2017-05-03 / Star Journal

LI Star Journal: May 1955

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

Welcome to May 1955!

Over in Europe, the continent was torn apart by catastrophic conflict and was reshaped by the Cold War. In May 1955, the USSR and seven other nations behind the Iron Curtain joined to form the Warsaw Pact, a security alliance which stood until 1991. In the same month, West Germany, another nation emerging from the ashes of World War II, was granted full sovereignty and joined NATO. Meanwhile, back stateside in San Francisco, Brockton Blockbuster Rocky Marciano TKO’ed British boxer Don Cockell to win his fifth World Heavyweight boxing title.

Back home in Queens, that month for some was a time to look wistfully back on a glorious past. In spring of 1945, Murray Schulman of Queens Village was one in a small band of intrepid American GIs to meet up with an advancing Soviet unit at the Elbe River. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of their historic handshake that marked the approaching end of the war in Europe, Schulman and eight other American veterans accepted an invitation from the Kremlin for a Moscow reunion with their Soviet comrades. With toasts of vodka and a celebratory feast of caviar and smoked salmon, the 29-year old butcher from Queens proclaimed, “we will try to do all in our power to be good friends.”


Dr. Hoffman recollected conversations with the great physicist about scientific theory and religion. The Queens College professor noted, “Einstein told me that he always asked himself, ‘Would I have made the universe this way if I were God?’” Dr. Hoffman recollected conversations with the great physicist about scientific theory and religion. The Queens College professor noted, “Einstein told me that he always asked himself, ‘Would I have made the universe this way if I were God?’” In Flushing, Queens College professor Dr. Banesh Hoffman recalled a friend and co-worker who passed away just the previous month. While at Princeton University, the physicist and mathematician worked closely with none other than Albert Einstein to develop an important mathematical addition to Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Speaking to the Long Island Star Journal, Dr. Hoffman recollected conversations with the great physicist about scientific theory and religion. The Queens College professor noted, “Einstein told me that he always asked himself, ‘Would I have made the universe this way if I were God?’” Any creation from Einstein’s God was elegant, neat and uncomplicated. Dr. Hoffman remembered “His scientific efforts, I believe, were definitely governed by his great awe and respect for a cosmic intelligence, which is what he called God.”

It was destruction, not creation, on the mind of one noteworthy Queens resident that May. On the evening of May 12, motorman William Fay of Woodside guided the Third Avenue Elevated train on its final run from Chatham Square in Manhattan to East 149th Street in the Bronx. Reflecting on the end of elevated train service in Manhattan and his 33 years of work on the trains, Fay simply offered, “I’ve been lucky. I’ve never had any trouble – except for being behind schedule a time or two.” The demolition of the elevated tracks led to a building boom on the East Side.

Some soldiers and their families at Fort Totten out in Bayside confronted a much uglier specter from our nation’s past that month. Twenty-five officers and enlisted men, all African American, were unable to find housing in Queens within a reasonable distance from the Army installation. Speaking on their behalf, the Bayside Council of Churches and Synagogues asserted that the servicemen and their families had been “Jim Crowed” by Bayside landlords. Some black families only found housing as far off as Newark, New Jersey or out in Patchogue, some 50 miles east of Manhattan. A chaplain at the base related the story of an officer’s wife suffering an emotional breakdown after being assigned quarters in a Harlem basement. “They were stationed in West Germany for several years and never encountered a color line over there. To find racial bigotry in this land of democracy was too much for her, I think.”

That's the way it was in May 1955!

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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