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A History of Gotham Avenue

by John Colombo

Here is a small composite recollection of the people who lived on Gotham Avenue, between Shell Bank Creek and Fane Court, compiled by John Colombo with much help from Evelyn Gerlang Kelly and her husband Jack, who lived at #26 until about 1957, but who go back to the 1930s in their memory of Gerritsen Beach. Jack was a merchant seaman during WW II, then worked for the Bushey Company on coastal tankers, Hess Oil Company on the tug "Crusader," and still later for Gulf Oil as a tanker driver. He also worked at Sutter Boat yard in his early years: Evelyn grew up in GB and attended St James Lutheran Church.

Canal Side of Gotham Avenue

Shell Bank Creek

#2 & #4

Kay and Osker Ramberg in mid-1940s with two children Florence and Billy. Kay died, and Mr Ramberg built the "big house on the end." After Kay’s death Osker married Evelyn Steelman from #17 Gotham Ave. and later both became victims of murder. He had a shipyard in South Brooklyn. He also owned a beautiful 45-ft Matthews named the "Annon".


Old Mr Bockman was a retired cabinet maker and owned the Skipjack named "Pauline." He knew how to take care of "brightwork" and his boat always showed it. He was a familiar and friendly figure on our street for many years.


Owned by Osker and Kay Ramberg in the 1930s; they lost it during the Depression.



#12 & #14

Alan and Tottie Llwellen and son John, sold to Ray and (?) Stahl. Ray was Bill Stahl’s younger brother, and they both worked for the N.Y. Sanitation Dept in their maintenance shops. Bill Stahl still lives at #26. Ray was the first Stahl to move onto the street. He was once the proud owner (proud for awhile) of a brand new Ford Edsel. I remember Ray giving me a lift to the station and demonstrating the wonders of the "automatic transmission".


Mrs Kaiser in the 1930s, later Mr and Mrs Kasiwitz (Casey) with daughters , Helen, (wife of Eddie Sarubbi of the Tamaqua, and skipper of the charter boat "JoANN"), Claire, Hanna, and Susan.


An old English couple, Joe and (?) Pearson lived there from the earely 1940s. Joe was a stubborn old Englishman who insisted on doing all the chores until he fell off a ladder onto a roof, and landed in the hospital with the help of Ray Stahl and John Colombo. What a job it was getting him off the roof. Mrs Pearson was a charming lady, but that day she was furious.


Early years: John and Beina Bull, next Larry and wife Billie Herrara with kids Barbara and Lawrence, and then old Capt Martin who was a retired tug boat skipper who lived a quiet life by himself on the Canal. Capt Martin was a favorite with all the kids on the block, keeping them supplied with candy, and inadvertently contributing to the income of Dr Meindel, the neighborhood dentist. He sold to Billy Stahl, son of Bill Stahl who still lives at #26. Billy now lives on Hazel Ct.


Mr and Mrs Mal Knox with children Buddy and Blanch. Later Mr and Mrs Anderson lived there with their two sons Roy and Jerry. Mr Anderson owned the fishing smack "Two Brothers" named after the two boys.[Later, Barry and Debbie Freier, who later moved to NJ--JG]


Early years: Johnson’s (Fred, Ernie, and George - sons), then Knox, then the Faloners with son Eddie , later came the Smith Family (daughters Gloria and Alice) and beautiful Richardson Skiff named "Gloria", daughter Alice Smith Walthers still lives in GB on Celeste Ct, they sold to (?) Claus, brother of Georgia Claus DiNatale who lives at 30 Gotham.

#26 & #28

The house is on lot #26 and lot #28 is occupied by a boat hauling ways. The original owner was the Gerlang Family with daughter Evelyn and two sons William and Jackie, When Mrs Gerlang died, Evelyn and her husband Jack Kelly lived there with tenants George and Jane Porter Fearon. Evelyn and Jack had two sons Bobby (who died in an accident) and Billy, plus a daughter Betty. The Kellys left GB in 1957 (now living in Arcadia, Fl.) and sold the house to Bill and Marion Stahl who had two daughters Marion and Sharon, and a son Billy. Bill owned a beautiful 32 ft Ulrichsen Skiff for years and was a great fisherman. Bill also was the owner of a great little contractor pump which he generously offered (including his own expertise and help) to other "canalers" for pumping in the telephone poles we all used for piles to hold our floats in place. His next birthday will be his 90th.


Early years: Mr and Mrs Holms, then Mr and Mrs Hunter with daughters Dorothy and Lucy; next were Bill and Alice Shine and their five children. One son Kenny died of kidney disease, that was before dialysis was known. Next were Carl and his wife "Tim" Schneider, and then Paul and Georgia DiNatale, with three children, and who still live there.


The original house was owned by Ed and Dolly Voll. When Ed retired from the NYPD they sold the house to John and Eleanor Colombo. John and Eleanor raised six kids there (Joe the musician, Jackie, Eddie Sarubbi’s first mate for years on the JoAnn, Mary, Stevie, Michael, and Tommy). When they ran out of space, they put a second story on the house. John built the first "reinforced" concrete bulkhead on the Canal with his 15 year old son Joey who learned what hard work felt like - he decided to become a musician. In fairness I might add that Joey, in his 40s, went on to earn a degree in Physics and now teaches in the Suffolk County school system. The Colombos were a boating family with a heavy preference for sailboats. After 25 years, when John’s company moved to Connecticut he sold the house to Ed and Virginia Waldhelm, who still live there.


Early owner: Andy Crone, later were "Mitch" and Pauline Mikulski and their daughter Barbara. Mitch worked at the Beechnut Company warehouse in Brooklyn. After Mitch died, and in about 1966, Pauline moved and John Colombo’s mother, recently widowed, bought the house and lived there for about 15 years. Having come from the inner city, the Canal was a wonderland for Mrs Colombo in her declining years, especially in the summertime when she had a grand view of the daily "happenings" along that waterway, from her porch. The Waldhelms and the Alne’s were wonderful neighbors to Mrs Colombo, after her son John moved to Connecticut, and she made the decision to remain on the Canal, rather than move to Connecticut with him.


Johannis and "Tante" Alne, the old folks, and then son Olaf and Clara Alne with two sons Richie and Dennis and daughter Lorraine. Lorraine now lives on a canal in Port Charlotte, Fl. Olaf loved to talk to the seagulls who ate breakfast at the Alne’s every morning. Old Mrs Colombo loved to hear the "conversations" from her porch next door.

#38 & #40

Early years: Jackson (kids, Lois and Kenneth), Next Andreas and (?) Astad with a son and daughter. The house was on lot #40 and #38 was a small boat yard run by Mr Astad, who also rented berths across his two lots in the Canal. Andy was a great guy except that he hated the sound of a basketball bouncing in the street outside his window, and sometimes hassled the kids a bit. The Astad’s returned to Norway sometime in the 1960s. One of the Smith boys from the head of the Canal bought the place and extended the original house into quite a mansion.

Addition from mygirls3aaa@aol.com: The Taylor family purchased the house at #40 in Sept 1972 from the Smith family.  Mike and Dorothy Taylor raised their three children Dawn, Michael, and John in the home that is still owned by the Taylors.

# 42 & ½ #44

Mrs Hoeneman and son Charles who later became the Captain of the ocean liner the "United States". None of the neighbors even knew about Charles’ rise to such a position until it happened. It was quite a surprise to all. Mrs Hoeneman was a hard working German widow with always a stoic smile on her face, and very proud of her son.

½ #44 & #46

Bill and Francis Tizzard with daughter Suzanne. The Tizzards were a great sailing family (later power boat and fishing). Bill and John Colombo owned the only sailboats in the Canal. Bill Tizzard built the first concrete bulkhead on the Canal single handed. He worked for the Telephone Company and there is more old telephone company hardware in that bulkhead than you can imagine. Bill just recently passed away in Englewood Fl. at 87. His daughter Suzanne married Joey Germer from across the Canal and they now live on a canal in the Keys.


Joe and Betty Nanni with several daughters - Marie, Beth, and (?). Joe was a cutter in the NY garment industry.


The Olson Family with son Stanley Olson, a Korean War hero who was blinded, when an enemy shell landed in his tent, killing several of his buddies. Stanley took his terrible handicap in stride and not only held down a job, but did such things as skull his rowboat up and down the Canal, guided by the sound of the riplets slapping boat bottoms along his path, and always with a smile on his face. He later married and moved to Howard Beach. He now lives in Florida (?)


Mrs Reeves, next Nan and Leslie Sturt .


The Norse family, and later Mrs Green


Mr andMrs Lussin -- owned a large grey colored dragger, the "Lussin," that he parked behind his house on the Canal. It eventually became his retirement toy.


The West Side of Gotham Ave.

Shell Bank Creek

#1 & #3

Under water


Frank and Betty Zang with children Kenny, Mike, Eileen, and James.


Romaro -- with children Cliff, Margaret, and Edward -- Ace, and Mrs Davis’ daughter Violet --the O’Connor family with children (?) [According to Mary Campbell, there is no house at 7 Gotham Ave. No. 9 Gotham Ave was owned by the Romero family and s0ld in 1963 to Terry and Mary Campbell who raised 6 children there: Mary, Patricia, Barbara, Peggy, Terence and Theresa. The house is still owned by Mary as Terry passed away on Dec.1,2001. All children married and Mary has 12 great grandchildren.]


George Johnson and wife -- later, Tom and (?) Crawbuck and children Carol Ann, and Pattie. Tom was a rigger by trade, and he loved to come over to the canal to help and to demonstrate his expertise in handling heavy objects like long telephone pole piles. Tom was also one of the partners in a "community cement mixer" with Jack Kelly, Bill Tizzard, John Colombo, and Whitey Houldsworth. That old Sears mixer built two concrete bulkheads and two house foundations. The Crawbucks now live in Florida.


Ida and Sam Basil and children -- Arthur Brown and kids -- then Alice Capp and her father and her son Danny, who married Pat Morin. Mr Orloff owner of the charter boat "Alfild" also rented there and kept the boat at Capt Martin’s on the Canal.

#13 & #15

Early years: Keatings, then Al and Mary Morin with children Albert, Ronald, and Pat. Al drove a NYC bus and always had a smile for everyone.

#17 & #19

Sinconey with children Irene, Helen, Marie, Joe, and Charles -- Evelyn Steelman (with daughter Connie) who married Osker Ramberg , a marriage that ended in the worst tragedy of Gotham Ave.

#21 & #23

Mr. Ketuna lived alone (had beautiful flowers and committed suicide) -- the Bells (he owned one of the head boats at the Tamaqua) , and then the Thompson Family with several children (daughter Maureen is listed in Address Book)

#25 & #27

Ferguson -- then Mrs Hunter and daughters, moved from #30 -- Mr and Mrs McCleod and sons Jamie and (?) , "Grandma" and Mr McCleod’s brother Donald. Mrs Mcleod was one if NYC’s first woman police officers. Mr. McLeod was a subway motorman.

#29 & #31

Lou and Elizabeth Reicheter with "Grandma" and Edith their daughter. Lou and Mitch Mikulski were great pals as were the two families. Mrs Reicheter and Mrs Hoeneman were also great friends. Edith Reicheter married William Gerlang who has since died.

#31 & #33

Mr and Mrs Thompson with daughters Joyce and (?). Joyce married Bruno Friar and there were four boys, Bruce, Bryan and twins Barry and Brent. Bruno was a great mechanic who could take a boat carburetor apart, clean it, and put it back together blindfolded. Son Bruce still lives there.

#35 & #37

Early years: Mr and Mrs Sunberg, then came Whitey and Doris Houldsworth and three children, Nancy, Randy, and Scott. Whitey was a dental technician and later went into the service and put in a full hitch, They retired to Florida where Whitey passed away. Doris and son Randy still live there in St. Petersburgh.


(Corner of Fane Ct ) Mr and Mrs Cobb with children Jewel and twins Charles and Jane.