Tag Archives: Coney Island Creek

Father’s Day on Gravesend Bay

Gravesend.Bay.1884.09.05.new.scan.watermarked

“Gravesend Bay, near New York, Sep. 5, 1884,” signed “R. O’B.” {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

I like to imagine the figures in this little watercolor of Gravesend Bay are father and son, wading on the rocky shore, watching the small moored ships and seagulls wheeling by while the scrubby hook of Coney Island dips into the sea at Norton’s Point. My father had no real interest in history, but to humor me he’d drive us around the neighborhood exploring. We “found” Coney Island Creek this way. I never tired of gazing across it with him.


Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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Gravesend Characters Past: Alexander Ganiard (1836-1904)

Continuing the challenge posed by my fellow members of the Society for One-Place Studies that we blog about the residents of our respective places, I turn my attention this time to letter carrier Alexander A. Ganiard and his pony, “Babe.” Credit for the discovery of this true pair of Gravesend characters goes to my friend, the talented artist, Steve Bialik.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday 22 May 1897, p. 5, col. 6:

GANIARD AND HIS PONY.

A Veteran Letter Carrier, Who is the Pioneer of the Present System of Postal Wagons.

Ganiard.1897

Alexander A. Ganiard (1836-1904) astride “Babe.” Click here to read Ganiard’s obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of Monday 11 January 1904.

The question as to the best way to deliver mail to the families who reside in the remote sections of the suburbs has been a topic for discussion among letter carriers in the new wards ever since their annexation. [Note: Gravesend became the 31st ward of the City of Brooklyn on 3 May 1894.] The regulation carrier’s wagon has given satisfaction in nearly all instances when put to the test, but Alexander A. Ganiard, a veteran carrier attached to Station H, at Bath Beach, has found that running his route on horse back beats anything he has yet tried. His district lies between Bensonhurst and Coney Island creek, including what were formerly the villages of Unionville and Gravesend beach, and the West Meadows. The houses are in many instances far apart and quite a few are so situated that it is impossible to get up to them in a wagon. On the West Meadows before Aleck, as the mounted carrier is called, secured his pony, it was necessary for him to leave his wagon standing a considerable distance away from the settlement while he delivered the letters to the inhabitants of the place on foot. Babe, his pony, walks through water, brush[,] and, in fact, almost anything, and carries Aleck right up to the front door of nearly all the houses.

Ganiard and his pony are now familiar figures in the Bath Beach and Bensonhurst sections. Both have many friends and Babe is particularly well liked by the children. Letter Carrier Ganiard was born in Rochester and is 61 years old. He has been in the Brooklyn postal service for twenty years and has an excellent record. He is a war veteran, having served three years in Battery L, New York First artillery, as quartermaster. He was the first carrier to use a wagon for delivering mail in Brooklyn. It was a little over nine years ago and Joseph C. Hendrix was postmaster at the time. Babe, Ganiard’s pony, was formerly the property of Buffalo Bill. The animal is gray in color, 7 years old, 14 1/2 hands high and weighs about 900 pounds. When Ganiard first got him Babe was very wild and he has not got over it yet. It takes a pretty good man to ride him. Babe frequently runs away, but never does any damage and always ends up at the stable door.

Superintendent H.G. Buckley of station H says that Aleck and his pony do the best work imaginable and he also believes that the horseback delivery is the best yet tried for that particular section of the suburbs.

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Undated pen and ink sketch signed “Cook” of a “Scene between Coney Island and Bensonhurst, Long Island,” showing the marshy West Meadows traversed by Ganiard and Babe. [Collection of Joseph Ditta]


Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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