A Chance Encounter At Love, 35 Years Later

On our wedding day in August 1988, with Maid of Honor Cathy DeSalvo, Best Man Kimberly D. Lane, Ring Bearer Daniel DeSalvo and Flower Girl Julie English.

By Ed Wendell | projectwoodhaven@gmail.com

It was 35 years ago this month that my wife and I walked down the aisle at St. Thomas the Apostle, vowing to remain together forever and ever. Time has passed by so quickly that it’s hard to fathom that it was that long ago.

Long before I got married, I worked behind the counter at Phil’s Cheese and Cold Cuts, right next door to Jason’s Toy Store. I was about 16 at the time and this young lady came in and asked for a pound of liverwurst, with wax paper between each slice.

People asked for wax paper so the liverwurst wouldn’t stick together, making it difficult to use. But since it took extra time and since I had the patience of a 16-year old, I just sliced the liverwurst and said ‘the heck with the wax paper.’

Well, about twenty minutes later, Phil’s phone rang and shortly afterwards I was called into the back kitchen. The Liverwurst Girl’s mother was in a rage. Phil made me slice another pound and deliver it personally and took the cost of the liverwurst out of my pay.

I would have been quite happy if I never saw The Liverwurst Girl again. As an aside, later on I found out that the liverwurst with the paper in between was actually for their dog.

Phil’s Cheese and Cold Cuts closed for good about 15 years ago, but it is remembered by many residents of Woodhaven.

A few years later, in 1984, I was a young man in my first year of college. I was now driving, had my own car (a green 1967 Mercury Montego).

One day, I found a parking spot in front of my house, but couldn’t get the car to go into reverse; the transmission had gone. I drove around for a while looking for a spot I could just pull into without having to go into backwards.

I finally found a spot I could drive into just a few blocks away. I returned to the car the next day and looked under the hood. I put in some transmission fluid; I put in more oil, more windshield washer, etc. Basically, I did all the things that people who know nothing about cars do when something’s wrong.

I slammed the hood down and went home, totally discouraged. Nothing good was coming of this day, or so I thought. It turns out that I had parked my car in front of The Liverwurst Girl’s house.

In my frustration, I left my dipstick out and The Liverwurst Girl grabbed ahold of it. The next day she gave it back to me and we both saw stars. You ever see those scenes in cartoons where people fall in love and their eyes turn into hearts? That was us.

A few days later we went on our first date, to see Purple Rain, starring Prince. It was August 31st, 1984. And at the end of August four years later, The Liverwurst Girl and I made it official at St. Thomas, followed up with a reception at Le Cordon Bleu.

It was lucky that my car broke down where it did. It was towed away a few days later. My wife Josephine still has the dipstick, though. She never let go of that.

My wife Josephine with the dipstick that led to our meeting in August of 1984.

It’s hard to believe that the years have passed by so quickly. 35 years can pass by as quickly as a two-week vacation and in the meantime, your life can change immensely. On the eve of our anniversary, we brought out the old wedding album and looked back on that day so long ago.

We were 24 and 25 years old that day and surrounded by so many members of our family who are no longer with us. We’re older and slower these days, older now than our elders were on the day we got married.

Words of advice to any young readers out there – don’t squander any of it, don’t waste a single day. Because it will pass just as quickly for you as it did for everyone else that came before you.

The older you get, anniversaries and birthdays are subtle reminders that we have more days behind us than up ahead, and we better make every one of them count. And make sure when you get to our age, the memories you have to look back on are happy ones. This way, when you say Happy Anniversary to each other, you’ll really mean it.

Happy Birthday: Woodhaven Turns 188

Woodhaven’s Permanent Residents. The Wyckoff-Snedicker cemetery on 96th Street in Woodhaven, behind All Saints Episcopal Church, where many of Woodhaven earliest settlers were laid to rest.

By Ed Wendell | news@queensledger.com

This week, we will celebrate this great nation’s birthday. Let’s hope that your Fourth of July is full of good food and fun times with friends and neighbors. But did you know that this week also marks another birthday? One that’s a little closer to home.

For it was on July 1st, 1935 that the first papers were filed and the first piece of land was purchased in the Village of Woodville, which would later be renamed to Woodhaven. And so, while the rest of the nation celebrates America’s 247th birthday, closer to home we can also celebrate our own 188th birthday.

Can you imagine? Woodhaven is 12 years away from its bicentennial. We’d better start planning!

The area was well developed already by 1835, particularly around the Union Course Race Track. But the rest of Woodville was wide open. Before John R. Pitkin founded the Village of Woodville, this land was part of one giant farm, owned by Stephen Lott.

The Lott family was very prominent in our community’s early history, and many of them never left town, as they are resting peacefully in the northeast corner of the Wyckoff-Snedeker Cemetery on 96th Street, behind All Saints Church.

The community retained the name Woodville until the 1850s when, due to the growth in population, villagers applied for its own Post Office. However, this application was rejected due to the fact that there was already a Post Office for a Woodville in New York, some 325 miles north of here.

And so, we were forced to come up with a new name for our community. For a while, Edgewood was a popular suggestion for a new name. But John R. Pitkin suggested Woodhaven, and seeing as how he had gotten the whole thing off the ground, his opinion held a lot more sway.

John R. Pitkin left home at the age of 12 to seek his fortune and ended up establishing the neighborhood of Woodville on July 1st, 1835. Woodville would eventually be renamed Woodhaven and it celebrates its 188th birthday this month.

And so, in 1853, the Village of Woodhaven was officially established meaning that, if you want to get really technical, this year marks the 170th birthday or anniversary of the name Woodhaven.

Keep in mind that the map of Woodhaven back then was quite different than it is today. The village used to stretch far south, deep into what is known today as Ozone Park. Back in those days, the village of Woodhaven was partitioned into several sections, with names such as Columbia Park (near 91st Street and Jamaica) Eldert Park (near Eldert Lane), Equity Park (near PS 60 – in fact, the playground on 88th Avenue still retains that name).

These names were created for a few reasons, but mainly they were designed by real estate agents to help sell properties in this growing community. And one of the small sections of Woodhaven was a four-block parcel called Ozone Park.

Legend has it that the name Ozone was chosen to reflect the fresh breezes and healthy air that residents could expect to breathe in off the nearby water. And the name of Ozone Park may have faded into obscurity had it not been for the fact that the Long Island Railroad set up a station with that name on Broadway (now 101st Avenue).

Over time, as the section names faded, the name of Ozone Park remained and, in time, became a full community in its own right. So, not only is it Woodhaven’s birthday, it’s really Ozone Park’s birthday as well. We have a shared history, these two communities, so we might as well celebrate together.

The big celebration lays ahead, the bicentennial in 2035. Back in 1935, Woodhaven had a giant celebration. The highlight of Woodhaven’s Centennial was a procession from Dexter Court to the Willard Theater on 96th Street (later the Cordon Bleu and today the Woodhaven Manor).

Residents carried a gigantic cake down Jamaica Avenue and into the theater, which accommodated close to 3,000 people. On this night, according to news clippings at the time, the theater was overflowing with residents, with crowds waiting in the streets to get inside. During the celebration inside the Willard, a celebratory telegram from Mae West was read aloud to cheers from one and all.

And so, as you enjoy your hot dogs and your parties, please remind your friends and neighbors that it’s not just America’s birthday they are celebrating, they are celebrating our birthday as well.

Happy birthday Woodhaven and Ozone Park!

Let them attend

Dear Editor,
The decision to not invite all first responders and other emergency workers to this year’s 20th Anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks is inexplicable.
Many of these people were there when the attacks occurred and they have been coming to the ceremony every single year, except in 2020 due to the pandemic. It is a veiled insult to every single first responder in our city.
All of our first responders should be allowed to attend this year’s ceremony.
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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