Loew's Valencia Theatre

165-11 Jamaica Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

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PKoch on December 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Thanks, Ed Solero.

I thought you grew up in Laurelton, Queens, though.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 12, 2007 at 5:32 pm

Thanks, Warren. The supporting short HELPMATES is one of Laurel & Hardy’s very best two-reelers – right up there with their Oscar-winning THE MUSIC BOX. As a young boy growing up in Corona, Queens, I used to swim at the Ederle Public Pool in Flushing Meadows. The pool used the original Ampitheater from the ‘39 Fair that housed the Aquacade. Regrettably, it was allowed to fall into a sad state of disrepair after years of disuse; and despite some efforts to save the crumbling ediface, it finally fell to the wrecker’s ball in the late 1990’s. A freind and I were able to gain entry to the decaying structure a couple of years before it was demolished and managed a couple of photos of the vandalized stands. I have to go dig those out one of these days.

There were plans to relocate the ice-skating rink that occupies part of the old City of New York Pavillion (also from the ‘39 Fair) to the site of the Ampitheatre – on the northern edge of the large, man-made Meadow Lake – but nothing thus far has come of it. And, this has nothing to do with the Valencia, but I hope I’ll be forgiven this minor tangent!

PKoch on December 12, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Thanks, Warren. That’s fun to know.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 12, 2007 at 4:56 pm

After a week’s engagement at the Capitol Theatre in Manhattan, Johnny Weissmuller brought his “Dive In” stage revue to Loew’s Valencia in May, 1932. Performed in a huge glass-sided tank, the aquatic spectacular also featured diving champion Madeline Berlo and swimming chorines. The “dry” portion of the show included Jack Pepper, the team of Mack, Harold & Bobby, and Chester Hale dancers. Seven years later, Johnny Weissmuller, still acting in the “Tarzan” series and on loan from MGM, returned to Queens to star in the opening show at Billy Rose’s Aquacade at the New York World’s Fair: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/weiss32.jpg

PKoch on November 26, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Thanks, Warren.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 25, 2007 at 5:44 pm

After an exclusive 74-week reserved-seat engagement at Loew’s State in Manhattan, “Ben-Hur” had its first neighborhood run in July, 1961 at selected theatres, including Loew’s Valencia. “Popular” admission prices meant that they were advanced over “regular” prices, but I don’t know by how much. Children under twelve, however, were 75 cents at all times. In most cases, the booking lasted for six weeks, which was probably four weeks too long, even with only two performances daily: www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/wyler61.jpg

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on October 27, 2007 at 5:24 pm

This is another listing that needs to have its “Status” changed from “Closed” to “Open.” Amen!

PKoch on September 24, 2007 at 5:39 pm

OK, here I go …. (I’m sure Ed isn’t rabid, and doesn’t bite ….)

About to visit “A Man And His Movie Theater”, by Ed Solero …..

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 24, 2007 at 5:36 pm

In other words, Lost is a bit weary from “baby sitting” me over there! Don’t worry, it’s a padded room and I’ve had my medicine.

PKoch on September 24, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Thanks, Ed Solero and LuisV. I’ll read the CT Laurelton Theater page carefully, and keep the personal chat, private.

LuisV on September 23, 2007 at 3:25 am

Regarding the old Gertz Dept store….I never considered it a second rate Macy’s. The Jamaica store was the flagship of the 7 store Long Island chain and I remember it being a very nice store. The store’s slogan, written in fancy cursive script on the top floors facing the Long Island Rail Road tracks read “Gertz, Where Long Island Shops!”.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 22, 2007 at 2:40 am

Speaking of “Road-ology,” my grade-school teacher (no, not the Hotel Bristol guy) used to tell us that a drunken Indian (meaning Native American) was to blame for the crooked path that Francis Lewis Blvd took in winding it’s way from Whitestone all the way down to Rosedale! If you’re familiar with that thoroughfare, Franny Lew takes a number of confusing twists and turns (including at least two 90 degree turns – even where nothing obstructs the continuation of the roadway). It was thus that my house in Laurelton was just one block over from the intersection of Francis Lewis Blvd and Francis Lewis Blvd!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 22, 2007 at 2:34 am

I’ve also posted a ton of photos there that I took of the Laurelton Theatre as it currently exists (it is a church) – or at least as it existed in February of 2006.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 22, 2007 at 2:32 am

Hey Peter… I think that’s a tale best left to the page for my own personal little nabe, Interboro’s Laurelton Theatre. As Lost Memory can tell you, I had been holding a conversation with myself that lasted a couple of years over on that page and could use the company! Actually, I’ve probably posted most of what there is to say in the comments that are already on that page.

PKoch on September 21, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Thanks, Warren, for the Merrick Road-ology, as it were, and your description of the origin of Loew’s Valencia ! Way cool !

PKoch on September 21, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Thanks, Ed Solero. Once my dad’s Aunt Suzie and Uncle Jimmy had moved to Hempstead from Bklyn (to accompany the Crane Plumbing Co.’s move there) in the late 1930’s, my dad rode out there from Bushwick, Bklyn on his bike. He preferred Merrick Blvd. to Sunrise Highway to bike out to Hempstead. He also rode his bike on Interboro Pkwy. before it was opened to automobiles. He loved the ride, but the rough unfinished under-pavement wore out the rubber of his bike tires awfully fast.

So, what was it like growing up in Laurelton, from 1965 onward ?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 21, 2007 at 4:45 pm

It was originally called Merrick Road in Queens, but I don’t know when the name changed. Merrick Road was once the main route to Long Beach and heavily used by people driving there from Manhattan. They would drive out on Queens Boulevard to Hillside Avenue, and then stay on Hillside until it connects with Merrick Road. Sime Silverman, publisher of Variety, got stuck in traffic one day near the intersection of Merrick and Jamaica Avenue and decided it would be a great location for a theatre. He told some friends and the rest is history.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 21, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Ugh. Merrick Blvd. My error, Peter. It becomes Merrick Road once it crosses the border into Nassau County (which was only a few blocks to the east of my neighborhood). Merrick Avenue exists, but further out east in the Nassau town of Merrick.

PKoch on September 21, 2007 at 3:16 pm

Ed, that’s great news ! Your teacher avoided the cliche of being a bitter, middle-aged homosexual, mourning his loss of youth and good looks, preying on innocent and unsuspecting teenage boys ….

Although, in the case of me and my classmates, beginning sixth grade in the fall of 1966, with hormones beginning to rage then, a great deal was both suspected and imagined.

I was going to complain about you not commending me on MY creative writing. Then I took another look at what I had written, and saw I was merely echoing Clive Barker, and trying to apply my favorite horror stories of his to your high school situation.

Ah yes : Single Room Occupancy. A problem on the Upper West Side of Manhattan : mental patients turned out of hospitals for lack of room, “living” (really merely existing) in SRO’s, or, worse yet, on the street ….

OK, downtown Jamaica wasn’t really your neighborhood, yet you wrote about its decline so eloquently.

Merrick Avenue or Boulevard ?

Warren, I’m glad to read that the chicken chow mein sandwich is alive and well at the original Nathan’s at Coney Island.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on September 21, 2007 at 2:44 pm

The original Nathan’s at Coney Island still features chicken chow mein on a bun. The sandwich costs $2.99, but the chow mein by itself is also offered in a bowl for $3.79.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 21, 2007 at 1:30 am

I don’t want to wander too far off topic here, but I can tell you that my teacher’s problems (at least as I understood it at the time) had to do with a drinking and gambling problem as well as a recent and nasty divorce (I imagine the first two lead to the last one).

Saps… very creative writing there – and most evocative of precisely the way I imagined the inside of the Bristol to be!

Pete… in this case SRO = Single Room Occupancy. It looked to me to date back to the 1920’s. Limestone and brick, if I recall. I have to drive around the area one of these days and see if the place survived. If so, it’s probably been gutted for condominiums!

Finally, for the record, downtown Jamaica really wasn’t my neighborhood. I lived in Laurelton, which is several miles (and a couple of neighborhoods) to the southeast down Merrick Ave.

PKoch on September 20, 2007 at 11:03 pm

Thank YOU, Jack Tomai (poetic !) and saps (suspenseful).

saps, your story almost reads like an old EC horror comics tale, and has some of the tinge of those deliberately, exaggeratedly melodramatic lobby cards !

It also reminds me a bit of “Human Remains”, a Clive Barker “books of blood” story, one of several of them in which the sleazy sex-crime-drugs underbelly of a big city (in this case, a young male prostitute named Gavin, and his client, a middle-aged fancier of Roman Britain) is a front for a supernatural, or super-normal, horror that is infinitely worse.

Two other stories of his, even more apropos to this theater site, would be “Son Of Celluloid”, and “Sex, Death and Starshine”, the ultimate haunted theater story.

So, Ed, perhaps your former English teacher was not only a junkie and a sexual pervert, but perhaps had also managed to open a door into hell, or the nether-world of the dead, into which yet another unsuspecting young innocent ….

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 20, 2007 at 10:51 pm

“It was the summer of ‘92 and he had invited me up to his shabby digs at the old Bristol Hotel. Curiosity about his faded treasures (EC comic books? lobby cards?) had got the best of me and I agreed to meet my old English teacher there despite the long bus ride down the seedy streets near Jamaica Avenue. As I climbed the worn-down marble stairs — the smell of stale piss and body odor and old tobacco hanging in the air and my stomach in knots — little did I realize how this visit would change my life forever…”

OK, Ed, fill in the rest.

jacktomai on September 20, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Having attended Delehanty High School right off Jamaica Ave,I too remember the area very well: its good times and its not so good times. I graduated in 1964 so the area was in flux at that time but it was still a bustling, active shopping and business area. Going to either the Valencia or the Alden was a treat as was Teddy’s coffee shop. When my wife and I got married in 73 we bought most of our furniture at Ethan Allen Restful on Jamaica Ave. In high school, I bought all of my records at May’s Dept. Store in their record dept. on the first floor. Best prices around. One of my girlfriends in HS lived in Queens Village and I didn’t drive at the time, so I remember many cold, snowy nights waiting at the bus terminal by Macy’s for the bus to Queens Village. Living in Cypress Hills, it was quite a trip: the J train to 168th St. and then hike over to the bus terminal and then the bus out to Queens Village! Ah, youth!

PKoch on September 20, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Thanks, Ed Solero, for posting these detailed Jamaica memories of your youth. You’ve mentioned many interesting details of some rapidly changing conditions of your old home neighborhood.

Re : your former English teacher : I’m amazed that he also held on to his life, let alone his job as a teacher of impressionable youth ! May I ask what his personal problems were, and how did they, and the sleaze that he lived in, spill over to you and your classmates ?

SRO = Servicemen’s Relief Organization ? Was the hotel pre-WW I or II ?