With the sun shining and the temperatures threatening to break 40 degrees, we took a walk through Forest Park to see how the pond was shaping up.  You can see it from the road as you drive through Forest Park but it had been awhile since we'd been down there to see it closeup.  We had our camera with us and took a few interesting pictures along the way.  

We started our journey at 91st Street and Park Lane South.  The recent high winds had blown leaves all over the place and some sections of the steps were barely visible.

The lights in Forest Park that illuminate the walkways look old fashioned, but appear to be in pretty good shape.  On the right, you can see that the tennis courts were empty today.

I'm a fan of fallen trees; once you walk up the steps into the park you come across a few interesting one right away.  The one on the right appears to have twisted as it fell, creating a slightly evil looking archway.  You can still see Park Lane South in the background, so we're still just barely inside the park.

Another archway at the left.  We didn't see another living soul as we walked through this section of the park today.  The footing was a bit chancy on some of the slopes due to the recent snow melting leaving hidden mud beneath the leaves.  The picture at right was another fallen tree, taken from the tip of the branch. 

Of course, had we started this journey up at Forest Park Drive we could have followed the man-made trail down to the pond.  One end begins across from the parking lot, it winds down around the pond, and brings you back up to Forest Park Drive not far away from Woodhaven Boulevard.

The Strack Memorial Pond.  According to a press release quoted on a memorial site for the 173rd Airborne:

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today (May 19, 2004) joined Secretary of State for New York State Randy Daniels, Council Member Dennis Gallagher, Parks & Recreation Queens Borough Commissioner Richard Murphy and family members of Laurence Strack to celebrate the $550,000 restoration of Strack Memorial Pond in Queens. Officials and family members unveiled the new signs for the pond and planted a Red Oak tree to re-dedicate the site to Private First Class Laurence E. Strack. On February 11, 1969, this site was named in honor of Private First Class Laurence E. Strack (1948-), the first Woodhaven resident to die serving in the Vietnam War. Strack was an avid baseball player and fan. In 1966, he enlisted in the United States Army and received his paratrooper training. He returned to Woodhaven to marry his childhood sweetheart before being assigned to the 173 Airborne Brigade. On March 3, 1967 during a combat parachute jump in Vietnam, PFC Strack was killed in a fierce firefight. He posthumously received the Combat Infantrymen's Badge, the Vietnam Service Medal, The Parachutist Badge, The New York State Conspicuous Service Medal and the Bronze Star with "V" Device and Purple Heart.

This pond was drained in 1966 and turned into two ballfields which were utilized by Rich-Haven Little League for a few decades.  Here is a picture of a Rich-Haven Team taken in the mid-1970's, where the pond now resides:

As a side note: This team was managed by Mr. Bernard Halpern, who spent many years involved with Rich-Haven Little League.

If that team picture were taken today, they would be standing on thin ice, somewhere in the center of the picture on the left, near where the water meets dry land.  There are no benches of any kind here, but there are some decent sized rocks which provide natural seating.  By the time we reached the Strack Memorial Pond, we needed a rest and sat down for a while.

It's a very restful, peaceful spot.  Although Woodhaven Boulevard is just over the hill, there was nothing but silence here.  Across the pond there was a sign warning you that the ice was thin (that's an ice rescue ladder hanging above the sign).  At the right is one of the many nice rocks you can sit on at the water's edge and enjoy the peace, quiet, and scenery.

After the pond, we started to walk toward the FDNY Radio Tower.  This is the "new" tower, the old one having been replaced around 10 years ago.  The footing was decidedly chancy and we got stuck for a few moments in a patch of twigs with sharp thorns.  Seriously, they hurt.  At left is a fallen tree with some interesting things growing on it, and at the right is the base of the tower.  A much larger shot of the tower is below:

This tower is a bit taller than the old one, and far bigger at the base.  And while the old one sat behind an old metal fence, sort of isolated, this one has a gated pathway that leads to the FDNY station at the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South.

At the left is a shot of the FDNY Station from behind, Woodhaven Boulevard in the background.  And at the right is a hill familiar to anyone who has walked or driven up Woodhaven Boulevard.  After that, it was time for a little rest, so we hopped in our car and drove around to the parking lot near the bandshell.

The bandshell was empty save for a few teenagers practicing their skateboarding moves.  And this little squirrel.  We sat in the back row and watched this squirrel bounce from bench to bench, looking for nuts.

At left, across the street from the bandshell, looking down Forest Park Drive.   And at right, looking out over the tennis courts, and over Woodhaven.  Pretty soon those trees will be full of leaves and you'll be able to see neither.

Baby Carriage Lane, the walkway leading down from Forest Park Drive to Park Lane South.  How long do you think that name stretches back?  Finally, we wound up at the entranceway to the path leading to the pond.  Here's the sign that explains a bit about "Kettle Ponds" in general, and the PFC Laurence Strack Memorial Pond in particular.

 And finally, a few last shots of the pathway leading to the pond.  We'll check back over the summer to see how it's looking.

If you have any comments, or would like to suggest other projects, drop us a line at info@projectwoodhaven.com or projectwoodhaven@aol.com .  

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