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, April 18, 2013

Frank Mina Picture
The Fire Islander

There were stories.
It was a war boat and still
ruled the waters of my childhood,

Its whitewashed wood remembering
scars from its wounds

But now, in eight-year-old
eyes, it becomes
a ticket to a new planet.

Captain Al standing tall
as Gary Cooper,
nudging his craft
through Bay Shore harbor, as soft waves caressed
the ferry’s sides;
then, free, opened

the throttle, and raised
waves and wake,
splashing our thirsty
faces with a new

Diane McManus
August 1, 2009

Duncan Dobie, Jeff Weinlandt
Pic by Bill Weinlandt
Bill Weinland Pix


Anonymous said...

Captain "Shimmer" was not a rum drinker(unless it was a dire emergency where all other forms of alcohol were absent). His favorite spirit(s) were Bellows Reserve(or Bellow's Reverse as he called it)a rye whiskey which flowed abundantly through Al's veins(supplemented by a variety of brands of beer - most especially in his later years Schaffer and Ringnes(a Norwegian beer that he referred to as Norwegian cricket piss).

Anonymous said...

Those of us who remember Al with great fondness were never able to confirm as to whether Al, being the great "party animal" that he was had a birthday each year in both the ballfield(adjacent to the original ShimShack) and one in Florida where he spent the winter months. My first memory of a Skinner birthday party was Al, sitting on a chair outside the ShimShack, with an orange wig(with just the hair around the edges and a "fake" arrow through his head as he played the squeeze box(accordian)

Anonymous said...

Remembering the Fire Islander and her Saltaire Captains:: A sound that will never be forgotten....always leaving the Saltaire Basin-especially on the first trip off the beach, @ 6:30 am known as "The Death Boat", when the air was still without breeze, the roar of the Fire Islander's center engine could be heard for take off to get enough speed up to jump the Saltaire bar to Bay Shore for another crossing. The Islander had it's own way of saying goodbye for now, see you on the next trip. Why did this roar happen- the Islander had a direct drive center engine (always in forward) and there was no water in the exhaust pipe when started up to muffle the sound thus creating this effective roar. This roar or even to say it could be some type of backfire, could be heard throughout the village bayfront with echos, a sound that will never be forgotten. Capt. Al, Skinner, Capt. Frank Mina, Capt. Robert Fuestel, Capt. Dick Ivy, and Capt. Justin Zizes, Jr. all had that pleasure in saluting a Saltaire departure. Also, before radar was installed on the Islander, and crossings were run on stop watch with times between buoys and compass courses(now everyone depends upon GPS & radar - well think about if the electronics fail) the old Saltaire dockhouse had the distinguished red roof and off orange painted walls for identification. When heavy fog occurred & zero visibility, & the closeness of the Islanders fog horn occurred, people on the dock were taught to yell "OVER HERE" to signal that the Islander was close and not to hit the dock. One other trivia note is that in the off season, before scheduled return ferry service actually happened, one had to raise the flag that was kept in the dockhouse to signal the ferry coming out of Ocean Beach to stop for passenger(s) for returning to Bay Shore. Another recollection was that Capt. Al always carried the cash box and the Islanders compass. to the Shim Shack for the evening and back to the Islander in the morning. Sometimes when Capt. Al did not have deckhand in the morning (the Saltaire deckhand had to have a day off or school was back in session in September) Capt. Al had to rely upon collecting the fares himself before the Islander left the dock or had to ask a passenger to collect the fares for this trip. He then had to reset the springline while entering the Bay Shore Marina so he could get close to the dock in Bay Shore and put the line on the pole in order to get the ferry to the dock. One passenger would then open the center gate to let the passengers off in Bay Shore, making their way to either their cars or to Tommys Taxi for the ride up to the train station which was a fairly tight connection. It was a different sight to see the people who were just in their shorts or bathing suits for the weekend to see them dressed in business attire. Upon arrival in Bay Shore a deckhand from the Ocean Beach Terminal would be waiting at the dock to fulfill the duties of the rest of the crossings.