1930 - 1939

Growing up in Gravesend and going to Coney Island in the 1940s and living there today
Esther Delgado (née Scarlino), 88, recalls living in a bungalow on West Eighth Street in Gravesend when she was a child in the 1940s.  In 1929 her maternal grandparents first rented the bungalow for $33 a month because they thought they could walk...
Content type: Oral History Item
One of Dr. Couney's incubator babies
Janet Rubino tells her story about being one of Dr. Martin Couney's incubator babies on display in Coney Island. Rubino, who weighed 23 ounces at birth, also describes a visit to the incubator exhibit when she was a child. 
Content type: Oral History Item
Groundbreaking filmmaker grew up in Sea Gate and on Mermaid Avenue
Filmmaker Joyce Chopra grew up in Coney Island and Sea Gate in the 1930s and ‘40s. Her grandparents were the owners of Kalina's Baths on Surf Avenue at West 33rd Street. Chopra describes how she got the acting bug at Lincoln High School while...
Content type: Oral History Item
Machinist at MTA's Coney Island Overhaul and Repair Shop and oldest active TWU Local 100 member
Frank Gurrera, 94, is a machinist at the MTA's Coney Island Overhaul and Repair Shop. He has worked there for 49 years and is the oldest active member of the Transport Workers Union, TWU Local 100.  "Sometimes they come up with the big parts,...
Content type: Oral History Item
Daughter of Gargiulo's founder was born in an apartment above Coney Island's famous restaurant
Josephine “Chickie” Cassata is the daughter of the late Louis Gargiulo, who with her grandfather co-founded Coney Island’s famous Gargiulo's Restaurant on West 15th Street. Chickie was born in an apartment above the restaurant in 1929 and grew up...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of Coney Island in the 1920s and '30s
Born in Harlem, Ida Rosenblum Gambrell, now 94, spent her childhood summers in Coney Island at her aunt's home on Surf Avenue and West 24th Street. Ida recalls her mother giving her and her sister 20 cents to take the train from 103rd Street to 42nd...
Content type: Oral History Item
Tai chi teacher at Coney Island's Seaside Innovative Senior Center shares her life story
This interview was conducted and recorded in Cantonese Chinese. Read Keenan Chen's transcript and translation below: Juanhua Zhao, 82, has taught Tai Chi at the Coney Island Seaside Innovative Senior Center on 37th Street and Surf Avenue in Coney...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of visiting Uncle Pete, who ran a food concession at Steeplechase Pool in the 1930s-50s
Born in 1926, Nancy Gabriel grew up in Staten Island and visited Coney Island frequently with her parents throughout her childhood. Her great uncle, Peter Lazaris, ran a food concession under the Boardwalk and later at the Steeplechase Pool, from...
Content type: Oral History Item
Greg Birbil's father, Paul, was a candy maker who owned the Paradise Ice Cream Parlor on Surf Avenue
Founded in 1928, the Paradise Ice Cream Parlor, also known as the Paradise Luncheonette, was a fixture at 1605 Surf Avenue across from Steeplechase Park for more than 30 years. Greg Birbil, who was born in 1937, shares memories of growing up in "Pop...
Content type: Oral History Item
Reflections on running Wilensky Hardware, a 100-year-old family business on Mermaid Avenue
Wilensky Hardware on Mermaid Avenue is an anchor of the community and the oldest family-owned business in Coney Island. The store survived a century of urban renewal, arson, hurricanes, crime waves, and the civic neglect that led to the closing of...
Content type: Oral History Item