Many family and friends gathered at a Community Board 1 meeting on Tuesday to remember the Charno family, who owned many businesses along Manhattan avenue over two generations, and honor their contribution to Greenpoint history by renaming the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and Greenpoint Avenues to “Charno Way”.
That was the intersection where Harrico Pharmacy was owned and operated by the Charno brothers since 1965. With Ed Charno as the pharmacist, and Larry as the front of the house manager, the brothers worked together in the tradition taught to them by their father, Joseph, who emigrated to America from Poland in 1917, and started several small businesses along Manhattan Avenue, including Joe’s Department Store.
As a testament to the lingering affect the Charno brothers businesses left on Greenpoint, several former employees came to speak on the behalf of both Ed and Larry. In a letter to the Community Board, long time Harrico Phamarcy employee Rachel Parker remembered her bosses Ed and Larry Charno, who gave her her first job.
“I first entered Harrico Pharmacy as an adolescent with a fondness for lipstick which I could not afford,” she said. “Ed knew exactly what I was up to, but rather than confronting me, he offered me a job. That was Ed Charno.” Likewise, Halina Jankowski wrote, “During [my 24 years at Harrico] I learned many things from them, that business and community are not independent of each other…We were encouraged to better ourselves and help our neighborhood.”
These memories, along with biographies and pictures documenting the good deeds brought to Greenpoint thanks to the Charno family, were presented by surviving granddaughter Randi Charno Levine, who proposed the renaming of the intersection in honor of her family.
“Until recently,” she wrote, “the prominent Harrico sign still stood over the beloved pharmacy at Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenues…but a few short weeks ago…was replaced by a sign for Duane Reade. For me, driving past this corner leaves a giant hole in my heart, and I know the hearts of many community members who remember the Charnos with smiles and love.”
The proposal was approved unanimously.