Joe Manzi and a customer in Krueger's barber shop on Main Street
You never know what you are going to find when you visit the Hastings Historical Society. The cottage is a treasure trove of photos and maps, documents and books, and objects from another time. I often go to research one topic and get distracted by another that is equally fascinating. And you never know, you may bump into an old friend or neighbor while you’re there.
On two recent visits, I caught up with some former classmates who were making use of this wonderful resource. One day Liz Kapuster Douglas came down from Danbury to take a look at the wonderful postcard collection HHS has. It seems she collects postcards of Hastings. Who knew that there were so many postcards of Hastings? And a couple of weeks ago, I met Peter Seixas who was in from Vancouver to do a little personal research. Peter and I began to discuss events that occurred in Hastings when we were back in the 7th grade. It was certainly a ‘dust off your memory’ kind of encounter. We covered a range of subjects that included bomb shelters, barbers, mysterious happenings, and mutual acquaintances.
Our conversation about barbers jarred my memory to recall my visits to Jake with my brother Ray. Jake Hoffman’s little one-man shop was on Warburton Avenue. My mother would drop us off in front, and Ray and I would go in to sit quietly on the window seat and wait our turn. I say, “our turn,” because even though Ray was there for a haircut, Jake would also trim my bangs. I was never pleased with this idea because girls were supposed to go to a beauty parlor, not have a barber cut their hair. My mother tried to persuade me that Jake wasn’t just any barber; he was once the barber for Billie Burke and Flo Ziegfeld. I wasn’t impressed. Can’t say I recall when we stopped frequenting Jake’s, stopped staring at the small white hexagon tiles that dotted the floor, stopped watching customers ease themselves into that old barber chair with the wide leather strap dangling down. Eventually, I would have my hair cut in a few doors down at Dore and then at Dee’s by Dolores Radomski, but I fondly remember Jake the barber.
There I go, rambling off again. Almost every visit I make to the cottage triggers a memory or sparks an interest. It might be an old journal or map, a newspaper clipping, sepia print, or a happenstance conversation. Why not visit the cottage and see what you discover?
Editor’s Note: We’re always glad to hear that people think we have a great collection! But we don’t have everything we would like to have. Take, for example, pictures of Jake Hoffman. The best we could do to illustrate Judy’s post this week was the photograph of Joe Manzi at the top. The photograph directly above, taken in 1958, shows the building that Jake Hoffman had been in as it was being remodeled for Astoria Federal. Jake occupied the corner space on the far right, 558 Warburton Avenue, and shared it with Larry’s Beauty Salon. If you look closely, you can see part of the lettering for Larry’s sign. If you have any pictures of Jake or his shop, we’d love to have copies! And by the way, does anyone recognize the child in the photograph with Joe Manzi?