Job Prospects Continue to Look Very Good…

Job Prospects Continue to Look Very Good…

Let’s talk about the age-old business of undertaking! The first funeral home on Staten Island appears to have been started by a carpenter who specialized in making cabinets. A smart man, he soon realized that permanent cabinets for humans was a lucrative business. With his expansion into coffin-making, he took the next step and opened a funeral home in 1841. He called it the Isaac Bedell Funeral Home. It is still in business today, but after Paul Pizzo purchased the enterprise it was renamed the Bedell-Pizzo Funeral Home. Isaac still had top billing.  But wait, there is another nineteenth century funeral home in business today. It is the Martin Hughes Funeral Home on Narrows Road South in Concord. It opened in 1885. Martin Hughes was a Staten Island coroner who...

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Yes, Native Americans Were Buried on Staten Island!

Yes, Native Americans Were Buried on Staten Island!

The remains of Native American Burial Grounds have been found in several locations on Staten Island. These would include two sites at what is now West New Brighton. One was at Pelton’s Cove, while another was at the former Church of the Ascension. It was here, at the Church of the Ascension in 1903, that skeletons flexed in Indian fashion were found. “Indian fashion” means that the bodies were placed on their sides, with their arms and legs bent, so the hands and knees were in front of the face. Beads, shells, and assorted implements were found with the deceased. Lenape burial sites were also found at the former DeHart Farm in Mariner’s Harbor. Also referred to as Bowman’s Brook, this once active village yielded numerous skeletons, fire pits, garbage...

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“One Davis…”

“One Davis…”

October 12, 2018 was the 155th anniversary of the birth of William T. Davis, a man who was the consummate naturalist and historian. He became an expert in insects, particularly the periodical cicada. Local history was another passion of “one Davis” as he often called himself. His documentary skills as a photographer have assisted generations of Staten Islanders to see a window into at least four decades of the island’s past, since the visual record of photographs he amassed contain an amazing array of flora, fauna and history. A prolific writer, Mr. Davis authored more than 90 articles for the “Proceedings” of the Staten Island Museum, an organization he founded with thirteen other men interested in the study of science, nature and history. The...

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Charles W. Leng: Naturalist, Historian and Bicycle Repairman

Charles W. Leng: Naturalist, Historian and Bicycle Repairman

Charles W. Leng was a graduate of the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute where he obtained a degree in engineering. After his schooling, Leng joined John S. Leng’s Son Company, an iron and steel import business owned by his father. Owing to an interest in bicycles, Mr. Leng wrote his first book in 1912. It was called Bicycle & Motorcycle Repairing. But it was a meeting on November 12, 1881, that changed the course of Charles W. Leng’s life. On that day Nathaniel Lord Britton, Arthur Hollick, William T. Davis, Mr. Leng and ten other men met to discuss the natural history of Staten Island. Thus, was formed the Natural Science Association, the forerunner of today’s Staten Island Museum. Eventually the Association became known as the Staten Island...

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Majors–The Supermarket of Romance…

Like many other people who lived in or near the north shore, I worked at Majors in Mariners Harbor. Majors had it all. Yes, it was a department store, but it also had a supermarket, a liquor store and even a travel agency. Majors most famous department was the “Record Department.” I can still see my brother Frank happily going through the racks for new albums from the Rolling Stones or The Who. The “Record Department” was so popular it spun off into its own entity at the former Pathmark plaza on Forest Avenue. When that site closed it was resurrected and it now operates on Barrett Avenue. The travel agency was also a successful enterprise and it still exists on Forest Avenue, just east of Jewett Avenue. But back to the supermarket, or as I like to call it, the...

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Aren’t All Trees Magnificent?

Aren’t All Trees Magnificent?

When I began working at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve in 1985, the search was on. We were looking for trees that would fit the bill for “The Great Trees of New York City” program. Sure enough, we had plenty of great trees at Clay Pit, including sandy barren survivalists like the Virginia Pine, Pinus virginiana and Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida. The ladder species only releasing its seeds when its fire heated cone burst open. We also had the most stunning assortment of oak trees that could ever be imagined. Those wild and crazy oaks mixed and mingled till it was almost impossible to identify the new varieties they had formed. This was when the great naturalist Carlton Beil was alive to focus in on these wonders. Hell’s bells he loved them all and he spent...

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The Augustinian Academy

The Augustinian Academy

In 2016, the Augustinian friars informed Our Lady of Good Counsel that owing to a dwindling population of clergy they were leaving Staten Island, a location they had served for 117 years. It was in 1899, that the Augustinians agreed to establish a school for boys on the island. The original school was in the vicinity of Austin Place in Tompkinsville. It was named Catholic High School of Richmond Borough. Seeking expansion, ground was broken in 1923, off Howard Avenue on Grymes Hill, for a new school to be named Augustinian Academy. Augustinian Academy welcomed both students and postulants. Hence it was also considered a “minor seminary” that assisted young men to join the order. The population of students was always small. Between 1899 and 1969, when the last...

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