QueensLine: Kinsey sex report divides Queens residents in ‘53

By The Greater Astoria Historical Society

On Aug. 5, 1953, Astorian Airman 1st Class Raymond W. King received the Distinguished Flying Cross for meritorious service over North Korea.

As a flight engineer on a B-26 attack bomber, King took part in a reconnaissance mission in November the previous year, when he and the rest of his crew spotted a convoy making its way between Sariwon and Kaesong.

Thanks in large part to King’s deftness at the controls, he and his lead pilot helped destroy 22 enemy vehicles.


Recently labeled the “Boulevard of Death” for good reason, historically Queens Boulevard was a nightmare for commuters.

Due to a truck driver’s strike, it was cordoned off and much-needed repaving work was held up, all of which resulted in inordinate vehicular traffic at the boulevard’s Forest Hills and Rego Park sections.

Bottlenecks also arose due to a suddenly shelved plan to demolish the Long Island Rail Road trestles at Winfield. Given that the boulevard serves as one of three main access roads to Manhattan and the only one linked with a free bridge, traffic tie-ups were inevitable.


In another part of Queens, residents could expect no relief from the odors from Newtown Creek.

Though the smells were more offensive than toxic in nature, city officials were nevertheless reluctant to remedy the problem. The reason for such reluctance was plain: Any action against industries in question would compel them to relocate.

The Long Island Star Journal, assuming an air of folksy rectitude, concluded, “The city’s health authorities cannot continue to tell people there is no stench, for noses far less experienced than those of the health inspectors have been able to detect it, without half trying.”


On Aug. 20, the Kinsey Report on Human Sexuality was published — rather caustically, however, the local press headlined its release “The Kinsey Report: Bunk Plus Arrogance.”

A reporter made the rounds to interview men and women throughout Queens and found “more skepticism than interest” in the report. A majority of those interviewed thought that women were unable to provide honest answers.

A Douglaston woman noted, “The average woman wouldn’t answer, and those that would probably wouldn’t tell the truth. I wouldn’t trust any girl to give accurate information about her sex life.”

Similarly, a doctor from Astoria, whose patients included many women, asserted that only a fraction of Kinsey’s female interviewees — in his estimation 2 percent or 3 percent — would actually be truthful.

A druggist from Jackson Heights waxed poetic, “A woman is a mysterious thing … most women would say one thing and mean something else.”

A proprietor of a billiard hall in Flushing put it bluntly when he said that women were not capable of giving an accurate account on anything.

On the other hand, a Maspeth woman approved of the study, stating that she would be happy to cooperate with it.

Another woman from Astoria shared this view, asserting “sex research is a much-needed thing.”

Sex certainly brings out the best and worst in people, doesn’t it?

For further information, call 718-278-0700 or visit astorialic.org.

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