From the Battle of Brooklyn to the building of battleships at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklynites are no strangers to the demands of war. And as any soldier deployed abroad can surely attest, one of the most familiar feelings brought on by military service is one of homesickness. Looking for some sign of home while stationed in Japan in 1951, one Brooklyn-bred soldier, Private Justin Grishman, took it upon himself to write a letter to the Eagle requesting just that -- a sign -- a street sign to be exact.
Says Pvt. Justin Grishman, 45 Martense St., who is now in Korea, 'I would like a street sign from Flatbush and Church Aves., if possible." He is a radio operator at Hopkaiow, Japan.
Just one week later the Eagle reported that Borough President Cashmore was ready to grant Pvt. Grishman's request, thereby extending Flatbush Avenue as far East as possible.
Through the efforts of Borough President Cashmore and his highly efficient secretary Joe Schmalacker Brooklyn is gradually being extended to Japan. Pvt. Justin C. Grishman wrote this column, asking for a street sign from Flatbush and Church Aves. Triple play, Cece-to-Joe-to-John, and the sign went on its way.
One month later, the sign having arrived, Pvt. Grishman wrote in to thank all who had helped.
"I want to extend my thanks to those persons and to the Eagle for you have made us all very happy" said Justin. He is at Camp Crawford, Hokkaido, Japan.
The final word in our archives regarding Pvt. Justin Grishman (or Grisham, as his name now appears in the caption) didn't appear in the Eagle for over a year, in January of 1952 -- but the wait was worth it -- accompanying an update of the soldier's request was a photograph of the smiling Private seated on a gas can at the intersection of Church and Flatbush Avenues.
Brooklyn in Korea -- Pfc. Justin Grisham of 45 Martense St. poses with his reminder of Brooklyn in the frozen hills of Korea. He got the street sign by writing the Brooklyn Eagle, which turned over his request to Borough President Cashmore's office.
And here is a scan of the original photo where you can better see the snow on those frozen hills so far from Brooklyn's familiar streets.
If you would like to learn more about the experiences of United States veterans visit the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project website where the personal accounts of American war veterans are preserved for posterity and made accesible to future generations. Though not uploaded yet, check the database in the future for stories from Brooklyn veterans recorded by librarians at the Brooklyn Public Library.