Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meeting Thursday May 20

Greetings friends and neighbors. Well… help me out. Is it spring? Summer? Autumn? The weather has been so variable and changeable that I’m not sure where we are in the march of the seasons. Perhaps a glance at the calendar would help.

A special thank you to Tom Cocola who spent a challenging evening with us last month as we regaled him with tales about our concerns involving the streets and transportation.

Our guest speaker this month will be from Island Shores Senior Residence in Midland Beach. Ms. Kimberly Brown handles Community Outreach. She would like to say a little about their upcoming renovations. As the only senior housing facility near to New Dorp, their building renovations will make their facility more welcoming for seniors who are in need of housing. Their accommodations are unique because residents can receive in-house medical care but still have their freedom and enjoy an amazing ocean view.

We will also be accepting nominations for the various officer positions within the organization. Elections are scheduled for June. Get involved.

Next month we will have a special presentation on the plans for the former Frank’s Nursery/ A&P property. Come and both hear and see what is planned for that space. And it’s not a flea market!

As I’ve been mentioning for some time, a walk up and down the Lane and the Plaza clearly shows the strain that our commercial district is under. A recent article in the Advance focused on the arrival of stores and businesses usually associated with downtrodden or falling neighborhoods. These are trying times and our neighborhood is hurting. Look for opportunities to spend your money in New Dorp. Every little bit helps.

Plan on attending a meeting and bring a neighbor. Can’t you give two hours a month to your community? Think about it. Lastly, never forget that an important part of this dynamic is your feedback and participation. We need your comments, your concerns, your suggestions, your complaints. It is your neighborhood. What is on your mind?
Let us know at 718-979-6011, newdorpcentralcivic@yahoo.com or comment on the blog. Check us out at http://www.ndcca.blogspot.com for continuous updates.

I need you to sing aloud the need for civic involvement and invite your neighbors to join. The more voices the smoother and richer the sound. Thank you for your interest in our neighborhood. You live here. You know why it is a respected and desirable community. Be proud of it.

See you around the neighborhood.

> Joe Markowski

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Requiem for a Heavyweight - John Sampson

Our community has been in the news a lot lately. And most of it has not been flattering. But I don't want to dwell on that now. I will get to those things in the next blog entries.

Right now I want to pay testimony to a unique individual who passed away on Friday - a one of a kind gentlemen - perhaps the last of his kind - John Sampson.

The Staten Island Advance had a nice writeup about him and I am reproducing it here.

John Sampson, 101 .... By Kiawana Rich

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - John (Jack) Sampson of New Dorp, a consummate newsman and author who began his 50-year career as a reporter at the Staten Island Advance, died yesterday in Staten Island University Hospital, Prince’s Bay. His age was 101.

Mr. Sampson’s own news story began when he distributed his handwritten circular on the Island after moving to New Dorp with his family from Liverpool, England, when he was 12 years old.

His first daily newspaper job came in 1926 at the Advance, where he worked for two years.

“I was very young and the paper had just been acquired by S.I. Newhouse,” Mr. Sampson said in an Advance article on Nov. 18, 1984. “I needed a job and the editor of the time, a dignified fellow named Chauncey DePew, was kind enough to a young writer.”

He later was a a shipping reporter for the New York American, working alongside such legends as Damon Runyon and Arthur Brisbane until the paper folded, then worked in London on Fleet Street for the Daily Mail, Associated Press of Great Britain and other publications. He also was a correspondent in Washington, New York and London for British newspapers.

Some of his favorite assignments were wartime conferences between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during the 1940s, the Kennedy administration and the space program.

In the 1950s, he worked for the Daily Mirror, then joined the staff of the London Sun when it was taken over by Rupert Murdoch. He became New York bureau chief for the London Daily Herald, a post he held until retiring in 1974.

Known for his 1950s-style horned-rim glasses and slight English accent, he preferred writing features, especially interviews with notables, including Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Somerset Maugham and boxer Jack Johnson.

Mr. Sampson loved animals — at one time having as many as 12 cats, including his pet cat Tiger. “More than anything he enjoyed being home with a book and having two cats draped around his neck,” said his friend of 45 years, Nerina Martire.

And he treasured books, having a collection of more than 3,000 volumes.

The books he wrote often explored his personal experiences as well as international and political intrigue. They included “In the Light of Thought,”“Masquerade in Port-Cros: A Romance of the Cote d’Azur,” and “A Tempest in Venice,” and sometimes used local settings in Egbertville and New Dorp.

Mr. Sampson liked an uncomplicated story: “I want to be entertaining. Once you start thinking of a message or a moral, you get away from the pleasure of writing.”

After all his travels, he returned to New Dorp, where a favorite pastime was a daily morning stroll through Moravian Cemetery.

A self-taught man who attended Curtis High School for a year, Mr. Sampson often joked with friends that he attended the “University of Shakespeare and other 18th century English authors,” none of whom had attended college.

In 2008, his extensive body of work was archived at the College of Staten Island.

“John’s career as a journalist reflected many changes in journalism from the 1920s to the 1970s,” Professor John A. Kaser told the Advance in a Sept. 12, 2008 article recognizing Mr. Sampson’s 100th birthday and the archive created in his name — boxes of his personal papers, newspaper clippings, historic photos, written correspondence and other chronicles for CSI.

Kaser noted that Mr. Sampson had worked under three titans of the newspaper world, S.I. Newhouse, William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch.

“John’s life really reflects what I term the final days of the culture of literacy,” he said.

Mr. Sampson was a member of the New Dorp Central Civic Association.

“On one hand, he was a sophisticated man who traveled the world during his long career,” said his friend, Mrs. Martire. “On the other hand, he had a childlike innocence — a sense of wonder which was so endearing.”

The funeral will be Monday from the Hanley Funeral Home, New Dorp, with a mass at 10:30 a.m. in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Richmond. Burial will be in St. Andrew’s Cemetery, also Richmond.

(Note: I made one change, namely, to our association's name.)

Jack lived a full life and many of us are better for having met him.

Jack... I sip a glass of sherry tonight in your honor.

> Joe Markowski