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Neighbors

49 North Central Avenue

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In Howard Ruehl’s 1975 book “History of Valley Stream 1840–1975,” a chapter is devoted to Central Avenue. It lists homesteads, farms and businesses that dotted the area north of Merrick Road.

Anton Brun’s residence and tavern was located where the Church of the Blessed Sacrament stands today. Hendrickson Avenue marks the general vicinity of Sidney Hendrickson’s dairy, and then John Hendrickson’s contracting business. Key Food was once the site of Aulis Finn’s farm. The Joseph March farm was on the east side of Central Avenue, north of Hendrickson Avenue. And all that remains of Smith Stringham’s farm is a street named after him — Stringham Avenue.

There was another business mentioned in the Central Avenue chapter — Oscar Pflug’s Grocery Store. Included was a black and white photograph of a one-story flat-roofed building with a striped awning and attached house. The caption read: “Oscar Pflug, First Village Trustee, had a store on Central Avenue.” Curiously, the location was not noted.

I went to Ancestry.com to access the Pflug (pronounced “Flewg”) census records for Valley Stream. The surname was unusual enough to ensure locating these records. I quickly found Pflug census records dating back to the late 19th century for Oscar’s father, Jacob. The 1930 census, however, was the first census to note the actual house number, in addition to the street name. The Pflugs lived at 49 North Central Avenue.

I typed the address into Google Maps and it popped up immediately: it was located across from the CVS pharmacy, one block north of Merrick Road, on the east side of the street. Stein Street was the cross street to the north, and Stringham Avenue was the cross street to the south. Encouraged, I switched from the aerial view mode to the “Street View” option, allowing me to drive, virtually, up and down Central Avenue. When I “pulled up” to 49 North Central Ave., I was stunned by what I saw — the house and business matched the black and white photo in Ruehl’s book! Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived. In February 2014, a fire destroyed the store and damaged the attached home.

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