The story behind the light
Feb 28, 2018 | 16709 views | 0 0 comments | 1680 1680 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We ran this undated photo from our archives at the beginning of last month and received a number of responses from our readers, but have just been too busy covering the comings, goings, triumphs and shortcomings of our local political leaders to circle back around to it, so here goes.

A number of people, including Wayne Ruggiere, identified the man next to the control box and the man in the center as Councilman Walter McCaffrey and Assemblyman Fred Schmidt, respectively.

A native of Woodside, McCaffrey was first elected to the City Council in 1985. He was widely viewed by his colleagues as a shrewd politician with a quick wit. He was forced out of the City Council in 2001 by term limits. He passed away in the summer of 2013 at the age of 64.

Schmidt was a highly respected representative from Woodhaven who served 24 years in the Assembly. Following his political career, he went on to serve as judge in the State Supreme Court. He died in 2003 at the age of 71.

Reader Jeff Gottlieb offered up this additional information on Schmidt:

Married with nine children, Assemblyman Schmidt was a conservative Democrat and war veteran. One of his sons delivered newspapers to area residents. Similar in occupation to Fred Trump's oldest son, Fred, who delivered the Long Island Press to neighbors in Jamaica Estates. One difference: young Trump had a limousine taking him back home after his efforts.

And reader Cathy Moore suggested the man on the far left is Gary Giordano, who to this day still serves as district manager of Community Board 5, and identified the man next to him as Jerry LaMura, who worked for several borough presidents in Queens.

And Patricia Burns wrote in suggesting the woman in the blazer is Happy Rockefeller, but we're not sure why such a bastion of New York's social elite would be at this photo op. If anybody can verify that information or shed some light, drop us a line.

And last but not least, Chuck Disert of American Legion Post 1424 in Forest Hills sent us an old photo he had of the same technology – a traffic light control box - on Park Lane South dating from the early 80s.

Thanks to everyone who responded!

(P.S. We have a small confession to make. While most of the photos we run have no accompanying information, this one actually had the intersection where it was taken written on the back. It was at Caldwell Avenue and 74th Street in Middle Village.)

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