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A Greenwood Street Tradition

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irv rosensteinIrving Rosenstein of Greenwood will celebrate his 92nd birthday this month. Professionally, he’s had a rewarding career as an insurance broker. In 1969, the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America lauded him as “A new leader in our old tradition.” Their advertisement in the Democratic and Chronicle reported that Irv “has established himself as a knowledgeable and capable underwriter. He understands business problems and has successfully helped many area businessmen in accomplishing their objectives.”

Irv is also part of a grand tradition in Corn Hill.

Irv and his wife Gloria were married in 1954. They raised three children in Brighton but, after twenty years, the marriage ended—temporarily. Following their separation, Irv lived in the Park Avenue area until a visit with a friend in Albany motivated him to buy a house. “We went through an area that was being rehabbed and I just fell in love with the idea of these older houses. So when I came back, I start looking [in Corn Hill where] these houses were so, I mean, it was like the deal of the century!” Irv bought his Greenwood home in 1978 for $38,000.

He immediately became part of the street’s social life. “Right from the beginning, on Friday nights, we used to get together on our front steps. And that has continued since we’ve lived here.” He says “we” because in 1987, he and Gloria remarried and she became part of that Greenwood society. The neighbors celebrated their reunion with a unique present. Previously his house had been known as “Chez Irv’s.” Now it became “Chez Gloria and Irv’s,” captured in a neon light.

The parties continued with live music thanks to jazz musician Eddie Israel, who lived across the street. Israel played drums for such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Ron Carter, and Ella Fitzgerald. “He had a lot of musician friends that would come from all over. Friday, the night before the arts festival, was really the best night of all. We used to get a mob of people. We’ve tried to carry it on after he died. We hire a band and we get people on Greenwood that are interested. But we don’t get many neighbors that come over from other parts of the neighborhood. I think that it’s slowly but surely coming to an end.”

Maybe we can turn that around. This year’s Festival of the Arts takes place on July 11 and12. Watch for news about a block party on Greenwood Street, Friday, July 10!

This article was first published in the Corn Hill Gazette February – March 2020