December 1960: A fatal plane crash and a brutal winter storm
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | DEC. 25-DEC. 31, 2020 19
In conjunction with the Greater Astoria
Historical Society, TimesLedger
Newspapers presents noteworthy
events in the borough’s history.
Welcome to December 1960!
In the worst accident in commercial
aviation disaster in history as
of 1960, 136 are killed as DC-8, on approach
to Idlewild, and a TWA Constellation
bound for LaGuardia, collide
over Staten Island.
All on board the ill-fated aircraft,
some 127 passengers, are killed. Only
plucky Stephan Baltz, 11, is thrown
from the wreckage.
Debris descend on a street in
Brooklyn Heights bringing destruction
and killing nine more on the
The area was described as a nightmare.
Homes and a church are destroyed
in the holocaust.
Rev. Raymond Morgan, a Roman
Catholic priest comes on the scene
just moments after crash.
“I could not get near the fiery
wreckage. All I could give was whisper
absolutions for everyone. It just
missed the parochial and high school
buildings with 1,500 students at St.
Augustine’s,” he said quietly. “I can’t
go now because they need me as they
pull remains from the wreckage.”
The only survivor, little Steven
Baltz, dies the next day.
Fire hits aircraft carrier in Brooklyn
Naval Yard. Authorities fear 100
men trapped in blaze caused by jet
fuel explosion on the USS Constellation.
More than 3,000 workers are on
board when the fire spreads. Scores
jump off the ship. The waters around
the stricken vessel was described as
“alive with men.”
A brutal winter storm buries
Queens. A slashing blizzard measures
more than 18 inches by noon.
Sweeping through the metro area, it
kills at least five on Long Island as it
paralyzes transit, closes schools and
keeps others from work. LIRR erases
the day off its calendar.
A few shots of whiskey, and four
or five cigars a day are Joseph Deitsch’s
formula for longevity.
‘Live it up a little and stop worrying.
Health foods, spas, special liniments,
they are all a waste of time.
Just wind ‘er up and let ‘er go, that’s
the ticket,’ jests the old-timer, cigar
The nonagenarian claims that
life begins at 80. He is the father of
six ‘youngsters,’ aged 63 to 52, has 12
grandchildren and at least 10 greatgrandchildren.
The spry resident of 146-29 Laburnum
Avenue in Flushing traces his
ancestry back to Aaron Levy, the
Revolutionary War banker and financial
wizard who gave his entire
personal fortune to the American
fight for freedom. Joseph was also
related to the late Justice of the Supreme
Court, Benjamin Cardozo.
The ‘Space Race’ with the Soviets
puts new stress on science and
engineering. A permanent National
Center for Science and Education is
proposed for Flushing Meadows by
The mammoth new Throgs Neck
Bridge, whose 12,300-foot span cost
$90 million, should put an end to the
bumper-to-bumper nightmare of the
Whitestone Bridge and help ease congestion
on the Triborough. In an editorial,
the Star-Journal pushes for a
grander idea: “Now what is needed is
a bridge across the Long Island Sound
to Connecticut or Rhode Island. It
been pooh-poohed as far-fetched, but
it too will be built someday.”
For further info, call the
Greater Astoria Historical
Society at 718-278-0700 or www.
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