Greater Astoria Historial Society 35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor | L.I.C., NY 11106 718.278.0700 | www.astorialic.org Gallery Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 2-5 PM Saturdays 12-5 PM Exhibits ~ Lectures ~ Documentaries ~ Books Walking Tours ~ Historical Research Unique & Creative Content For more information visit us on the web at www.astorialic.org This image adapted from an invitation to the Long Island City Athletics 33rd Annual Masque Ball, 1909. 32 FEBRUARY 2016 i LIC COURIER i www.qns.com ■LEGENDS I, Emily M aud Ellis "I, Emily Maud Ellis, was born on 26th January, 1884, in Kentish Town, London. My Father went to the United States for a better job when I was 6 months old." With these words began the account of Emily Maud Ellis, whose family settled in Astoria, New York. While her father, an architect, commuted by the Astoria Ferry each day to work at the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, where he designed elements for the original Madison Square Garden, she wandered through the community experiencing those things a child does and recording thoughts a child places into a memory of a lifetime. "Father soon found work so Mother and I went out to join him when I was 14 months old in 1885. We went out in July on the ship ‘The City of Rome’ – we were 8 days on the rather long journey and my father met us off the boat. We arrived in Albany where my father was then working and went out where he was lodging. I don’t know how long we stayed in Albany, but my mother knew she had an uncle, her father’s brother, who was living in Brooklyn. We moved in with him and stayed some time there. We had a lovely time – when he was very busy mother and I used to go out nearly all the time in his carriage – he had a coachman to drive us. Two years later, when I was three, her uncle died and left all his money and home to my mother. We then left for Long Island Sound, Astoria. Opposite where we lived was a farm and general store owned by Mr. Brown – he also used to travel to New York, so he and my Father went off together each morning. Mrs. Brown was German and a jolly good friend of my Mother. She had cows, chickens, ducks and rabbits, also a big pig. She worked very hard, but I expect she had plenty of help. The Brown family consisted of two boys and five girls. As a kid I had a lovely time – I was nearly always at the Browns playing and getting into mischief. Our rented house had a very big garden. The owner grew black grapes on a part that was fenced off. We were not supposed to touch the grapes. My mother could not always watch me as my sister was just a baby and was lots of trouble for her. You could imagine what would happen if I got the chance – I looked with longing eyes and did pick some of the grapes. My gather knew because I had left the stalk on the vine. They use to come and collect the grapes in a long cart; of course they gave my mother a basketful. I used to go shopping for my Mother on Elm Street 30th Drive. When I went to the butchers for meat, the butcher use to cut me a slice of something – it looked like what we call German sausage. When I got older, mom said it was smoked bear flesh. I was only a kid, but at the time I liked it, but I don’t think I would like it now! Another place we kids like to go was the Sohmer Piano Factory Vernon Boulevard and 31st Avenue and look through the window, which had an iron gating, and listen to the machinery working. It used to make a terrible sound – we could also see lots of pianos there. My first school was in a nice private house - but there was a big school next door perhaps PS 5 at 29th Street and 30th Avenue. I think the house was for the infants. I was not there very long before I moved in to the big school. It was a nice walk to the school. In front of it were streetcars drawn by two horses. One day there were tents all along the road. They housed a temporary settlement of workers who were repaving the road. They did all their cooking in big pots and when we came out of the school we used to stand and watch them. We must have got in the way for they would shout for us to ‘Clear Off!’"
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