SIGNS OF JAMAICA

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I was staggering around the Briarwood-Jamaica border a few weeks ago (in July 2008) ignoring the drizzle and humidity and getting images for a possible Briarwood page and picking up possible ideas for a long-planned Jamaica page when I spotted some unusual sights and signs along Jamaica Avenue, which I had earlier chronicled in its Brooklyn stretch late in 2007.

It was a fairly desultory afternoon; I had always despised NYC summers because of the mostly soupy atmosphere now and then alleviated by searing heatwaves. But I moved to a new complex in 2007 and with my rooms out of the sun, I’m feeling rather more sanguine about things. The apartment stays at 75-80 degrees F no matter how hot it is outside.

The last thing I think anyone would expect to see on Jamaica is an ice skating boot manufacturer (here on 146th and Jamaica Ave.). Then again, I found an old taxidermy shop on Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn.

Klingbeil Shoe Labs has been here since 1949, founded by William Klingbeil as an orthopedic shoe manufacturer. At some time in the 1970s a customer asked for some custom ice skating boots and a sideline that later became a bootery to the stars was born. Olympic gold medalists Dorothy Hamill and Sarah Hughes have trekked to Jamaica to be fitted.
There’s a newer sign advertising skating boots,and an older sign showing the Klingbeils’ earlier line.These Boots Were Made for Skating [Queens Tribune]
Klingbeil has a high-tech website.

Meanwhile at the NE corner of 146th and Jamaica Aveue is a collection of gloriously hand-lettered signs on seven different surfaces, on vinyl, bricks and rolling metal gates.
 

Oddly enough, the name of the business does not appear on any of the signs, in a remarkably self-effacing policy.

Across Jamaica Avenue is a sign from several decades ago for the long-lost Roseland luncheonette. In a few decades — perhaps a few years — the signs for beepers and cell phones will likely appear just as quaint.
Photographed July 2008; page completed August 13, 2008





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