2015-10-07 / Star Journal

Political Climate Heats Up For Queens In Fall Of ‘48

The Greater Astoria Historical Society presents pages from the Long Island Star Journal.

Welcome to October 1948!

That fall the presidential campaign cycle was in full swing. En route to a campaign stop in Wyoming, New York Governor and Republican presidential nominee Thomas Dewey spoke to reporters on the need to stand up to the emerging Soviet threat in Europe. The United States must be the “decisive world power,” the governor asserted, in facing Communist aggression. In one of the greatest upsets in presidential election history, Governor Dewey lost the election to President Harry S. Truman the following month.

That October, the Boston Braves and Cleveland Indians faced off in the 1948 World Series, the only matchup between 1947 and 1958 not to feature a New York ball club. The Indians took the series in six games. The Braves moved to Milwaukee five years later.

In one of the greatest upsets in presidential election history, Governor Thomas Dewey lost the election to President Harry S. Truman, In one of the greatest upsets in presidential election history, Governor Thomas Dewey lost the election to President Harry S. Truman, Meanwhile, down in Frankfort, Kentucky, the state Attorney General refused to allow Centre College to admit three students from Nigeria. State laws imposed heavy fines on school officials permitting black and white students to attend the same institution.

With a nation in many ways deeply divided settling into an uneasy Cold War peace, ghosts of the recently ended global conflict came home to eternal rest in Queens that chilly October. One Maspeth Gold Star father, however, would not live to see the return of a beloved son killed fighting in Germany in 1945. William Limbach, aged 63, was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery the same day the remains of his son, Private Ahrend Limbach, and 36 other Queens natives arrived home from


Among the fallen heroes at long last coming home were Marine Lieutenant and Columbia University football star Philip Bayer of Flushing. Lt. Bayer, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for gallantry fighting on the Pacific island of Peleliu, is memorialized in the Bayer Trophy Case at the Columbia student fitness center.

October 1948 marked a far happier, triumphant reunion for two Polish immigrants in Queens. When Adolf Balaban stepped off a plane at LaGuardia Field that month, he cast eyes on his beloved wife Anna for the first time in 17 years. In 1931, the World War I veteran returned to his native land to sell the family farm near Warsaw, but was told he could not return to the United States as his reentry permit had expired. Mrs. Balaban then spent close to 20 years fighting red tape stretching from Warsaw to Washington amidst the privations of war and global economic depression. Long-awaited victory for the couple came that year when Congress relaxed citizenship requirements for foreign-born veterans.

That October, 67 years ago, the outside world came home to Queens. Long-separated loved ones, young men who never lived to see the peace they fought for, and even sports stars came knocking on our door that month.

Following the Boston-Cleveland matchup in the World Series, a Major League All-Star squad headlined by stars from both clubs played an exhibition doubleheader against the Brooklyn Bushwicks at Dexter Park. The All-Star side was rounded out by local minor leaguers, including shortstop John Angelone of Springfield Gardens.

The storied Dexter Park, located in Woodhaven, was the home of the Brooklyn Royal Giants of the Negro League and boasted the first permanent lighting system for night baseball games anywhere in the country. In its later years, the park also featured a stock car racing track around the baseball field. Facing declining attendance to ball games and auto racing, in 1955 the site was razed to make way for housing and a supermarket.

That’s the way it was in October 1948!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit our website at www.astorialic.org.

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