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How Sweet It Is - At Jackie Gleason Depot

July 1, 1988 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jackie Gleason immortalized bus drivers with his fictitious Ralph Kramden, that lovable Brooklyn loudmouth who schemed with Ed Norton and sparred with Alice.

Now the late comedian has been honored with the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot.

The Great One’s widow, Marilyn, was on hand Thursday at the dedication of the depot in Brooklyn, the borough of his birth and the setting for ″The Honeymooners,″ the show on which he created the Kramden character.

Also participating were June Taylor, leader of the June Taylor Dancers, and Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie on the 1950s television show that lives on in syndication.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Robert Kiley saluted Gleason as ″a great son of Brooklyn.″

″His bus driver creation, Ralph Kramden, may have been a blowhard, but always, deep down, he was a hard worker and a decent human being. He was, as he always said of (his wife) Alice, the greatest.″

About 1,200 people witnessed the dedication at the 919,000-square-foot building that employs 850 people.

Merry and John Kelly came up from Philadelphia. They are leaders of the Philadelphia chapter of the Friendly Order of Raccoons - a group patterned after the fictitious lodge to which Kramden and friend Norton belonged.

The Kellys wore raccoon hats and fancy jackets and saluted each other.

″The Honeymooners″ theme song played during the dedication ceremony, at which officials unveiled the logo for the depot - a moon rising over the New York skyline, evocative of the scene displayed during the show’s credits.

The ties between the Transit Authority and Gleason were long-standing. His mother was a subway change-booth clerk in the 1930s. And during ″The Honeymooners″ initial run, Gleason was made an honorary member of the Transport Workers Union.

The day after Gleason’s death on June 24, 1987, at age 71, many New York bus drivers drove with their lights on as a memorial.