The ‘Lost Neighborhood’

Three years after the publication of “The Lost Neighborhood Collection,” Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist has released a second book titled “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond,” and she will discuss and sign copies of her new book at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, in the Fireplace Room at Prendergast Library.

Like the articles and story-essays in “The Lost Neighborhood Collection,” the narratives in this new book are part personal memoir and history told in the words of the people who lived those moments as only they can recount them. However, “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond” is wider in scope than Lindquist’s first book.

In some ways, it is a continuation of that book in that it deals specifically with people who lived their lives in the “Lost Neighborhood,” but it also includes more stories of the Sicilian and Italian immigrant experience by those who lived in other parts of the city and nearby Falconer. The common ancestral roots of its contributors give this book a continuity and a unity that still informs the lives of their children and grandchildren to this day by imparting so much of the Mediterranean culture that fills these narratives with their families’ love of food, music, and companionship. This is a warm book full of recollections and reminiscences told simply and lovingly. The voices of those who tell their stories give “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond” its authenticity.

The historical and personal appeal of “The Lost Neighborhood Collection” became immediately apparent to Lindquist even at the book signing that was held in the Fireplace Room of the Prendergast Library when she released her first book on Nov. 27, 2010. During the book signing, she was approached by several people who asked if she was going to publish another book. Lindquist’s response was posittive: if you have a story or recollection that you wish to share, by all means send it to me.

In addition, her readers’ responses to “The Lost Neighborhood Collection” were so enthusiastic that Lindquist, who had a data base of contact information gathered from those who purchased her first book, sent out at least 85 letters in February of 2011 asking for contributions to a second book. By March of 2011, she began to receive manuscripts and photographs from those who wished to have their stories published, and she began work on the book by early spring of that year.

“Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond” contains 25 articles and 170 photographs, many of which are from the personal family albums of the book’s contributors. The book’s contents span those areas of the city of Jamestown reflected in its title. Readers will be introduced to articles that again deal with the Lost Neighborhood, in particular, the cheese factory, which became an institution on Derby Street; an eyewitness account of the tornado that struck the south side of the city in 1945; many photographs showing the destruction to businesses and residences on Harrison Street by the tornado; and a reproduced front-page story of the tornado published in the June 11, 1945, edition of The Post-Journal.

Stories that record the early Italian and Sicilian immigrant life in Jamestown and Falconer are published alongside a centenarian’s recollections of Victoria Avenue. Remembrances that present the life and times of some former residents of Derby Street, including an article about a well-known physician who tended many in the old neighborhoods, also find a special place in Mrs. Lindquist’s book.

Food and music, so much a part of the life of the inhabitants of ethnic neighborhoods, can be found in the “La Cucina” article, complete with recipes and recollections, and a definitive article about the Imperial Band, complete with many wonderful photographs of this once-popular musical organization whose descendants have added so much to its history. And because the church is so much a part of the lives of Italian immigrants, many among the readers of “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond” will feel a connection to those articles that deal with the establishment of parishes, in particular, Our Lady of Loreto in Falconer, New York, whose Mother Church was St. James and whose common founder was Fr. James Carra.

Brooklyn Square, once the thriving commercial hub of Jamestown, is brought to life in several articles that deal with businesses and landmarks in a section of the city that fell to urban renewal but is still remembered for its colorful history. And the Roosevelt Theater, beloved movie house of those who lived in or near the Lost Neighborhood, is captured in four articles that bring this Brooklyn Square landmark back from its past in stories that range from cowboy heroes to the excitement of Saturday matinee cliffhanger serials, complete with memories of freshly popped corn and penny candy.

“Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond” also has six appendixes that include maps of the path of the June 1945 tornado, maps of the Brooklyn Square area before and after urban renewal, and a list of businesses that were in the Square and surrounding neighborhoods pre-urban renewal, plus a hand-drawn map showing the changes in businesses and municipal topography that were a result of Jamestown’s urban renewal project in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Lindquist is a Jamestown native and former resident of the Lost Neighborhood. She taught English at Jamestown High School and Jamestown Community College prior to 15 years of teaching in the English Department of Temple University in Philadelphia. Now retired, she has committed her time to becoming a recorder of memories.

Like “The Lost Neighborhood Collection,” her new book, “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond,” is not a researched history. It is a personal approach to an important part of the city of Jamestown’s history and finds its place in remembering, the way an oral history is distinguished from a fact-based article. And its richness lies in its variety.

The historical appeal and importance of Lindquist’s first book, “The Lost Neighborhood Collection,” was recognized by several historical organizations and libraries whose staff purchased copies of her book to place in their special collections of reference works and archives. “The Lost Neighborhood Collection” has found a place in the Chautauqua Room of Hultquist Library at Jamestown Community College; the reference and circulating collections at Prendergast Library; and the McClurg Museum in Westfield. It has also been placed in the Wheeler Room of the Ocean County Library’s main branch in Toms River, N.J., a place very familiar to Mrs. Lindquist who has been a 46-year resident of Jackson, a township 12 miles north of Toms River. And a copy of “The Lost Neighborhood Collection” has found a home in the Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy of the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

It is her hope that her new book, “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond,” will also find a place on those same shelves. Both of Lindquist’s books are historically relevant in their own ways, and she hopes they will further the education of young Jamestown residents about the history of their city.

Copies of Joan Lindquist’s new book, “Brooklyn Square, the Lost Neighborhood, and Beyond,” will be available at the signing event at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at Prendergast Library.

Copies can also be purchased at the Fenton Museum and History Center, 67 Washington St., Jamestown, and Off the Beaten Path Book Store, 28 Chautauqua Ave., Lakewood, starting Sept. 21, when she will sign copies at both of those locations.

Autographed and/or inscribed copies can also be purchased directly from the author/editor herself by writing to Joan V. Lindquist, 34 Oregon Avenue, Jackson, NJ 08527; by calling at 732-364-6204; or emailing at scandit@att.net.

The cost per book is $22.95. For one copy, priority mail, add $5.60 shipping and handling. For one to three copies, media mail, add $3.50. For four to six copies, media mail, add $6. Purchasers should indicate whether they want an autographed copy and/or a particular inscription.

Prendergast Library is located at 509 Cherry St., Jamestown. For information, call 484-7135.