Mount Morris Baths—Steam & Turkish
According to Aviva Stampfer, a writer on the Place Matters website, a joint project of City Lore and the New York Municipal Art Society, the Mount Morris Baths was founded in 1898 by a group of Jewish doctors, when Turkish (hot air) baths were an important part of the religious and social traditions of Eastern European Jews. The doctors lived on the upper floors, using the basement as a professional spa. In the 1920s, Finnish immigrant Hugo Koivenon bought the baths and incorporated Finnish features such as “needle showers” and vitea treatments. East Harlem residents (especially those living in the neighborhood’s many cold water flats) came for the sauna, steam bath and therapeutic pool. This was the sign to the Mount Morris Baths as you looked down the stairs at its entrance on the basement level, below the street and somewhat out of view of the sidewalk passersby. The plastic illuminated sign that hung high up over its entrance and said “Turkish Baths—Mt. Morris— Men Only” harkened back to a time when there weren’t many legal challenges based on gender discrimination for entering a public place as this. As you walked in, there were safe-sex brochures and free condoms available, although the signs prohibiting explicit sex on the premises juxtaposed to the posters about safe sex seemed contradictory. The place had a musty smell, and I imagine that there were still some of the original water molecules circulating in the fetid, steamy mist since itsmaiden shvitz of 1898.
In a January 2003 article for the New York Times, journalist Alan Feuer provided the following more recent historical context about this bathhouse: Twenty years ago, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the gay bathhouse scene was nearly run out of town when state officials enacted a raft of laws banning many homosexual gathering places. The New St. Marks Baths in the East Village, for example, was shut in 1985 by the City Department of Health and was replaced nine years later by a video rental store.
The Mount Morris bathhouse, the only one in the city that caters to gay blacks, has been operating continuously since 1893 and survived the crackdown essentially for two reasons. First, it is far from the city’s gay meccas, on a quiet, unassuming block of Madison Avenue at East 125th Street, across the street from the offices of the Rev. Al Sharpton. Second, it has matured through the years, remaining a place to meet new people and enjoy a steam, but with the reality of the city health code’s prohibition on open sex. Apparently, the owner at the time, Walter Fitzer, a retired mechanical engineer and volunteer firefighter from Lynbrook, New York, seemed “an unlikely candidate [to Feuer] to be running a bathhouse known for attracting gay black men.” Notwithstanding, it was my experience growing up gay in New York City that most of the bars and bathhouses were owned by straight, white men. Fitzer told Feuer in his interview, “‘I always tell the clients, ‘If I can’t bring my wife down here, it isn’t right.’” Having been a patron of this establishment in the late 1980s when I was living in Harlem before it was destroyed by what the city called “urban renewal,” I couldn’t imagine anyone bringing their wife to Mount Morris. It was by no means a Plato’s Retreat, which was a sex club that opened in 1977 in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel that did cater to a more “ecumenical” crowd. One of my favorite understatements from Fitzer in this interview is: “Bathhouses have been gay since the days of the Greeks. It’s no big secret.” According to Feuer, Fitzer also claimed, “Harlem royalty like Joe Louis and Sam Cooke used to sweat here years ago, and it is nothing to see French tourists, straight businessmen and Hasidic Jews perspiring in the steam room, side by side.”
On the Place Matters website, Stampfer also presented the following: Mount Morris attracted a mixed clientele that included area residents and patients of nearby North General Hospital. Mount Morris became known as well for its emphasis on sex education, providing condoms, lubricant, and brochures, and also hiring an education director who held a lecture series five nights a week on topics of interest to gay men, and ran a popular G.E.D. program. Despite the discrepancies in the year this mikva or ritual Jewish bath was founded, for at least seventy of the over one hundred years this establishment was operating, it was frequented chiefly by gay African American men. Many people, like myself, wondered why this sauna was overlooked for nearly a decade when gay bathhouses were systematically closed during the ’80s by the New York City Department of Health in its hasty response to the AIDS crisis. And why had it survived unscathed? Didn’t New York City health commissioner Stephen Joseph and the Koch administration care enough about black male homosexuals? I don’t believe it was left open out of any consideration by Koch for the services Mount Morris provided. For the most part, the city was totally unprepared for the AIDS crisis when it hit with a vengeance.
I remember challenging Koch in August 1987 during his obligatory momentary appearance at the New York City chapter of Parents of Gays annual awards dinner when I asked him why there wasn’t a public service campaign on safe sex aimed at New York City’s LGBT community, as there was in San Francisco. Koch’s typical flippant response was, “Oh, the gays here know what to do.” So I began chanting, “You’re full of shit” and was joined by my friend Andy Humm and others until Koch stormed out of the banquet hall. Urban legend has it that later that evening on the news, it was said that Koch collapsed in Chinatown after overeating at one of his favorite restaurants.
In a recent telephone conversation with my longtime friend and journalist Andy Humm (Gay City News), he commented to me that it was fortuitous that Mount Morris had remained open as long as it did after the bathhouse closings since it provided much-needed services to its community. In addition, the pioneering and exemplary work of the Minority AIDS Task Force (1985), Harlem United (1988) and other grassroots community organizations that targeted black and Latino populations that weren’t publicly gay helped an ailing community that was for the most part in denial. Sadly, I was alerted by e-mails through my website of the sauna’s closing in 2003 and wondered why there wasn’t the same uproar in the gay community as there was over the closing of the Wall Street Sauna in February 2004. Of course, south of 110th Street there were private AIDS organizations like Gay Men’s Health Crisis (1981) and the AIDS Resource Center (Bailey House, 1983) that had been mobilized since the onset of the epidemic and provided services initially for self-identified gay men, usually white, with regard to education about AIDS prevention, medical and financial counseling and advocacy. Humm also reminded me that in the early days of ACT UP, there were two camps with totally divergent ideologies: one, those who wanted to aid the City of New York in creating guidelines for establishments where public sex was a potential in an attempt to keep them open; and two, those who wanted no restrictions at all on public spaces because any limitations would be an infringement of their personal freedoms.
Ultimately, both camps lost the battle because many of these sex establishments that provided the only reliable sources of HIV/AIDS prevention materials were closed in spite of their attempts to work with the failures of the Koch administration. Today, I have heard, the sex clubs are opening up again and are filled with young people who did not experience the horror of disease, loss and grief as we did as young people living through the height of the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s and ’90s. Remember, folks—the AIDS crisis is not over!
In Bitter Memory of Edward I. Koch – Grossly Ineffective During Early AIDS Crisis – Mount Morris Baths—Steam & Turkish
I will never forget you.
Elaine Calenda and I met in high school in 1975. It was auditions for the John Adams High School musical play that year, which was Oliver. E (I always called her E) was standing in the back of the auditorium, hands in her pockets – stoic and stiff. She was wearing a woolen turtle neck sweater with overalls and construction boots and I thought “Who is that remarkable lesbian?” But I didn’t want to come off too strong so I sauntered over with my elephant bell denims, wide leather belt and chunky buckle and my platform shoes and I asked, “Hey, are you a Bette Midler fan?” E, rather startled that I just started talking to her and a bit self-conscious said she was as a matter of fact. How did I know she asked? Then I asked if “The Wizard of Oz” was her favorite movie and she looked aghast and again asked how I knew. Then I asked if she were a friend of Dorothy’s at which point she said, OK, Who the hell is Dorothy?
I leaned close to her so no one would hear and asked if she were gay. E looked down at her clothes and almost with tears in her eyes asked how I knew. I said, Come on girlfriend we have some catching up to do. E was a couple of years older than I and didn’t have a “boyfriend.” Her mom gave her a hard time for dressing so butch and not showing any interest in guys so E asked if I would go home with her and be introduced as her “boyfriend.” My mom already knew I was gay so I didn’t need a “cover” or beard. I was glad to help her out. We thought it would just be an act. Needless to say we fell madly in love anyway. We were inseparable for much of our late teens.
The dramatics teacher at John Adams found E an internship for her last semester at The Ensemble Studio Theatre in Manhattan with director Curt Dempster. Here E met many notable professionals in the theatre as she studied stage managing at Ensemble. I helped her build sets and break them down. It was an exciting time for us. E worked with Kevin Bacon, Amanda Plummer, Moogy Klingman and many other talented people in the theatre. Renown stage manager Barry Kearsley befriended E and we all used to “hang out.” Barry and E remained friends until his death in 1989 while stage managing M Butterfly. Through Barry, we met so many notable people in the theatre from Leonard Nimoy to Tommy Tune.
E very early on expressed a love for massage and shortly after high school she began studying at the Swedish Institute where she later became an instructor. I was lucky to be her willing patient during her studies. E would learn a new technique and I would be the recipient of all of her focus. It was here she met lifelong friend Sharon Weinstein, MD. E had an incredible talent and she went on to become a beloved instructor at the Boulder College of Massage in Colorado:
Elaine Calenda, AOS, RMT, NCTMB
Elaine Calenda has been a massage therapy educator for over 32 years. She graduated from the Swedish Institute in 1978 and gained clinical work experience at the Center of Osteopathic & Sports Medicine in New York City. In January 1992 she began teaching at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy and is currently the Academic Dean. She teaches Sports and Orthopedic Massage. Elaine contributed to the development of the Associate of Occupational Studies Program and has participated in multiple research projects including: “The Effects of Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” and “Chronic Tension Headache.” Elaine is dedicated to the advancement of the massage profession and writes for massage and CAM publications. She is a contributing author to the textbook Teaching Massage.
Elaine was the recipient of 2012 Chapter Meritorious Award by the American Massage Therapists Association.
The Chapter Meritorious Award honors an Active AMTA member for
his or her diligent volunteerism done in an altruistic (selfless) manner.
Deborah Hatch and Kimberlee Chatterley
Reasons for Nomination
• We believe that the meritorious award should go to a person that has exhibited a long history of supporting the massage profession, the AMTA association and individual therapists along the way; Elaine Calenda is that person. She has provided this support without any expectation of recognition, she simply contributed as she was able and has made a tremendous impact on our profession.
• A massage educator for over 32 years, Elaine has not only taught massage but also modeled the quintessential values and behavior of a profession massage therapist. She is dedicated to increasing level of knowledge within our profession and models this through her involvement in our association, research projects, and development of community based programs such as supporting our returning veterans and introducing children to massage.
• Elaine has a history of volunteerism having served on the AMTA Chapter level as: 2nd Vice President (CO), delegate/2 terms (CO), Newsletter Editor (NY); and the AMTA National level serving on: the AMTA Special Committee on Standards of Care and the AMTA Workgroup to Enhance Culture. Additionally she was very active with the NCBTMB serving as: Item Writer (1994), Exam Committee member (1994-1996), Exam Committee Chair (1996-2001), Director (2001-2003).
• An acclaimed writer and researcher, her works have been published in “Therapeutic Massage” chapter for Alternative Medicine In Cardiac Illness, Dr. Michael Weintraub, ©2003, Therapeutic Massage” chapter for Alternative Medicine in Neurologic Illness, Dr. Michael Weintraub, © 2001. Elaine also has a artistic flair as demonstrated by the creation of two beautiful anatomical charts: Muscles in Motion – the muscular system and Osteography – the skeletal system, both produced through Digit Press Publishing.
Characteristics of Nominee
• Elaine has an incredible energy and passion for massage in general and AMTA in particular. I really believe that she would bleed amta blue. She champions our association to anyone within earshot and is happy to expound on the values of AMTA membership.
• An effective communicator, Elaine has the rare ability to speak with and listen to people of all walks of life. She is at ease with everyone and able to tailor the delivery of information into the way it will be best received. She is amazingly respectful of each personal and professional interaction, whether a colleague or a student or superior (if there is such a thing), each individual is treated with the same dignity and respect.
• She is open minded and always interested in new ideas and techniques. She volunteers enormous time to mentor and guide new teachers. For example, Deborah Bruce came to Elaine a few years ago and demonstrated a technique that Elaine found innovative. Elaine helped Deborah define her technique as Passive Fascial Restoration (PFR) and assisted her in creating teaching goals to offer this new technique to fellow therapists.
• Elaine’s background in teaching has proven invaluable; she has served as a brilliant liaison between our Chapter and schools within our State. She understands the dynamics and challenges of the school/education system and has been instrumental in building bridges between schools and our Chapter. For the past several years, Elaine has championed AMTA to Boulder College of Massage Therapy, this has resulted in our Chapter holding the Spring annual meeting at a low cost to the Chapter; a savings which has been passed on to our members.
• Elaine interjects humor into the classroom and the result is that the students retain more of the information shared. Ask her for the Julia Childs’ approach, you’ll be glad you did.
She is well known and respected in the massage community and a deserving candidate for the Meritorious Award.
AMTA National Position(s) (non-chair)
AMTA Special Committee on Standards of Care – Chair, 1998-2000, Committee member, 2000-present.
AMTA Workgroup to Enhance Culture – 2005-2006
National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, Item writer, 1994, Exam committee member 1994-1996, Exam committee chair, 1996-2001, Director, April 2001-2003.
AMTA Chapter Position(s) (elected or appointed)
AMTA Colorado 2nd VP/Membership Chair 2008-present
AMTA Colorado Delegate 2000-2002
AMTA New York Chapter Newsletter Editor
Alternative Medicine Television Show but also modeled the
Benefits of Massage – first aired 1999
Radio Boulder, Benefits of Massage – aired May 1996
Radio Denver, Benefits of Massage –
Aired November, 1995
Weight Watchers Magazine Show –
Benefits of Massage – New York, NY – Aired October, 1986 Hosted by Lynn Redgrave.
Health Talk Radio Show, WBAI Radio, Brooklyn, NY – Benefits of Massage- April, 1980
Boulder College of Massage Therapy – The effects of massage on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, 2003 ongoing
Boulder College of Massage Therapy – The effects of massage on Headache, September, 2000.
With Drs. Weintraub and Rothman- effects of massage on victims of physical trauma – June 1990 to December 1991.
• Supporting our Returning Troops –
• Exposing Children to Massage – teaching massage to children
• The Chanda Plan – benefiting people with spinal injuries.
Boulder College of Massage Therapy
6255 Longbow Drive, Boulder, CO.
Academic Dean, 2003 to present
Clinical Education Director, 1995-2003
Instructor of Orthopedic/Sports Massage
150- hour Certification Program and
Instructor of Medical Massage in the Associate of Occupation Studies Degree Program,
1992 – Present
1979 – Present
Digit Press Publishing
Anatomical Chart Design
Creative Director; 1995 – Present
Academy of Massage Sciences
20 West 20th Street, New York, NY
Director/Instructor – 1988-1991
Dr. Michael Weintraub
325 S. Highland Ave. Briarcliff, NY
Massage Therapist, June 1990 – Dec. 1991
New York State Education Department, Albany, NY. Item writer for the 1988 and 1990 State Board Exams for Massage Therapy.
Swedish Institute, Inc. 126 West 26th Street, New York, NY – Clinic Director and Medical Massage Instructor 1980-1986.
Center for Sports and Osteopathic Medicine, 41 East 42nd Street, New York, NY with Dr. Richard Bachrach
Massage Therapist, 1980-1985
“Therapeutic Massage” chapter for Alternative Medicine in Cardiac Illness, Dr. Michael Weintraub, ©2003.
“Therapeutic Massage” chapter for Alternative Medicine in Neurologic Illness, Dr. Michael Weintraub, ©2001.
Muscles in Motion – the muscular system, anatomical chart produced through Digit Press Publishing,
Osteography- the skeletal system, anatomical chart produced through Digit Press Publishing, © 1998
Elaine is survived by her partner Michelle Howard of Longmont CO, her father Joseph Calenda of Ohio; her sister, Jacqueline Bailey of Farmers Branch, Texas, and brother Vincent Calenda of Ozone Park, Queens, N.Y. Her mother Luisa Orta Calenda died last month and was able to see Elaine to say goodbye.They had seen each other last on Mother’s Day.
You will always be in my heart.
BY JOE KEMP / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: MONDAY, JULY 9, 2012, 2:00 AM
A veteran city firefighter, who was known as an extreme athlete who organized grueling hikes through the mountains upstate and 50-mile bicycle tours on Long Island, died on Saturday. He was 54. Lt. Vito Berretta — a 27-year vet of the FDNY who was assigned to Engine Co. 282 in Borough Park, Brooklyn — died from complications after a heart attack while with his family, friends said.
Colleagues remembered Berretta, who also helped with rescue efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks, as an inspiration who was strong in both body and mind.“He was the type of guy that wanted to do and see everything,” said FDNY Captain George Farinacci, who worked at Ladder Co. 148 for 10 years in the same firehouse with Berretta. “He also wanted everyone to come along with him for the trip.”
Farinacci said that Berretta organized two trips a year for his fellow smoke-eaters. One was a 50-mile bicycle ride in Montauk, L.I.; the other, a hiking trip in the Adirondacks.The mountain climbs were “infamous, because it was so grueling that the two Marines we had in the house were pleading for mercy,” said Farinacci, a 21-year veteran firefighter. “The guys couldn’t keep up with him.”
If Berretta wasn’t traveling, or taking pictures to add to his collection of thousands of photographs, he could be found with his nose in a book, Farinacci said. Berretta — a married father of three — would recommend books to people, especially if he heard you were going somewhere.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/27-year-veteran-fdny-dies-54-article-1.1110179#ixzz20F9NxJso
27-year veteran of FDNY dies at 54 – NY Daily News.
Vito is the husband of my dear friend and colleague Genevieve Berretta. Our hearts go out to you and your family. It was an honor to know Vito and to have had his images of neons shared on this site. Peace.
SPINGARN-Harry. On September 4, 2002. A former clothing merchant in Orange, NJ. Survived by his wife Joyce (nee Frankel), sons, David, Arthur, and Roger, and their wives, five grandchildren, and a brother Edwin. - NY Times Paid Notice Obituary
Wilkes-Barre Clothier – DeMun Sign Co – Boscov’s Boston Store – A Christmas Carol – Fowler, Dick & Walker – Marguerite Dick Obit – April 17, 2011
The Boston Store is on South Main Street, just off Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Now Boscov’s, it originally opened in 1879, but sold to Boscov after millions of dollars of renovation destroyed by Hurricane Agnes flood in the early seventies.
1879: Fowler, Dick and Walker, three Scottish immigrants, establish a department store in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
1911: Solomon Boscov arrives in Reading and begins peddling merchandise in Berks and Lancaster counties. He later opens a store in downtown Reading.
1954: Solomon’s son, Albert Boscov, and son-in-law, Edwin Lakin, join the company and quickly raise sales. They open a second store in 1962.
1950s: The Fowler, Dick & Walker store undergoes a $5 million renovation project that takes nearly 10 years. It includes an expansion to South Franklin Street, the installation of escalators and more floors, and a 1,000-vehicle parking facility.
1972: The store sustains extensive damage when Tropical Storm Agnes causes flooding. The same year, Boscov’s Department Store opens its first store outside of its hometown of Reading.
1980: Boscov’s Department Store expands to Wilkes-Barre, purchasing what is now known as Fowler, Dick & Walker The Boston Store, as well as another store in the Laurel Mall, Hazle Township. The Wilkes-Barre store remains open during the conversion and holds a grand opening the following year – Times Leader
Marguerite Dick | Visit Guest Book
April 17, 2011
Marguerite Dick, 76, of Tunkhannock, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, died Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Mercy Special Care Hospital, Nanticoke. Born in New York City, N.Y., Marguerite was a daughter of the late James H. and Margaret Pezneker Wilson. She grew up in New York City, but resided for most of her adult life in Wilkes-Barre. Marguerite had resided in the Tunkhannock area for the past nine months. She had been employed by TWA, New York, N.Y., for several years. She worked as clerk for Fowler, Dick & Walker, The Boston Store, Wilkes-Barre. She had also been employed by First Eastern Bank, and PNC Bank, Wilkes-Barre branches, American Red Cross, Wilkes-Barre, and Greenwald & Berk Insurance Company, Kingston. Marguerite was an avid bowler. She was an active volunteer for numerous area cancer groups, and was a member of First Church of Christ, Wilkes-Barre. Preceding her in death, in addition to her parents, were husband, Robert Hale Dick; and brother, James Wilson Jr. Surviving are her children, Christopher R. Dick, Brigantine, N.J.; Patricia Ann Wardell and husband John, Tunkhannock, Pa., with whom she resided; Douglas Dick, Mehoopany, Pa.; grandson, Kyle J. Wardell; and brother, Woodrow Wilson, Edwardsville. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday from the Harold C. Snowdon Funeral Home Inc., 140 N. Main Street, Shavertown. Pastor Larry Reed, of the Harvest Assembly Church, Harveys Lake, will officiate. Interment will be made in the Forty Fort Cemetery. Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society , 190 Welles St., Suite 118, Forty Fort, PA 18704, or American Lung Association of PA, 71 N. Franklin St., Suite 207, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701. – Times Leader
My maternal uncle, Frans Broekveldt III died in his sleep over the weekend in his new home in Badhoevendorp, Amsterdam. Frans was survived by his wife Dickey Broekveldt, two daughters Susan & Sonia, and his grand daughter Linsey and grand son Rick and his only sister Willy Broekveldt-Jump. Condolences may be sent to the family Broekveldt – Azaleastraat 38, 1171WV, Badhoevendorp, Amsterdam, NL and Willy Jump, 1445 Geneva Loop 17E, Brooklyn NY 11239.
I’ll always remember him listening to his Ben E. King albums up in the attic bedroom on the Geuzenstraat. On occasion he would read to me from his thick oversized book about evolution or rail against the evil imperialist and racist America. He loved his motorcycle when he was riding it. He cherished his grandchildren and family.
Phil and I dated for almost a year in 1989 after working together in ACTUP and on other various Gay/Lesbian interests. Although our relationship was often tumultuous, I remember him fondly and always admired his tenacity and honesty. Few black politicians, entertainers, or public figures were (or still are) openly gay (and openly HIV+). Reed dedicated his life to public service and he shall be sorely missed.
Reed was most happy when at his family summer home on Martha’s Vineyard where he and his twin sister spent many happy summers as children with their mom, who was of German descent. I recall him proudly showing me around the island in August of 1989. In the afternoon setting sun at Gay Head, we walked through a narrow pathway towards the water where his family had beach access- also which was adjacent to Lillian Hellman’s property. He told me about the time he had seen her there just staring out at the sunset as we were. I don’t think I have ever seen him living in the moment and full of life as I did that afternoon- except perhaps at various political rallies. Coincidentally, Reed was in Berlin the week the wall came down and that was also thrilling for him.
In 2000, we shared an oncologist which I told Phil officially made us alter kakers. Reed struggled with multiple myeloma to which he ultimately succumbed (and complications of pneumonia). I am glad he lived long enough to see Barack Obama win the Presidency. There will be a memorial for Phil Reed at the Riverside Church, Thursday December 4th from 6-8PM. More details below:
The family and friends of Philip H. Reed invite you to attend a memorial service celebrating Philip’s contributions to his community, his city and his country. Please join us at the Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive between W. 120th and W. 122nd Streets, on Thursday, December 4, 2008 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Philip’s family has requested that anyone wanting to honor Philip’s memory should make a contribution in his name to any of the following organizations:
The Callen-Lorde Health Center
356 W 18th St
New York, NY 10011
The Metropolitan Community Church of New York
446 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
383 Main Ave 5th Floor
Norwalk CT 06851