Al & Albert C. Neimeth
The life of Albert Neimeth Sr., who married Edna Calleson in 1926, reached back to the early years of old Rockaway Point. Albert Jr. made his appearance in 1928. Edna’s parents, Ella and Amos Calleson, spent their summers in Rockaway Point starting in 1915. David Fuchs, a close boyhood friend of Al Jr.’s, recalls that the handball courts and Rockaway Point baseball field were right behind their bungalows, heaven for the baseball-crazy kids that they were, both having opportunities as their lives progressed to try out for the famed Brooklyn Dodgers. Al Sr., too was a notable handball player, golfer, baseball player and also a boxer.
Al Sr. operated the lion’s share of businesses in Rockaway Point with a later venture into the then-separate Breezy Point bungalow colony. Al Sr. was a pharmacist by profession but an entrepreneur by trade. Starting in the 1920s, he operated the Rockaway Point drug store on Market Street. During those early years, with medical services being scarce, Al Sr. often stepped in to handle medical emergencies. He then opened the Breezy Point soda counter and drug store, during the 1930s as the Point Breeze “wedge” area was being developed. Also during the 1930s, Al Sr. operated the Blarney Castle on old Market Street, a soda parlor on Oceanside east of Reid Avenue which disappeared during the hurricane of 1938, a refreshment stand by the Long Shore Beach Club near Reid Avenue and Oceanside which was washed away in Hurricane Donna, the original Sugar Bowl, and he partnered with Philip Reid, Mike Liana (the Pointer’s original publisher), Joe Coleman and restauranteur Julius Schuler in building and operating the fabled Colony Inn. The Colony became popular with the teens of the era as a dancing arena and, a venue for the Big Bands of the Swing Era. After Al Sr.’s participation in the Colony ended in 1947, nature’s wrath delivered by Hurricane Donna ultimately brought about its demise.
Al Sr., by reputation a man large in physique, personality and reputation, was slowed by health problems as the 1940s progressed, his frenetic pace necessarily slackened and he started to retire from managing his several businesses. But not the Sugar Bowl, then, of course, was a very different building – a dark cavern housing both a bar and an ice cream/refreshment wing (the latter probably explaining the derivation of its innocent sounding name) – opening on a deck that literally fronted the ocean mere steps away. As reported by Al Jr. was his father’s favorite business, where he could sit on the deck as he also minded the store. Many of us, doubtless, could smile and agree. Al Sr.’s Bowling days continued until 1955, closed out only by his death.
During the 1960s, while Al Sr. was gone, the business had to survive. This is where Edna stepped up, but she had never run a business. Yet, that is what she did, now with Al Jr. also filling in for his father until 1966, which provides a good transition to the life of Albert Neimeth Jr. Al Jr., although born in Brooklyn, grew up in Merrick on Long Island. He received his BA degree and then his law degree from Cornell University in 1952, played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers farm team in 1951, was on active duty during the Korean War after which he remained in the Air Force Reserve, started a law practice on Long Island in 1954, and likely reduced his stress while managing the Sugar Bowl during the ensuing summers. Al Jr. married his wife Doris in 1960. While they lived in Freeport, Long Island, daughter Christine arrived in 1964, with daughter Susan following in 1965. In 1965, Al Jr. was also appointed Dean of Admissions for Cornell Law School. It was time for the Sugar Bowl to change hands. Son Steven arrived and Ithaca served as the family’s abode for the next 30 years. In 1970, Al Jr. was appointed Dean of Alumni Affairs and Placement for Cornell Law School. He assumed the status of Associate Dean emeritus in 1993, after which the Neimeths relocated to Florida. Their link to Breezy Point was renewed when they purchased 410 Sea Breeze Walk in 1986, where they maintained a summer residence until the house was devastated in Superstorm Sandy. Al Jr. died at the age of 90 in 2018. Al Jr.’s special relevance to the Breezy Point Historical Society, though, is rooted in the destruction caused by Sandy. After the storm, Al, not in good health, would not be returning to our shores. He and Doris, members of Christ Community Church, donated to the church any usable furniture from the house. While looking in a second-floor closet that had survived the storm, a treasure trove of ancient movie films, photographs and other memorabilia dating to the community’s early days was found. Those artifacts became the rootstock of the archives of the newly created Breezy Point Historical Society, and our archives have been expanding exponentially ever since. Hence, the Neimeth legacy, in a very material sense, still continues.