History hidden in plain sight

The Corner of Merrick and Ocean


“Back in the day there was Studnick Auto Parts,” wrote Car Geek on the online car forum jalopyjournal.com. “They had wood floors and the owners lived upstairs above the shop. If you needed something after they closed, you would ring their bell and they would come down and sell you the part.” This is how many of us remember this popular store. But, before there was Studnick’s — there was Roeckel’s General Store.

In the late 1850s, Joseph Roeckel (1823-1913), a Bavarian immigrant, opened a general store and post office. After Roeckel’s passing, the property was sold and a service station took its place – this circa 1916 photo represents that time frame. Note the “Socony” sign, which stands for Standard Oil Company of New York, a gasoline supplier that eventually became ExxonMobil. By that time, the general store had been replaced by a stately Beaux Arts building with a mansard roof and pedimented dormer windows. Henry Rosenkranz, another German immigrant, operated a saloon on the south side of Merrick – his business too, is visible in this vintage photo.

Moses Rodninsky (1871-1964), was a 1906 immigrant from modern-day Odessa, Ukraine. In 1925, he moved to Valley Stream and purchased the building, leasing it to the Rosedale Repair and Towing Company. On the second floor were apartments, but the Rodninsky’s did not live there – they made their home at 825 West Merrick Road, a building constructed in 1880 (as stated on its property card) and one that still stands today.

And now we circle back to Jacob “Jack” Studnick (1909-1988), yet another émigré – this time from modern-day Poland, who assumed ownership of the property in the 1930s and whose business run was the longest, spanning almost 60 years until his passing. The building, however, lives on, home to more recent immigrant-owned ventures and the enduring spirit of their founders.

Location: 867 West Merrick Road, at the northeast corner of Ocean Avenue.