Four longtime residents of Floral Park reminisced about the village's past during the last Floral Park Historical Society meeting April 7. As Francis Hornberger, Doris Borkhuis, Cicilia Rosicki and Ralph Gode each spoke about their own personal ties to the village, their memories sparked questions and conversation among those in attendance.
They recalled a time when Floral Park's population was far less than it is today and when several homes and buildings that are now gone were still standing. Three out of the four speakers migrated from Brooklyn while Rosicki was born in Floral Park, along with her father.
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ullman outside of their drug sundry store on Verbena Avenue. Mrs. Ullman believes this picture was taken in 1910, just after the building was completed. The couple moved to Floral Park in the autumn of 1908 into a newly built home on Elizabeth Street. They had purchased the building plot from the House and Home Company before they married a couple of years earlier.
Hornberger arrived in Floral Park just two months after village founder John Lewis Childs died. She recalls the 1920s as a time of prosperity, "Floral Park grew rapidly in the 1920s," she recalled. "My mother came from Brooklyn and moved into a house at the end of Verbena Avenue with a coal burning stove." Hornberger attended John Lewis Childs School and recalls being able to see Sewanhaka High School from climbing a nearby tree.
Gode, born in Brooklyn, came to Floral Park at the age of 6. "We had chickens in our backyard on Hawthorne Avenue," he said. "Wildlife in the backyards were allowed back then." A Boy Scout, which Gode recalls was a "big thing in those days," he recalls receiving his last merit badge a month before he got married. Gode graduated from Sewanhaka High School in 1935 and remembers his days of camping in Roslyn.
In November 1924, Borkhuis moved into a house on Elm Avenue that did not yet have electricity. "We used kerosene lamps," she recalled. Moving to Violet Avenue in 1927, Borkhuis said she remembers the village closing off roads so area children could sleigh ride during the winter. "I remember being able to buy 25 pieces of candy with just a quarter," she said. Borkhuis married in April of 1943 and had two of her three children at the Floral Park Sanatorium, where the Floral Park Motel stands today.
Rosicki, born in the village in 1922, followed in the footsteps of her father, also born in Floral Park. "He would be 117 years old today," she said. "My father owned the Rose buildings in the area. He died 55 years ago." She recalled the trolley that ran across Jericho Turnpike and when she graduated from Sewanhaka High School in 1940. Living in the village for 26 years, Rosicki moved to New Hyde Park but said, "Floral Park is a nice town to live in. I was happy growing up here but couldn't afford to buy a house in the village after the war so I moved to New Hyde Park," she said.