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 4, 2018

Remembering the March Storm: Peter Baum and Victoria Baum Bjorklund on the 1962 Ash Wednesday Storm

PICTURES OF THE HISTORIC MARCH 1962 STORM AFTERMATH BY PETER A. BAUM.
Ed Note:
Forget about the Hurricane of 1938. Forget about Sandy. Forget about the vicious winter storms of 1927, 1929, and 1931:

The March Storm of 1962 is arguably the most significant storm to hit Fire Island in the Last 100 Years.

Reason Being: for the first fifty years of Saltaire history, it was always thought that someday a road would run the length of Fire Island. It was a dream of Robert Moses since 1922 to run a non-stop road from Coney Island to Montauk. Moses used repeated  storms over the years to bolster his argument that  a paved road on top of a built-up island  would stabilize it. Each time a big storm hit,  calls to pave the Island were renewed,  but plans never got off the drawing board due to  lack of funding, and opposition.  But proposals always kept popping up from time to time,  from storm to storm. 

The 1962 March Storm was was damaging to the whole length of the island, and once again Moses (and others) renewed their arguments. Tentative plans  for a road were quickly drawn up. In the summer of 1962,  and in the following year massive protests and  well organized political pressure in opposition  held up the road's  implementation. Robert Moses, his power in decline, saw his plan stopped. When a  National Seashore was established, it virtually guaranteed that Fire Island will never be paved end to end.


So it was the March Storm that finally brought the whole issue to a definitive resolution.


                            JO'H

Here are some pictures from the March 1962 Storm:
All pictures by Peter Baum.






All pictures by Peter Baum.


orologists called it a "Perfect Storm." It battered the East Coast for three days and five high tides from March 3-6, 1962. It reshaped the Outer Banks and altered shorelines up and down the East Coast.
This week marks the Fifty-sixth  Anniversary of the March 1962 storm. Meteorologists called it a "perfect storm." For Fire Island it was one of the most destructive storms of the Twentieth Century.

The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 occurred on March 6–8, 1962 along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. It was considered by the U.S. Geological Survey to be one of the most destructive storms ever to affect the Mid-Atlantic States. One of the ten worst storms in the United States in the 20th century, it lingered through five high tides over a three day period, killing 40 people, injuring over 1,000 and causing hundreds of millions in property damage in six states.
--Wikipedia


I  remember going out there to assess the damage on March 10, 1962. (I remember the date because I brought along a transistor radio to listen to the very first ever broadcast of a New York Mets spring training game-- you could look it up).
Wreckage was all over the beach. West of Saltaire, the flotsam and jetsam from all points
east washed up above the dune line and made it look like you could walk from Kismet to the lighthouse stepping only on debris without putting a foot in the sand.

We got the below story and pictures from Victoria Baum Bjorklund. The great photos were taken by her dad, the late Peter A. Baum. Thanks, counselor Bjorklund, for your priceless contributions.
Don’t forget this storm. It was a big one.
--JO’H

Victoria Bjorklund writes:

My father, Peter Ackerman Baum (1922-1995), was a trustee of the Village of Saltaire for a number of years in the 1960s. He elected to take leadership of the "public safety" areas. For example, in that capacity, he hired Saltaire's first full time policeman, Officer Joe Kelly. He also had all the old fire hoses unrolled one Saturday so that he could inspect them. He was horrified to see that mice had chewed holes in most of the hoses, so he started a fundraising campaign to modernize the fire protection equipment. Remember that in those days, the Village's fire equipment consisted of hose carts that village volunteers would grab from the sheds and pull to the site of the fire. Similarly, he believed that storm preparedness and aftermath were part of his trustee responsibilities.

Anyhow, my family always sweated every big nor'easter for fear that our cottage, Sea Spray, at 309 Pacific Walk would wash away. After Hank and I married in1972, we were dispatched with my Mother to empty the house of memorabilia before big storms. We would carry precious things and store them at either or both of the Lathams' attic or our cousins' Hub Bub. But in the 1960s it was harder to get over to Saltaire in the off-season so we just took our chances in the storms. This storm was different. It battered the beach day after day for days through a series of high tides. My parents were very worried about whether our house would still be there, and if it was, if it had been so undercut that it would be subject to condemnation. Or did it once again squeak by?
So we bundled up and trekked over to check. The damage was extensive as these
Pictures show. West Walk, Broadway, and Pacific walk stairways all washed away. But miraculously, our house was still standing on its little posts. While we no longer had any dunes, much less the big dunes that used to block our ocean view, we did still have our little house.

Best regards, Victoria

Victoria Bjorklund writes:

My father, Peter Ackerman Baum (1922-1995), was a trustee of the Village of Saltaire for a number of years in the 1960s. He elected to take leadership of the "public safety" areas. For example, in that capacity, he hired Saltaire's first full time policeman, Officer Joe Kelly. He also had all the old fire hoses unrolled one Saturday so that he could inspect them. He was horrified to see that mice had chewed holes in most of the hoses,so he started a fundraising campaign to modernize the fire protection equipment. Remember that in those days, the Village's fire equipment consisted of hose carts that village volunteers would grab from
the sheds and pull to the site of the fire. Similarly, he believed that storm preparedness and aftermath were part of his trustee responsibilities.


Anyhow, my family always sweated every big nor'easter for fear that our cottage, Sea Spray, at 309 Pacific Walk would wash away. After Hank and I married in1972, we were dispatched with my Mother to empty the house of memorabilia before big storms. We would carry precious things and store them at either or both of the Lathams' attic or our cousins' Hub Bub. But in the 1960s t was harder to get over to Saltaire in the off-season so we just took our chances in the storms.


This storm was different. It battered the beach day after day through a series of




high tides. My parents were very worried about whether our house would still be there, and if it was, whether it had been so undercut that it would be subject to condemnation. Or did it once again squeak by?

So we bundled up and trekked over to check. The damage was extensive as these pictures show. The West Walk, Broadway, and Pacific walk stairways were all washed away. But miraculously, our house was still standing on its little posts. While we no longer had any dunes, much less he big dunes that used to block our ocean view, we did still have our little house.

Best regards, Victoria










2012 pic of same location courtesy Ali Beqaj













All pictures except otherwise noted by Peter A. Baum.
Copyright 2012 Baum Family.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Funny, I remember my dad saying our dog "Poker" discovered the fire hose problems. He was a terrier, and that little fire hose shed on the corner of Pacific and Harbor *really* caught his attention one day. Dad, being a cop, naturally investigated and realized what was occurring. Not sure Poker ever got the credit he deserved....
Enjoying your blog, btw JOH..... many happy memories.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
My name is Sarah and I'm with Dwellable. I was looking for blog posts about the Outer Banks to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, drop me a line at Sarah(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you :)
Sarah