Finding old friends in the warmth of Florida

One of the few occasions that we left our Willow Wood, a spacious, serene area, was when Estelle Horwitz, widow of our past city councilman Sam Horwitz visited. She had gotten authority to join a gathered group of past and present Sea Gate residents who were partying at a Floridian luncheon at a palm-studded Deersfield Beach lakeside hotel.

It was a lovely, shaded spot for an early afternoon gathering. Estelle, only recently retired to Florida, knew very many of the guests, while we personally met some of the offspring of the very many I once knew, before leaving Sea Gate, to go off to World War II!

Some of those who knew me invited me to speak, and I got to tell them what I knew of the famous Nathan Handwerker, father of Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and the story of how he left another Coney Island restaurant to open a nickel hot dog stand back in 1916 — and made it grow into a “nationwide caloric institution,” listed and growing on the Stock Exchange.

We had long felt very rooted to Sea Gate, where I personally spent the last half of my elementary school days at PS 188, in an era when we had no intermediate school nearby, and Sea Gate boys of that era were sent over to an eighth grade public school on an unpaved avenue, and had to slush to Lincoln HS for certain classes, when we stayed at Avenue X, for freshmen high school classes because Lincoln remained overcrowded!

At that time, the Belt Parkway was nearing completion, though not open, as the state was also disconnecting Gravesend Bay from Sheepshead Bay before paving the Belt!

Later, more privately at our luncheon table we recalled how Estelle Horwitz and her late husband Sam got into local politics — and the fingers pointed to me, Lou Powsner, who had been called into a Democratic-challenging team, run by co-chairpersons Steven Solarz and Nina Glantz.

They chaired a committee to elect millionaire Mel Dubin to Congress, in his race against a 50-year-veteran Democratic congressman.

They had selected Lou Powsner to run on their team, for the post as NY State Constitutional Committee — as recommended by the former World Telegram and Sun, when they needed a candidate for City District Democrat Leader — we suggested the same Estelle Horwitz, who had been on a NYC committee to welcome the Queen of England on her visit to America!

We campaigned long and arduously against the candidates of the regular Democrat team. When the smoke cleared, it was close — very few of our candidates won — but our state Assembly candidate, the late Larry Simon, became our elected man to Albany.

Estelle had stepped down to have her husband Sam Horwitzbe elected Democratic leader, a stepping stone to his own run for city Council, a position he held for several terms until retiring near the age of 90.

Sam and Estelle moved to Florida, where they lived in retirement, coming in to join friends and family, for his 90th birthday party, followed several months later with his too-sudden death.

Estelle lived on, now “at home” in the friendly environment of the homey atmosphere of the Aston Gardens Development that she shared with husband Sam, quite popularly, with so many friends, in Parkland, Florida still growing as a retiree community, particularly for elders who seek refuge from the blast of northern winds!

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