Greenpoint, October, 2015

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Borough Is Your Borough

Arlo, Norah, Woody, and Joady (1951)
Many fascinating details about Woody Guthrie's New York life in the recently published My Name Is New York: Ramblin' Around Woody Guthrie's Town by Norah Guthrie and the WG Archives, timed to coincide with the centennial of Woody's birth. This one caught my eye. An envelope from Woody in the Brooklyn State Hospital (where he died) addressed to "Arlyo Guthrie, One Fifty Nine Dash One Three Eighty Fifth Street, Queens (Fourteen), Longy Island, New Jerk." I knew Woody and his family lived in Howard Beach at the end of his life (1952-1967) but I didn't know they lived on my street--more correct, I now live on their street.

Just for fun I tried to follow the path of 85 St. from Jackson Heights (me) to Howard Beach (WG). On Google Maps of course; I'm no Will Self or Iain Sinclair. It's not so easy, given the unpredictable condensations and expansions of the Queens anti-grid. It disappears in Elmhurst altogether. It picks up in Woodhaven, though pauses for the vast St. Johns Cemetery and vaster Forest Park (85 Ave. and 85 St. meet just south of here). Ozone Park is sketchy. But it runs straighter than an arrow through Howard Beach. A quick switch to Satellite view shows houses on the block are much larger than the little Cape Woody, Margorie and the kids lived in. Plus a whole bunch of in-ground pools. I doubt Arlo had many pool parties. But, as the photo above testifies, the Guthries loved the beach just as much as my family did.

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