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)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Beautiful Lighthouse Pix by Gay Zizes

March 7, 2015
Pictures by Lighthouse Guide Extraordinaire Gay Zizes

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mystery Solved: The First Lady of Saltaire Ocean Rescue...

Jan 31, 2014
The investigation has come to a close. The jury is in.

After extensive interviews with Village of Saltaire (VOS) elders, a review of the Suffolk County Civil Servant archives in the sub-basement of the
county administration building, several Freedom of Information requests
(FOIAs) filed with both NOAA and the Coast Guard, and a careful review
by the VOS Historian in conjunction with the Saltaire Lifeguard (SOR) Record Keeper – SOR is proud to announce that the first lady of SOR is:


Leslie resides on East Bay Prom in Saltaire and also lives in San Francisco during some other part of the year. She will next return to her beloved Fire Island in August.

Although Leslie was the first woman to take and successfully pass the famed “Dooley” test, the path in the sand to the top of the Broadway Lifeguard stand was first walked by Karen Maier. Karen, sister to SOR alumni John “Herc” Maier, worked and trained for a summer in the late 70’s on the ocean to let the boys of Broadway know that the women were on their way and they better tighten up their game. In 1982 Leslie came to Broadway under the leadership of Chuck Jones. Leslie successfully passed the Suffolk County Civil Servant Ocean Lifeguard Exam in 1983. She then worked on the ocean in Saltaire in ’83, ’84, ’85 and 1986. During her years with the crew she worked with John Hill, David Kaufman, Pat McKibbin, George Fontanals, Steve Latham, Chuck Jones, Jon Maier, Dan Mindich, Ken Savelson, Tom Sconzo and Michael McGowan.  In 1987 Leslie returned to the Saltaire bay front to run the camp program for 2 summers before retiring her whistle in 1988.

Once Karen knocked on the door of SOR, and after Leslie stormed through it, the steady flow of the Legendary Ladies of SOR Lore would not and has not ceased. Quick on the heels of Leslie came Kathy (Koeniges) DeSimone who worked from 85- 88. Kathy never drifted far from Broadway and she has been spotted several times at the starting line (as a swimmer) for the Maggie Fischer Cross Bay Swim (3 times to be exact). In 1988 Erica Hastings, sister to SOR chief John Hill, conquered the “Dooley” test and took her place atop the tower at Broadway, and since then, 37 years since Karen gave the first warning whistle, unlike the beaches that surround Saltaire, ladies of SOR have (wo)manned the chair at Broadway and East Beach.

The Women of SOR Lore:
(*Also completed the Maggie Fischer Cross Bay Swim)

Leslie Preston
Kathy Koeniges *
Erica Hastings
Jeanine Poucel
Heather Jones *
Jennifer Jameson
Elizabeth Kelly
Nicole Young*
Courtney Jones
Katie Cunningham*
Annie Cunningham*
Catherine Jameson
Meredith English*
Julia English*
Stephanie Palmeri*
Meghan Larocca
Rachel Szakmary
Suzanne Mills
Tanya Pfaffe
Michelle Posillico*
Jacquie Cohen*
Catherine Darcy*

During the lengthy investigation to unearth the historical facts behind the
Legendary Ladies of SOR several interviews were conducted. On 3 separate occasions Chief Lifeguard Rich Wilde gave us a recap of the significance of the ladies of SOR and their impact on lifeguarding, Fire Island, Saltaire, water vigilance and aquatic endeavors.

 38: Thank you for sitting down with us. Can you give us a little idea of how
 you ended up in this position and your history with SOR.

RW: I started with SOR in ’89 and was hired by Chuck.  Joe Campisi (’88– 94) was already working with SOR and he brought me out. I have been with the crew ever since.

38: That’s been a few years. Do you and Joe still sit together?

RW: Joe hasn’t worked in a while.

38: Do you know where he is?

RW: I saw a shot of him charging Mavericks – on a boogie Board – in a
Surfers Journal.

38: Why the green chair when all the other beaches have white.

RW: (light chuckle) That’s a good story. An unnamed SOR lady was new to the island. After passing the test she thought she would join the crew in Ocean Beach to celebrate and then walk home. Not knowing the island too well she was told to go to the ocean and keep her “left foot wet” and make a right when you hit Broadway. The next day, after spending the night in the Robert Moses parking lot she told us that all that all the lifeguard chairs looked the same and she didn’t know when to turn right. That’s the last time that happened.

38: Red Suits. Most other beaches are blue?

RW: The Ladies of SOR have a strong opinion about color.

38: I guess you couldn’t win that fight. Any high points that really stand out for you?

RW: Most of the beaches around us don’t have a cadre of full time women. Any day the women are on the stand is a high point. Beyond that, well it is great to see the legacies continue.  Erica came on John Hill's heels, then there are the Joneses, The Cunninghams, The Englishes . Every women on the list has a great story.

Nicole Came in 2nd place in The Cross Bay the year the Fischers took it
over. Suzanne Mills left OB to come work with Saltaire. Tanya Pfaffe, Senior Man Tyson's sister – worked for the State for over 20 years before she came to work for us. (She says she was getting in shape to work with us).  Stephaine Palmeri (my nemesis) let's put it this way - I am tired of looking at her feet during the Cross Bay. Rachel Szakmary worked with both her brothers. My wife, Elizabeth, passed her test at age 30 and was never a competitive swimmer. Meghann Larocca was born on Pomander Walk and now runs the bay. Michelle Posillico came back to work the stand after a near fatal boat accident. The list goes on and on. There is no doubt that Maggie would be on this list too. She trained on the ocean and was going to take test.

38: Who is coming next?

 RW: The Darcy family started 2 years ago. Catherine works on the ocean now, her brother Andrew is following close behind, and a few other siblings behind that. I knew her dad when he worked in Ocean Beach as a lifeguard. The Darcys are related to the Ludlows through the way that everyone of us is somehow related in Saltaire.

38: The legacies continue I guess?

RW: They sure so. I still have nightmares about being beaten by Catherine’s aunt (Liz Darcy) in the ’95 Cross Bay. I almost lost my seat on the Broadway stand because of that.

38: Do tell?

 RW: I was in front of Liz the whole race and we were closing in on the
 finish line. She was up sweep from me and rode the incoming tide to the
 finish line and touched me out.

38: Ouch.

RW: Yep. I blamed it on kayaker/ navigator error. If the SOR alumni and
senior crew knew that I didn’t play the sweep right and blemished the crew's name… wouldn’t have been good. Of all things – The SWEEP. We live and die by the sweep.  I will never get that one back. It hurts every day.

38: Give us one name? Legendary woman of SOR.

RW: That’s a tough one. There is no easier answer. Heather was the first
woman to do 10 years on the stand. That is pretty special. If she played
professional sports she would be in the Hall of Fame. The road was paved by Karen, Leslie, Kathy and Erica. I can’t do it – they are all legendary in the world of SOR.

38: Alright – how about the guys?

RW: Mike Asher, 62 years old this year and still on the stand. He has been
working the beach since he was 16.   Tyson Pfaffe, 20 years on the stand
this summer.  Pepperoni, the first senior guard to do 10 years. We have had some epic senior men – Matt Siben , The Patterson brothers, Adam “The Bull”. The list is long. Those are just the senior guys while I've been here. Upon reflection though they are all following in some big prints in the sand – The Cunninghams, Standards, Savelsons, Sconzos, McGowans, Kampas, Ludlow/Vaultiers, Herc, Pat....  You aren’t making this easy.  We need a thorough accounting of the SOR history to include all the great folks. Coming up in these recent years we  have the Valentes and a whole new exciting generation of SOR guards.

38: Let’s finish up then.  Who broke you in? Best moment with the crew? First memory of SOR? Fondest memory on FI?

RW: Pat McKibbin broke me. Unbelievable waterman.

38: Best moment with the crew?
RW: Any rescue with the crew is a great moment.  When we went to a lifeguard tournament and beat the Smiths Point National Championship Yoke team; Seeing SOR Red across the starting line at the Cross Bay swim; Every day I get to walk onto the beach and jump in the water.

38: First memory?
RW: That's easy - walking on to the back deck at the Hill house with Erica when I was 16 and meeting the “older” guards of SOR for the first time.

38:  Fondest memory?
RW: Meeting Elizabeth. No doubt.

38: Lets end on that.

RW: I’ll blow the whistle and call it a day.

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.