Romancing Coney Island

Romancing Coney Island

Horse & cart

Horse & cart

My romance with Coney Island, when I was about five years-old or so, began at grandma’s house when the iceman delivered ice on his cart, pulled by a horse. He drove down the street hollering, “Ice for sale, ice for sale.” Looked like to me, those huge tongs could almost pick up a dog. He used them to bring the block of ice into the house, and put it in grandma’s icebox. Some of us had refrigerators, but grandma only had an icebox. The iceman always showed up before the ice was all gone. That’s all I remember about that piece of history. Finally, we moved grandma to a place that had a refrigerator. No one had a TV,  people played card games, and listened to the radio. Grandma’s radio was a floor model that would constantly lose reception. When I visited her, and it lost reception, she said, “Bang it hard here, on the side.” That always fixed it.

Childs in its day

Childs in its day

My romance grew. Ever have a Chow Mein sandwich? I thought it was a Nathan’s of Coney Island specialty, but I found this in Google: Originating in Fall River, Massachusetts, in the 1930s or 1940s, the chow mein sandwich is a hot sandwich, which typically consists of a brown gravy-based chow mein mixture placed between halves of a hamburger-style bun, popular on Chinese-American restaurant menus throughout southeastern Massachusetts and parts of neighboring Rhode Island. This sandwich is not well known outside of this relatively small area of New England. Really? What are they talking about? The chow mein sandwich was mega popular in Coney Island at Nathan’s, and a favorite of mine. So . . . did Nathan’s steal the idea, or were they the originator?

Childs interior

Childs interior

The teen years are fun to save for another blog, but a foodery I loved, was Childs Restaurant.

Coney Island institutions have a way of disappearing without leaving anything on the boardwalk to remember them by. That’s so with Childs Restaurant, the seaside outpost of a popular early 20th Century lunchroom chain, that was built in 1923 and whose frame still stands today. If you’ve ever taken a stroll on the boardwalk, west of the parachute jump and Keyspan Park, you’ve probably noticed its massive facade, leftovers once adorned with flamboyant nautical details.

Childs now . . . sad

Childs now . . .  Designed by Dennison & Hirons,

The building is now  vacant and boarded up. Story of this great restaurant is that it has stuck around for so long  because it’s kept a steady number of tenants over the years, including a chocolate factory and then a glitzy roller rink.

Roller rink inside the defunct Childs

Roller rink inside the defunct Childs

Terra cotta details

Terra cotta details once on Childs facade by Atlantic Terra Cotta Co.

On a visit to Coney in 2010 I found the building derelict. So sad. I took lots of photos and have been painting from my camera shots.

After the destruction from hurricane Sandy in 2012, Coney Island has been restructured, rebuilt and re-energized. It’s a wonderful place to play, have Nathan’s hot, buttered corn, people watch, and walk in the sand, fish from the pier and ride water scooters over the waves. Fireworks used to be every Tuesday night. Hmm, I wonder . . .

What do you think?





A true story by Joanne Ingis

Magic Marker is the only pet turkey in Joanne Ingis’s family. When Magic Marker was hatched, she squeaked like a marker pulling across a white board. That’s how she earned her name. She has visited many libraries and many zoos. Everyone loves Magic Marker. She isn’t anything like a wild turkey. She doesn’t bite or snap, but Magic Marker does like to peck. She likes to peck on Grandma’s toes.

Magic Marker pecking on Grandma’s toes

It could tickle, but Grandma did not like the tickle. Grandma’s toes were her favorite, after all she loved Grandma. Who doesn’t love their Grandma? Grandma fed her, and walked with her, and talked with her.

Shooing Magic Marker away

Magic Marker didn’t like anyone else’s toes, not as much as she liked grandma’s. But grandma was not sympathetic to her pecking, she shooed her away everytime.

Now that Magic Marker is grown up, she doesn’t squeak anymore, but she makes lots of other noises. Some are funny, some  not-so-funny. She clucks and clicks, and sometimes she can sound like she is barking. She purrs when you cuddle her, but she isn’t so cuddly now that she is grown up.

Flight of the turkey

Magic Marker can’t really fly, but she thinks she can. Occasionally she tries and the neighbors call to come get her. She is careful how she comes down off the roof.

Magic Marker comes off the roof safe and sound

Joanne visits libraries, zoos and nature centers where she reads her book about Magic Marker. Everyone likes hearing the story. Sometimes she takes Magic Marker along.

This book is very unusual. There are not too many pet turkeys around. And not too many stories about how a turkey can be born into a human family and become their pet. Magic Marker lives in a special pen, built for her, in the backyard. She doesn’t mind the change of weather, or even the snow. Magic Marker is very loveable.

Can you imagine having a turkey for a pet? Do you have a pet? What kind do you have? Does it squeak, does it bark, does it cuddle with you?

Joanne Ingis reading her Diary of a Pet Turkey


Front cover “Diary of a Pet Turkey”




I remember Grandma’s wardrobe.

Grandma’s wardrobe was almost like this one.  When Grandma didn’t need it anymore, she passed it on to me.  I used it for clothes mostly, but when we moved from Long Island I left it behind.

Victorian Wardrobe (Closet)

After I became an interior designer, I thought about it from time-to-time.  If it were today, there would be no way it would be left behind.  Now, as an interior designer, my appreciation for well-designed and functional furnishings take precedent.  This one is handsome in solid mahogany, Queen Anne hardware, a Chippendale bracket feet at the base and a pierced pediment with a center shell motif.  There are several other designs applied to it like a true Victoriana wardrobe.

Dream.  Imagine what you could stuff into this amazing wardrobe, namely today’s storage cabinet.  Bottom drawers to hold cool summer clothes in the winter and hold snugly winter warm clothes in the summer.   Mirrored doors hide hanging clothes and more drawers and shelving in-between.  Those studio apartments in New York could use this wardrobe as a room divider.

The wardrobe, also known as an armoire from the French, is a standing closet used for storing clothes. The earliest wardrobe was a chest similar to this cassone, a 16th century Italian chest. This type of chest  usually referred to by its Italian name, was most often used as marriage chests to hold brides’ household linens, every item of which would have been woven by hand and embellished with hand lace or embroidery or other fancywork. The cassone was especially popular from the 14th to the 16th century.

During a large portion of the 18th century the tallboy

Tallboy 1790

was much used for storing clothes.

A common feature was to base future size of the wardrobe on the eight small men method. A considered good size double wardrobe would thus be able to hold within its capacity, eight small men.

What’s your preference? A Victorian wardrobe, a cassone, a tallboy, or eight small men?


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