Old Fresh Mds. to be depicted in upcoming book

Three young girls ride their bicycles with training wheels in Fresh Meadows during the 1950s. The photograph is expected to appear in a book about the neighborhood. Photo courtesy Louise Covitt
By Howard Koplowitz

Fresh Meadows residents past and current who are feeling nostalgic have something to look forward to: a book chronicling the Queens neighborhood due out in the fall.

Former Fresh Meadows residents Fred Cantor and Debra Davidson will be writing the book, focused on life in the neighborhood from the 1940s to the ’70s, as part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.

Cantor, 57, lived in Fresh Meadows until he was 10 years old.

“It’s because I left [Fresh Meadows] at that age — it’s almost like “The Twilight Zone” — it’s a special time that’s frozen in my life,” he said. Cantor pitched the idea of a Fresh Meadows book to Arcadia after linking up with childhood friends and other residents on the Facebook group “Fresh Meadows Rules” a couple of months ago.

He said he viewed photos submitted by members of the Facebook group and thought they would be perfect for a book on the community.

“Fresh Meadows was or is a place that’s been lauded by city planning critics because it was one of the first fully self-contained communities planned in the United States,” Cantor said.

He said planners provided for the automobile when they drew up the community, leaving lots of parking spots in the neighborhood.

“It’s not your typical urban grid,” Cantor said. “Even though the planning took into account the car, you didn’t need the car to get around.”

Davidson, who lived in what was once called Utopia but is now part of Fresh Meadows, said she remembered going to her father’s kosher deli for lunch with her classmates from elementary school at PS 173.

“All these kids would come dashing out from PS 173, trying to get a seat” at Sid’s Kosher Deli on Fresh Meadow Lane, she said.

Davidson’s nostalgia started six years ago while trying to find classmates from PS 173.

A year later, she organized a 40th reunion where 60 classmates attended.

“I’ve been involved in neighborhood nostalgia for the last six years already and this book is just a natural extension of that,” said Davidson, 56, who now lives in Manhattan.

Cantor said he remembered how his parents allowed him to walk around the neighborhood, grabbing an egg cream at the now-shuttered Roger’s Luncheonette on Union Turnpike, buying baseball cards at Union News on 188th Street and purchasing records at the Woolworth’s where there is now a Kohl’s department store.

“I just have these wonderful memories. Fresh Meadows has always remained special to me,” he said. “They go beyond the mere nostalgic because Fresh Meadows was a fantastic place to be in.”

About 200 photos are to be included in the book and Cantor says he already has about 100 that are worthy for print.

Proceeds from the book, due to be released in the fall, are slated to go to the Fresh Meadows branch of the Queens Public Library.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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