The Front Porch

I live in what people in the neighborhood call one of the “big houses.” The lot is only 20 by 100, which, by Astoria standards, is an average size. It looks big because it is set back from the street, separated from the sidewalk by a terraced lawn that steps up like a tiered wedding cake. And it has a front porch whose weighty head is held high by a quartet of big, white Colonial columns. I’ve heard it said that these “big houses,” which line Ditmars Boulevard from 29th to Crescent Streets, were built first. Photo by Nancy A.…

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The Pro-Active Parent

The carrot-coconut-apple bread, just out of the oven, is cooling on a wire rack as Claudia Lieto-McKenna readies her boys for 9 o’clock mass. She hands a couple of slices to 13-year-old Tristan and eight-year-old Luca while her husband, Nigel, urges them to get a move on. Just as she always does, Claudia’s made a double batch of the sweet-smelling bread that she insists tastes better with butter. What her family doesn’t devour, she’ll hand out to friends and neighbors. She’s done it so much that people have come to expect it. Photo by Nancy A. …

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The Rabbi and His Wife

It’s Sunday morning, and the Chabad of Long Island City is at rest. The same cannot be said of the Rabbi Zev Wineberg and his wife, Rivka, who are busy planning for the coming week. Theirs is the only Jewish community center in Western Queens and as its membership has mushroomed, so have their duties. There is a Hebrew school and women’s circle to run; a weekly newsletter to publish; religious holidays to celebrate; regular services to hold; and, of course, the communal Friday night kosher Shabbat dinner to prepare. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Zev and Rivka …

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The Easy Driver

Seventeen thousand. Manfred Edenhofer is embarrassed to admit that that’s all the miles he has put on the 2000 ocean-grey Nissan Altima sitting serenely in his driveway. Manfred, a bearded Teddy bear who has gasoline pumping through his veins, has made his living as a commercial truck driver. He’s logged a million or two miles on the open road. That’s not counting the time he has spent putting pedal to pavement to make his Honda Gold Wing touring bike fly along the highways and byways. Seventeen thousand — that sorry sum puts him behind the same wheel as all …

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