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Woodhaven man celebrated 50 years as a cop in 1946

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In October 1946, at the Loews Triboro Theater in Astoria, Ed Sullivan, the famous Broadway columnist, appeared in person along with several acts, including dances and a comedian.

Two shows were scheduled for 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Over at RKO Keith’s in Flushing — which was billed as Long Island’s finest, most beautiful theater — the public was invited to sing songs that were played by Bernie at the organ between movie screenings.

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Help wanted ads at the time were strictly segregated by gender. Schrafft’s Restaurants ran ads for women or girls with no experience necessary for full-time, 44-hour weeks. They needed waitresses, cooks, bakers, sales girls and hostesses. Meals and uniforms were furnished and there were paid vacations.

The Loft Candy Factory at 40th Avenue and 9th Street in Long Island City advertised for girls or young women with no experience to start at $22 to $24 a week, increasing to $38 for more experienced packers and $42 for box makers. Again, paid vacations and uniforms were furnished. Lunch boasted pleasant cafeteria muzak.

The Long Island Employment Bureau advertised everything, from a $35 typist in Flushing to $40 for a dictaphone operator and a $45 stenographer in Manhattan.

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The Ridgewood Farmers faced the Glendale Tigers at Arctic Oval in Brooklyn, Cedar Manor played the Kingswood Corsairs at Kingswood Oval, the Richmond Hill Robins challenged the McVay All-Stars at McVay Field in Jackson Heights and the Major League All-Stars battled the Bushwicks at Dexter Park in Woodhaven.

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The decision by the city Board of Education to ban the Lord’s Prayer in Flushing High School unleashed a firestorm of protests by elected officials and church groups around the borough. Said state Assemblyman William Bowe, “As a boy, I remember that at all assemblies the prayer was read and it was very inspiring. Everywhere parents complain that children neglect respect for the Almighty. Here we have an incident where authorities order the exclusion of a sacred prayer. What was good enough to the founding fathers should do equally as well for the present educators!”

Although he vowed to introduce a bill to bring back school prayers in the Assembly, this issue would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Michael Lyons, 72, of Woodhaven, celebrated 50 years of police work. Born in County Wexford, Ireland, he came to the United States at 7 weeks old. As a young man, he worked at various jobs until meeting then-city Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, who personally invited him onto the force in 1896.

In an interview with a Star-Journal reporter, he reminisced, “I’ve served over 39 years as a cop in all ranks from patrolman to deputy chief inspector and I never had to draw my gun. The worst I had to contend with was the occasional drunkard. The East Side then consisted of a bunch of tough, fighting Irishmen who meant no harm but would get drunk on pay nights and use up their energy in fistfights. The necessity arose from time to time to use my nightstick, but never the gun.”

He described nights when “the boys” would scramble to a roof, tear down a chimney and throw bricks at the police, but things changed after World War I and Prohibition. Today, he sighed, a cop comes up against a bunch of gun-toting, trigger-happy kids.

Lyons cautioned, “The policeman must now have his gun at hand and be ready to reach for it any minute. I don’t envy them, but I wish them all the luck in the world.”

He finished with a sparkle in his eye, “They tell me the first 50 years are the toughest and if you survive them, you’re good for another 50!”

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