Neighbor to Neighbor: Cornucopia Society mourns its members

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If we pay attention to the news, we are assured every day that life is tentative. We also learn that miracles do happen. We live in faith and hope for the best, and we grieve for the suffering. The closer we are to the latter, the more intense our pain. Time helps to heal, as does memory.

You can, if you will, “bring someone back” that you have loved and lost; remember the good times you had together, not just one, but as many as possible. You may be surprised to find how real their presence will seem.

I started thinking about all this for several reasons, not the least of which was the large number of deaths that have occurred within the last couple of years. These deaths include the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, and the recent loss of Kelvin DeBourgh, Jr., who was the driver of the ill-fated, derailed AirTrain. I did not know that young man, but it may have been a miracle that many others, including myself, had been spared a similar fate.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a large meeting hosted by Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (D-Laurelton), meant to address the serious problem of lack of airline passengers and tourists to New York. Part of the program was to include a ride on the AirTrain. During the lunch break, Sanders told us that although the ride had been canceled, we would be allowed to visit one of the cars.

He joked that he thought the ride had been canceled because he had asked for permission to drive the train himself. He asked how many would go with him if he could get them to agree to his proposal. There were no takers, no one volunteered to go with him, and the AirTrain people, again, said “no.”

Had they said “yes,” I would have gone, and I suspect others also would have gone. There could have been many more deaths had that ill-fated train run that day.

Our own communities have lost many good, active people within the last couple of years. Some, such as Cynthia Jenkins and Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, who were public figures, had much written about them, as did victims of crime, and others such as Mr. Young of Young’s Florist, and Joan Davis of the Federation of Laurelton Block Associations.

Somehow though, this past year our community news was all too often sad. Clem Newkirk, former owner of First Stop on 228th Street, died after a long illness. He had been active in the Laurelton Merchants’ Association while I was a volunteer there, and had a reputation of being generously supportive of community activities. I always enjoyed a warm reception from him and his good wife, Tina.

If my memory serves me correctly, Barbara and “Roy” Turner opened the first Caribbean-American bakery/restaurants in our area, Western Bakery, close to 228th Street on Merrick Boulevard. My sister, Mary, would migrate there after her shopping trips to talk with the Turners over coconut ice cream and to hear about their purchase of Twin Ponds Bakery and the construction of their Upper Deck restaurant near 234th Street.

Earlier, our little cluster of businesses between 228th and 229th streets had a loss from the Mobil Station, when HajiHaji Khan died. Since my car had been vandalized many years ago, my stops at that business generally were reserved for quick visits to pass along informational flyers to thank them for helping to make our community attractive with their floral displays.

As a volunteer with the Cornucopia Society, I was among the mourners some time ago for Lucy and Emma, two of our senior volunteers. In June, when I mistakenly thought “Little Phyllis” was visiting her daughter in Arizona, I learned that she had passed away. She had been a wonderfully loyal clean-up volunteer for the Rosedale Veterans’ and Vietnam squares.

Although she tried her best to educate visitors not to dump there, anyone who passes by now will see how much she is missed. Please, folks, do not dump there. Remember, “Little Phyllis” and other volunteers, including former Cornucopia volunteer Josie (our most recent loss), spent some of their valuable lifetime trying to keep that area clean and presentable for all Rosedale residents, their friends and community visitors.

Do something nice in remembrance of someone and you will do something nice for yourself, as well.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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