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)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Memories of the Saltaire Dock

An Appreciation

click all photos to enlarge

Dear Editors Of

I want to thank you for contacting me about the web site and bringing back a whole lifetime of memories. You have a lot of vision in wanting to try and capture some of these memories and times and there is no better way to preserve the old memories than the way you are doing it. My hat goes off to you. I'd still like to try to make the reunion but don't know if I can. We'll see how things work out. My busy time is from now through November and I'm literally working 7 days a week with little time off.

When I saw the photo of the dock you posted it literally took my breath away. I stared at it in shock for a few moments and then the memories of the boat, Captain Al and the many magical hours spent on that dock started flooding in. It's funny how one old photo can do that to you. It was like stepping into a a time machine. The sight of that weathered old gray wooden dock that had a smell all its own in the hot sun was sort of like being reunited with an old friend. It's been a long time since I've actually been able to see that incredible scene; only in my failing memory and that was sketchy at best. I had forgotten exactly how the old dock was shaped. How many times did we all come and go and see that very scene from the boat -- people waving hello in anticipation of a loved one's arrival or goodbye in sadness on someone's departure. I do vividly remember straining to see the dock from the front of the ferry on the trip over from Bay Shore at the beginning of the summer. Then as the boat got closer and closer, the houses of Saltaire and other things like the water tower and the lighhouse started coming into clear view and the excitement mounted. The dock was the beginning of the yellow brick road. That's where the adventure always started. Since my grandfather worked in the city, he would always have to leave on the Sunday afternoon ferry around 3 or 4 p.m. and he would always return on the Friday afternoon ferry about the same time. Friday was a big day. I couldn't wait for the ferry to arrive. We had a weekly ritual that we always adhered to. No matter what I was doing on Friday afternoon, playing baseball or whatever, when it was time for the boat, I would always stop and head for the dock and be there waiting. It seems like we had an old painted wooden wagon that stayed on the dock except when being used (didn't most of the families have wagons), and we'd load it up because Grandpa always had groceries or things for my grandmother or the house. Now this may really be something out of dreamland, but it seems like the wagon was painted a shade of pink to match the color of the house in the dunes. Then we'd make the trip back to the house, about as far as you could go from one end of Saltaire to the other, me on my bike pedaling slowly and my grandfather walking briskly and pulling the wagon, talking about the week's adventures or what we were going to do on Saturday. Sometimes my grandmother went with me and she always dressed up for the occasion in her best Bermuda short outfit. Grandpa would always have some special present for me like fishing gear or a new pair of flippers and he'd always have special groceries from the mainland that you couldn't get in Fair Harbor. He'd often bring steaks from the butcher in Bay Shore or jelly donuts from the bakery and we'd have steaks cooked over an open flame in the fireplace that only he knew how to char broil just right. Then after a great weekend of being together and always doing something fun on Saturday and Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon was always a downer because he'd have to get cleaned up and change into his city clothes (a suit) and get ready to leave. When I was 9 or 10, I'd always ask: "Grandpa, why do you have to go to work? Can't you just stay for one more day?" It was always a sad time. My grandmother would always say, "All good things must come to an end, but they'll be more good days ahead." It was clear that he didn't want to have to leave any more than we wanted him to. "I'll be back before you know it," he would always say cheerfully. I can remember standing on the dock on many a Sunday afternoon with a knot in my stomach and sometimes not being able to hold back the tears as the boat was leaving. But then, we also had many fun-filled days on that dock as well and the good times outnumbered the bad times 20 to 1. God, the hours we spent fishing, baking in the sun, fooling around with sailboats, and doing other things on that wonderful dock. I have a photo of my father standing on the dock smoking a pipe when he was proably in his 20s. The photo was probably taken in the 1930s. I have another photo of my grandmother and me sitting on a bench on the dock waiting for the ferry when I was probably five or six, probably taken around 1952 or '53. I'll get them scanned and send them to you. It's like Beaver said: Those were special, innocent times that we can never replicate today because the world is so different. I suppose few kids today have that kind of special relationship with their grandparents. The ones who do are awfully lucky. Thanks for posting that amazing picture!

Duncan Dobie

How many people can you name from this 1964 dock scene? click pix to enlarge

Who's on board the Islander in this 1957 shot by Bob Wright? click image for a better look

new dockhouse pix by Justin

1957 Stillgebauer Lode

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the swim meet picture, it clearly looks like my Grandfather, John A. Ludlow just to the right of the light post in the light blue shirt and pants with his hands crossed by his waist.