Tag Archives: Gravesend Beach

School’s Out For the Summer!

Cropsey.Avenue.2550.PS81.recto.WATERMARKED

Postcard view of P.S. 81, Ulmer Park, Brooklyn, published by S. Strauss, postmarked 16 July 1911.

The Town of Gravesend’s School District No. 3 was established 25 October 1870 to serve pupils in the village of Unionville, the waterfront settlement on Gravesend Bay later called Gravesend Beach or Ulmer Park, and now absorbed by Bath Beach. The schoolhouse on the postcard above went up shortly after, at what would become the corner of Cropsey Avenue and Bay 41st Street, the approximate site of 2550 Cropsey Avenue. When new it stood in a cedar grove. Inside it must have resembled another primitive schoolhouse in Gravesend, where Nellie May (Ryder) Bennett (1873-1951) recalled how “cold air blew up out of the wide cracks of the plank floor and, in bitter weather, [how] she would sit on one foot at a time, spreading out her woolen skirt, in an effort to keep warm.” A central stove threw heat on the students seated closest to it but barely radiated to the classroom’s far corners. Bennett remembered one sneaky boy who put Limburger cheese on the coals. Early recess, anyone?

Cropsey.Avenue.2550.PS81.Brooklyn.Times.Union.Sun.Feb.2.1930

“Antiquated and in the way of waterfront highway improvements, the old P.S. 81 building near Gravesend Bay soon is to be demolished.” Brooklyn Times Union, Sunday 2 February 1930.

In time District School No. 3 came to be called P.S. 81. The little wooden schoolhouse stood until early 1930 when the widening of Cropsey Avenue forced its demolition. It might have survived had it been moved back 15 or 20 feet, as a plan suggested, but by then the sixty-year-old structure had been surpassed by larger, modern, brick–and fireproof–schools erected in the neighborhood.

Incidentally, until last week I never knew this postcard of P.S. 81 existed. I almost didn’t bid for it, thinking its caption must be a printing error of the type sometimes encountered on old cards. But the newspaper image above, from the Brooklyn Times Union, definitely shows the same building, thus confirming that the postcard depicts what it claims to!

[Nellie May (Ryder) Bennett’s memories are recorded by her daughter, Gertrude Ryder Bennett, in her book Turning Back the Clock in Gravesend: Background of the Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead (Francestown, N.H.: Marshall Jones Company, 1982).]


Copyright © 2019 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.

West.Meadows.cropped

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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