(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter September 28, 1989)
Many older bronxites can place the origin of their existence or at least their early years to the South Bronx. Most also have stories to tell of the hard times of the Depression or the street sounds and smells of days long gone. They recall the gangster haunt's of "Dutch" Schultz including his headquarters on East 149th Street off Morris Avenue and the beer warehouse near the Mott Haven railroad yards that was called "The Tins."
Many will also recall when Courtlandt Avenue was called "Dutch Broadway" due to the strong German influence. How many remember Raniolo's Bakery Shop on the west side of Courtlandt Avenue at the corner of East 154th Street?
This summertime photogragh of the intersection was taken in the 1940's by Serafino "Fino" Pagliuca from his father's vegetable store which was just across the street. Note that the cobblestones of the roadway stop short of the curb where the old bicycle path was once located. The official car is parked in the wrong direction on this one-way street. Note the one-way arrow on the pole to the right. The officer is turning off the hydrant in front of the vehicle. There are several barefooted youngsters in bathing suits but they watch in silence as there was no back-talk from children during this era.
The sign above the car pictures a sailor and encourages readers to enlist. Most of the windows of the apartment house are open and residents lean out to overlook the neighborhood action. They also catch a breeze in these pre-air-conditioning days. Because of the angle of the photogragh, you can't see the Polish Hall which was further to the right on Courtlandt Avenue.
Just about five blocks north of this intersection stood Paul Daube's Steak House. Anyone who has ever eaten there will never forget it. The old-fashioned wooden house had a few steps up and some counter space with stools for a quick bite. Passing through the kitchen to the earthen yard you encountered dining space for 35 or 40 people. The offerings were simple yet splendid: the largest and tastiest steaks available. No desserts or fancy trimmings were offered but this was no deterrent to the dining crowd. No finer or larger steaks could be found. It's no wonder that Babe Ruth and the entire entourage of Yankeees beat a path to his door.
Paul Daube's was located at 833 Coutlandt Avenue and also boasted of their annual venion dinners held in January and February. The cost in 1941 was $1.75 per person and reservations were required for this sell-out event.
The Melrose Housing Project now occupies the west side of Courtlandt Avenue from East 153rd Street to East 156th Street and Raniolo's is long gone. The Andrew Jackson Houses to the north now obliterate Daube's. Nothing, however, can block out the memories of old Melrose!