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St. Albans post office named after Archie Spigner

That was how several hundred well-BY MICHAEL MORTONYes, it could be done while he was still alive.That was how several hundred well-wishers ended up in the middle of Linden Boulevard Friday to rename the St. Albans post office after Archie Spigner, an area resident who became the borough's first black city councilman and mentored most of southeast Queens' current leaders during his 27-year tenure." You probably would not have been elected to anything but for his pioneering ways," U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) told his fellow proteges, a group known as "Bebe's Kids" after the rambunctious fictional children created by comedian Robin Harris.In the past, post office ceremonies have been reserved for the dearly departed, but Meeks and his counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), decided to sponsor legislation to bestow the honor on Spigner while he was still around. The subsequent dedication turned into one of the major social events of the year in the area, as leaders from across the city gathered on a temporary stage parked in the middle of Linden Boulevard.."He's earned it the hard way," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, a longtime family friend and colleague who declared it "Archie Spigner Day" in Queens. "Nobody gave him anything."After a series of jobs, including a stint as a city bus driver, Spigner became a district leader and earned a degree in political science from Queens College. He went to work for the late Borough President Donald Manes before being elected to the Council in 1974, rising to become deputy majority leader and heading several committees. He developed a reputation as a smiling but hard-driving bargainer before leaving because of new term limits in 2001."You could always take your lead from Archie because he was always correct," Marshall said.In addition to serving on the Council, Spigner and his political partner, district leader and Queens Clerk Dora Young, have run the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club down the street from the post office in St. Albans. The organization has become one of the strongest in the city and helped turn southeast Queens into a base of Democratic and black power. Schumer, for one, said he was an unknown Senate contender until Spigner and Young took him to the clubhouse."That was the beginning," the senator said.Spigner, known as the "Dean" or "Godfather" of southeast Queens politics, also helped get black candidates elected for the first time in the borough at all levels of government. Many of them worked either at Spigner's office or at the club."He worked me all weekend," joked Comrie, who was voted into Spigner's vacated post. "I lost many dates thanks to Archie Spigner." As part of the renaming of the post office, located at 195-04 Linden Blvd., a small plaque will be placed inside.Spigner said he did not initially set out seeking a political career but ended up there because he wanted to help the community. He still can be spotted at meetings across the city."I was a born activist," he said.Young, his club partner, agreed."Knowing Archie, he'll be out tomorrow making sure the mail goes out on time," she quipped.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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