2017-03-22 / Star Journal

Representing The Borough With Pride

The Greater Astoria Historical Society presents pages from the Long Island Star Journal BY DAN MCDONALD Welcome to March 1952!

The globe was abuzz with newsworthy events 65 years ago this month. With the Korean War mired in stalemate and the US in a presidential election year, down in Havana, Cuba, General Fulgencio Batista seized presidential power in a military coup. He would rule his country with an iron fist until Fidel Castro ousted him seven years later. In Washington, DC, the US Senate ratified a peace treaty restoring full sovereignty to Japan, occupied since 1945. Out in Seattle, meanwhile, local favorite St. John’s University fell to the University of Kansas Jayhawks in the 1952 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

With spring just around the corner, but winter reluctant to ease its tenacious grip, both indoor and outdoor athletic pursuits were big news that month in Queens. In early March, the Boston Celtics came into town for two games against the New York Knicks on the hardwood of the 69th Regiment Armory. Led by Andrew Jackson High graduate Bob Cousy, the out-of-town visitors lost both games to the Knicks, who fell to the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA Finals that year. On the hometown team’s roster was one Al McGuire, a Queens native and St. John’s product who had recently turned down a $3,000 a year salary as a New York police officer for a basketball career. After retiring as a player, McGuire coached the Marquette University men’s team to an NCAA national title in 1977.

With the Yankees gearing up for their exhibition season down in Florida to avoid the last remnants of New York’s winter chill, a panel of veteran sportswriters voted Richmond Hill High School alumnus Phil Rizzuto to the shortstop position on an all-time pinstripe squad. Although Rizzuto was the only active Yankee player selected for the team, the Bronx Bombers went on to win their third of five consecutive World Series titles that season. Rizzuto’s no. 10 jersey was retired by the Yankees in 1985.

That month, 10-year-old Larry Improte of St. Albans wasn’t dreaming of the Yankees taking home another title, playing ball with his friends or becoming famous one day. Larry was sick with leukemia, and unbeknownst to him, had little time left. The hopeful boy did have one wish, however: to meet his idol, singer Perry Como. When the Sands Point resident heard of the boy, he appeared at his hospital bedside and the two shared a pizza together for an hour. That evening, Como ended his TV show with the words “Larry, get well real quick.”

Back in March of 1952, Astoria resident Feridun Kurt Andolsun was not fighting for his life, but for the privilege of remaining in America. Andolsun and his family came to the US from Turkey in 1947, and he surrendered his Turkish citizenship and took a job at the Voice of America offices in Manhattan. Ordered deported as an illegal immigrant, Mr. Andolsun published a poem in the Long Island Star Journal expressing his love for his adopted homeland. It is reproduced here:

Lincoln Meditation
A Prayer
Thy destiny be His glory,
O beautiful America,
O Nation built in trust, on faith,
Our love, our soul we pledge to Thee;
O God Almighty, our guide,
Our grace;

Lift up thine eyes bright again and kneel
In world’s most treasured shrine.
And pray and render thanks:
That light is on in many a clime
Again

Throughout the land today
High in thine spires,
Thy bells are ringing
A message high, of liberty, once again rejoicing,
Warm and gay their sacred chimes.

Hark…they’re ringing…ever
To hope, to love
To grand endeavor;
O nation built in trust, on faith

That's the way it was March 1952!

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

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