Comments from Afcham

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Afcham commented about Halsey Theatre on Sep 24, 2004 at 2:25 pm

The house that Jackie Gleason grew up in is in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and not Bushwick! People are constantly going back to that house and photographing it. Many of the older people here remember Jackie Gleason returning to the neighborhood. I also use to work with a gentlemen who was one of the June Taylor dancers.
On thursday I was at Chauncey and Broadway, a devastated area, but the theatre their seem to be well maintained (It is a church). What was the name of that theatre? Also I have not forgotten that I promised to research the Williamsbugh borders and I will as soon as I finish my calender. Finally does anybody Know who has detailed information about the old Pennsylvania Railroad station, a friend asked if I could point him to someone?

Afcham commented about Monroe Theatre on Sep 15, 2004 at 7:20 pm

I asked around too, most people thought the Monroe was on the corner also. If that be the case than how tall was the Monroe. I looked at the building next to the lot, The brick on the exposed wall showed a pattern at about the second story. That could possibly give us an indication how tall the Monroe building was. Are their any pictures?
I asked around about Dean’s also, nobody could clearly remember the location.
I am still left in a quandary about the location of the diner I went to after leaving the RKO when I was very young. Memories do blur?
What is that tall structure behind the RKO in that picture taken from the EL? The Subway cars look like they date back to the 60’s-70’s

Afcham commented about Loew's Gates Theatre on Sep 11, 2004 at 8:24 pm

I spoke to one of the care takers a week ago, he invited me to the service on Sunday morning (perhaps in the future I will attend). From what I could see of the Gates Avenue Lobby, they have recently painted the interior and highlighted the details. From what I saw it appears to well maintained!

Afcham commented about Halsey Theatre on Sep 2, 2004 at 12:09 pm

I just found some interesting information about the Halsey in Eugene Armbruster’s book, “Brooklyn Eastern District”.

“A large open field streched from Rockaway Avenue down to a plain on Halsey Street near Broadway. In this plain was a pond, more or less large, according to rainfall. This plain became the circus grounds. The Saratoga Park occupies now part of the plain. In 1912 The Halsey Theatre was erected upon the old circus grounds, between Saratoga Avenue and Broadway by the T.A. Clark Company, the Benedict Amusement Company being the lessee. The cost of the site was 10,000 dollarsand that of the building 300,000 dollars, seating capacity 2400. About the same time, the Arcadia was erected upon the Saratoga Avenue plot”.
pg. 191-192

Afcham commented about Monroe Theatre on Sep 2, 2004 at 11:44 am

ErwinM, you are right Hamburg Avenue is now Wilson Avenue. I apologize!

Afcham commented about Monroe Theatre on Sep 2, 2004 at 2:43 am

Rose, thank you for the tip on the Casino. I always wondered about that building. I was told the theater I mentioned going to Howard and Fulton was called the Carvel. I also inquired about Deans and a friend said it was further down Broadway closer to DeKalb. My memories of the Monroe are different. I remember cartoons, Cowboy and B movies, but no Porn. I distinctly remember seeing “The Village Of The Damned” their, it disturbed me. I was not in New York for most of the seventies, so that is why I probably missed the porn period at the Monroe. I walked by the RKO today. The building I thought was the Monroe is addressed 8 Howard Avenue, maybe I am wrong. I am going to try and nail it down this week.
I am in the process of making a calender with some of my photographs of the neighborhood, it is consuming lots of my time. I have been collecting Brooklyn postcards, but have seen none with images of the theaters from this area. Lots of churches, schools and Apartment buildings, but no local theaters. There is a beautiful post card on Ebay for sell, with an photographic image of the corner of Hamburg Avenue(Hamburg was changed to Central Avenue during World War One, for obvious reasons) and Jefferson Avenue. One corner shows a restaurant on the first floor of an apartment building and the other corner has a movie theater and it looks like a movie theater (two stories tall) and not like the old Opera houses of RKO and Loews vintage. This Postcard is supposedly printed in 1916. It is nice!
I have a confession to make, my sign on name was suppose to be Afcham, but some how it was changed to Apollo which is fine with me. I am wondering was there someone else named Apollo? I don’t want to comment identity theft. If there is no one else currently named Apollo, I will keep the name it is fine with me.

Afcham commented about Monroe Theatre on Sep 1, 2004 at 12:13 pm

There were lots of good eateries on Broadway. Across the street from the Loews there was a famous bakery that my late mother would get me ice cream cakes for my birthday. I remember the Chinese restaurant, there were not so many then as there are now. I am not sure where it was, but the one in that area now maybe in the same building (It use to be a bank) and I vaguely remember the Hamburger place. My brother said the Hamburger place is now a Spanish restaurant. Richie Havens grew up on Hancock street, I have a friend who knew his parents. My brother said Richie Havens occasionally came by Madison park and spoke to the guys in the park. My friend also knew Lawrence Fishburn. Lawrence grew up on Brevoort Place (Lawrence’s mom was a teacher at J.H.S. 35, known to be firm and caring).
Bargain town is now Apartments. I use to go there as a youngster and across the street there was a shoe store where I would get my Converse sneakers.
I will ask around about Deans. My mother told me stories about Battermans department store. Battermans was on the corner of Flushing and Broadway, where Woodhull Hospital is now.

Afcham commented about Loew's Gates Theatre on Sep 1, 2004 at 10:54 am

The large church you speak of is actually St. Johns. I believe it is still in use. That is where St. Johns University started. They built some houses around the old football field and it is some what run down. I am sure it has a following (Probably hispanics from Bushwick, like our Lady of Good Council on Putnam Avenue has).

Afcham commented about Loew's Gates Theatre on Sep 1, 2004 at 4:08 am

Peter K: The Empire is a church. The exterior is stucco, which my father always pointed was prone to develop cracks. The exterior shows signs of multiple patched cracks (no recent paint). The interior is hard to describe. It is appearent they dont have the resources of other larger church congregations It’s not in horrible shape, but certainly not the best either. Walking in the Empire will not make your mind conjer up memories of grand old movie palaces'.
I still have not got to your question on Bushwick, but I will.
Brooklyn absorbed all of the other towns in Kings county. It first absorbed Bedford which was probably larger than Brooklyn. Bedford was only a town for a short period. It was given the status of township under the Charter of Liberties and Privileges (Which some refer to as Americas first constitution). When that charter was recinded it later became a hamlet in the village of Brooklyn and village in the Town of Brooklyn. There was talk of making it a town again, but it never happened and finally it was absorbed mainly in the Eastern District of Brooklyn. Bedford was large and retained its identity into the 1930’s. It had a community newspaper which merged with the Flatbush paper. I have a copy somewhere. Bedford’s eastern border was where Easern Parkway turns. It’s southern border was Empire Boulevard and during the first U.S. census, the census taker said he entered Bedford when he crossed Flatbush road (which was mainly west of present day Flatbush Avenue, an old Lenape Indian trail). Stiles, Kings county 1800 historian, said it included Wallabout bay (Brooklyn Navy Yard). There is a famous engraving in Stiles book called Bedford corners. Bedford Corners was located about where the Loews Brevoort was. That area was called Bedford Green and was developed after the turn of the century.
I spent the last year before learning about the local native people who were miss named by a amateur historian name Silas Wood, he created the myth of the thirteen tribes. He took those names from deeds and they don’t reflect reality, a great deal of Native people history is just lost! We do know the native people in the Metropolitan area were Lenape’s. The Lenape people were also in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Delaware were actually Lenapes’. The name Delaware came from I believe an English Gentlemen who was Governor of Delaware for one year (De La War was his name).
It is late, I hope this legible?

Afcham commented about Halsey Theatre on Sep 1, 2004 at 3:19 am

I will ask my neighbor when I see him,if he can identify the building. I will ask him about the other Theater too.

Afcham commented about Monroe Theatre on Sep 1, 2004 at 3:14 am

The site where the McDonalds is now was just recently demolished, the last few years or so. The end of the block directly across from the RKO where the block comes to a point, had a beautiful Florist shop. The building the Monroe was in is still there, it is occupied. The Monroe was in the middle of the block. On the corner of Monroe street where there is now a sort of junk yard, there was a cafeteria or maybe a diner. It had a long counter with stationery stools. I remember leaving the RKO and going their to buy comic books. Prof. Brooks of the NYC Landmarks preservation said the Schubert was around the corner on Madison street. There is a empty lot on Madison, next to a building on the north side of the street, near Howard). I am sure that area changed a great deal over the years and it is a shadow of it’s previous self. If you look at the block where the banks are on Gates, you can see it was the local center of banking and commerce. The bank closes to Gates Avenue has huge gashes in the marble on the facade. There where huge ornamental Bronze or Brass Lamps in front of the bank on pedestals (the pedestals are still there). The crew that removed them did a poor job and a lot of damage to the marble on the facade. I’m surprise the Sculpture over the entrance is still there. It must be too hard to remove, or I am sure it would have been sold.
I also remember going to a Movie Theater on Howard and Fulton it is a church now. My friend’s mother sold the tickets, so we got in for free. My memories are faded as to what we would see, but I think it was second runs of B-movies like the Mysterians or Rodan and shorts and cartoons.

Afcham commented about Loew's Gates Theatre on Aug 31, 2004 at 1:43 am

The Loews Gates is well maintained. I was in the building two years ago and it looked almost the same as I remembered it from my childhood. On hot summer days I have seen the fire doors to the Theater left open (Gates Avenue side). The Pilgrim church apparently has the resources to maintain the Theater, it seems to be a fairly large congregation. The same can not be said for the Empire (I was in the Lobby of the Empire yesterday)!
I will see what I can find out about the Williamsburg Bushwick border.

Afcham commented about Halsey Theatre on Aug 31, 2004 at 12:40 am

I asked my neighbor about boxing on Halsey street. He said the boxing ring was across the street from the Halsey, in the old trolley barn (I have a picture). He also said there was also another boxing ring at the end of the Gates Avenue trolley line in Ridgewood.
He then mentioned a movie Theater called the Comic, it was on Gates between Patchen and Reid Avenues (now called Malcolm X Blvd.) I will ask him if the building is still there? There was also another Theater in that vicinity (This other Theater was pre air conditioning and supposedly it would show movies outside in a lot or on the roof on a hot summer evening). I was told this story by a two people. I am going to be talking to someone next month who remembers the last show at the Brevoort. It was a concert.
There is a building on Sumpter street near Fulton street that is not in use now, but looks like it could have possibly been a Theater.

Afcham commented about Monroe Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 5:47 am

I was told that years ago around the corner on Madison street there was a Schubert Theatre. All of my life there has been an empty lot where this Schubert Theatre is suppose to have been. That would mean there was another venue near the RKO Bushwick, Loew’s Gates and Monroe.

Afcham commented about Loew's Gates Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 5:31 am

I grew up going to the Loew’s gates and have been in there recently. I remember many a day in that Theatre. It is still very well maintained, but to be honest I liked the RKO Bushwick a little more, as nice as the Loew’s Gates is the Bushwick was a little more elegant.
There was a marquee on the gates Avenue side also and a entrance. I remember always entering on the Broadway side though, possibly exiting on Gates Avenue a few times. The first movie I remember seeing in my life was Forbidden Planet at the Loew’s Gates, I was about four. Till this day, that is my favorite movie.
Once again the south side of Broadway is Brooklyn, Bedford section and not Bushwick. Broadway was originally named Division street, because it seperated Bedford or Brooklyn from Bushwick. Williamsburg later seperated from Bushwick.
In the eighties there was an attempt to make ago of it as a Theatre and I do remember James Brown performing there in the early eighties.

Afcham commented about Halsey Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 5:02 am

That again is not Buswick but what we now call Bedford Stuyvesant. Bushwick is on the other side of Broadway (Broadway was previously called division street it seperated Bushwick and Brooklyn). There was live boxing on that block. Would a movie theatre make a good boxing ring? I use to walk buy there all the time to go to the train shop as a youngster, but never paid much attention to those buildings. Does anybody know anything about the Brevort Theatre in Brooklyn, that is where the Motown reviews preformed in Bedford Stuyvesant, it had lots of live entertainment.

Afcham commented about Folly Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 4:46 am

Jackie Gleason was from the Bedford section (I photographed his old house on Chauncey street). The name Bedford Stuyvesant stuck in the 1920’s or 30’s. He would come back to visit from time time, many people remember him coming back to play Pool (There was pool hall on Broadway, a couple blocks from the RKO Bushwick). He would also visit his old buddy who worked at 81st precinct (across the street from the old Empire).

Afcham commented about Decatur Theater on Aug 30, 2004 at 4:31 am

If it is on the south side of the street, it is not in the old town of Bushwick. Broadway was originally named division street, it was the border line of Brooklyn and Bushwick (The RKO Bushwick was not actually in Bushwick either). The south side of the street was actually Brooklyn and to be more specific it is the old Bedford section (Bedford was absorbed by Brooklyn very early). The name Bedford Stuyvesant came to be used in late 1920’s – 1930’s (Stuyvesant being a Neighborhood now partially landmarked).

Afcham commented about RKO Bushwick Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 4:10 am

I grew up going to the RKO Bushwick, Loews Gates and the Monroe. The RKO was exceptional with a huge spiral Marble stair case, dual Balconies and red velvet seats. I remember Jerry Lewis and the Three Stooges coming in person to open films at the Bushwick Theatre. The Monroe Theatre is closed, but the building is still there. I distinctly remember seeing the village of the damned at the Monroe. It was a spartan theatre. The cafeteria on the corner is now a junk yard.
There was an attempt to use the RKO as a church but it failed very quickly. I dont know the date the RKO closed, I was away at college. I was told buy Joseph Brooks of the New York Landmarks commission that Cary Grant was on a Vaudeville circuit that included the RKO, so there is a good chance he performed there asa juggler. I imagine Jackie Gleason probably performed there, he would dropp in on his old neighborhood from time to time. There was a pool hall a few blocks from there were he would occasionally play pool. He had some friends who became Policemen whom he would visit (81st precinct). I believe once he brought Frank Sinatra.
I found a 1937 program on line for the RKO Bushwick. The weekly door prize was $3,000.00 and Guy Lombardo was the main act.
The thing I remember the most about the Bushwick was Sloppy Joe’s across the street ,next to the toy store. It was great, you got a Root Beer, Hamburger and fries for forty cents. And on the way home we would stop at Cheap Charlies and buy nickel and penny toys.

Afcham commented about Apollo Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 3:36 am

I will ask around. The building was demolished, probably in the seventies. There is now a McDonalds on the location. It is not the same as the Apollo in Manhattan. This Apollo was located in the Bedford Stuyvesant section. I was told that it had live entertainment in the sixities. I will try to confirm that. I went there when I was very young, so my memories are faded

Afcham commented about Rio Piedras Theatre on Aug 30, 2004 at 3:35 am

I was to lazy to photograph it, they left the building standing as a shell for months with the interior exposed.