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Modern-day Bayside saw many changes and rapid growth for a long period of time, but in the 1960s a new resurgence in its cultural life was evident. The founding of the Bayside Beautification Committee and the Bayside Historical Society and the presence of Queensborough Community College helped the community reclaim its cultural prominence. Those were the days when the historical society sponsored the Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera concerts in Crocheron Park, brought landmarking to the fore with its restoration of the long neglected Lawrence Family Graveyard and worked to preserve historic Fort Totten.In August 1965 a Bayside Times editorial read, "The wonderful sound of the world's greatest music will come to Bayside tomorrow É at a price nobody can complain about. The New York Philharmonic Society and the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company are sponsoring 12 free concerts in all five boroughs this month."A music-loving community such as Bayside should consider itself extremely fortunate to be picked as host for two of the 12 free concerts É They are the biggest single summer events to ever take place in our community."To be congratulated for bringing two of these concerts to Bayside are the Department of Parks and the Bayside Historical Society."The editorial goes on to congratulate the committee headed by the founder of the Bayside Historical Society, Joseph H. Brown, which included 22 members of the society, one of whom was our former borough president, Claire Shulman.As a member of that committee I think back on those "good old days," when so many worked together for the benefit of the community and hope for a return of that spirit.When I came across the piece written more than 137 years ago in the old Journal, I found it interesting and thought-provoking to ponder this 1870 excerpt reprinted in the Bayside Times in 1970."From the Flushing Journal, 1870:"We are sadly afraid that Bayside, as an authoritative social, moral and political influence, is on the decline. This is an impression we have struggled against for months. Bayside in all her glory was the very court of social and intellectual power. Athens, the birthplace of poetry and freemen's rights; Rome, where art flourished under the noonday sun of kingly favor, and where Cicero thundered the grand principles of tolerance and patriotism; Egypt, on whose ample bosom stood the wondrous tombs whence kings were translated into gods; Venice, the bride of the silvery Adriatic -- these have their individual but unsatisfying glory. But Bayside, the equator of the modern world, the cradle of beauty, the home of statesmen, the pride of the universe, where was her like to be found?"Less than five short years ago Bayside was in the heyday of her loveliness. Youth and beauty blushed and smiled amid her roses and taught the roses lessons in color when the snows covered her rolling acres and the ice gleamed on Little Neck Bay. On her green lawns the maidens of Bayside sported with tennis balls so daintily that her young men became tangled in the meshes of their rackets and could not count their 'loves,' nor tell to which court they belonged. In her artistic parlors, so arranged that the shaded lamplight never reached the corners of the room, they renewed the game at dewy eye while the Bayside mosquitos chanted their leger-note duets in sympathetic accompaniment. And Bayside in the winter was even more merry than Bayside in the warmer months. A constant succession of parties, receptions, balls and comings-out, with the annual dramatic performances that lent luster to the Bayside prestige, made her famous drawing-room so many social magnets."But now Bayside is scarcely more of a factor in the universe than Black Stump (road) or the Head of the Vleigh. She is hid under a bushel. Flushing waits to see her act, but waits in vain. Her lights are fled, her garlands dead, and her fame is fast departing. Unless something is done to revive Bayside, in a little while more, the searcher for the glories of the past will be wandering around Bayside as the tourist searches in Pompeii, and tearful poets will sing mournful sonnets on another lost Pleiad."
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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