Sunday, January 9, 2022

Yow-Zah’s

[2192 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

Snow was on the ground and a beer advertisement on the side of the building when the tax people took this photograph.

The full text:

Yow-Zah’s
Model Airplane Shop
And Other Hobbies
Gas Motors, Parts & Gas Kits
Boats, Accessories, Balsa Wood
And Supplies.
It looks to me as if “And Other Hobbies” and “And Supplies” were afterthoughts. Or they were forethoughts painted over, or sort of painted over. The words now compete with the NYC.gov/records watermark that runs across the photograph.

The date of the building’s construction, according to the Municipal Archives: 1931. A 1931 classified advertisement lists a cigar and stationery store for sale at this address. When this photograph was taken, Yow-Zah’s may have already been defunct (notice the disarray of the windows). By May 1941 the address housed the Paragon Chimney and Furnace Cleaning Company. By 1952, it was Harry’s Hand Laundry (“Shirts 18¢, Sheets 14¢, Pillow cases 6¢.”) Today the address is home to Kaché Restaurant and Lounge, serving Carribean-American cuisine.

Green’s Dictionary of Slang dates yowza! or yowzah! to 1933: “a general excl., either of approval or of vaguely non-committal agreement.” Yow-Zah’s Hobby Shop is listed in the Brooklyn Telephone Directory, Winter 1939–40: ESplanade 7–9003. And yes, it’s the only Yow-Zah’s in the book.

Thanks, Brian, for finding this photograph.

*

February 4: An eagle-eyed reader reports that the advertisement on the side of the building is for Stegmaier’s beer.

Related posts
More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives

[I searched for the 2192 address in the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Newstand, a great resource for time-traveling Brooklynites.]

comments: 11

Geo-B said...

Seems like someplace one would see in the background of a Zippy cartoon.

Michael Leddy said...

I’ll pass it on.

J D Lowe said...

NYC was a hotbed of model aviation activity in the 20th century. One of the more famous companies in the field, Selley Manufacturing, was located in Brooklyn on Gates Avenue. Yow-Zah’s might have an interesting history.

Michael Leddy said...

Selley’s is in Google Books — magazine ads. (Rabbit-hole alert!)

I wonder if a descendant of Yow-Zah’s proprietor might find this post and offer some info — you never know. That kind of thing has happened.

Daughter Number Three said...

This photo makes me almost weep for several reasons. The beautiful sign, of course. A few others off the top of my head: the size of the storefront, which we almost never see built anymore because it's financially inefficient in new buildings, though perfect from a walkability standpoint. and the idea that a small-scale hobbyist store could do enough business to support someone (based on a dense neighborhood, and the fact that people had hobbies instead of TV and devices), and that there wasn't competition from online sellers.

Michael Leddy said...

I look back on the modesty and density of that pre-mall and pre-Internet retail world with deep nostalgia. Touring a shopping street via these tax photos (this site is the best way) shows an incredible variety of small stores. Try Brooklyn’s 13th Avenue between 37th and 54th.

Brian found Yow-Zah’s later doing business at 1544 Flatbush Avenue as the Metro Model Aircraft and Supply Co., still listed in the phone book under the name Yowzah’s.

Michael Leddy said...

DN3, I deleted your reply by mistake. I meant to delete a reply of my own that had a typo. Sorry.

Daughter Number Three said...

(Repeating that deleted reply, more or less.)

That's quite a resource!

Michael Leddy said...

LOL, yes. Try browsing a shopping street. The one from my kidhood (though two decades later): 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, between 38th and 54th Streets. All shopping was on foot, of course.

Anonymous said...

not too far from jimmie's and johnnie's joint

https://nycma.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/detail/NYCMA~7~7~828318~831780:1014-Flatbush-Avenue?sort=borough%2Cblock%2Clot%2Czip_code&qvq=w4s:/where%2FFlatbush%2BAvenue;sort:borough%2Cblock%2Clot%2Czip_code;lc:NYCMA~7~7&mi=389&trs=1052

Michael Leddy said...

If their signage is a clue, the joint must have been jumpin’.