journalist | author
Sample Published Clips
SI Parent October 2013
After the Storm:
One Year Later
On October 29, 2012, Sandy hit Staten Island. Those who heeded the evacuation warnings followed the news wherever they were staying until the power went out, to try to determine how their home fared in the storm. It was only after the storm had passed through did homeowners venture back home, and for too many of them, the horrific site they discovered was way beyond their worst nightmares.
Many were now homeless. Others grieved the loss of life of family, friends, and neighbors. Boats were on sidewalks far from the beach.
Cars were overturned, standing upright at an angle, or destroyed by the salt water. They saw decks uprooted and in neighbors’ yards. Sheds were missing. They found entire homes uprooted and down the block, and other homes damaged to the point of devastation. It resembled a war zone!
Now it is one year later. Most of us here on Staten Island not directly affected have gone on with our lives, having done any minor repairs needed, happy to have our power back, and our normal lives resumed.
Yet unfortunately, and too easily forgotten, are the many who are still not in their own homes. The emotional and financial toll continues to beat down on these families despite it being one year after Sandy’s 6- to 11-feet of storm surge that engulfed their homes.
Staten Island Parent began bringing readers information in December, when we looked at the fact that …“The holidays this year will be different for Staten Island families. Each person on Staten Island has felt the wrath of the storm named Sandy in varying degrees.”
The most important thing we had to hold on to at that time was the hope that “together we will rebuild our Island, forgetting no one in the process.”
January began the “Rebuild. Renew. Recover.” series that covered “how Staten Islanders are all in this together as the long process to full renewal and recovery unfolds.” It inspired us to resolve in the new year to remember, to continue to help, and to follow what the Federal, State, City, and Staten Island politicians do to ensure better land management and protection, and to help Staten Island Sandy victims become survivors, able to move on.
In February, we looked at how life had returned to normal for many of us on Staten Island after the holidays. With the start of the new year, the tendency was to try to resume a normalcy in our lives and the lives of our children. The emphasis of the love witnessed so far, however, encouraged us not to forget because our neighbors still need us. Faith, hope, and love do remain on Staten Island, and the greatest, and most important of these, is love!
In March to conclude the series, I found myself struggling with writing about the progress to that point. I shared “how I would love to be able to write that the thousands on Staten Island who lost their homes are now able to find a new life, either in a fully restored home that had been destroyed, or settled in a new home from which to move on! Unfortunately, the facts do not support this. It makes me sad, especially since the storm named Sandy that caused so much havoc happened at the end of October. Now it is four months later, and so many people are still in limbo, unable to restart their lives.” I questioned, “Will this spring begin to bring forth new life?” and shared my belief that “I honestly believe it will, but not in the way that, or as quickly as, I had originally hoped.”
This brings us to today, one year later, and while new life is at the embryotic stage for some, there is still so much more to do.
When asked to write this article, I contacted Habitat for Humanity to learn more of former President Carter coming to Staten Island, of the work that Habitat did on Staten Island from the very beginning, the subsequent work they continued to do all year, and what their plans are going forward on Staten Island.
With the Carters returning to New York, which was the location of the very first Carter Work Project in 1984, the 30th Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project this October 6-11 highlights by their presence the needs for housing still on Staten Island since Sandy reared its destructive face.
An interview with CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City Neil Hetherington gave me facts and so much more. I feel privileged to have experienced the hope Habitat is continuing to offer…but more than just hope…. I felt the commitment and heart, with hands-on assistance and caring, that they bring to Staten Island.
Speaking to Neil, formerly the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Toronto, I discovered Habitat named him the CEO for New York on the day Sandy hit. While he knew that New York would be of a “different scope and scale” from Toronto with “building affordable housing in New York more difficult,” now came the added challenge of the aftermath of Sandy when he got here on February 11, 2013.
“When I first arrived it was freezing,” Neil said,” but I went to bike around the island to get to know the city and the people. There is a resiliency on Staten Island that has such a draw to it.”
He shared how Habitat is going about the rebuilding, trying to make it simple, having the resources, expertise, and drive to help, but expressed concern about important issues he was grappling with. Repair in the flood zone raises the difficult question of repairing short term or fully, coupled with the frustration of which varying levels of raising the homes will be required.
“Bureaucracy and indecisiveness is very frustrating…but steadfast determination and the American spirit will win out.”
Habitat is stretching to 100 homes, with Neil finding it heartwarming to be able to provide hope to those 100 families.
“Volunteers come in for no other reason but to provide hope where there’s despair.”
“I look forward to serve on Staten Island,” he said. “We will rebuild to make sure we are helping our brothers and sisters … go where we’re needed to find a permanent solution… We are here for the long haul, and not leaving until done.”
With Neil, this writer intends to “focus on Staten Island until the job is done.” As a Staten Islander who witnessed so much of the pain of loss of others on Staten Island, I can do nothing else.
Are you with us? Join Habitat for Humanity today at
By Angie Mangino, a Staten Island writer who continues to remember our neighbors hurt by Sandy.
The Holidays on Staten Island This Year By Angie Mangino
New Year Resolutions
first of a 3 part series ReBuild, ReNew, ReCover
By Angie Mangino
What is Love?
second of a 3 part series
ReBuild, ReNew, ReCover
By Angie Mangino
“Spring Brings Forth New Life”
third of a 3 part series
ReBuild, ReNew, ReCover
By Angie Mangino
Staten Island Parent
Discover Staten Island History with Your Children This Summer
By Angie Mangino
Growing A Writing Career – Guest Essay by Angie Mangino
Writing has been a big part of me ever since I was a little girl writing for my own amusement. As a woman, I filled many a journal, doing my best reflections in writing. Then in 1992, a friend developed terminal cancer. I shared that journey with her for thirteen months. My journal helped me find some sanity in the insanity; birthing an essay, “Friendship Elevates Our Lives.” When my friend read it, she got this determined look in her eyes.
“Promise me,” she said. “Promise me you’ll get this published. It could help so many people.”
I made and kept that promise. In 1995, I received my first writing check. I knew I would continue to write for publication after requests for reprints came in from people who had friends with cancer.
After the publication of subsequent essays, the Senior Editor of Woman’s Day called me and asked for an essay!
Simultaneously I worked online for Inscriptions Magazine doing book reviews, and working as a stringer for our local weekly newspaper from 1997 until the paper’s demise in 2005. Working on a series on Tottenville’s history for the newspaper, another door opened.
In 1999, the Council on the Arts & Humanities Staten Island (COAHSI) gave me a grant to research Tottenville history and to hold an interactive workshop in the community. In 2000, the New York Public Library had me conduct an additional workshop at the Tottenville Branch. In 2002, the N.Y. State Assembly cited me as a Staten Island Woman in History. The 50 Plus show interviewed me on Staten Island Community TV, as did WNBC’s Gabe Pressman for his news report on Tottenville.
Everything was looking up for my writing career.
Then life intervened.
My husband’s poor health got progressively worse, forcing his disability retirement in 2008. I assumed more caretaking responsibilities, and had less time to pursue my writing career. He developed gangrene during Christmas 2010, was admitted to the hospital on January 4, had his leg amputated on January 31st, and died on February 28th.
However, this is not how my children and I want to remember him. As a memorial to their father, my children are walking on October 23rd to fundraise for the American Diabetes Association. I am so proud of my children for starting Team Carmine to remember their father, doing something positive in his memory to help others.
Blog Host’s Note: If you feel moved to support Angie’s team, as I have, you may do so at http://main.diabetes.org/goto/RememberCarmine.
For Christmas, with my husband aware this was probably going to be our last one together, Carmine gave me the iPad I coveted, inscribed with “Always believe,” as a tangible sign of his support for my writing career. Between our children’s following in his footsteps caring for others, and my husband’s encouraging last gift to me, it comforts me to witness his love living on, propelling me to continue to work growing my writing career.
Angie Mangino, a former investigative reporter for the Staten Island Register weekly newspaper, is a freelance writer who has been providing quality service to editors since 1995. Publications online and in print include articles on a variety of subjects, essays, and book reviews.
Her website http://www.angiemangino.com has her full writing resume.
Angie networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and is always open to meeting other writers, firmly believing writers have so much to learn from, and to share, with each other.
1. Peggy West
September 30, 2011 at 11:24 am
When reading Ms. Mangino’s story, I am reminded of how writers may take the opportunity to construct meaning out of tragedy and loss. It is one of the best things to teach children, who will no doubt face loss again. Human life is such that we rarely get back what we lose but writers can at least explain it and go on in strength. Thank you for sharing your story.
2. Patrice Sotomayor
September 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm
I am a long time friend of Angie’s and I must say that this small article doesn’t even begin to show how her writing has helped so many people. As one example: While the other local paper reported incorrect information about the struggle of 40 families to save their homes, she researched and wrote the truth! She wrote from her heart and stood up for truth of what happened to those families. To have the truth told helped all of those families. She is a strong woman with a true talent for writing. I could go on and on but I will just say that when you have that kind of talent it has to be shared. The written word, when it comes from the heart can change the world. I know because she has inspired me!
I have donated in memory of Carmine and I hope that all who read this will donate whatever they can to help stop diabetes.
3. Molly Charboneau
October 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm
I was touched to read this piece by fellow writer Angie Mangino. We connected during her time at the Staten Island Register when she wrote incisive profiles of island residents. Such a pleasure to read her work again after the difficult life passage she has come through.
Writers Weekly http://writersweekly.com/success-stories/my-inner-peace-by-angie-mangino
July 14, 2010
My Inner Peace
By Angie Mangino
What is success? To me, true success takes us to inner happiness.
Writing was always my passion, but for many years, not a career. The turning point was 1993, when to ground myself as my best friend was dying from cancer, I wrote about our friendship helping us through it. She made me promise to get it published to help other people. I kept that promise, getting my first check for that article in 1995. Maybe I was a writer. Yet even after more articles published, I didn’t “feel” like a writer.
That changed in 1997 when I met the News Editor of the now defunct Staten Island Register newspaper. From a “wannabe,” I became a professional writer, producing hundreds of articles for the newspaper, and writing for anthologies, online sites, and magazines. I had a career I loved.
In 2005, however, health problems sucked all the energy out of me. The initial diagnosis was hypothyroidism. With medicine, I’d quickly be back to me. When that didn’t happen, tests found two thyroid nodules. Subsequent biopsy found no cancer, but finally gave my condition a name: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Diabetes followed, an autoimmune double barrel the medical profession calls Schmidt’s Syndrome.
Scary, but at least I finally knew what was wrong. Naming it gave me power. My Register developed research skills had me learning everything I could, working with the doctor for proper medicine combinations, and undertaking a lifestyle change.
Rather than fight the idea of a life-long autoimmune disease, I accepted it for what it is. Compromises may be necessary, but no disease was going to beat me! When I achieved balance in medication, diet, exercise, sleep, and life in general, the energy improved. Even on flare-up days, I can write.
I once again taste that sweet inner peace from writing!
Here's that first published article referred to above:
Friendship Elevates Our Lives
By Angie Mangino
The phone rang. I picked up the receiver as I continued to fill the dishwasher.
“Angie?” Pat started.
“Hi, Pat. What’s up?”
There was an uncomfortable pause on the other end. I stopped with the dishes, took a deep breath, and steadied myself. After thirteen years of friendship, I could sense immediately something was wrong.
“I don’t know how to say this,’ Pat said. “ I just found out from the doctor today what’s been causing the pain in my legs.”
Oh, thank God! I thought. Pat had been suffering from severe pain in her legs for months, and no other doctor had been able to find a cause for it.
“It’s cancer,” Pat whispered.
Now it was my turn to be silent. Be strong, I told myself as my body stiffened.
“Thyroid cancer,” Pat continued. “First I thought … that’s not so bad. A little surgery and it’s all out. But they can’t operate. It’s on my voice box. They’re going to give me radiation treatments to try to shrink it.”
“It’s in my lungs, too. And liver. And gallbladder. And bones. And spine. It’s all over.”
Tears were in her voice. “Now, don’t fall apart on me. My family is falling apart. I need you more than ever.”
I felt life change at that moment. My insides were being sucked out of me. The tears rolled down my face.
“I can promise to keep it together,” I began, “but I can’t promise not to cry. I know when we have some time to absorb all this; we’ll find a way to be positive. Right now it’s a kick in the head. Oh, Pat, this really stinks.”
“Thank you. Oh, thank you,” came her response. “My family has become cheerleaders. They’re pushing me to be positive, but I feel so angry and frustrated and scared. Thanks for understanding. It’s ok if you cry. Just don’t lose it.”
The two of us talked for an hour about the disease. The doctor had called it the “unpredictable cancer.” Both of us felt a roller coaster ride awaited us. Yet together, somehow, we’d get through it.
When we ended the call, I sat alone in my kitchen, staring at the phone. I wanted so much to lash out, scream, fight, run, cry, worry – something! Nothing came. I was drained by strong emotions, just running on empty. My heart was being ripped apart a piece at a time. Not knowing what lay ahead, the ups and the downs, the good days and the bad days, I felt reality come crashing down. I tried to pray. After a while I couldn’t cry. I sat there staring at the phone.
The days went by. There were trips to the hospital for treatment. Trips to the doctor for scans, pain medication, and follow-up. The days became month; the months became a year.
Physically, Pat had her good days and her bad days. Emotionally, both of us had the same- good and bad. I wanted to absorb some of Pat’s pain. I struggled with my inner turmoil to be there for Pat. If only I could do more. I tried to remain myself and to stay honest. I had succeeded in forbidding hysteria to enter. We cried, laughed, prayed, talked, and were silent together. I was there to help with practical matters as needed. That was a support and comfort for Pat, but it was not enough for me. I felt so helpless and insignificant. I wanted to make it “all better,” but knew only God, through the doctors, could do that. “One day at a time,” Pat kept advising me. I felt my friend, through all her suffering and frustration, was the stronger one.
During one stay in the hospital, Pat felt deeply saddened when the man in the next room died. She cried for an unknown little girl who was in the hospital. She still could feel and care so much for other people.
Pat confided to me, “It’s all in God’s hands. I want to live. I have the will to live and get better. We’ll have to trust God for the rest.”
Her voice would at times be weak, yet her spirit was strong. My love for Pat had me handling more than even I believed possible, but my love couldn’t make it “all better.”
Pat had touched so many lives. These people had different reactions to the cancer. Some were afraid to call; afraid to visit. Others would never talk about the cancer. Some busied themselves doing nearly useless things. Others sent cards or flowers. Only a few were able to deal with it openly.
Once when I was visiting Pat, our mutual friend, Barbara, came over. The cancer was not denied. Neither was cancer the only topic. We talked of vacations, work, and children. We joked and laughed. Normalcy was more important than ever in this abnormal situation. After Barbara left, Pat and I had time alone to open up to each other.
Pat began, “You know, this is teaching us both to set our priorities better. I’m coming out of my shell, having contact with friends and family again. It’s important to get things in order and do what’s really important.”
The two of us talked about God and death and the hereafter. We talked about all we did have. About how necessary it is to appreciate those things instead of being upset about what we didn’t have. We talked of our friendship. How blessed we both were to have the love and support of each other.
“Too bad we couldn’t get the message without my going through all this," Pat joked.
For the first time since this began, I didn’t feel helpless. At first I had wanted to do the extraordinary. Now I knew it was as simple as being there for each other as always. Together we would ride out the rough times; enjoy the good times; look forward to better times, and appreciate what we had each day. That and trust in God would have to be enough.
After I left, I joined my daughter at a performance of Charlotte’s Web, the second grade class trip.
After the play, I walked slowly from the theater with my daughter. The sun warmed me. The childhood story had touched me. Serenity was beginning. Charlotte’s words kept echoing in my heart.
“Friendship elevates our lives here. We’re born. We live. We die. The quality of our life is so much more important than the length of our lives.”
Balance is Key
Reader Stories: What Important Life Lessons Have You Learned by Having a Thyroid Condition?
From Angie Mangino, About.com Guest
Updated February 17, 2010
What Important Life Lesson Thyroid Disease Taught You?
Hashimoto’s has taught me balance: balance in medication, diet, exercise, sleep, and life in general. I’ve learned that for me, a day of heavier than normal activity requires a less strenuous day after it. I now know when to push myself and when not to push myself. Basically, the disease has made me more attuned to my own body and has taught me to listen and trust it to tell me what it needs.
How Has This Lesson Changed Your Life?
Rather than fight the idea of having a chronic, life-long autoimmune disease as I did in the beginning, I now can accept it for what it is. So now, I embrace life and attempt to live it to the fullest in the moment that I’m in. In days of flare-ups, I slow down and nurture myself. In days of energy, I accomplish what I want to do in my life.
• Don't wait for your doctor or anyone else to tell you the best way to deal with your condition. Learn everything you can about your disease and take from this learning whatever works best for you. Mary J. Shomon’s book, Living Well with Autoimmune Disease, helped me to find my way. Trust yourself, and don’t give up!
Mary Shomon, Thyroid Disease Guide, says:
I too have to pace myself -- there are high-energy days, and days when I need to restore my energy. Appreciating our body and being grateful for what it can do on the days we feel well is a good strategy.
What Profound Changes Happened When You Became A Grandparent?
Posted on February 11, 2014
Grandparent, Angie Mangino
The tune of Imagine played softly, as lights twinkled on the plush star mobile in the bassinet. Thanks to a retro return to the sixties, I found this in the John Lennon Baby Collection in 2006 for my first grandchild.
Gino stared sleepily at the blinking lights. The smile on his face as he drifted into dreamland captured my heart. I was unprepared for the depth of love I experience with this child.
Promoted to the status of Grandma, I was overwhelmed with all I wanted for this precious little boy. I anticipated passing on to him all of the accumulated knowledge I acquired over the years. Never did I expect how this innocent child would be the one to teach me so much!
Having raised three children, I knew the importance of routine in their lives. Sure, children can go with the flow occasionally, as was the passion of the sixties, adaptable to so many new things. Yet what makes for a secure child is an overall pattern of stability.
So whenever Gino is here, I made sure to establish a routine at Grandma’s house to give Gino that security, a much easier task freed from the hectic 24 hours, 7 days a week, ongoing onslaught of raising children. I now had more patience to share this with my grandchild.
After seeing his comfort with our routines for these past seven years, an astounding thought hit me. I realized that this routine I established for my grandchild, a growing and changing one as he grew and changed, gave me security, too. Life is now less chaotic, a source of comfort for me, bringing with it an inner peace that I chased while younger, but never quite grasped before this.
Thanks, Gino, for teaching Grandma so much!
B U S Y F R E E L A N C E R
Monthly Publication For Freelancing Parents
March 1, 2003 Volume 2 Issue 3
by Angie Mangino
Organization is a twelve-letter word. Why then does it bring forth so many four letter ones?
Many years ago in ancient times B.C.; before children, that is; I was an office manager known for my organizational skills. Yet now as a home-based writer since 1994, I found trying to apply this ability to my career and home life to be frustrating and self-defeating. The strategies that had worked so well in the office structure were now almost impossible for me to implement at home.
Chaos would reign, as I would fluctuate trying to juggle the many titles I had chosen: wife, mother, and writer. What was being lost in the confusion was also the person that I am, the one who chose the titles, who has needs and dreams of her own.
My first attempts when the typical office organizational tools did not work around a family setting were to strive for the superwoman role of trying to do it all. Entire days would be scheduled to try to catch up on house cleaning. But, then there were the undone errands and unopened mail piling up. I would schedule a day or two just for running around with outside errands and spend hours tackling paperwork. Wait! Paperwork! Where is that writing assignment that is due tomorrow?
Tearing my home office apart, making it even more of a mess than it was, I'd find the treasured query response and now lock myself in the room to get the article written. The phone rings. There's the doorbell. Dinner? Why would anyone in this family want to eat when I have writing to do?
Writer's block has never been a problem for me. I've never had enough uninterrupted time to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes, so how could I stare at a blank screen?
And, how dare anyone in my family get sick and need to be taken to the doctor? That only escalated the overwhelmed feeling to the point of asking myself why I ever thought I could be a writer when every time I start to make progress, life has a way of kicking me in the teeth as if to dare me to go on.
But stubbornness is sometimes a good trait, and after putting off my writing career for so many years and finally starting to get those published clips, I was determined to figure out a way to work smarter instead of harder.
Getting my hands onto every organizational article I could find that suggested ways to set up a writing schedule, I would find parts to be helpful, but there was always something basic that I needed that wasn't there. To make these writing systems work for me I would need to pack my bags and just leave my family to fend on their own. They were just not do-able in this house.
Having postponed my writing for so many years to be there for my family, I was not about to give up my writing any more. Yet I also wasn't planning on giving up my family to have a writing career. I finally discovered quite by accident my own form of organization that was flexible enough to help me reestablish some balance between my family and my career.
While bored in a doctor's waiting room one day, I had my legal pad with me and in total frustration finally did something I was always afraid to do--I listed each and every thing that I felt I needed to accomplish. The list was not just for my writing, but also each thing around the house that out of necessity had a way of demanding my attention. The size of it was most prohibitive when written out in free flow like that, especially since I am realistic enough to know that each day in our lives will continue to bring more "to do" items to be added. But I was determined to tackle this once and for all.
The first thing I did after all my family was asleep that night was to type the entire list into my Word program on the computer, giving each item a line and adding even more things that I thought of as I was typing. When I used the word count feature for a line count, I found my list numbering over 200 items. I quickly hit save to my desktop, labeling it "to-do," and shut down the computer to go to bed before the urge to just delete the whole mess as impossible overtook my initial good intentions.
The next day I made time to tackle the next step of my plan. Someone more courageous than I am could do this while making the list, but for me it's important to break things into little pieces not to overwhelm myself since previously that would make me just give up. I went back over the list and gave each item a number in front of it from 1 to 9; with 1 being the most important things to do. I then used the Word "Table" feature, hit on "sort," set it simply for "Field 1" and "text" ascending order and after hitting OK now had my jobs sorted by importance.
Hitting save once more, I shut down the computer feeling I had made some progress as I went to handle the latest crisis demanding my attention in the house. I already shared that I need to do things in small pieces, so bear with me as some real accomplishments really do follow. I may be stubborn, but I am also patient.
The next step was to get some general categories onto another Word document. Mine included the following:
OUT--for those errands or appointments outside the home.
PHONE--for calls to be made or returned
ONLINE--for things to do on the Internet
MAIL/BILLS/FILE--for paper related tasks
CLEAN--for the bigger jobs that need to be done
WRITING--to commit to a serious schedule
To begin with I took only items numbered 1, and cut and pasted them in a new document under the appropriate bold typed categories which I limited to one typewritten page. I printed out only this document into a hard copy "to-do" list. This was to be my schedule for the week ahead, with the lower priority items saved on the master list for another time. As I completed items during the week, I would mark them off with a handwritten dash. At the end of the week I went back to my computer to delete those items marked done. As much as I would like to say they were all complete, that wouldn't be honest and would only discourage you if you attempt this plan for yourself.
Not to tempt fate and set myself up for disappointment, I knew I needed an attitude change. I encourage the same for you. Superwoman no longer lives here! Don't let her move into your house. Little by little things do get done and under control with consistency.
Since I'm aware of my tendency to spend a lot of time on the daily interruptions that will eat away gobs of my time, from the beginning I made the decision that if this type of planning gets me to do anything more than I was doing before, it would be progress. The schedule doesn't seem so oppressive if I keep flexible enough to allow for variations. Just having it all in one place prioritized, without having to worry about forgetting things or deciding what to do next, has of itself reduced stress--that alone is a major accomplishment.
At the beginning of each week, I read my entire to-do list again, reassigning numbers of priority for that week, adding all the anticipated new things that have cropped up, eliminating things that might have gotten done without being scheduled for that particular week and then sorting. Next I cut and paste the number 1's (and now even some 2's and 3's) onto the one page working list printed for the coming week and save both files.
After only two months into my system, I proudly report that my massive list in the hundreds has been reduced to 81 items.
Wait. I just finished this article. Make that 80!
In Memory of Bill Franz
(January 13, 1942 - December 15, 2009)
While working for Bill at the Staten Island Register I learned so much. He taught me the importance of in-depth research to get all the facts in order to back up my words with substance and impartiality. By doing so, he helped to make me a strong writer. My debt to him is immeasurable.
Bill was a journalist of a caliber that unfortunately is sorely lacking in today’s society. He was my mentor, and even more importantly, he was my friend.
As a tribute to him, I have posted some of the many articles I wrote for the Staten Island Register when he was its News Editor.
Tottenville Businesses of the Past
by Angie Mangino
Originally published in the STATEN ISLAND REGISTER, September 12, 2000 as part of an ongoing series
Perth Amboy Ferry
First operated in June 1860 with steamboats, the first true ferryboat was the Maid of Perth which set sail in 1867. The ferry was a profitable enterprise as an adjunct to the Staten Island Rapid Transit. Even after the Outerbridge Crossing opened in 1928, it continued as a profitable project because of its frequent and reliable service over a period of 81 years. This company’s last ferry, the Charles Galloway, left Perth Amboy for Tottenville on October 16, 1948.
Subsequent ferry service was provided by smaller boats until 1963, when this service between Staten Island and New Jersey was terminated.
In 1898 there were eight boatyards in Tottenville. After 1900, however, they declined as steel replaced wood in ship construction.
The biggest shipyard was Brown, across from Ward’s Point, off Hopping Avenue. The others included Ellis, Rutan, Butler, Sleight, Nass, Tracy and O’Boyle.
World War I brought another massive expansion in shipbuilding to Tottenville, with the most notable shipyard being Cossey. Opened in 1908, this 20-acre plant was the center of Tottenville’s shipbuilding for 22 years until 1930. Its 250 workers built 1,149 boats.
Hotels and Restaurants
After 1897 the “Palaces of the Public,” as they were called, offered indoor running water for the guests in Tottenville’s hotels. In the early 1900’s, Amboy Road and Broadway (now Arthur Kill Road) were the only two streets paved with stone, and that’s where most of the hotels were.
A few of the many hotels in Tottenville were the Aquehonga Hotel, Morton House, Old Ferry Hotel, Tottenville Ferry Hotel, Tottenville Hotel and West End Hotel.
During the early 1900’s, Main Street was lined with six hotels – John Boss’s, William O’Brien’s, William Carpenter’s, Bloom’s, Porter’s and Streeter’s.
The Tottenville Casino, on Surf Avenue, started not as a gambling casino, but as a huge restaurant. By providing music and dancing, this establishment became Tottenville Beach’s center of social activity.
Staten Island Transcript
Begun in 1861 as a four-page weekly newspaper called the Westfield (Staten Island) Times, the newspaper later renamed the Staten Island Transcript became increasingly important in the 1890’s. The Transcript, by serving Tottenville faithfully, grew to a semi-weekly newspaper serving the entire South Shore of Staten Island with 12 to 16 pages.
In 1898 it reported on the Spanish American War and the concrete battery built at Ward’s Point and informed its readers about the consolidation of New York City.
It also told of the opening of the Tottenville Library through the work of the Philemon Library & Historical Society. The society, first called the Philemon Club, was founded in 1897 with its primary goal being the attainment of a Carnegie grant for a public library in Tottenville, which was, in fact, received in 1904.
In extant copies of the newspaper, one can still read about the Outerbridge Crossing opening in 1928 and the 1936 opening of the new, million-dollar Tottenville High School.
Disosway’s was the only grist mill to serve Tottenville for over 200 years, begun around 1700 by Cornelius Disosway. In 1786 he left the mill to his sons, Cornelius and Israel. As years went by there were name changes to the mill as the ownership changed.
In the 1800’s it was Butler Mills. Many years later it became Cole’s Mills. The apparent last owner, W. Weir, added a saw mill in 1870, with the subsequent name becoming Weir’s Grist & Saw Mills. Shortly after 1900 the mill was entirely razed, removing it from the Tottenville landscape and concluding a long history as a business there.
In 1850 Samuel Hopping started a lumber company, which was to become the Tottenville Lumber Company of Runyon. In 1907, it was one of three separate businesses to consolidate as Seguine-Runyon-Styles, Inc. These were the Tottenville Lumber Company of Runyon, the coal business of Henry G. Styles and the masonry supplies business of Joseph C. Seguine of Princes Bay.
Gage’s Sandpaper factory was built in 1866. Gage’s sense of humor combined with his pride in his sandpaper by his having a rebus printed on each sheet of sandpaper. The rebus deciphered read “Gage’s Lasting Respects to All.” The factory was torn down in 1948.
Atlantic Terra Cotta
Begun in 1897, Atlantic Terra Cotta was in operation until the early 1930’s when it fell victim to the Depression, as so many other businesses did.
By 1906 the company was employing up to 500 people, making it one of the largest employers on Staten Island. Fondly talked about by current Tottenville residents, the company is credited with providing housing for their employees.
Terra cotta was fire-resistant, lightweight cladding and construction material which was extremely versatile and relatively inexpensive.
Atlantic Terra Cotta was the primary manufacturer of architectural terra cotta ornaments used on major skyscrapers and other buildings, one example being the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The company’s smokestack was a familiar Tottenville landmark for 80 years until 1988 with the demolition of the 135 foot structure.
Nassau Smelting & Refining
Nassau Smelting & Refining Co.’s plant was built in 1900 on the Richmond Valley line of Tottenville. The smelting works (Tottenville Copper Company) was bought by Western Electric in 1931, another result of Depression times. In 1971 it became a metal recycling plant and renamed Nassau Recycling Corporation.
As the Depression had an impact on Tottenville with the closing of Atlantic Terra Cotta and the changeover of Nassau Smelting and Refining, a few unemployed craftsmen went into business for themselves. One of the notable ones was Walter L. Howat, who had been the chief chemist at Atlantic Terra Cotta. He established a small ceramics plant near his home on Hopping Avenue in 1933 which continued in business until the mid 1960’s.
Tottenville Businesses of the Past: Part 2
by Angie Mangino
Originally published in the STATEN ISLAND REGISTER, August 28, 2001 as the second of an ongoing series
Following the publication of the first article of this series on the history of Tottenville, two community residents came forward to share information about the history of their community and we discovered other interesting data in an 1898 tract by the Richmond Publishing Company.
Dorothy Walters Johnston of Tottenville, whose ancestors include the Tottens, shared a painting of the early 1900’s that takes in Main Street from Old Broadway (now Arthur Kill Road) to the former Tottens’ dock and shows the Perth Amboy shore across the Arthur Kill, with the Lehigh Valley Railroad coal docks.
The scene was originally painted by Chester Graham, 5367Aruthur Kill Rd., who supplied the information about Tottenville as it existed in 1900. Accompanying the article is a similar picture painted by Edith Dow in 1982.
Going further along in time, Dot Johnston shared a piece called “Tottenville in Prose” whose author was listed as just “Scotty.” It originally appeared in a 1960 article in the Staten Island Transcript newspaper.
More Tottenville businesses are recalled as the article speaks of the oystermen, of a houseboat owned by Bowery Pete, the bowling alley run by Jean Porter, Ben Streeter who had summer boarders; Hampy Ellis who built boats; Jimmy Healy who served you drinks and snacks; Reilly’s lunch wagon, the First Bank there years before the first A&P; two barbers, Pete Dilge and Jake Bentz; Nan Bedell’s drug store; Donaldson’s shoe store.
Also, Michael Andriany shoe repair; Cuny’s jewelry; Derickson Bros. and Enoch Corson’s grocery stores; Dr. Washington; Helhn’s Baking shop and Charley Lehman’s drugstore; Sevenhaar’s plumber shop; Paul Van Name’s home; George Sleight and George Cunningham, butchers; Ben Brown’s hardware store; the post office with its postmaster, Reuben Wood; Ben Cotrell, who had a fast horse; Ike Bedell who ran a grocery store and also buried the dead; Sharott’s butcher; Henry and Mike Levenson’s two clothing stores.
Also, Frank Russell’s ice cream; Hubbard R. Yetman’s real estate and insurance business, now being run by his daughter, Laura, and his son, Bill; that Taylor Elliot once grazed a cow where Dr. Stauff’s dental office then stood; A.C. Brown running the largest shipyard; if there was a fire, the whistle of S.S. White in Princes Bay would blow. People went to the rink to skate on the ice; listen to old Tottenville’s band and, on Saturday nights, dance or watch basketball at the old Knights of Pythias dance hall or go to Jim Laird’s picture show.
Diane Scheming, who lives in the house Captain John Totten built in Tottenville, known as the “Compass House,” shared the following information.
Many well-to-do sea captains made their home in Tottenville. Captain Benjamin Warford, Abraham Wood, James Sprague, Cornelius Disosway, Adam Lyons and John Totten were but some of them.
Captain John Totten was the child of John Totten (born 1771 - died 1847) and Nancy Cole. He was one of 12 children. His brother, Ephraim J. of Tottenville, born in 1806, served as supervisor for Westfield in 1846-1847.
When Captain John Totten (born 1801) married Elizabeth Butler (born 1808 – died 1878), his house was built sitting on an angle. The reason for the name Compass House is that it was built with the four walls facing the four compass points, north, south, east, and west.
He had two houses built for his daughters; one for Mary Oakley, wife of Webb Hopping, and one for Anna Louise, wife of Jacob Devoe.
His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Butler, with her husband, Samuel Looker Hopping, had a house and store where the SIRT tracks are now.
Totten had three sailing vessels trading with London and along the Atlantic seaboard. Two of his vessels were lost at sea.
In 1898 the Richmond Publishing Company compiled the Industries of Staten Island Before Consolidation. The section on Tottenville adds to the picture of businesses at the time.
Main Street had J.P. Bedell & Son, funeral directors), Tottenville Lumber, New York Bazaar (dry goods), DuBois & Drake (fruit and vegetables), Lyon House (wines, liquors, & cigars), Sprague & Laforge (printers), the newsroom of John Kall, along with doctors, the public dock and many hotels.
Many Main Street stores went by the names of the proprietors such as Mrs. K. Hoehn, bakery; B. Williams, real estate and insurance; J. Derickson, groceries; A.M. Donalson, goods and shoes; J.F. Bedell, druggist; Jacob Herrel, boots and shoes; P.C. Dilg, barber; Hop Sing, laundry; F.S. Yackarino, fruits, nuts and confectionery; Charles Lehman, drug store.
Also, M. Sterling, confectionery; Emil Sevenhaar, stoves and furnaces; E. Corson, groceries; George W. Slaight, meat market; James W. Bedell, groceries; J. Kopperberg, tailor; Michael Levinson, tailor; H.A. Guyon, stoves and heaters, with plumbing; John White, cigars and confectionery; W.B. Sharrott,, meat; Henry Levinson, dry goods; and F.A. Russell, confectionery.
Railroad Avenue had A.P. McDougall, horse shoer; J.S. Ellis & Son, shipbuilders; W.H. Smith, boat repairing and justice of the peace; Cole Brothers, lumber and cement; J.W. Russell & Sons, grocers; Jacob Eagle, tinsmith; Robert Lee & Sons, carpenters; Louis Larsen, shoemaker; P. Peterson, grocer; W.W. Palmer, notions.
Also, Andre Abrams, carpenter; Johnson & Lovett, painting; H.L. Sprague, carpenter; David Robins, painting; John B. Wood, real estate; James W. Henderson, express by steamer; Jacobson W. Wood, carpenter; Charles Yetman, carman; Fred Frazier, carman, William Yetman, mason; hotel, doctors, attorney and the office of the Staten Island Times newspaper with A.Y. Hubbell as editor and publisher and Miss M. Viola Smith as assistant editor. It was listed as the official Republican paper of the county and, additionally, did book and job printing.
Remembering the fragility of every human life
By Angie Mangino
Published in the Staten Island Register June 4, 2002
On May 30 – the traditional Memorial Day before our holiday celebrations were moved to be part of a long weekend – New York City marked the end of the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site with a ceremony that began at 10:29 a.m., marking the fall of the last piece of steel after the collapse of the second tower at 10:28 a.m. on September 11.
Standing on the press ramp overlooking the site, I found that, when it began with Firefighter James Sarokac ringing the FDNY bell in 5-5-5-5 code, the traditional signal for a fallen firefighter, I didn’t need to jockey with the rest of the press to get the best vantage point. Just being present at the site wrote the story in my heart.
The procession centered on a stretcher with an American flag folded on top, symbolizing all those not recovered who perished on September 11. It was placed in a waiting ambulance; followed by a truck that was draped in black cloth that carried the last load of steel (better known as the “Stars and Stripes beam”) covered with an American flag.
Firefighter Julian Ponteveccio and Police Officer Edward Harrigan played Taps, followed by an NYPD helicopter flyover. After the Pipe and Drum Unit played “America the Beautiful,” the procession continued north along West Street to Canal Street.
A combined FDNY/NYPD/PAPD Ceremonial Unit formed a line across the top of the ramp, officially marking the end of the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site; although the recovery process continues as the Fresh Kills Landfill with remains identification still going on at the office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
When the ceremony was over, the ring of cell phones and buzz of conversations of many of the crowd started, a concrete sign of moving on. Yet, as the rest of the press left, I found myself cemented to the spot, quietly looking out at the place that claimed so many lives, getting the feeling that I was looking at a new form of cemetery. I told myself it was time to leave, but my heart and soul kept me rooted to the spot.
That’s when I noticed the man with the hard hat standing alone; and some firefighters and police personnel who had replaced the members of the press who had left. Not one of us spoke, but there was an unspoken mutual acknowledgment that leaving was difficult.
Grieving, being an individual process, has its own timetable. As I looked out I saw not just the pain of September 11, but the pain of every day since then and of the days to come.
Yet when I looked from the dusty concrete walls that looked aged, sad and war-torn on a floor of wet dirt with mud traces throughout to notice three white birds flying across the pit, I became aware of the frame of existing skyscrapers around the site that reached up to a sunny blue sky. It was then that I fully sensed the spiritual presence at the site, so many touching me and calling me to remember, but also so gently releasing me to go on.
The inner peace of the human spirit is there to encourage, no matter what happens in the physical world, as all these people, now at peace, live on in our hearts always to be remembered. If we are to learn anything from September 11, we must never forget the fragility and preciousness of each and every life.
Mejia Receives Award
By Angie Mangino
Staten Island Register
May 11-17, 2004
Rossville resident Guillermina Mejia will be one of five honorees at the May 14 award ceremony in Manhattan of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Mejia is the principal program coordinator for safety and health, District Council 37, AFSCME. District Council 37 is the largest public employee union in New York City, with over 9,000 members and retirees living on Staten Island.
Register readers will remember her as one of the Staten Islanders in City Council chambers who witnessed the shooting last July 23 that took the life of Councilman James Davis. Ironically, while she was there in support of the Councilman as he was advocating a bill to prevent workplace violence, she found herself standing in the balcony four feet directly opposite Othniel Askew, the shooter.
NYCOSH will present the Karen Silkwood Award to Mejia for her day-to-day efforts to improve workplace safety for city workers.
"NYCOSH has been a great resource and partner for me in ensuring the well-being of DC37 members," said Mejia. "Through NYCOSH's timely information and updates on safety and health issues; their efforts to promote legislation that has a positive impact on the work environment; and its excellent development programs; I am better prepared and equipped to address the concerns and needs of DC37 members."
Each year NYCOSH presents this award, named for Karen Silkwood, to a rank and file safety activist.
Twenty-eight-year-old Karen Silkwood was a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers and a chemical technician at the Kerr-McGee plutonium processing plant in Crescent, Oklahoma. She died on Nov. 13, 1974 while driving from a union meeting in Crescent. The Oklahoma State Highway Patrol received notification an hour later of a single car accident seven miles south of Crescent with the driver, Karen Silkwood dead at the scene from multiple injuries.
Circumstances surrounding her death have been the subject of many books, articles and a motion picture entitled "Silkwood," with Meryl Streep portraying the union activist in the film. During the week just prior to her death, unexplainably exposed to plutonium, Silkwood was allegedly gathering evidence for the union to support her claim of negligence of Kerr-McGee in maintaining plant safety. Kerr-McGee closed its nuclear fuel plants in 1975.
The evening's other honorees include Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Roger Toussaint, Omar Henriquez, and the World Trade Center Medical Screening Program at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
"It is an honor to receive an award from NYCOSH," Senator Clinton said. "From defending OSHA's ergonomics regulation to providing Ground Zero workers with the best medical care available, it has been a pleasure to work with NYCOSH and I look forward to working with them in the future."
Roger Toussaint is the president of Transport Workers Union Local 100.
Omar Henriquez is the immigration campaign coordinator of Service Employees International Union, Eastern Region.
"Each of our five honorees has shown an unswerving commitment to protecting and promoting the workplace safety and health of workers and volunteers in the New York City area," said William F. Henning Jr., chair of the NYCOSH Board of Directors.
"Our awards ceremony will be an important opportunity for a broad cross-section of the occupational safety and health community – including political leaders, labor union officials, occupational healthcare workers, immigrant rights activists and rank and file safety and health activists – to share ideas and to socialize."
NYCOSH is a non-profit coalition of more than 250 union organizations and more than 400 individual workers, physicians, lawyers and other health and safety activists. Part of a nationwide network of 25 union based safety and health organizations, NYCOSH is dedicated to the right of every worker to a safe and healthful job providing occupational safety and health training, advocacy and information to workers and unions throughout the metropolitan New York area.
copyright 2002 Staten Island Register