As recent FNY readers know, I went to work temporarily recently in the same building where I began my career in typesetting and the printed word over thirty years ago on East 45th Street. I was working overnight from 12 to 8 AM and I have to say, I just couldn’t get used to daytime sleeping for those six weeks. If called upon to do it again I would, but it’s just not my preference. I reverted to overnight sleeping on the weekends and slept like a rock and after the gig was done, I went to bed at 11-12 PM and was well rested but poor again.
I’m a nostalgist and always find something to miss from long-gone jobs, friends, women. When I worked at Photo-Lettering from 1982 to 1988 it was “second-shift” so I would arrive in midtown during the evening rush, as I began work from 5 to 7 PM. Making my way over to 216 East 45th I would take East 43rd sometimes and would thus pass St. Agnes Church. I noticed the church again on my way home one early morning recently.
However this St. Agnes is not the same building I passed all those years ago; the old building from the 1870s, constructed for workers on the original Grand Central Station, burned down in 1992, and what we have now is a somewhat anodyne building constructed in 1998, although it’s flanked by two of the old church’s remaining towers. I was surprised to learn that the painting behind the altar was done by Sean Delonas, the occasionally controversial editorial cartoonist for the NY Post from 1990-2013.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) was based at St. Agnes and his riveting radio and later television sermons from the 1930s through the 1960s (“The Catholic Hour” and “Life Is Worth Living”) were recorded in a studio at the old church, as well as the Adelphi Theater further uptown.
Mayor Edward Koch subnamed East 43rd for Bishop Sheen between Lexington and 3rd Avenues in 1982.