Letters from Our Readers:

In a message dated May 10, 2012, Michael Boland writes to Stevie S. Stevens


Hi, Stevie!

Thanks for the mention and I enjoyed seeing some of my material on the LIRR's Rockaway Division in Marty's website. I especially enjoyed seeing "The Far Rockaway Of My Mind" feature on the website; it has some great photos. These photos show a building I've always been curious about: the Railway Express Agency building in Far Rockaway. I hope to make a model/module of Far Rockaway and have always been on the lookout for info/photos of this place. The Rockaway Division offers some fabulous modeling potential for model railroaders such as myself. Do I model Far Rockaway on the ground or elevated; or abandoned and relocated to Nameoke. I'm not sure on this one; I'll keep you posted. The QPL/ LI Division, PSC photos were most helpful to see. This building was later demolished, when I don't know...probably when the area had its track elevated (1941-42). I've been told that since the city was interested in assuming control of this branch, and that traffic with gates down for trains made for much congestion, the branch and areas around it were photographed many, many times by the PSC and a good number but not a lot of photos still exist. Many of these were probably glass negatives and preserve the past in an incredible way.

Also, you may be interested in the relocated Far Rockaway station building on Nameoke. That's the small concrete block building built in 1956 or so, when service and the branch were cut back. Because the railroad tracks were being elevated and rising as the tracks approached the elevated Far Rockaway station crossing Mott Avenue, there was quite a dip in the road beneath the tracks to get cars underneath the railroad here at Nameoke. This was quite a depression and many, many times it filled with water during and after a heavy rain. Woe to the unknowing person who parked his/her car there after the railroad removed its bridge; the car landed up being submerged. The city (I assume) finally righted this situation by filling the depression in and repaving it.

I don't know when it happened but it was some time after the LIRR abandoned its trackage beyond Nameoke in 1955. Who knows what other good stuff is in the Long Island Division of the QPL? They do have a priceless collection of Far Rock/Rockaway Beach postcards that are truly fabulous.

Again, I enjoy your work and look forward to your new features. Keep it up. I'm about a decade younger than you. I'll have to talk to Marty; maybe I can write some recollections about my time in the Rockaways. I think I promised him I'd do something. My family left for the Five Towns in 1958; I was born in 1950. Incidentally, my mother grew up on Birdsall Avenue, just down the road from Nameoke. She still remembers taking the LIRR from Far Rockaway to the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing
as part of a school trip. Ah, memories.

Mike Boland

Stevie S. Stevens's reply dated May 12, 2012

Hello, Mike --

Great to hear from you! Glad you enjoyed my latest article which is currently appearing on the www.rockawaymemories.com website.

Articles I prepare regarding the railroad require much research and documentation. I really don't consider myself to be the ultimate expert on Rockaway railroads -- or any railroads for that matter so I depend upon consultation with others such as yourself if I am to present accurate representations.

The basis for this particular story or for any story I write for internet websites usually comes from a suggestion provided to me by others. Such suggestions might be either oral or written or can even be in the form of a series of photographs submitted to me by an interested party. It is amazing just how much has survived over the years -- especially with regard to the nation's railways. Often times, persons submitting photographic evidence or documentation have no idea of exactly what the pictures demonstrate. They just know that someone in the family treasured those old black and white glossy prints for decades and that they really should be shared with others who might also find some value in viewing them. Makes perfect sense for display upon one the many websites.

Of course because this subject is so specifically your own area of expertise, it is valuable hearing from you and I always appreciate your input -- even if it is to amplify or to correct some imperfection in one of my essays. My articles are written long before they are published and sometimes the distance is so pronounced that when I see and read the article as presented on a website, it is like I myself am reading them for the very first time. Also, keep in mind that it is not unusual for my writings to switch back and forth -- on topics such as Far Rockaway downtown revitalization, to peninsual railroad trestles, to specific stores which held businesses on Central Avenue sometime at mid century. I seldom know in advance exactly which topics will be on the drawing board from week to week, from month to month.

As I might or might not have shared with you in the past, writing articles such as the one to which you refer (for internet websites) is not my main concern in life. Unfortunately, like most others, I have to earn a living in order to exist and the materials I present are prepared gratis for the enjoyment of those who enjoy reliving the past -- the glory which was once the Rockaway peninsula. I really don't have the privilege of belaboring any topic or "dragging out" materials whereby some particular subject might take six or seven months of serious labor. Most of what I do starts, continues, and concludes all within a period of a week or two (at the most). Certain exceptions have been made in the past -- such as a rather large booklet (WaveCrest Gardens) and other topics seem to be ongoing (Far Rockaway High School).

From what I seem to remember, there will be at least one other railroad story which will be presented sometime in the near future. However, if YOU come up with any specific or novel ideas, I certainly would be interested in hearing what you might have to suggest. Other than that, just sit back and relax and read the articles and enjoy the photographs. Naturally, I would welcome your criticisms and it is always my pleasure to hear from you!

I do hope this note finds you in reasonably good health.

Stevie S. Stevens