2007-10-25 / Little Old Canarsie

Many Well-Known Black Families Here

Many Well-Known Black Families Here


        
        
          
        
          In the days long ago before integration, we folks in Little Old Canarsie had many well-known and outstanding black families who served our country in the Civil War.

There is the pastor of their Church, Rev. Bert Holmes, who I grew up with living on Avenue K on the corner of East 95th Street and just a few feet away, his two sons with their families. Bert was sorry to see their old church at Rockaway Parkway and Avenue J have to go to make room for the new Canarsie High School playground but it turned out that they were able to build a new one on East 96th Street, just in back of the library. How many of us remember the great baseball pitcher of the Canarsie Elks, Mervin Smith, and another young man we all knew as Johnny Hot Rags, and Roy Hubbard and his family who had to go to St. Albans when the city took down their home in the middle of East 99th Street.

How many remember the Ferguson boys, John, Neil, and Sammy (Nat) Ferguson? Then we had the Jackson family, who had a son on the New York's Finest.

Who could forget Belle Hubbard and her bubby Bob Watley?

And we can remember Bert's father and Uncle Emanuel going down at about dusk with their big powerful lamps that they placed on the bow of their rowboats, which they kept at the foot of Sands Bay Creek and East 98 Street - about five hundred feet north of where Avenue N is presently. They rowed these boats out to go spearing for eels at night and they brought back plenty.

We had a colony of Holmes in back of Rockaway Parkway between a sandpit of the B.R.T at a spot where the Lefrak apartments are now and Skidmore Lane where many of our hard-working black men and women lived. They went to our schools, which were P.S. 114 and P.S. 115, and grew up among the white families in perfect harmony.

They will live in the history of Little Old Canarsie as respected and admired citizens of our good old U.S.A. So ends another chapter of the days long ago. P.S. - I forgot to mention a well-known family, Hen Simmons, and brother Ben and Steve who were also from respected families and also Willie Emmett, a well-known man.

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