Flickinger Glassworks Newsletter
Our brief monthly newsletter about Red Hook, Brooklyn...
and other people, places & things we think you should know about.
Welcome to the December edition.

As this unprecedented year comes to a close, we wish you and yours a healthy and happy holiday season and a joyous new year.

Below we share stories about Charles Flickinger's history with Lady Liberty, how one Red Hook business made the best of a difficult year and we highlight some local tree-huggers looking for volunteers.
Our Lady Luck
Flickinger Glassworks sits about as close to the Statue of Liberty as one can get. You can literally stroll to the end of the shop’s pier and wave to her standing on her island perch in New York Harbor. Charles Flickinger additionally knows her inside out — from his first glass bending job when he helped restore the flame in her raised torch. 

It was three months before her hundredth birthday on July 4, 1986. The flame’s glass parts were broken and missing. Charles’s employer at the time, Rambusch Decorating, had been contracted to repair it. So every day, Bruce Gutilius, Michael Davis and Charles (see above in order) boarded a work boat to her island. They removed the broken glass and constructed molds of the missing parts. They bent new glass, reinstalling everything in time for her birthday extravaganza.

Millions of spectators ringed the harbor that day. Fighter planes shot overhead. 25,000 new citizens were sworn in around the country. Before the fireworks commenced, President Ronald Reagan pushed the button that relit her torch, saying, “We are the keepers of the flame of liberty. We hold it high for the world to see.”

That initial bent glass assignment reinforced Charles’s desire to start his own business specializing in slumped glass. One year later he opened Flickinger Glassworks.
Saving the Trees
It’s tough being a tree in New York City. Trucks back into you. Dogs pee on you. And those cobblestones that line the city’s tree pits eventually become another nuisance. They get tangled in tree roots. They crowd the small space and block rainwater. For those of you who live in Red Hook, however, you might have noticed a group of workers recently pulling some of those cobblestones out.

They are volunteer members of the Red Hook Conservancy (formerly Friends of the Red Hook Recreation Center), an organization founded 10 years ago by Marlene Pantin to serve as stewards of Red Hook’s park spaces. The stewards prune Red Hook’s trees. They plant bulbs in Coffey Park and weed its gardens. They remove the trash that washes up on Valentino Park’s beach.

More volunteers are needed. In a one-day training session you can become licensed to prune your neighborhood trees. Further trainings will qualify you to become a Certified Tree Steward. Check it out!

Rising from the Ashes
St. John Frisell, owner, gives a tour of Fort Defiance General Store
The pandemic has taken down many businesses in New York City. But not Fort Defiance. That beloved Red Hook bar and restaurant pivoted instead.

Over ten years ago, Fort Defiance established itself on Van Brunt Street as a go-to destination for creative libations and a mouthwatering burger. But starting in March, when restaurants were forced to close their doors and everyone in the city was sticking close to home, owner St. John Frisell recognized an opportunity — offering his Red Hook neighbors a way to purchase the same organic and well-sourced produce, fish and meat he’d procured from vendors.

Thus Fort Defiance General Store was born. You can read a Bloomberg.com article penned by Frisell titled My Bar Failed Because of Covid. Here’s Why I’m Happy About It, where he best explains his business evolution. Suffice to say the General Store has become the foremost neighborhood stop for gourmet everything — from pantry items to home goods. Everything it sells is somehow special. The baked goods and Apotheke’s charcoal soaps and candles are made in Red Hook. If you like tinned seafood, it carries 20 exotic varieties. Just for the holiday, Frisell concocted, corked and wax-sealed bottles of Dickens Punch from a recipe penned by the 19th century novelist of The Christmas Story. 

The store, in fact, has already outgrown its square footage. Frisell’s next move is down the block to the corner shopfront recently vacated by The Copper Pot. Much roomier, Frisell intends to reopen his restaurant in the back room as soon as Covid finds the exit door.
Holiday Postscript
The holidays mean different things to different people…and animals. In Red Hook, where stray cats colonize abandoned lots, Christmas always means a cozy, if temporary, hay bed in the manger nativity scene erected each year on Van Brunt Street.
If you'd like to learn more about Flickinger Glassworks, visit our website at flickingerglassworks.com.