By Larry Penner
Many of the Little Neck stores I patronized in the 1960s have become distant memories. During those years, my parents would send me to Mangel’s Delicatessen on Northern Boulevard at the city line. A dollar would buy milk, bread, a head of lettuce and still leave some change.
In 1964, a two-story medical office building was built on the vacant lot next to Mangel’s Delicatessen. My dentists, Dr. Herman Belkin and Dr. Martin Wenig, practiced there for many decades. There was a barbeshop just around the corner. A haircut was $1 or $1.25. My first two-wheeled bicycle was purchased at North Shore Bicycle. It is Brickwell Cycling today. Down the block was a bakery. Sundays my parents would send me out to buy rolls which were only 7 cents each. The Little Neck Movie theater was just 50 cents.
My very first job was at McDonald’s on the corner of Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway. In those days, it was a simple menu of hamburgers, fries and milk shakes. The Big Mac was the new item of the day.
During my teenage years, several friends and I collected road maps. In those days, we visited all the gasoline stations on Northern Blvd.
Every gasoline station gave out road maps for free.
I rode the original New York City Transit Q12A bus which ran along Little Neck Parkway. In 1990 it was renamed the Q79 probably to avoid confusion with the Little Neck to Flushing Q12 route. The bus would take me to Union Turnpike and after a short walk, to the old Glen Oaks Movie Theater along with Mays Department Store. A transfer to the Q46 Union Turnpike bus provided connections to the Lake Success Shopping Center with a full Sears Department Store, other businesses and the adjacent bowling alley.
Over the past decades, I’ve witnessed many changes to our neighborhood. On Northern Boulevard, the Scobee Grill, Little Neck Movie Theater, Bill’s newsstand by the Q12 bus stop, Mangel’s Delicatessen, Patrick’s Pub, Villa Bianca Resturant and Bakery, along with other stores, have come and gone. In more recent times, Pat’s Little Neck Inn, Subway, Staples and several other stores departed our neighborhood.
Today, I still patronize old friends such as Aunt Bella’s Italian Restaurant, Chief Joe’s Marathon Food Shop, Queens County Savings, North Shore Hardware, King Wok, and the Little Neck-Douglston Library.
Walking down Northern Boulevard in the evenings, my wife and I see fewer people dining out and shopping except on Friday and Saturday nights. Years ago, we would never see any vacant storefronts.