2019-02-06 / Star Journal

Presenting Pages From Long Island Star Journal

African American explorer Matthew Henson. African American explorer Matthew Henson. Photo public domain

Welcome to February 1921!

The oldest Queens deed, bearing a 1653 date, was finally publicly recorded. For “love and affection” together with 85 pounds of lawful money, David Springsteen sold 26 acres to his son. Today part of Kew Gardens and Forest Hills, the land was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1921. Found in private family records, the deed was brought to the Queens County Clerk’s Office in Jamaica.

The NY and Queens Electric Light and Power Company reminded the public that electricity, the force that serves big business, should be a servant in your home. Whether service for an electric iron, or completely setting up your home, there was just one thing for you to do: wire the house for electric light and conveniences. Make a living thing out of your home!

Elks picked Elmhurst. At the largest meeting in memory, the Queensborough Elks locked horns over voting for their new home. Elks in Jamaica, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven favored Forest Hills, but Long Island City and the North Shore supported Elmhurst as more central. Counting over 1,100 ballots at their old Long Island City clubhouse took until 3 am. Officers elected were the exalted ruler, esteemed leading knight, esteemed loyal knight, and esteemed lecturing knight.

Mighty Ruth’s great ambition, in 1921, was 75 home runs. Then 27 and in his prime, he arrived at Spring Training in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1919, Babe Ruth shattered all previous home run records by belting out 29. In 1920, he hit over 50. The ‘Big Bambino’ hit a home run in every major league ballpark. No player in the leagues had anything approaching his power.

At the Blaney Steinway Theatre, at Steinway and Jamaica, high class dramatic stock players appeared in The Girl Who Came Back. Matinee seats started at 25¢. The following week was Parlor, Bedroom and Bath. All seats were reserved. At Tisch Music House on Corona Avenue in Elmhurst, one could buy Victrolas, records, pianos, and player pianos. At Ward & Glynn’s Astoria Theater on Steinway and Grand, piano playing contests were open to all. First prize $50, second $25.

A heavy snow brought on 1,200 shovelers with motor and horse-drawn plows, sweepers and trucks. Earning 55¢ an hour, they dumped snow down sewers, into the river, and onto empty lots. As volunteers were easy to recruit in older communities, snow was first cleared in Long Island City. The el ran when the surface lines were down. A Flushing Line train that left Grand Central at 11 pm made it to Flushing by 8 am.

At the Church of the Redeemer, Crescent and Temple Streets (now 30th Drive), African American explorer Matthew Henson narrated his exploits with Admiral Robert Peary. The two were the first at the North Pole. “I feel profoundly honored that I should have been chosen to present my race in this, the greatest trip of modern times. In all the great achievements of white men, we find his faithful companion and ally, the black man.” He gave a short lecture and slide show on Arctic exploration, exhibited Arctic clothing, and recounted how an igloo, made of 150 blocks in one hour, could house five or six families.

That’s the way it was in February 1921!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700.

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