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, September 17, 2017

A Brief History of Saltaire Sailing

Essay by McManus Mate Richard McManus

Saltaire Sailing 1948
Cape Cod Baby Knockabouts (CC’s) being readied to race in 1948.

A CC at speed, same era.

Edna Lange, Margery McManus and Dot Schmidt, 1948
The Schmidt boat would later become the club boat (I THINK).

CC’s Racing, 1948 off Saltaire dock.

All photographs Dr. Richard G. McManus
Copyright Richard G. McManus 2008

The CC's (Cape Cod Baby Knockabouts) were built in the 20's and 30's.
They were handsome and very well designed for use on the Great South Bay
as they drew about eight inches of water with the centerboard up, were
fast upwind and down, and were pretty entertaining to sail. They were 18
feet in length and usually needed a crew of three to race but could sail
with six. Cape Cod Shipbuilding had built them extremely well with cedar
planks and sturdy structural members. They had a lead ballast beneath
the floorboards to help them stay upright.

By the late 50's they were dwindling. Someone would decide that by golly
they could do the care of the boat themselves right on the beach in
Saltaire instead of sending the boat to Southard's boatyard in Bay Shore.

Within a year the boat would be a planter, rotting out and hopeless. The
fleet kept getting smaller. By the 1961 there were only five left--the
club had one, the Paul Connelly's had 'Con-Tiki' the fastest and best cared
for of the CC's, the Lapps, Oliver Hull and Hugh O’Brien had one.
Con-Tiki sailed away from all the others in any races that were held in
that era, and the cost of keeping a CC up had become a real problem. The
sailors wanted a different class boat, but finding the right one did not
go smoothly.

There are a series of good stories about this. The Tom Connelly's

purchasing a Cape Cod Rhodes 18, a very nice and fast boat, but the
price was prohibitive and the one they purchased remained the only one
for some years. The Rhodes also had the disadvantage of a deep rudder
and centerboard, so one had to approach the various flats cautiously.

Then the Ervins and another family bought a Puffin. This was a cute
little boat, about 14 feet long and kind of chubby, like a catboat. They
were fiberglass and relatively light. A sales rep came down to
demonstrate the little boat one day in 1959 or so. Unfortunately while
the boat was being put through its paces it capsized in front of a dock
full of prospective customers and interested spectators. ** (see note below) That was a problem. Worse was that the little Puffin was too slow to fight the
powerful tides on the GS Bay. Sailing it into a tideway was a
pilgrimage, with the boat going backward over the bottom no matter how
lovely she might look on the water. In fact I came close to throwing
Johnny O'Shea right off the boat when, on a sailing picnic, he insisted
on sailing the damn thing straight into the channel for about 400
successive tacks near Captree Island as we attempted to sail to the
inlet. Each time we came up to the dock at the same fisherman, who
looked at us with a great deal of curiosity.

My dad had been a resident at Mass General Hospital and consequently had
seen the Boston Community Boating Mercury fleet, which had already
established itself as a very hardy bunch of sailboats. He bought Mercury
#653 in 1961 (I THINK) and Ann Buchler, later Riley skippered the little
boat against the CC fleet. While the Mercury was NOT perfect for the
Bay, it was a great improvement, and the second year four other boats
were purchased. The Ervins, Standards, Frank McManus and the Gibson's all
purchased Mercurys. The following year Jonathan Leigh and the O'Sheas
purchased them as well and the era of the Mercury began. These boats
will probably outlast Fire Island, as they all look about the same more
than 40 years later. Not fast, not sporty, and not smelling good like
the old cedar CC's, it was the Mercury's that got many of us racing.
They were evenly matched and didn't overly favor the better cared for
boat. You could have your teenager paint them with bottom paint and do a
bit of varnishing on the rudder and you were in business for the season.
They were an excellent teaching boat and even if you planed one into a
buoy (I did that) the resulting damage was minuscule.

Better boats came later but the Mercury's ruled the 60's and early 70's.


Richard McManus

***post note by JOH:
Among the great mysteries of Maritime History are:
Did the Savannah go down off Fair Harbor?

Could the S.S. Californian have saved the victims of the Titanic??

Did the Bismark go down under enemy fire or was she scuttled by her own skipper?
But perhaps the greatest mystery is :
What caused the “uncapsizable” Puffin to capsize in front of hundreds of prospective buyers on Labor day in 1959?
What was the weather?
What were the sailing conditions?
Who were the crew?
The controversy lives on. Check us text week, same time, same blog for the controversial epic: The capsizing of the Uncapsizable Puffin:
Eyewitness accounts of that terrible day.
Serious speculation.
The greatest intrigue until the grassy knoll.
And you can read about it here


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"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."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A great group shot from 1952

click image to enlarge
An anonymous source lent us this image. We understand it to be a picture of Jean Lang Veronese's class in the summer of 1952.
Standing: first three had names cut off on back, 4th is Bobby Poteat, Danny Langley, Sheila Gleason, Nancy Olds, Billy Ervin, Marilyn (Clay), Johnny (Greer)...she obviously meant Glasscock for (Greer) and I'm not sure of the (Clay) notation since both Clay and Greer are in parentheses

Sitting from left to right:
Mary Lee (Clay), Susie Fitzgerald, Mimi Buchler, Jeanne Connely, Sheila O'Shea, Sheila O'M (missing rest of letters), Barbara Fidelow (I can't read the letters), Angela Keogh


There is No Such Thing as a Bad Day Fishing
by Duncan Dobie

I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic wondering how I had allowed myself to get in such a frustrating situation. Like all of the other miserable souls around me, I was growing more impatient with every passing moment. That’s when the bumper sticker caught my eye. It stood out like a sore thumb, and no flashing neon sign could have grabbed my attention more thoroughly at that particular moment in my life. It was a common quote that I’d seen on bumper stickers and read often in other printed material, but that day the sheer power of that short sentence was like a drink of cool water to a man in the desert.
The bumper sticker read, "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” A sketch of a man holding a rod that was doubled over as he netted a fish was next to the printed words.
I smiled. Suddenly all of my frustrations caused by the traffic seemed to disappear. Memories of my boyhood summers spent with my grandparents at Saltaire, Fire Island, New York, began to come alive. In all my years of wetting lines in various rivers, lakes and oceans across North America, I’d been skunked, stuck in the mud, sea sick, rained on, frozen like an ice cube, sunburned, eaten alive by insects, parched and humiliated time and again. I had lost dozens of my favorite lures, but never could I remember ever having had a bad day fishing.
Once, when I was 12 years old, I lost an entire salt water casting rig on the
pier at Saltaire. Using a heavy lead sinker and trying to make a long cast while bottom-fishing for flounders, I accidentally tossed my favorite saltwater rod and reel into a murky saltwater bay. I cried, mostly out of embarrassment, and my grandfather did what any good grandfather would do. He went out and got me a new rod and reel. As traumatic as that incident was, I don’t recall ever having viewed it as a bad day.
Another unforgettable event occurred in late August one summer. Once again, I was fishing off the Saltaire pier. Every year in late summer the snappers, or baby bluefish, would run in large schools in the Great South Bay, the inland bay that separated Fire Island from the mainland. At times, you could literally catch a fish on every cast. My grandfather had warned me several times about the perils of being a “fish hog.”
“Never take more than you can use,” he had warned me over and over again. Of course, I usually fished for flounders, and I seldom caught more than one fish on any given day. If I did get lucky and catch two flounders in the same day, that was like shooting a limit of grouse. It was a tough thing to do.
Fishing for flounders was hard work and there were many days when I never got a bite. Therefore, I never gave the fish-hog principle a second thought. Since I loved to eat flounder more than any other fish in the world, most of the fish I caught and took home literally went from the bucket into the frying pan. In addition to eating what I caught, I was expected to clean my catch as well. My grandfather taught me how to filet flounders as soon as I was old enough, and I promptly filleted any fish I brought home.
The big day of catching snappers started out like any other hot day in August. Using live bait that my grandfather had helped me catch with a seining net, I was fishing with several of my best friends on the pier one sunny afternoon. Suddenly, the water started boiling as if a school of piranha were de-fleshing some poor animal like you might see in a Tarzan movie. All at once, we started reeling-in eight- to 10-inch snappers every time we threw the line out.
Before I knew it, my fish-carrying bucket was half-full. Then it was brimming over with flopping baby blues. I borrowed another bucket and started filling it up. Soon, I had three large buckets filled with snappers. In all, I probably had nearly 70 or 80 fish. There were no limits back in those days, and I suppose I could have caught 500 snappers if I had kept on. But three buckets filled with snappers seemed to be enough, and I knew it would be a chore getting them home. I put one bucket in the basket of my bike and hung the other two over the handlebars.
My grandfather happened to be outside working when I pedaled up with my treasure. Like a conquering hero displaying the spoils of war, I was floating on clouds. I had just about convinced myself that I was the greatest fisherman on all of Fire Island when the look on his face told me that, just maybe, I could be wrong.
“You’ve got a big job ahead of you, cleaning all those fish,” he said. “You’d better get started right away because it’s almost dark.” He didn’t offer to help.
While my grandparents cooked and ate steaks, I cleaned those oily little snappers until my fingers were raw. After dinner, Grandpa came outside and said, “I was going to cook a steak for you tonight, but I figured you’d rather eat bluefish instead. Looks like you’ll be eating snappers for a long time to come. Funny thing, though. I thought you said you didn’t like snappers that much.”
“I don’t,” I answered dryly. Then it hit me like a shark inhaling a minnow. Suddenly the greatest fisherman on Fire Island was nothing more than a lowly “fish hog” who had caught way too many snappers.
My grandfather never said a word about catching more fish than I could ever hope to eat. He didn’t have to. I knew what I had done, and I knew what was expected of me. I ate bluefish for the next two weeks. Feeling sorry for me, my grandmother prepared them every way possible. Finally, I could eat no more. The freezer was still half-full when I sheepishly approached my grandfather and asked him if I could bury what was left in my grandmother’s garden.
“Blues never keep very well,” he said. “They should always be eaten fresh. Go ahead and put them in the garden.”
A long time passed before I could even look at a baby bluefish again, much less eat one. Despite the error of my ways, I never regarded that incident in any way as having been a negative experience or a bad day. Indeed, it taught me a great lesson.
My thoughts returned to the bumper sticker on the car in front of me. “No, there’s no such thing as a bad day of fishing,” I told myself with a smile. In fact, now fully back to the reality of bumper-to-bumper traffic and living in a world where I had been separated from the beloved Fire Island of my youth for many decades, another wonderful thought suddenly popped into my head. “If I could just relive that golden day in the sun for one moment and go back to that magical pier at Saltaire for one fleeting instant, I’d be willing to eat every one of those greasy little snappers right now,” I told myself. “I’d even eat them raw!”

Editor's Note: Duncan Dobie is a grandson of Ruth Brewster Dobie, an original Saltaire resident. Ruth Dobie was Saltaire Historian and Editor of the seminal "History of the Incorporated Village of Saltaire, Fire Island New York," (private printing, 1952) .
Duncan Dobie spent summers in Saltaire with his grandparents until age 13 in 1959.
Duncan Dobie was a free-lance outdoor writer/photographer for over 20 years, writing almost exclusively about white-tailed deer. Four years ago he became editor of "North American Whitetail" magazine, a position he still holds. In addition, he currently writes a monthly whitetail column for "Petersen's Hunting" magazine and "Georgia Sportsman" magazine. Dobie's several books include "Georgia's Greatest Whitetails" (1986), a history of the restoration program and record bucks that Georgia has produced. "White Tales and Other Hunting Stories" (1989) is a collection of fictional stories about deer hunting. "If You've Ever Seen A Rhinoceros Charge... " (1994) is a children's book about endangered animals. "Whitetail Dawn" (2004) is another collection of fictional stories about deer hunting. "Whitetail Dawn" is available through Amazon; the others are out of print but show up on Ebay.
E mail links to Dobie's magazines are: and

Larry Lynch 1959
Photo by and courtesy of Bill J. Weinlandt
click to enlarge

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Cosmo reports to

Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, there were two “Baymen” left working the Great South Bay off of Western Fire Island. They were Capt. Baldwin and Capt. Murdoch. Both made their living from the bounty of the Bay, selling fish, clams and oysters to the summer residents. They would ply the waters with rowboats or small dories. I still remember seeing Capt. Baldwin pull up to the Saltaire dock in the early 1960’s when I was still a young boy.

Capt. Baldwin was paralyzed from the waist down, but he had incredible strength in his upper body. There was stiff competition between Capt. Baldwin and Capt. Murdoch for the limited business between Seaview and Kismet, which led to intense animosity between the two. At some point, an agreement was reached whereby Capt. Murdoch sold to the residents of Dunewood, Fire Island Summer Club, Ocean Beach and Seaview, and Capt. Baldwin would sell to Fair Harbor, Saltaire and Kismet. Their animosity reached the point where there was violence on the Bay. Then, one day, Capt. Murdoch disappeared and was seen no more. The rumor was that Capt. Murdoch had been murdered by Capt. Baldwin, thought he was never charged.

Capt. Baldwin lived on an old clam boat on Clam Pond, which was decrepit and half full of water. In the early days, he lived primarily on oysters, which he would shuck, and discard the empty shells over the sided. In later years, as the oysters died off, he switched to clams. As his boat was far from seaworthy, each year he would pull his clam boat further up on the pile of shells, which grew higher and higher each year.

How he survived living through the winters on an old clam boat, half full of water is beyond me. Apparently, he had a small stove on the boat for heat, and an old lounge chair perched in the portion of his boat that remained above water. I recall the story about one winter when Helen Krowlakowski, worried that Capt. Baldwin was starving to death out in the Cove, went out to see him with a baking pan full of pork chops, thinking that it would last him a week, but which Capt. Baldwin devoured on the spot.

I also recall being told how Capt. Baldwin used to work at the Kismet Inn opening clams. He was quite a cantankerous old salt, who hot along with no one. One night, someone else patronizing the Inn got on his wrong side, and despite being crippled, cleared the twenty or so feet across the bar and almost slit the man’s throat before he was stopped.

Robin Wright told me the stories how Capt. Baldwin would run off any of the local kids that got near his boat with a shotgun. One day, Robin, Bobby Aherne (Squirt) and Mike Fitzgerald determined to get a look at the inside of Capt. Baldwin’s boat. They waited until he left to go fishing. What he saw, and what happened to them is best told by Robin.

I vaguely remember that eventually, Capt. Baldwin got to the point where the authorities came and took him away and put him in a home.

Everything related herein up to this point was oral history, but in the mid 1980’s, Bill Goldsmith (aka Bilbo), who is an archeologist by trade, went out to clam cove with my brother Chris in search of the site of Capt. Baldwin’s old boat. Sure enough, the remains were still there. They dug into the pile of shells, finding clamshells on top, but oyster shells further down. There was little left of the boat, as the wood had all rotten away. The only thing that was left was Capt. Baldwin’s old head, which, being made of porcelain was still intact. They brought his head back, and put it on our back deck at 104 Marine Walk. I remember it being a beautiful summer day, and my parents and other local residents were enjoying the day drinking. That night, one of the worst storms I ever experienced at Saltaire struck. Robin Wright woke me in the middle of the night imploring me to help him with the Full House, which was moored off Neptune Walk at the time. The storm was so severe that the wind blew, dragging his mooring, and blowing the boat up against the bulkhead. I had a motor boat at the time, and we went out in the storm and, between his two engines and my outboard, eventually dragged the Full House back out to deeper waters. The next morning, we found that the wind had picked up all the Hobbie Cats on the bay front, blew them up thirty to forty feet, and dropped them back to earth upside down, breaking most of the masts. Clearly, Capt. Baldwin was very angry at his old haunts being disturbed, and worse, his head taken. Bilbo and my brother returned the head back to where they had found it in Clam Cove. Apparently, Capt. Baldwin was appeased, as Saltaire has never seen a storm like it since.



Chris Hull, Bill Goldsmith and I went to Capt. Baldwin old foundation site,made up of clam shell and oyester shells, to do some excavating.The only thing we found was a piece of an old toilet. That night we had afierce tropical storm. Capt. Baldwins spirit still lives on. We returnedthe piece to where we found it.


Winter 1947-48 Captain Baldwin staked his claim on Clam Pond.That spring Captain Murdock, who lived on his houseboat on the South side on the Pond, disappeared, presumed drowned. Bill Cerveny and Herbie Paine reported hearing gunshots in that time frame - nothing ever came of it. No body = no crime. Captain Baldwin now had the fishing and clam trade in Saltaire and Fair Harbor. He was not allowed in Kismet.On weekends he used to work at Dick Grenameyers (Kismet Inn) shucking clams. He worked for whiskey, and one time he claimed that the bartender shorted his drinks. Words were exchanged and Captain Baldwin pulled a knife and tried to cut the mans throat. Persona non grata after that. He died sometime in the fifties. Helen and Eddie Krolikowski took him to the mainland and he died in the hospital shortly hereafter.


Another set of recollections from Beaver/Frank Mina:

Captain Baldwin's residence, though in close proximity to the water in the Cove was basically built from scrap lumber - Frank & Richie McManus ventured down to Capt Baldwin's shack after he died and went inside - it was sort of Beverly Hillbillys' chic. Frank remembers Capt Baldwin selling clams/fish to his mother and that he was able to stand up(possibly disspelling the story that he was paralyzed from the waist down). Frank also stated that Baldwin could have been a world champion rower and confirmed the story I had heard that after the '38 Hurricane Capt. Baldwin was found way down east in his rowboat. Frank claims that there were a number of Capt Murdoch's - they were a large Bayshore family and it was very likely that one or two actually ran ferries in the early days. Gil Clark's mother, according to Frank, was a Murdoch - Gil's full name was Gilbert Murdoch Clark. Frank also said that there were, years ago two Capt. Baldwin's in Fair Harbor - he doesn't know if "our" Capt Baldwin was one of them. Again, all good yarns which make all of posts interesting.

(ed note: first posted Feb 15, 2008)1/11/09

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bayfront, 1960
After Hurricane Donna

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Saltaire Story

"That guy has everything."
I didn't say anything. I was just watching the sun starting to set.

"That guy has everything," he said for a second time.

Jack and I were standing at the bike rack in front of the Yacht Club, looking out on the bay. Jack was almost whispering as if he did not want “them” to hear.

The "guy" Jack was talking about was sailing his sailboat with his girlfriend about 100 yards out on the bay, so I doubt if they would have heard Jack unless he were shouting.

But it was quiet. Just a little bit of a breeze at the end of one of those perfect summer days.

"That guy has everything-- he lives in Saltaire, he has a sailboat, and sails with that girl."

Jack had spoken to  that girl a couple of times and she was really nice, but that was about it. He never learned a whole lot of social skills at the Catholic junior seminary that he went to for high school. And he definitely did not have a sailboat to take a good-looking girl out on the bay.

So the boat was sailing back and forth, back and forth. At first, it looked like they were practicing maneuvers for a sailboat race. But now with the sun setting things were slowing down. It looked like they were just quietly sailing back and forth. Like they had nowhere to go in the world. Nothing to do but sail together. They sailed a hundred yards west, turned around, sailed a hundred yards east.

Jack was just a visitor for a week or two in Saltaire that summer. Now that he had decided that he wasn't going to become a priest, he was trying to fit in. That was never easy for a new kid in Saltaire. He would carry an “old Goya” guitar around and sit on the beach or on the dock and play for anyone who would listen. I liked Jack and so did a lot of the other kids, but he never felt like he fit in. And he really wanted to. And he was really taken with that girl. From a distance.

The sailboat came back around and it crossed in front of the huge orange sun, which for a second was sitting on top of the horizon. They sailed past the sun, went on a ways and turned around. Every time they came back and passed in front of the sun, it was lower. Now the top of the mast was higher than the top of the sun.

It was a perfect scene.
It became so quiet that even Jack didn't say anything for a couple of minutes. Just one more "that guy has everything" after the sun was completely below the horizon. That's how the conversation ended. Just like it began: “That guy has everything.”

I never saw Jack again after that summer.

That was more than fifty years years ago.

I sometimes wonder: if I could travel back in time to that evening more than fifty  years ago, should I go back and tell Jack:

"Don't feel bad, Jack, that guy does not have everything. I knew that guy and that girl and I can tell you it is not going to last forever between them. It won't end up all sailing and beautiful sunsets and endless summers for them. Nothing's permanent."

No, on second thought, I would never tell Jack that. Jack might have believed me and run out on the dock and started shouting out to her: "Forget about him. He's not going to last. You are wasting your time with him. Come talk to me!"

I wouldn't want that.

That would ruin a perfect scene.


(first posted 4/17/08)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saltaire Memories: Labor Day

Tom Lyon was a smart city kid. He seemed to know about everything. In Saltaire, he would sit down in front of the Saltaire Sweet Shope or on the dock and read a whole stack of daily newspapers. Sometimes he would fight with his sister Laurie about who would get the sports sections first and who would get the news sections.

Tom would come up with critiques of and pithy quotes from that morning's observations by Arthur Krock, or John Drebinger’s report of what happened last night with the Yankees. When we were kids, Tom must have picked out a thousand newspaper articles for us to read and talk about.

And the Yankees ... Tom could tell you what the Sporting News was saying about the latest Yankees streak, or how many home runs Babe Ruth hit at the Stadium in 1927.

At any rate, it was Labor Day, September 7, 1964. The annual awards ceremony was over, and people were starting to roll their wagons packed and ready to go down Broadway to the dock. In those days, the season pretty much ended at Labor Day.

Tom is sitting there in front of the Sweet Shoppe, and he says "you should read this story.”

It was an essay about Labor Day from that morning’s Times. I read it, and I figure I have read it again almost every Labor Day since. No great shakes, that essay. Tom wasn’t sentimental that way. His sentimentality had more of a Holden Caulfield edge to it.

But I read it because I think of Tom sitting there reading that paper, that day at the end of that summer.
There would be more summers for Tom. But not many. I still think of Tom sitting there.

Then I think of the millions of stories over that vast expanse of time that Tom never got to read, that he never got to talk about, laugh about
, make sarcastic remarks about. I still think of Tom...


So for what it's worth: here is the article Tom told me to read:


End of Summer

It's gone it now, the whole thing. That's all there is, there isn't any more. It seemed just a moment ago when, on a Memorial Day Beach the summer stretched ahead to a rockets a flight beyond infinity. Obviously this was not so. The seashell held to the ear that day sang a gay lyric based on sunshine, sparkling water -- and all the time in the world. Hold that shell today and it weeps with sadness and is dour with foreboding. Good-bye to the beach, which to all intents and purposes today is turned back to the gulls. Farewell to the clams and the driftwood fires, to the castles and the fishermen and the legend of the singing sand. This holds that to walk over it when the tide is right will compress it in such a way as to sound like a song. The tide was right that day the summer started, the result having a lilt like something composed by Meredith Wilson for 76 trombones. Today the tide is all wrong. Today is Labor Day and the end of summer. Good-bye.

Lake and Mountain

Farewell to the lake and to the mountain just behind it. Under a late May sky the water was deep blue and the mountain a brilliant green, and the scene cried for a painter to record it. Today there is something bleak about the sky, and an occasional dab of red and brown disfigures the green, like careless spatterwork. No artist would care to touch it today, now at the end of summer. Good-bye. Farewell to the trout at the bottom of the stream and that bass the bottom of the lake and to the loon that makes its home near where stream and lake join together. Back in May the call the old fellow made could be recorded as a cheerful salute to the season, although this could stretch the imagination somewhat. Today, there can be no question about the call. It is rude, sardonic, and it spells out its message -- you're going back where you came from, and good riddance.

The Winding Road

Farewell to the dirt roads which lead to picturesque hamlets and pretty, cared-for farms. Back at the end of May, the spirit was adventurous and it took no more than a touch of the wheel to leave the superhighway world and find a better one. A whole new country opened. Roads were found which followed the natural course of roads -- beside the natural course of streams -- the best of them not even on the wavering thin blue lines on the road maps. On Memorial Day it seemed right to plan an entire summer away from the highways, but good-bye to that. Farewell to lanes going through buttercup meadows, and the brooks lined with weeping willows, the lanes on which twice a day the herds of cows have the right of way. Good-bye to the road stand with box-top counter, where sweet corn is still warm from the sun and practically given away by a proprietor or honestly glad and to see you. Farewell to the country store. Of recent years these have sprung up everywhere, vending atmosphere along with antiques, but they are imitative, not real. The real ones are on the back roads which, starting in late May, went everywhere. Tonight, going home, they will lead but to the superhighway at the end of summer. Good-bye.

Farewell to It All.

Goodbye to the weekend, which never is quite long enough, of course, but is the next best thing to the official vacation. Farewell to tennis and golf and the rocking chair on the hotel porch and the hammock beneath the tree. In late May it was possible to itemize all the worthwhile books which would be read in that hammock, but today the fact must be faced that "War and Peace" has suffered its usual postponement until another summer. Farewell to the little carnival, set out for a week in the town's dusty lot -- about the only relic left of the great circus tradition. Farewell to watermelon, held in the hand and not on plates, and grilled chicken drumsticks, served minus forks, and peanut butter sandwiches seasoned with just the right pinch of fine white sand. Farewell to the summer. Late last May it seemed likely that even the office time clock would cooperate, by slowing its hands or stopping them altogether. That was just an illusion, so recognized now. Instead of stopping on the sunny hours, the hands of all clocks everywhere moved forward like lightning, to reach today. Good-bye.

New York Times
Septemer 7, 1964

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Pictures by Richard Greer
Pictures courtesy Sid Greer

(JO'H Ed. Note) : The promise of Saltaire from its very inception, to nurture “Healthy Happy Saltaire Youngsters” was as much evidence in the post- World War II era as it is today. Kids here, kids there, kids everywhere.
Saltaire was never a resort where you went to get away from the kids—it was a place you went to live with the kids. And you never got to know just the kids: you got to know whole families. Bill Stillgebauer told us that his parents were close friends with the Greers, and Bill became friends with the Greers' kids, and grandkids and nieces and nephews. The Greers were cousins of the Glascocks who became good friends of the Stillgebauers, and so on. Growing up Saltaire, you knew people in the context of their families.
1950’s Mayor John Ludlow once said:
There is a word in our own language that I think has not been given due importance. The word is "sociability," which I'll take the liberty of terming "vocal, hospitable, friendliness." Sociability is friendliness of by word as well as by deed: it is when you enjoy having people in for supper equally as having supper at their house; when during a walk around the block you meet and have a friendly greeting from eight or ten people.Such is the type of life that we have at Saltaire. We are a small incorporated village of one hundred and ten cottages, a part of the Town of Islip,
---Mayor John Ludlow, 1954.

We are proud to introduce Richard Greer’s Labor Day pictures from 1946, 1947 and 1948 that show that sociability in context of a Village tradition carried on each year from the earliest years of the Village: the annual Labor Day races at the ball field and on the bay. Parents went down to the field to watch the kids run. And they got to do some running themselves—or at least jumping in potato sacks. The next day was on to the bay for the swimming races in the boat basin.

Then to watch the kids as they gore themselves, hands behind their backs, with blueberry pie, a tradition that goes back at least to the 1920’s in Saltaire,

Finally, of course, came the great Labor Day awards ceremony at the Yacht Club. The Village turned out for what was Saltaire's version of the Academy Awards. The season's awards for sailing, swimming and track were awarded in a packed Yacht Club, topped off by the big awards: the Sailing trophies and "The Cup," a trophy given each year for the best kid in each particular class.

Greer's images capture a Village in an era of confidence: a Village that in the previous ten years had fought off the utter destruction of the Hurricane of 1938
and then had seen its parents go off and fight and win the Big War.

48 -star American flags delineated the running course for the races at the field; red white and blue streamers hung on the Broadway fence.
And kids everywhere, and parents everywhere too: this was, after all, the earliest bloom of the Baby Boom. So thanks, Sid Greer, for saving your dad Richard's Kodachromes from that heady time: This was All American Saltaire at mid Century.


Not many people remember, but there used to be a cinder track around the ball field, as seen on left. By the 1950's it was covered up, except for the northern end of the field between the right field foul line and the the fire house. The fire house was farther back than it is today. It was torture to walk on that part of the old track in bare feet: there were big, chunky cinders.

Note: fire alarm gong on Broadway. In the early days, there were similar alarms in strategic locations throughout the village. They were manually operated: just hit 'em with a big hammer to summon help. There was no electricity or telephone service until the 1930's. See an earlier fire alarm here:

Note here the clear view across tennis courts to houses on Marine Walk.

Note in this picture: there used to be basketball backboards along the right field line, a double sided one shownher incenter filed, and another deep in center field.
The house in the background is on Pacific walk.


The track meet was one day, the swimming meet the next.

These swimming pictures were taken in two different years, 1946 and 1948 .

Look closely: the old grey headed man in the scow on the right is the famous old bayman/hermit , Captain Baldwin. Kind of creepy to see him there. To follow his legend, click here:


There is a Saltaire promotional brochure from the 1920's that shows a line of kids along Bay Prom participating in a pie eating contest. These 1948 by images by Robert Greer show the tradition was strong. See, for instance Hank Stillgebauer's images from 1957: The pie eating contests continued at lest through teh early 1960's. Why the stopped this this tradition is anyone's guess, but there is no reason why it cannot be reintroduced in 2010.


This was it. The ultimate; the Oscar; the top award for top kid in each goup. Real hardware that looked great on the mantle.


We have lots more Greer photos from that era: beach scenes; sailing scenes, scenes with lots of people old timers may recall, and a series of pictures of a baseball game between Saltaire aind Pont of Woods at Point of Woods in 1950.

Trouble is, we have not received YOUR pictures yet.

send them to:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Massive Centennial Celebration at Saltaire August 26, 2017 Starting at the Yacht Club in The Morning, Going all day and Evening.

Well, this is what we said back in 2011:
The Saltaire Centennial Starts Here

The Saltaire Centennial Starts here-- if you want it to.
A hundred years ago-- 1911-- the first “paper houses” went up to start a summer “bungalow colony” that they named “Saltaire.” They had lots of good ideas-- a reasonably priced cottage for a family with kids. A great place to raise that “Happy Healthy Saltaire Youngster” that they posted in their promotional literature.
But some of the finer details were overlooked at first:
Like: whose big idea was it to plow down the dunes so that everybody could have an “ocean view?”
Like: who did they think was going to repair the “seven miles of boardwalk” when they started to fall apart after a couple of years?
But ultimately the place survived through a pretty tumultuous Twentieth Century. Two World Wars and the Great Depression and prophetic storms in 1927 and 1930 that started putting the houses with the best ocean views into the ocean forever. Ocean Promenade was doomed.
These conditions were not conducive to making a big profit for the Fire Island Beach Development Company. Especially if there was always talk about plans to run a car highway right through the village. Auctions were held offering special terms and monthly payments.
And then, of course, the BIG ONE. The “hurricane of the century:” the 1938 storm that practically wiped the whole place off the map. Ocean Promenade is somewhere under water now.
You probably know some of these stories already. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. In a hundred years Saltaire has had thousands of stories. Stories about the people who lived here, visited here, worked here, grew up here. Stories of ship wrecks in Saltaire: like in 1915 and in 2011.
Stories about being a healthy, happy Saltaire youngster here. You know, like knowing the best places to crawl under the boardwalk to find coins that fell between the cracks (hint: try near the grocery store now that there aren't pay phones anymore). Like knowing where not to step on the boardwalk to if you don't want to rip your foot open. Like finding a shady spot to cool your feet because you forgot to bring your shoes and you are walking down a boardwalk that must be 150 degrees hot in the blazing noonday sun? Like, did kids ever learn to wear shoes out here?
I'll bet you can go out there right now and find a Coffey house. But can you tell us why you can't go out to find Coffey Point?
Do you know why someone once called this building “The 1954 House of Needles?”
So, there are lots of stories to tell. Lots if tales to dig up.
That's the challenge for a Saltaire Centennial-- if you want to take it up.
You would be adding to a great tradition: there have been a number of terrific Saltaire histories collected over the years. The most notable volumes are Ruth Bryan Brewster Dobie's History of the Incorporated Village of Saltaire,” and the 1972 Saltaireby the SCAA--but a lot of water has gone under the sluiceway since then.
And did you know that best chroniclers of everyday Saltaire life were a bunch of kids? It was a newsletter they called “The Salty Spray” and they wrote it and edited it and sold it every summer from 1968-1972. You can look that up. Right here in this library.
And I gotta mention that, for Saltaire history, there is nothing quite like our website: Check us out on the internet. Contribute pictures and stories any time, 24/7.

So maybe the time has come. Time to dig out old post cards and photos and race day ribbons. Can anybody find a Labor Day “cup?” A Blue and Gold Saltaire Letter “S”? Maybe you can find something cool in an old storage box; maybe hundred year old postcard in an E Bay auction. With the internet, you can research hundred year old books, newspapers, maps records, and anything else from anywhere.
But the most important sources are the original contemporary sources: the people you see every day. Collect some stories. Not just old ones. Today's goings-on. Anything that is about being a part of Saltaire. Maybe somebody will start a new “Salty Spray.”

It's like Lennon said: There are places you remember all your life. Guaranteed Saltaire will be one of them for you if you spend some time here.
But nobody will remember a song if you don't write down the words. And if nobody writes down those great Saltaire stories they will be gone forever. Just like those magnificent houses with the best ocean views.
That's why we say the Saltaire Centennial begins here.
--if you want it to.

Jim O'Hare co-founder,

Joey Lynch @1920, courtesy Larry Lynch

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Virginia O'Brien

This winter saw the passing of one of Saltaire's great personages, Ms. Virginia O'Brien.
Frank Connolly recalls:

Virginia Ryan O’Brien, who quietly slipped away from us last Monday at the tender age of 90, was many things: wife, mother, friend, first lady of the Village, commodore of the Yacht Club, and the epicenter of a group of outspoken and witty ladies who defined a lot of what Saltaire was about in the 1970s and ’80s. And did I mention that she was fun?

My memories of Virginia – after all these years, the instinct is still to call her Mrs. O’Brien – are inextricably linked to my memories of her son Hugh, who was and is one of my closest friends. Virginia always thought the world of Hugh, as well she should have, and by extension she thought the world of his friends, which at least back in the ’70s was a more debatable proposition. Even as we were all regularly engaged in the sort of genially disreputable behavior that characterized most Saltaire teenagers back in the day, Virginia saw in each of us some merit, some saving grace, that warranted not only her attention but her enthusiastic commendation.

Virginia was fiercely loyal to family and friends, and she did not talk down to friends who happened to be, well, kids. She was the first grown-up who ever spoke to me as though I were capable of adult conversation. The fact that, at the age of 15, I was capable of no such thing didn’t faze her one bit.

Saltaire was different back then: more leisurely, less structured. What passed for structure, at least back then, was the regular convening of a tight circle of mothers up at the ocean, almost every afternoon. Starting in the mid-1970s, the same group took things one step further, gathering once a week in Kismet for dinner. The Ladies’ Friendly, as the weekly confab quickly became known, endured for many years as a forum for both high-minded discussion and juicy gossip, and Virginia often found herself at its center.

For close to 60 years, Saltaire was a central part of Virginia’s life. She was a model of what we now call civic engagement; her active involvement in Village affairs began when her late husband Hugh was mayor, continued through her years as the Yacht Club’s first female commodore, and endured through her son Hugh’s long service on the Board of Trustees. Through it all she was informed, opinionated, and outspoken – but always good-natured, in a manner not always evident in today’s Village politics.

And she was, as I said, 
fun. Virginia had a dry wit that could be sharp without being nasty, and she had a big generous laugh that she employed frequently. An enduring memory of those long-ago times is of Virginia and her friends crowded around the piano in the Yacht Club after a Friday-night dinner, belting out the old standards as Ken Thompson tickled the ivories. The singing may have been a little wobbly sometimes, but the good cheer was always spot-on.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to a parent, and I’m sure this is a tough time for Hugh and his wonderful bride, Catherine. But you should take consolation in knowing that Virginia Ryan O’Brien was one of the great ladies of Saltaire, a true original who will live on in a thousand warm and vivid memories. Now listen up: somewhere in the great beyond Ken Thompson has started to play, and Virginia has once again joined the chorus.
– Frank Connolly


Virginia O'Brien and Hugh O'Brien Sr. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Ladies Circle

It would seem that the time has come to attempt to tell the story of 'The Ladies Circle' of Saltaire.  One of the last great members, Virginia O'Brien, recently passed, leaving Carol Mihaly as the last surviving member.

I must be very careful of the language I use to describe 'The Ladies Circle', for fear of offending.  I am loath to even name names, as, those that are included may take offense, as well as those that are not mentioned as members.

'The Ladies Circle' was a group of wives and mothers of my parents' generation, who sat together on the beach and discussed local matters.  This is where things get dicey.  As I recall, the group was predominantly very socially conservative, and religious.  It was always rumored that they discussed the behavior and demeanor of other residents of Saltaire.  Of course, I don't know what they actually discussed, as I certainly wasn't a member.  The closest I got to hearing the conversation was when I stopped to say hello to the Ladies, but they always stopped talking when I walked up. Perhaps they were always talking about me.  The general impression was that one did not want to be a subject of the conversations.

Now this gets into very dangerous territory.  Who were the members of 'The Circle'?  There was certainly a core group, consisting of Virginia O'Brien, Carol Mihaly, Pat Corrigan, Rita Connoly(?), Claire Marcus, Harriet Aherne...Then there was a group on the fringes, including my mother.  Who else?  This is why we have a blog.

Everyone should feel free to add names to the list, although the person who provides the name will be exposed.  Were they core members or on the fringes?  And what was really discussed.  Personally, I am afraid to ask, but it is our history.

Addendum- Grace Gallagher, Joan Gowan and Mary Fontantals were definitely on the list, and all still alive.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017


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.