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Street outside iconic restaurant named for late owner
The Roalex Company, which specialized in toys and novelties, signed a lease for 65-43 Austin Street in Forest Hills in 1952 when the western end of Austin Street was dominated by industrial facilities.
Alvin M. Borenstein, who passed away in 1978, was founder of the company and mastermind behind the Roalex puzzle, a 15-piece interlocking and sliding that formed various versions of an illustrated theme.
The small animated puzzle would become a source of enrichment and enjoyment for children and adults, and almost immediately rose in popularity nationally. There were at least a few hundred varieties and they were produced until 1971.
Borenstein sold products based on cartoon and television shows that were popular at the time, including Felix the Cat, Bozo The Clown, Mighty Mouse, Magilla Gorilla, The Jetsons, The Alvin Show, Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear.
The 1964-1965 World’s Fair was also celebrated in a puzzle, allowing a player to create the Unisphere.
“I think he had a partner named Robert, so they used RO, and AL for Alvin, and Ex for export, to come up with Roalex,” said his son Edward Borenstien, who lives in Bellmore.
He was raised in Manhattan with his brother, Stanley, who also calls Bellmore home.
“I would go to work with my dad and pasted the puzzles on the cardboard using glue,” recalled Stan. “I would go almost every Saturday with my dad to work and do that or help build shelves or make boxes.”
Besides puzzles, other toys and novelties were manufactured.
“My father was big into making kites with characters on it and they were great,” said Ed. “He also made novelties like the ‘Arrow Through the Head.’ I recall Steve Martin using that in his act when he was a young comedian.”
In 1957, their father was interviewed by Robert Williams of the New York Post.
“Nothing is new, it seems,” he said at the time. “The arrow must be 40 years old, at least. The magicians used to employ the same device to provide the illusion of a knife piercing an assistant. The silent movies used to use the same thing in westerns to show cowboys shot with arrows.”
“The arrow was, of course, just one of a million ideas which are constantly haunting Borenstein’s imagination in as much as he is in the business of creating and producing novelties, not to mention gimmicks and gadgets, which is a business where imagination is the essence of economic survival,” Williams wrote in his feature piece.
Stan recalled the puzzles selling for 69 cents around 1970, but in today’s market, these collectibles sell online anywhere from $25 to $500. He has ten of the original games in his possession.
“I’ve showed my kids, and they still work great,” he said. “I often think about rebooting and maybe marketing with business cards or giveaways at trade shows.”
“Our father would be so excited to know the impact and legacy his puzzles left,” Ed added. “My dad passed away so long ago, that my family really never knew about all that he did. Unfortunately, the business went under and my dad was never the same.
“This was his life and he put everything into it, but when he got into financial difficulty, he was never able to recover,” Ed continued. “We truly believe that led to his passing at 58.”
Leaves behind a legacy that spans nearly three decades
Invited to Citi Field for pre-game ceremony with Cohen
Who had a better summer than Mayor Bill de Blasio? Ever since Governor Andrew Cuomo completed his stunning fall from grace, the mayor has had a whole new attitude.
Maybe it’s just us, but it seems like the mayor is a lot more carefree, despite all of the issues facing the city, including the controversy surrounding school reopenings and vaccine mandates, his decision to send all city workers back to the office, and the mess on Rikers Island.
When he gets questioned on those decisions, he seems a lot more confident and less defensive than he did when Cuomo was constantly calling him out in public.
And what does a mayor whose feeling himself do? He demands a bulldozer and then uses it to crush some illegal dirt bikes confiscated by the police, which is exactly what he did on Staten Island recently.
Now he’s taking on world leaders. The mayor told Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to not bother coming to the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this week, as the unvaccinated Bolsonaro would be in violation of the city’s vaccine mandate.
“We need to send a message to all the world leaders, including most notably Bolsonaro from Brazil, that if you intend to come here, you need to be vaccinated,” de Blasio said during his daily City Hall news conference.
Of course, de Blasio can’t stop Bolsonaro from coming to New York City, so the demand is futile and the South American leader still gave the first speech of the annual meeting on Tuesday.
But de Blasio could theoretically tail Bolsonaro and his party and keep them from dining in restaurants or entering bars and clubs.
Of course, if Bolsonaro pulls the same stunt as the tourists from Texas who caused a fracas when they were denied entry to a restaurant, there’s not much de Blasio could do: Bolsonaro enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Fall starts this week, so as far as the calendar is concerned, the “Summer of Blaz” is coming to end, but we’ll see if de Blasio can ride his newfound confidence all the way through to the end of his term on December 31.
If you’re anything like us, you were probably pretty shocked that you weren’t at the very least invited to this year’s Met Gala to rub elbows with the elite names in fashion, entertainment and politics. Apparently, we are keeping good company with Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, who also didn’t get an invite to the social event of the year.
So the south Brooklyn congresswoman had no reason to break out her fanciest ball gown and adorn it with a political message like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who emblazoned her white gown with the phrase “Tax The Rich.”
Well, Malliotakis also wants her political leanings to be a fashion statement as well, and you can join her. For just $30, you can have your very own white t-shirt declaring “Stop the Squad,” referring to Ocasio-Cortez and some of her left-leaning colleagues in the House of Representatives.
We can’t wait to see Malliotakis sporting this shirt on the floor of the House sometime soon.