Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Will Bennett


The Village of Saltaire is deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Will Bennett, longtime resident of 110 Atlantic Walk. Will passed away suddenly on October 29, 2014, at the age of 48.

While Will pursued a successful career in building and construction, it was Saltaire that was first and last in his heart. A resident of the community since childhood, Will loved all that the village traditionally had to offer…in Will’s case, above all, fishing. Will was a fixture at fishing tournaments and often brought home the prize, and when not competing could reliably be found at the beach or on the dock, at optimum hours and in any season, relaxing at his favorite pursuit.

Will was also a superb chef, a skill he generously shared with all. Even a causal visitor to his house would usually be shown the evening’s menu and, if the timing was right, be given a sample to take home. (Will’s “samples” were usually a meal unto themselves.) He would often drop by the Village Office, the firehouse, and friends’ homes with something he had just made, for no reason other than thoughtfulness and the happiness he got by doing something nice for others. That we all eagerly accepted such culinary gifts was a sign of how much we looked forward to enjoying some of Will’s cooking! Nowhere did Will’s abilities manifest themselves with greater style and anticipation than in his annual Oktoberfest dinner. Initially a repast for the Fire Company, the guest list mysteriously expanded year after year as word of Will’s sensational meals spread. The fire department never realized it had so many friends as when they turned up for Will Bennett’s cooking. Those dinners are legend.

Will’s truly selfless generosity was best reflected in his 30-plus years as a member of the Saltaire Volunteer Fire Company. Will was one of the finest firefighters the department ever boasted and his training and abilities were amply attested to by his being selected to serve as both a Captain and an Assistant Chief. His technical and mechanical know-how was immensely useful to the company and he shared his knowledge with others to help them attain his level of skill, though few ever quite matched Will’s abilities. He led by example and personality and excelled at every task in a difficult profession.

But above all, Will was cherished and genuinely loved by virtually everyone who knew him. He was infinitely patient and kind, an understanding guy who loved hanging out with his innumerable friends. Will had a great sense of humor, and a way of laughing that by itself made you want to laugh too. He could be sardonic but was never malicious. As an intensely private person Will never pried into others’ lives, yet he always stood ready to offer a helping hand to anyone, for any reason, at any time.

This was the essence of Will Bennett, and of the life he led. Will has been called a kind and gentle soul; and so he was. Perhaps, as we who loved him look back upon his life, his was too sweet a soul for this Earth. Will never allowed his own troubles to intrude into others’ lives, he never asked of his friends as much as he gave them. He was one of the finest people those of us privileged to have known him ever met. We will never cease to miss him.

Will was predeceased by his parents, Claire and Stephen, and by his brother James, and is survived by his brother Andrew and his family. And also by the hundreds of his friends and co-workers for whom Will Bennett was and always shall be a much loved and deeply mourned member of our own families. Our grief knows no words.

Good night, sweet prince,

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest….

                                         Hugh O'Brien

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cholera and Long Island Baymen, 1892

October 1, 1892 Illustrated American
Read The Illustrated American's  October 1, 1892  account of the Cholera scare that led to a confrontation near what is now Kismet. When the the ship Normania arrived from Europe on September 3, 1892 it was denied entry to New York because of a Cholera epidemic on board. A plan was hatched to transfer the passengers to the Cephus (shown here) from which they would be transported to the Surf Hotel on Fire Island, near what is now Kismet. A mob of baymen and "clam diggers" prevented the Cephus from unloading its passengers at the Surf Hotel dock. Partial Text of the reports of the affair as reported in Harpers Weekly  and Illustrated American is below. We have more stuff we prefer no to publish now but is of depressing historical import.

Click on images to enlarge

Friday, October 24, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

After the Storm, 1938

Above: Yacht Club, Store and Casino in its original location
Above Village Hall and other Village buildings

Pictures by Trustee Joe Lynch
Pictures courtesy Larry Lynch

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

     --Dylan Thomas
Bayfront, 1960

"If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby. "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock."

Friday, October 10, 2014


MAURA STARKEY BALABAN recalls how Saltairians made possible an author's GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL while Saltaire kids like MARGARET ELKIND now admit they may have given sometime-Saltairian HARPER LEE a lifetime case of writer's block:

MAURA: Here’s some Saltaire trivia I thought readers of Saltaire 38 might be interested in…
In today’s Writer’s Almanac there’s a blurb about Harper Lee, the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird. ” The Broadway composer/ Saltairian who supported Harper Lee while she wrote her book was Michael Brown and his wife Joy of Atlantic Walk.

MARGARET ELKIND (also of Atlantic Walk) confrsses:
There's a good book called “Mockingbird”, by Charles Shields, and it really goes into detail about how Lee wrote the book. She was working for an airline and trying to write and had little time to do so. Her good friends, Joy and Michael Brown (!), had her over for Christmas (where their darling children played around the tree --- think Michael Jr. and Kelly --- Addy wasn't born yet), and their gift to her was $. They told her to quit her job at the airline and write her book, and she did.

I would like to take partial credit for Harper Lee never writing a second book... (sad though I am that she never did). In "Mockingbird," Shields said that Lee went out to the Browns' house in Saltaire to work on her second book but was terribly distracted by the noise and commotion of kids running in and out. Sam (Elkind) and I were some of those kids. We were renting the house next to the Sconzo' house (owned by the Shweigerts??), and Sam and I liked to noisily tear into the Browns' house to see baby Addy.

Ed. Note: JOH writes: We all remember Harper Lee very well because she was always out on the dock fishing for snappers. I thought she liked fishing. Guess she just had to get out of the house to get away from you screaming kids. I was a day camp counselor dealing with Saltaire brats that summer, so I can assure you that nobody would have blamed Ol' Harper Lee if she had just jumped off the dock into to bay and swam back to Alabama to get away from you kids. 

Reprinted From   April 28, 2011 5:12 PM

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quote from another Time, another place:

Here is a quote  that I read a long long time ago that has always stuck  in my mind:

Yesterday in New York was one of the worst days for anybody who likes what makes up a city. At 2 PM., a man in the Building Department issued a permit to the Wrecking Corp of America. Within an hour, workers were all over the 84 year old Metropolitan Opera House.They were punching  holes into the roof and walls of the building. The orders are that the old Met has to come down quickly. People have been trying to find ways to save the building, and if you wreck the building the fight is over. And the firm which is leasing the land cannot wait to inflict on the City a 40 story atrocity of a new glass office building.
   Jimmy Breslin, January 1967


Justin Zizes Jr.

Friday, September 5, 2014

B. Mintz, 1922:   SS George Washington Passing Fire Island Lightship
Click to enlarge image 
copyright: Jim O'Hare 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Somewhere, Uncle Pete is Smiling

You know, it has been fifty years since Uncle Pete gave his last swimming lessons in Saltaire.
Fifty  to sixty-one years ago he was coaching, inspiring, scaring and teaching    little kids in a bay front full of seaweed,  stinging jelly fish, big waves and   a BIG STICK. Maybe the same way he used to coach, inspire, scare and condition  American  aviators  to climb  into airplanes to be shot at to win the Good War. 

Anyone from those Uncle Pete  swimming lessons fifty or sixty years ago remembers them like yesterday.   Yesterday.

So I am sure Uncle Pete would be proud today.   If one thing he ever wanted us to know in those  lessons it was :




see the results here:


At the Labor Day awards, 1962, (1963?)Danny was awarded the CUP  as the best of the senior boys. 

I remember Kuracheck  saying when Danny came up to receive his award   "We've all watched  him grow up," as he handed the cup to Danny.  I am sure Uncle Pete  could have imagined Danny swimming across the Bay 50 years thereafter.

Congratulations Danny,

Diane McManus, now that is another story.
Congratulations, Diane 
Diane McManus,    In her own Write:

"Thanks much! I both adored and feared Uncle Pete!

I think he'd be very surprised in my case, b/c I was one of those kids whom he had to practically drag into deep water. If you'd told me back then that I'd be swimming across the bay, I'd have wondered what you were smoking."

Note: Danny was the kid that was always picked first when you were choosing up sides for games.

Diane.....well...... not so much.
In fact,  I can think of nothing in common between Danny and Diane except that:

                1. They both swam all the way across the bay while well into their sixties  and 
                2. More than fifty years ago Uncle Pete helped teach them to swim. 
Kuracheck could coach 'em all.

And Vautier too.
Congratulations, Tom 
Tom Vautier 2009

Somewhere, Coach Kuracheck is smiling.
Congratulations, Pete. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014


This is what we looked like in the Fifties, with an occasional shot from the Forties and Sixties. These pictures are from the camera of Bill Weinlandt.  

At the end of this photo array, there is a  "comments" section.  Please post your comments. 

Rich Greer and Billie Greer, 1951
Note the Pavilion at the top of Broadway at the Ocean. 

For a great series of Kodachrome Labor Day photos by Rich Greer, click here:
Rita Connelly, Kay Imray; Bronson Goddard to right
Kitty Goggins and the Glascocks
Note the dune line in the background. This was a dune replenishment year

1958  Chris Kartalis, Chief Lifeguard
by the way: so many outdoor shots of Saltaire vistas somehow have the water tower somewhere in the background. 

Murderers Row, 1957:
From left: Ed Weinlandt, Jack Thorp, Mike Fitzgerald, Tony Shoecraft, Bill Weinlandt, "Stick" O'Brien, Bob Marks; Larry Lynch.
Pic by W.J. Weinlandt




Captain Baldwin 1948
Hermit. Fisherman. lived in a shack in the marshes of Clam Cove. 

Captain Baldwin, 1948
for the lowdown on who Captain Baldwin was, click on the link below to one of our most popular stories:


Charley Ritch, Village Superintendent
from the 1930's through late 1950's

Frank and Kitty Goggins,  1948
Mrs. Goggins, too was one of the earliest Saltairians. Second Village Historian.

Larry Lynch

The Marks

Ladies' Softball Labor Day 1957
Left: Rita Connelly  Mary Wright at bat.

Labor Day, because one of the girls is holding a trophy. Best kid in group got "The Cup."
The Labor Day ceremony was kind of like the Academy Awards.

Ladies' Softball Labor Day 1957
Edna Wilson, Mary Wright

Cyril Schmidt, October 1954
Father Francis X. Fitzgibbon of Our Lady Star of the Sea 1954

Howard Sutherland October 1954

Lou Schmidt, Catsy Schmidt October 1954

Chuck Foster, Pie-Eating Champion. He won by diving into  the Entenmann's blueberry pie while all the other kids were trying to eat theirs.   Hands behind  backs, of course. 

Future Mayor and Fire Island Association President Norma and Tom Ervin 1951. Both had worked at the Nuremburg trials.

Charley Ludlow and his brother Jack, 1951  in the ball field. This Photo looks east.  No playground yet. 

Mike Coffey 1951

The Pipers 1951
Mrs. Piper was a fashion model in the 1950's.
Background: Looking West, Bay Prom was still boardwalk,  CC Sailboat on right. 

Paul Schmidt, former Mayor,  1951

Ruth Dobie and Mr. and Mrs Lynch, 1951
Among the earliest Saltairians. 
Mrs. Dobie eloped and got married on the beach, 1917.  A  summer resident until 1959, she was the First Village historian. 

Mrs. Lynch was working for a public health service organizations in 1918 (?) when a troop ship ran aground and she came out as part of the rescue corps. Village houses were used as emergency shelters.  She fell in love with the village; bought land and a house and stayed a summer resident. 

1951: future Mayor John Ludlow and Dan Langley

Ed Weinlandt, Eleanor Mark; Fred Mark; Helen Weinlandt; Bob Mark

Gil and Pat Bell, 1951 
There are kids jumping off the Fire Islander in the background.
Those days labor day swimming races were held in the boat basin. Eleanor Mark on right.
Dwight Isaccson, Chief Ocean Lifeguard   1964

Bob Marshalk and Gil Bell, 1951

All smiles. Pete Kuracheck at the  guarded  front door. Kids wait on line to go in for gamma globulin shots in polio epidemic, August, 1954. Notably, kids who got shots inside exited the back door so that the kids waiting to go in through the front door  would not see their tears. 

Oliver Hull, Georgiana Hull 1960

Peter W. Kuracheck, 1955
Athletic Director, swimming instructor, 1954-1964.
Wore this white zinc oxide on his nose, 1954-1964. 
  Played football at University of Kentucky, Class of 1937;  M.A.  in  Phys Ed, University of Kentucky. When the War came, Captain Kuracheck drilled  WWII fliers to be physically fit to handle combat flight.  Some say he was every bit as tough (but loving)  in teaching eight year-olds  to swim in Saltaire in the 1950's and early 1960's. Sixty years later, people remember his swimming lessons like yesterday. He would hover over fledgling swimmers with a ten foot long bamboo pole. Kuracheck was one of the most successful football coaches in New York scholastic history at Pleasantville High School.  

Yacht Club Steward and Stewardess Jim and Terry O'Connor, 1960

Beach Party. Lotta kids. Lotta families had lotta kids. July 1954

The Ahernes,  1954. Merry, Harriet, Marie and Bob. 
Note the artificially built up dunes 

Skinner Birthday Party 1950
Captain Al Skinner lived in a small apartment in what would now be the east end of the Fire House, with a porch facing the ball field.  "the Shim Shack" they called his apartment. By the terms of the contract between the Village and Fire Island Ferries, the ferry had to be berthed in Saltaire at night and Skinner had to live in Saltaire. In case of the need for any emergency evacuations. 
Note on the bulletin board in background.
Carved initials "JO'H"  and "DW"  by Jim O'Hare and Danny Weinlandt. 

Skinner, 1954

Skinner Birthday Party 1960
Skinner was an accomplished pianist, singer, accordion player, raconteur and life-long bayman.