Antoine could say Weathbee, in effect the Weather Bureau, was responsible for the incorrect forecast. He would affix a black eye to Weathbee when the forecast was embarrassingly bad. 

He put on a smock to merely protect his clothes while doing the weather. But the smock turned out to be a great finishing touch. It made him appear as much artist as weather forecaster. The introduction for his premiere show in the January 15, 1949 New York Times read, “WNBT will start a new daily series of weather reports with an artistic flavor featuring Tex Antoine, announcer, beginning Monday from 6:25 to 6:30. Mr. Antoine, an amateur cartoonist, will give a complete round-up of weather conditions in the metropolitan area and then sketch his impressions of this report.” (WNBC Channel 4 in 1949 went by the call letters WNBT).


Gil Hodges, Andy Pafko, Peewee Reese protesting rain forecast in 1952

Tapping into his announcing skills, Tex came across as soft spoken and friendly, while his drawings made weather fun. Critics and viewers were impressed. New York Times writer Jack Gould wondered if Tex should be on the air more and said he liked his dry and witty humor. Sponsor Con Edison quickly capitalized on Antoine’s popularity with ads that looked like a column written by Uncle Weathbee which included often not so subtle suggestions to buy washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners throughout. Tex was especially popular with kids, and so coloring books and almanacs were published featuring Uncle Weathbee. Tex was given an additional five-minute slot at 11:10 PM. By the mid 1950’s, Antoine was firmly established as the most popular weatherman in New York City.


Carol Reed

Hiring attractive women to do the weather was something other area stations had tried, but it seemed to become a requirement in the late 1950’s by stations aiming to compete with Tex in ratings. By 1960, every station had a lead woman forecaster (or “weather girl” as they were called at the time) except for WNBC and Antoine. Then Vice President at WABC Joseph Stamler explained the rationale of the weather girl:“We feel that women–or ladies–have greater acceptance than men, because with the combination of an attractive looking personality the men prefer to look at and the women are attracted, too, because of the fashions they wear, so we’ve really got a twofold program.” Tex’s manager at NBC Peter M. Affe contended by saying, “Our first concern in the presentation of our weather shows is the effectiveness and accuracy of the forecast.” Whether Tex’s forecasts were more accurate or not, he prevailed in the ratings and the other stations eventually moved away from women leads. When Carol Reed was let go by CBS TV in 1964, it marked the end of the “weather girl” era.

Marriage, Changing Channels
When it came time to renew his contract in 1966, Tex found channel 7 WABC expressing strong interest in his services. ABC always lagged behind both Channel 4 and Channel 2 in the ratings and was looking for a way to catch up. Tex turned back to NBC to see if they would counter with a better offer, but they chose not to. WNBC had a trained meteorologist on staff who was a familiar face with the public, science reporter Dr. Frank Field. Tex found the difference in salary too much to pass up, and so in March after 17 years with channel 4, Antoine became the new weatherman for WABC Channel 7 News. 


Suzannah Glidden in 1966

There was another attraction for Tex at ABC: his wife worked there. Antoine had just married reporter and former weather girl Suzannah Glidden. They had met while both were researching their forecasts at the weather bureau and married in 1965. It was Tex’s second marriage. He had been married for a short time when he first came to New York and already had an adult daughter Nancy.

While working with his wife and getting more money was great, Tex was also leaving the one station he had called home for 17 years. Channel 7 was trying to catch up in ratings after having lagged behind for years. The station would soon hire news manager Al Primo and bring in a format later referred to as “happy news,” in which on-air staff were encouraged to be more jovial and edgy. Antoine’s lively personality seemed to make him the perfect fit, though it would one day also be blamed for his future incident. New York Magazine’s Paul Klein called Tex’s move to channel 7 a watershed event in local news.


1967 Antoine drawing, courtesy of  Ted David

Signs of Trouble
Primo asked all on-air staff members to wear blazers, which meant the end of Tex’s signature smock. When Antoine protested, Primo said to Tex, “Either we all wear blazers or smocks,” and the smock was gone. Uncle Weathbee seems to have diminished from his routine at about the same time. It all meant Tex would have to rely more on conversation and less on his customary drawings and props.

Tex suffered from diabetes, and as Primo explained, it made Tex harder to understand, especially when combined with alcohol. Primo said Tex was a creature of habit, that he would go to the same German restaurant each night and have a glass of wine, sometimes two, between the 6:00 and 11:00 PM shows. Ms. Glidden explained that he needed two insulin injections daily to deal with his diabetes. The diabetes, the change in environment took a toll on Tex, and he and Glidden divorced in the early 70’s.

In 1972, Antoine made a comment on the air during the Munich Olympic hostage crisis stating that more attention should be paid to the many lives lost in U.S. traffic accidents rather than the hostages. It came off as insensitive and Tex had to apologize for it. In 1974, at his 25th anniversary party, he yelled at fellow reporter Ron Johnson to get the f-word out of the way because he couldn’t see his cake. A rookie sound producer working that night didn’t turn off a live microphone and so it was caught on the air. Tex was having trouble keeping up with the workload. He gave up the 11:00 PM slot to focus on just the 6:00 news show.


Backed by Melba Tolliver, Roger Grimsby, Geraldo Rivera and Bill Buetel, 1973

Despite it all, Tex remained popular through the mid 70’s. The New York Times in 1973 described his audience as awestruck fans that had grown up following his forecast for years. Discover magazine observed that Antoine had a unique “almost jazzlike patter” which naturally drew listeners in to him. Craig Allen, now lead meteorologist on WCBS radio, remembered a visit from Tex to WSNL Long Island in 1974. Allen said he was “genuinely polite and friendly to fans, namely me.” Ted David, veteran CNBC broadcaster, knew Tex well when he was a page at WABC. Ted said Antoine was a gentleman, had a great voice, and was an all around good guy. There always seemed a bright side to Tex, but he was heading towards his darkest moment.

November 24, 1976
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving on the news at 6:52 PM, anchor Bill Beutel reported the attempted rape of an eight-year-old Yonkers girl, gave a stock market report, then handed off to Tex for weather. Antoine said, “With rape being so predominant in the news lately, Confucius once say if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it,” and continued to the weather. Once the words escaped his mouth, things would never be quite the same.


Doing weather in 1973

TV critic and author Peter Conrad pondered in The Medium and Its Manners if Tex somehow thought it was his professional obligation to be “as comically resilient about the assault as he always was about the weather.” Weather historian Robert Henson pointed out that the “relentless emphasis on high jinks and humor” helped create the atmosphere in which Tex would try to tell such a joke. Newspaper columnist Jack Anderson wrote that the broadcast on the same day also included an edgy Liz Taylor joke, a double entendre about keeping fresh Thanksgiving items, and several other similarly objectionable quips. But the comment could not be ignored, particularly with women’s groups. Author Ron Stokes wrote in his 2010 book of remembrances, “I guess Old Tex didn’t get the women’s lib memo that was circulating at the time.” Rape and humor were not good topics to mix, and to make things worse for Antoine, the report was about an eight-year-old girl.

While WABC went to commercial, news and public affairs director Ron Tindiglia called the studio from home and insisted that Tex immediately make an on-air apology which he did. “If I offended you with the Confucius saying, I apologize,” Tex said and finished his weather report. In the next 25 minutes, according to the station about 650 irate people called to complain about the remark. At 11:00 Grimsby announced Tex had been suspended indefinitely. Storm Field was brought in to do the 6:00 weather the next Monday, and Grimsby introduced him with the now infamous, “Lie back and enjoy the weather with Storm Field.”

Station management never publicly said they were going to fire Tex; in fact they appeared to be taking up his defense. On Saturday November 27, station President Richard O’Leary said Antoine had demonstrated such impeccably good taste it would be hard to invalidate his whole career over the “breach.” Station General Manager Kenneth MacQueen said, “We don’t think we will use this as a thrust to end his career. We have no plans to fire or terminate Tex.” Letters to newspapers also defended Tex. One asked everyone, “Where is our mercy?” Another asked people to “chalk the incident up to human frailty and to forget it.”


December 8, 1976 Protester

A group called the Women’s Anti-Rape Coalition was not so sympathetic. On December 9, the members organized a rally at ABC headquarters not only to demand that Tex be fired, but also to express outrage at Grimsby for his Storm Field remark. Spokeswoman Dorothy Glasse said, “We are concerned about a general insensitivity towards women at the station.” Ironically, as a result of the protest, WABC reported a further increase in support for Tex. The station said it received 140 calls, with most of them favoring Tex after seeing the story of the protest on the news.

On December 18MacQueen announced that while they had lifted Tex’s work suspension, he would not be going back on the air. MacQueen said he could help Storm Field prepare his report. Field was a trained meteorologist and Antoine was not, so it’s hard to say what Antoine could do to help Field. Maybe if Tex had stayed with WNBC, and this was his 27th year with the station instead of only his tenth, the management might have expressed more loyalty. Despite all the comments by Tindigla, MacQueen, and O’Leary, that they would spare Tex’s job, WABC let him go on March 13, 1977, the same day his contract ran out.


1978 Channel 5 Announcement

Last Years
In January 1978, WNEW Channel 5 gave Tex another chance. He was hired by the station with what at the time seemed to be great enthusiasm. Station Vice President Mark Monksy said, “Tex was once the best weatherman in New York and hoped he would be again. The man has been out of work for a year and that should be punishment enough.” But in only 10 months, Tex was let go again, replaced by former Miss New Jersey Linda Gialanella. After fending off the competition of weather girls throughout the 1960’s, he was in effect ultimately replaced by one. When asked what he would do with no job he said, “I don’t know. After 29 years where else can I go? I have no forecast for my future.”

The truth was Tex was losing his health. His ex-wife Ms. Glidden told me the diabetes condition worsened progressively during these years. She said he didn’t want to admit it, but he was not the same. Despite being only in his 50’s, disease and lifestyle had taken their toll. Tex did not make another public appearance and died on January 12, 1983, in his Park Avenue apartment of what was officially deemed to be natural causes.

Praise and Reflection
Bill Beutel spoke fondly of Tex at his funeral in 1983 and Ms. Glidden, now an avid active environmentalist and living in Westchester New York, only had kind words to say to me about Tex. He lived and loved broadcasting. For thousands of hours he was great on the air; he gave people the weather and made them laugh.

Tex was an inspiration to many aspiring 1970mayb-e31160_tex-antoine_1weather people who followed in his footsteps, and he was especially popular with children. Al Roker said he grew up playing with Uncle Weathbee Colorforms®. Area weatherman Bob Harris said instead of Chuck Berry and Elvis his idol was Tex. Author Robert Henson said his first source of weather reports was Antoine. For generations of New Yorkers, from the 1940’s to the 70’s, Tex was synonymous with weather. It’s unrealistic to think that the stigma of Tex’s bad joke will ever be completely forgotten, and his legacy will always pay a price. But in talking to those who knew him and looking back at his life, the professional, friendly, enthusiastic, and talented man who he was should not be forgotten either. (There are two scripted YouTube videos of Tex, which show him drawing, a Gaines Burgers commercial and a Bufferin Commercial.)



“Oral Husbandry, The Gentleman Likes To Be Called Mert and He Takes To the Air at 6:30 AM” (Jan 28, 1945) The New York Times

“Alias Uncle Wethbee” (November 1951) Radio TV Mirror

Jane Gerard “Weather Rain on Island Texan” (August 12, 1953) Newsday

“Television Weatherman Finds the Big Storm Had Him Snowed” (March 20, 1956) Newsday

Nancy Seely, “This Week on TV: Tex Antoine vs the Elements” (June 2, 1963) New York Post

“WCBS TV Decides To Drop Carol Reed and Weather Show” (May 29, 1964) The New York Times, p57

“Rainy Days Are for Weathermen” (October 4, 1964) The New York Times, pX17

“Weather Couple Engaged” (December 30, 1964) The New York Times

“Fund Drive Will Aid Diabetes” (May 6, 1964) Long Island Star Journal

“Suzannah C Glidden to Wed Tex Antoine” (July 19, 1965) The New York Times

Audrey Clinton “For Two Weeks It’s Been Fair and Blonde”(August 19, 1966)  Newsday

Val Adams “Antoine to Quit WNBC for WABC after 17 Years” (February 8, 1966) p79

“Weatherbee Twists Dial Takes Sponsor” (Feb 8, 1966) Newsday p2c

Harry Waters, “The News With a Dash of Dirt” (January 25, 1970) The New York Times p93

Paul Klein, “Happy Talk Happy Profits” (June 28, 1971) New York Magazine p60

Dan Menaker, “Unfortunately Raindrops Keep Falling on Their Heads: TV Weatherman” (August 19, 1973) The New York Times, p 121

“TV Line” (November 11, 1973) Newsday

Marvin Kitman “Dirge for Obfuscation” (February 12, 1974)  Newsday

“Events Pedal for Diabetes Fight” (May 2, 1975) Yonkers Herald Statesman

Barbara C. Chadwick, Bayshore, “Letters” (December 14, 1976) Newsday p53

Phillip Gedaly, Westbury “Letters” (January 5, 1977) Newsday  p 61

“WABC Suspends Tex Antoine After a Flippant Remark on Rape” (November 25, 1976) The New York Times p45

“Tex Antoine to Return to ABC After Last Week’s Suspension” (November 29, 1976) The New York Times

Gerald Fraser, “Antoine Will Stay But Won’t Go On Air” (December 18, 1976) The New York Times

“Tex Antoine Returns to the Tube”, New York (December 12, 1977) 8

“Weatherman Tex Antoine Is Fired” (November 6, 1978) Newsday

“No Forecast for Antoine’s Future” (November 7,1978) Newsday  9QQ

Marvin Kitman, “Linda the Weatherperson” Newsday (August 13, 1979) A31

Glenn Garelick, “The Weather Peddlers” Discover (April 1985)p 24

Jerry Barmash, “Caching Up with Al Primo, the Man Behind Eyewitness News” (March 14, 2011) Adweek Magazine


Robert Henson, 2010 Weather on the Air: A History of Broadcast Metereology
Ron Stokes, 2010 Mother Is Different and Other Family Secrets
Peter Conrad, 1982 The Medium and Its Manners


House Photo, Google Maps

Demonstration against Tex Antoine at ABC-TV, Bettye Lane, Harvard Univ Archive

1967 forecast, Ted David photo collection

1952 “Dodging The Dodgers” New York Post Photo By Con Edison p. 55

with barometer – celebritynetworths.org

The Defunct Newspapers Of New York City

Front page of the New York World-Telegram dated August 7, 1945 featuring the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The World-Telegram was in circulation from 1867 to 1966. We all remember NYC based newspapers that are no longer in business. Many of our families had the paper delivered to our homes, daily. Some of us worked for the newspapers, and quite a few of us delivered newspapers!


Here is a partial list of defunct newspapers of NYC.

Brooklyn Times-Union
Brooklyn Eagle
The City Sun (weekly)
Colored American (weekly)
Daily Graphic
East Village Other
Freedom’s Journal
The Freeman
Freie Arbeiter Stimme (Yiddish-language)
Der Groyser Kundes (Yiddish-language weekly)
Il Progresso Italo-Americano (Italian-language daily)
Long Island Press (original daily)
National Guardian (weekly)
New York Ace
New York Age / New York Age Defender
New York Avatar
The New York Blade (weekly)
New York Clipper
New York Daily Mirror
New York Dispatch
New York Enquirer (twice weekly)
New York Evening Mail
The New York Globe (two newspapers)
New York Graphic
New York Guardian (monthly)
New York Herald (daily)
New York Herald Tribune (daily)
New York Journal American (daily)
New York Mirror
New York Press (historical)
The New York Sporting Whip
New York Sports Express
The New York Sun (daily)
New York Tribune (daily)
New York World
New York World Journal Tribune
New York World-Telegram
New Yorker Staatszeitung (German-language weekly)
The Onion (free weekly)
Other Scenes
Rat Subterranean News
Spirit of the Times
Staten Island Register
The Sun

Contributed to our group Old Images Of New York by longtime member Herb Shatz

Original post located here

Arcadia Book Giveaway



Arcadia Publishing is running a contest! They are doing it in conjunction with my page Old Images of New York.  You will win three free books packed with historic pictures of New York. They’re published by Arcadia Publishing, home of the iconic Images of America series and the leading publisher of local and regional interest in the US. Here’s how to enter:

1. Like their page https://www.facebook.com/ArcadiaPublishing/
2. Like my page eToner.com (where we save you money on toner)
3. Comment below & tag a friend on this facebook post (comments welcome here as well)
THAT’S IT!! Free NYC History Books For You!!!
We’ll pick 10 winners on May 6th.

The books being given away are …
New York City Skyscrapers By Richard Panchyk
Greenwich Village By Anita Dickhuth
The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair By Bill Cotter and Bill Young


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