In 1921, two young men had a dream. They believed that
Canarsie should have its own newspaper. Although other local newspapers, such as the Canarsie Weekly (c. 1896, 1904) and the
Canarsie Local (c. 1915) predated the Courier, they were very short-lived.
The history of the Canarsie Courier could literally
fill volumes. However, I will attempt to keep my remarks relatively brief. The two then-young men, to whom I referred, Walter
S. Patrick and Lester J. Stillwell, having borrowed $200.00 from a local bank, rented desk space in Harkavy’s Real Estate
office, which was located upon the very site where we are standing today. It was thus that in April of 1921, the Canarsie
Courier began. The early years were a struggle. Mr. Patrick had to contribute $25.00 per week, and Mr. Stillwell $50.00 per
week, out of his earnings from his primary job, to keep the Courier afloat. Messrs. Patrick and Stillwell literally had to
distribute the Courier from door to door, for free. After six months of hard work, a profit of $100.00 was finally realized.
However, by the end of 1921, the Courier ceased publication. Undaunted by this setback, Mr. Patrick persevered and, in 1924,
reestablished the Courier in a 6’ X 10’ wooden shack on East 95th Street near Conklin Avenue, where the building
housing the Department of Education's district offices now stands.
Messrs. Patrick and Stillwell were drawn to other callings
and, thus, did not remain newspapermen. Mr. Patrick began to study for the ministry, was ordained, and eventually sold the
Courier to new ownership. Mr. Stillwell, whose role in establishing the Courier has largely been forgotten, moved on, and
served as an elected official in New Jersey. However, he never severed his ties with Canarsie. He is buried in Canarsie Cemetery,
and his home still stands at 1226 East 92nd Street. Let us take this opportunity to restore him to his rightful place in history.
Publication of the Courier was continued by Edward M.
Herrschaft from 1935 to 1959, and then by the Samitz family, until Mary Samitz’s untimely death a few years ago. The
tradition now lives on under the worthy leadership of current publishers Sandra Greco and Donna Marra, with the support of
their spouses, Peter and Alex, and the assistance of managing editor Chuck Rogers.
I would like to pause to acknowledge certain special
people, who are no longer physically with us. However, I believe that all of them, among others, are present in spirit today.
These are Messrs. Patrick, Stillwell and Herrschaft; my good friends Joseph, Robert and Mary Samitz; the late editor of the
Courier, Maurice Paul; the late author and historian, John F. Denton, who was my mentor; the late Elsie Oberg, who is largely
responsible for the existence of the Canarsie Historical Society; and her late husband Raymond J. Oberg.
I would like to thank Slater Alleyne, who is the manager
of Green Point Savings, and the Greco and Marra families. It is only through Mr. Alleyne’s cooperation, and the support
and generosity of the Grecos and the Marras that today’s endeavor was made possible. I would also like to thank Chuck
Rogers, who has been a loyal friend to and supporter of the Canarsie Historical Society since its inception.
Rev. Patrick, Mr. Stillwell, 81 years later, we have
returned to the site where it all began, to honor both of you. We want both of you to know that your dream lives on. It is
in good hands. All is well.