Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Posts by Donald Laub

Reading War and Peace

At lunchtime today I finished reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. (Tolstoy pictured here, courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery.) I read the Louise and Aylmer Maude translation, which moved along very well, and I read the whole thing on an electronic reader. It took me just about two months to read, starting it exactly this past July 1. I have wanted to read it for awhile, and I am glad I did. However, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the book. It wasn't too hard to read, as 

... Read More ›

Mount Loretto, Staten Island, NY

This picture is at Mount Loretto, which was founded as Catholic orphanage on Staten Island in the late 19th century. It is still operating today, but it is not really an orphanage anymore; it is more of a social service agency. They recently built a CYO on its grounds and it has become a community center, with inside basketball courts and meeting rooms.

The church in the picture is still standing, but the buildings on either side are gone. In the early 1970's the exterior of the church was used in a scene from the famous movie

... Read More ›

Panorama of Richmond, Staten Island

Panorama of Richmond, Staten Island, N.Y. [view from high ground with St. Andrew's Church] (From NYPL Digital Gallery)

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church recently celebrated its 300th anniversary. My mother's family lived nearby when she was young. They later moved, but my grandmother was buried from St. Andrew's, in 1955, I think.

Richmond was the Staten Island County seat until it was later moved to St. George, near the ferry. Richmond is more or less the geographical center of Staten Island.

... Read More ›

"Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built"

From the flier for an upcoming program on March 19, 2009 at 4:00PM at the Tottenville Branch Library:

A Celebration of the History of Tottenville

The Tottenville Historical Society and the Tottenville Branch Library invite you to celebrate the arrival of the new book, Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built by Barnett Shepherd. “Scrupulously researched but lively vivid…” writes Christopher Gray of the New York Times. And Brian J. Laline, Editor, Staten Island Advance adds “Tottenville, Staten 

Read More ›

Book Discussion of "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri

Tottenville Branch had a book discussion last night on The Namesake. It went very well, but wasn’t quite as lively as last month’s discussion of Running With Scissors! The group liked The Namesake, and were sympathetic to the characters, by and large, and their difficulties in adapting to American culture, and being caught between India and the U.S., especially for the second generation character, Gogol, who is the main character of 

Read More ›

Book Discussion at Tottenville Branch

It is hard to believe that we are almost half way through the 2008-09 book discussion at the Tottenville Branch. Tonight we will be discussing All My Sons by Arthur Miller. It is the first time in a long time that we have read a play, so it will be interesting to see how the group reacts. In some ways the play seems to me to be dated, although it is about an issue, manufacturing shoddy military machinery and war profiteering in the U.S. during 

Read More ›

Book Discussion at Tottenville Branch, Staten Island

The Tottenville Branch will be having a book discussion of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert this coming Monday, November 17 at 7:00PM. Come join us! We ask only that you have read the book to take part in the discussion.

The Tottenville Branch is located at 7430 Amboy Road, Staten Island, NY 10307, and the phone number is 718-984-0945.

We will be discussing The Secret Life of 

... Read More ›

Main Street, Tottenville, Staten Island, New York

Main Street, Tottenville, Staten Island, N.Y. [close view of shops and ad sign for Horton's Ice Cream, people in front of store under awning, old car in street]

Main Street is about a block away from the Tottenville Branch Library. The street looks very different today!

Image and Caption From NYPL Digital Gallery

Read More ›

The St. George Theater, Staten Island

This is a great place, and it is within walking distance of the ferry. I went to movies here as a kid, and it is great to go to it again and see it in good shape! It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is fabulous! They are putting on a number of different kinds of shows now, including concerts and the occasional play. And they have a working Wurlitzer organ that they play before most performances. For more info on the theater, go to their website:

And it is right across the 

... Read More ›

Bethel Methodist Church, Tottenville

I found these pictures at

The original Bethel Church in Tottenville burned down in 1886 and was re-built and dedicated the next year. There is a history of the church in Tottenville In Retrospect by Benjamin Franklin Joline, which is at the Tottenville Branch. When the church moved to its present location, pictured above, some members felt it was too far away from the heart of Tottenville, and they broke away to start another Methodist 

Read More ›

A New Way to See Staten Island

So far, Staten Island trolley tours are filling up by Staten Island Advance Thursday July 10, 2008, 12:38 PM  Hilton Flores/Staten Island Advance Tourists and Staten Islanders alike took time yesterday to take the 55-minute tour of the borough, which is free this week. On a day when the haze turned Manhattan's famous skyline into so many ghostly, jagged silhouettes -- obviating the reason so many tourists hop the ferry to Staten Island before making their typical, quickie U-turn -- a red trolley idling in the downstairs parking lot yesterday beckoned the uninitiated to venture 

... Read More ›


WaFoo will be performing at the Tottenville Branch Library, 7430 Amboy Road, Staten Island, NY 10307, phone number 718-984-0945 this coming Saturday, July 12 at 2:30PM.

WaFoo, literally meaning "wind of Japan" or simply "Japanese style," is a group of talented musicians who have performed in many different countries across the world. WaFoo blends Japanese philosophy into a variety of music styles to create a lyrical, aesthetic and delightful sound to help regain energy for body and soul.

"WaFoo's amalgam of 

... Read More ›

The Flag of Staten Island

Even though I have read about this flag, I don’t recall ever seeing this being flown anyplace on Staten Island. I think some people think the big hill in the background is the garbage dump. And seagulls? Not the most beautiful or noble bird in the world! Somewhat of a scavenger, I believe. Maybe it is just as well it isn’t flown anyplace!

Some history:

Flag Description From: Staten Island Chamber of Commerce

OFFICIAL FLAG OF STATEN ISLAND: The flag is on a white background in the center of 

Read More ›

Staten Island OutLOUD

This is a wonderful Staten Island nonprofit organization. I’ve attended a few of their events, and they have always been interesting and fun! The below information is from their website, which is at:

What is Staten Island OutLOUD? Staten Island OutLOUD is a grass-roots dialogue and performance project. Several times a month, we present free gatherings in community settings throughout Staten Island. We gather to read aloud to one another from a variety of world classics and other compelling 

Read More ›


So I’ve been a card-carrying (Metropolitan Opera Guild card) opera fan for about 15 years. I’ve probably spent way too much time and money on this interest, but it has been worth it. Opera is a fabulous art form—singing, music, drama, and sometimes dance, all rolled into one (although anti-opera-ists say those things are all done poorly. Somethimes that’s true, but when all elements are working, nothing beats it, in my opinion).

Also, did you know you can get into the Metropolitan Opera for a perfomance 

Read More ›

The Dump


...and today!

OK, so this is the thing about which just about all Staten Islanders, no matter what their background or politics, have over the years been least proud. The Fresh Kills Landfill (or as we used to call it, “the dump,”) closed on March 22, 2001, certainly in part as a reward from then mayor Rudy Giuliani to Staten Island for its political support.

The dump opened up in 1948 and was supposed to be temporary. It grew to be by most accounts the largest garbage dump in the world.

I had the pleasure(?!) of 

Read More ›

Staten Island Yankees

Spring has sprung, and for many of us that means the beginning of the baseball season. A few years ago, a ballpark, named Richmond County Ballpark at St. George, was built right next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. It is the home of the Staten Island Yankees, a Class A minor league team of the New York Yankees. They play a short season (this year from June 17 to September 6). Prices for tickets are cheap; in past years they have been in the $10 range for the best seats. Food prices are cheaper than the major leagues, but not as inexpensive as one might hope, at least in my 

Read More ›

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

This bridge changed everything on Staten Island, changing it from a rural area of small towns and open spaces and farms (which I recall) to one of suburbia. I remember going to Fort Wadsworth with my family in the early 1960s to check the progress of the building of the bridge. The fort is now open to the public, and it is managed by the National Park Service and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

Staten Island was a Tory area during the American Revolution. However, I read an 

Read More ›

Rural Readers from Staten Island, New York

Caption: After School at Kreischerville: children lined up at librarian’s table behind bookwagon (ca. 191--ca. 192-).

Kreischerville is the next town north of Tottenville, but today it is called Charleston. Kreischerville was named after the owner of a brickyard, an industry that once thrived here as the clay-type soil here was good for making bricks. Some of the excavations were filled in by water and today are called Clay Pit Ponds. 

Read More ›

Almer G. Russell Pavilion, Tottenville, Staten Island, New York

This is an an email I received from the President of the Tottenville Historical Society:

“I received a note today from long-time Tottenville resident Gordon Ekstrand, who is also Past Post Commander of the local American Legion, Beauvais-Hudson Post No. 126. He writes:

“I have been working since November 2006 to have the Borough Commissioner of Parks Thomas Paulo erect a new sign at the Pavilion next to Conference House Park. I called his 

Read More ›
Previous Page 2 of 4 Next