2008-01-10 / Little Old Canarsie

Little Old Canarsie

Canarsie's Life Saving Station

After the City of New York stopped taking shellfish from Jamaica Bay on April 1, 1920 due to polluted waters, the city filled in the shorefront with sand pumped from the bay and a pier was built at the foot of Rockaway Parkway. The pier was one of several to be built along the shore for the purpose of unloading big ships and freighters that were to come in from all over the world. But the administration changed under Mayor John F. Hylan, the deal was dropped and Canarsie Pier was idle, except to load scrap metal to be shipped overseas.

Then they brought in the Submarine US51, which had sunk off Block Island with the loss of 34 Americans. This sub remained there for a couple of years until it was declared a nuisance to navigation and finally towed to Long Island Sound to be scrapped for its metals. But some good resulted when a small beach started at just about where the buildings of the BayView Houses are (it's on the southern end now).

When the people started using this beach, a U.S. Volunteer Life Savings Station was placed there with Albert Torborg as Commodore. The members were all young men at the time and sure did a lot of good work saving those who went out too far. "Duck" Torborg used to sit up in a tower and blow the whistle to warn those who went out too far in the water.

On October 1, 1932, the Volunteer Life Guards ran a dance at the Arcadia Inn, on Canarsie shore and among the advertisers in their Journal were R.J. Lewis, Real Estater, who became Big Chief; George W. Chester, who had an office on Flatlands Avenue next to Geffkens Bar & Restaurant; the well- known fishing boat the Fidus II, owned by Steve Wischert; Alex Klein, the U.S. Cigar Store & Stationery on Avenue L next to the train station; Medici Bros. Butchers & Grocers on Avenue K; Frank's Gas Station on East 92 Street and Avenue L; Reinhardt's Bakery on Avenue L; Sanitary Laundry, Canarsie Shore; Tom Ceceres Drug Store on Avenue L & East 89th Street; Dolly's Beauty Shoppe on Rockaway Parkway.

Much water has passed under the bridge since then. But the memories of those mentioned will linger for a long time with those who knew them in the days of "Little Old Canarsie."

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