Mermaid Avenue

Memories of being one of the first families to move into Gravesend Houses in 1954 and growing up there
Born in Brooklyn in 1949, Barbara Unterman Jones remembers moving to Coney Island's Gravesend Houses with her family in 1954 when the public housing project was brand new. Her first memory is of the road still being under construction and resembling...
Content type: Oral History Item
Her father, Anthony Cosmo Pomaro, owned Cosmo Topper's Beauty Parlor on Mermaid Avenue
Carole Scheer grew up in Coney Island and tells the story of her father, Anthony Cosmo Pomaro, who owned and operated Cosmo Topper's Beauty Parlor on Mermaid Avenue. After serving in the Air Force during WW II, he attended beauty school and opened...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of working a bread route on Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue in the 1950's and '60s
Charles Guariglia's father, Frank, was a "bread man" who delivered Stuhmer's kosher bread to the Jewish delicatessens and shops along Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island from 1947 to 1973. From age 9 until he was a freshman in college, Charles...
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
From breakdancing on the streets of Coney Island with Fresh Kids to Peter Gennaro's Street Dreams
In August 2018, on the occasion of the 35th Anniversary Coney Island Break Dancers Reunion, Alito Hernandez shares memories of learning to breakdance as a young boy in the 1980s and the history of Fresh Kids crew in Coney Island.  "My parents moved...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of growing up in Coney Island Houses and on Mermaid Avenue in the 1950s and '60s
Musician Andy Fuhrman grew up in Coney Island Houses and on Mermaid Avenue and remembers every store in the neighborhood. Andy was on the football team at Lincoln High School in the 1960s, worked games on the Bowery, and was a pioneering surfer at...
Content type: Oral History Item
Jazz musician and bandleader of the Afro-Peruvian Sextet has lived in Coney Island for the past decade
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Gabriel Alegría has lived on Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue since 2007.  The trumpet player, composer,  and bandleader of the Afro-Peruvian Sextet talks about what drew him to Coney Island, Afro-Peruvian jazz music and...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of growing up on Mermaid Avenue and working games in Coney Island from age twelve
Michael Goldstein,  known as "Looch," worked games in Coney Island for over half a century. He started out in 1954 at age twelve, earning 75 cents an hour, and by his fourth year was a partner in the game. "It was a different era, a different...
Content type: Oral History Item
Memories of growing up in Coney Island during the Great Depression and 55 years practicing law
Charles Berkman, who was 88 when this interview was recorded and turned 90 on July 2, 2018, grew up on West 29th Street in Coney Island during the Great Depression.  The youngest of nine children of a hard-working orphan immigrant from Poland,...
Content type: Oral History Item
Artist and Coney Island resident recalls growing up on Mermaid Avenue above Carolina Restaurant
Artist Johanna Gargiulo Sherman grew up in Coney Island, where her family lived on Mermaid Avenue in a cold water flat above Carolina Restaurant. Her father Joe "Carolina" Gargiulo led a musical trio and was one of the partners in this popular ...
Content type: Oral History Item