Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Loew's Valencia Theater and More!

This past week-end started off Friday evening. I met a friend to see the play, "The Winslow Boy," and having some time beforehand, we went to sit in Bryant Park to watch the crowd of square dancers, bopping to the fiddlers and the caller's directions. A beautiful fall evening in midtown.

Saturday found me heading out to Jamaica, Queens, to tour the former Valencia movie theater, now a tabernacle church. It has been lovingly restored by the congregants and the interiors are something else. I met up with 3 childhood friends and we shared memories and laughter. Sister Forbes led a rousing program, talking about the history of the Valencia and detailing the work that went into its restoration. I am always so happy when an older building is brought back to life and not abandoned, especially one such as over-the-top as this 1929 terra cotta movie palace.

Our reunion didn't stop there though, as we headed off to have lunch at the original Ben's Deli on Queen's Blvd. in Rego Park. Corned beef, pastrami and turkey sandwiches, Dr. Brown's sodas and a potato knish. The trip down memory lane continued on as we headed over to Forest Park in Woodhaven, to check out the landmarked carousel that has happily found a new owner and was up and running after several years. It's a beauty, and there are not many of them around anymore. Forest Park is a very "woodsy" area, and a nature preserve is there, just steps from heavily trafficked Woodhaven Blvd. It was a quiet and contemplative spot in the middle of the city's hubbub.

Not finished yet, we headed over to the Richmond Hill Library to check out the WPA murals. Sadly, the library was closed on Saturday. Due to budget cuts? Or due to the fact that kids do their research these days online in front of their computers at home, making the brick and mortar libraries not the places they once were. Jahn's Ice Cream Parlour across the street, another favorite childhood destination, has been closed for several years, so we headed over to Eddie's Sweet Shoppe on Metropolitan Avenue. The store has been around for close to 100 years, and walking inside is walking into the past, as little has changed.

It was back to Queens on Sunday as I attended the funeral service of my friend's Dad. Not many left from his generation. I gathered with other friends from childhood and we shared yet more memories. Then it was off to lunch at Lenny's Clam Bar on Crossbay Blvd. This was the road leading to the Rockaways, and I traveled it every week-end in the summer as a kid as I headed out to the beach.

Subwayed it back to Manhattan after a very full week-end. Having taken a bunch of photos on Saturday, I am hoping share a painting or two in the future from this week-ends events. Is it any wonder why I love my hometown?

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