NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

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NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby Earle Baldwin » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:43 am

Recently, while tending to family matters at Polchinski Memorials in Hawthorne (our family plot is located in the adjacent Gate of Heaven Cemetery), the subject of railroading entered the discussion as my son was rushing to the window each time a train passed on the Harlem Line. When the salesman realized he was dealing with a family of railroad enthusiasts, he talked of the business having once been, many years ago, an active railroad customer and receiving inbound shipments by rail. As many of the pieces being received were large and quite heavy, equipment of a suitably robust nature was required for the unloading process. He told us he has seen photographs of the receiving operation but none were at hand.

The Polchinski facility is located next to the West Stevens Avenue grade crossing. After we were finished, I stepped out back and observed what appeared to be an old unloading dock suitable for freight car use and an area in which a siding may have been located. Would any of our participants from the area have an idea as to when this business was an active customer or suggestions as to where I might be able to research such information?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby pbass » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:29 pm

at one time coffins[remains] and funeral parties were delivered to Gate of Heaven and Kensico Cemetery by train with side tracks at those locations just for funeral related purposes.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby Earle Baldwin » Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:53 pm

I had a NYC employee timetable - since given to a cousin who works for Metro-North - which contained specific instructions for the handling of remains and interacting with mourners due to the high volume of funeral traffic between the city and Westchester County cemeteries. I also seem to recall reading an item in a book or an article which discussed the Central's transportation of funeral parties on the Harlem Division.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby pbass » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:15 pm

you are correct. i have a New York Central employee timetable from early in the last century in the special instructions details the handling of the remains and how to interact and show respect for the deceased and the survivors.until 1907,the NYC was left handed running which explains when I was an engineer on the Harlem Line the ties at these cemeteries though barely visible in the grass indicated side tracks with the switches being used in left hand operations.I donot know after the NYC went to American right hand running how funural trains accessed those cemeteries.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby edbear » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:11 pm

The remnants of an unloading facility in Hawthorne might have been for granite tombstones, markers, mausoleums, etc. There are a large number of cemeteries in that area, Hawthorne, Valhalla, Kensico, Mt. Pleasant and I'm guessing Thornwood and Woodlawn too. Granite was shipped out of Vermont on the Rutland and was interchanged to the NYC's Harlem Line at Chatham, NY. Tombstones and markers are still usually put up in cemeteries, but the way the business is done is much different than 50 or 75 years ago and not conducive to rail transport.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby BR&P » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:40 am

Had several large books from Otis NY from the 1880's, with a list of every station and the number of tickets sold to that station. The very last entry was the only one with a price printed - "Corpse tickets $1.00". You could ship a body from and to any place on the NYC for a buck back then.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby TCurtin » Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:15 am

BR&P wrote:Had several large books from Otis NY from the 1880's, with a list of every station and the number of tickets sold to that station. The very last entry was the only one with a price printed - "Corpse tickets $1.00". You could ship a body from and to any place on the NYC for a buck back then.
Absolutely fascinating.

On the same subject, there was evidently a footnote in old NYC Harlem Division TTs, which has been quoted in various places over the years, stating that "Remains may be checked to Valhalla. However, advance notice must be given to baggagemaster at GCT."

Evidently Valhalla was the closest station to the cemeteries that had an agent and baggage handling capability at the time.

There are, of course, a couple of --- no doubt unintended --- humorous items there:
- I wonder how much advance notice they wanted? Lots of us don't provide much advance notice of our demise . . . .
- In Norse mythology "Valhalla" was the home of the gods, and the place where the Valkyries took fallen warriors to (If you are a fan of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" operas you know all about that)
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby pbass » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:38 pm

very good tcurtin. i saw the same footnote checking at valhalla. i'm giving my advance notice now: expected arrival in 2039 when i'm 86.
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby megg0 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:21 pm

I can say with 100% certainty that railroads did play a large part in Polchinski and Co. But, it was not always in Hawthorne. My great-great-grandfather began the business shortly after coming to America from Poland, and worked as a gravedigger in Woodlawn Cemetery until he had the funds needed to begin the business. Originally it was in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx across from St. Raymond's Cemetery. We have tons of pictures of my ancestors at both locations, but the move to Hawthorne was indeed largely to be closer to a Railroad system. :) Hope this helps a little!!
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby AgentSkelly » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:19 am

One of my friends up in Albany works in the family business, the funeral home and like Polchinski, they used to do pickups/sending of remains via trains all the time from WWI to about the start of Amtrak. They didn't have a direct siding at the home, but actually used a nearby industrial siding and just send a truck a mile or so down the road. His great-grandfather apparently had to sweet talk whatever industry owner had that siding for that arrangement.

However, my friend tells me he still about 4 times a year, they send a truck to Albany-Rensselaer or sometimes Schenectady Amtrak stations to either send off or pick up remains even today and its still the easiest way.
New Westminster to Amtrak 516, whats up with the extra 4 axles, over?
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Re: NYC Deliveries To Polchinski Memorials In Hawthorne, NY?

Postby LastStopValhalla » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:55 am

TCurtin wrote:
BR&P wrote:Had several large books from Otis NY from the 1880's, with a list of every station and the number of tickets sold to that station. The very last entry was the only one with a price printed - "Corpse tickets $1.00". You could ship a body from and to any place on the NYC for a buck back then.
Absolutely fascinating.

On the same subject, there was evidently a footnote in old NYC Harlem Division TTs, which has been quoted in various places over the years, stating that "Remains may be checked to Valhalla. However, advance notice must be given to baggagemaster at GCT."

Evidently Valhalla was the closest station to the cemeteries that had an agent and baggage handling capability at the time.

There are, of course, a couple of --- no doubt unintended --- humorous items there:
- I wonder how much advance notice they wanted? Lots of us don't provide much advance notice of our demise . . . .
- In Norse mythology "Valhalla" was the home of the gods, and the place where the Valkyries took fallen warriors to (If you are a fan of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" operas you know all about that)


There is also the still standing but no longer used as such Kensico Cemetery Station on the north side of the Lakeview Avenue crossing adjacent to Track 2. It is now the cemetery office.

And there is the occasional Mount Pleasant stop for cemeteries also.
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