Some Thoughts on Sunnyside Gardens

by Robert Jones

          My name is Robert Jones.  I was born in Brooklyn in 1927.  When I was about 10 or 11 years old we moved to Sunnyside Gardens.  We moved into 4002 44th St., a house recently vacated by Lewis Mumford, a great Sunnyside fan.  My father worked for Equitable Life Insurance Company.  He was responsible for managing the large number of Sunnyside homes that were owned by Equitable.  The 44th Street house was sold out from under us and we moved to 39-43 46 Street.  My best friend was a boy named Jack Lowenherz. Fortunately, the new house was one doorway from the house Jack lived in. Jack and I remained great friends until his death last year.

          Sunnyside was a wonderful place to grow up.

          I attended school at PS 150, PS 125, and Queens Vocational High School. I graduated from high school in June 1945.  I recently found my June 1945 yearbook.  It had a memorial page listing the names of 44 alumni who had died in the war.  During the war, Jack's father had started a machine shop, and I worked for him on and off for several years.  Shortly after graduation, I was drafted into the Army.  In 1946. I was shipped across the Pacific to Korea.  Nobody had heard of Korea in those days and we had to find a map to see where Korea was.

         After my discharge, I returned to 39-43 and my parents.  I decided to further my education on the G.I. Bill and enrolled in the engineering school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  I got my Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1952, followed by a Masters degree at Columbia University in 1955. I got a job as an engineer at the Ford Instrument Company in Long Island city, and worked there until 1957.  In 1953, I got married and my wife and I moved to an apartment on 52nd Street near 39th Avenue.  I never loved living in New York City and so in 1957, I got a job at the PerkinElmer Corporation in Connecticut.  We moved to Connecticut, built a house in the woods and now, 60+ years later, we still live in that house and love it.

          My father's job was to manage, rent or sell the houses belonging to Equitable.  He employed a staff of gardeners to maintain the common areas. At the time, one-family attached brick house was selling for about $8600. The rent was about $60 a month.  My father had a sales pitch that showed people how they could buy the house with a mortgage from Equitable, pay all taxes and maintenance, and own the house in 20 years for less than $60 a month.  But nobody would buy.  The Depression mentality I guess.  Later, during the war, the houses started selling  like hot-cakes. My father bought the house we lived in so we didn't get bought out.   

 

NOTE:  These are recollections from over 70 years ago and may not be perfect.