Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel
Looking for an entertaining summer read? A lightweight coffee table book? A terrific celebration of Long Island? Written by Stacy Mandel Kaplan, Kimberly Towers, Scott J. Mandel, and Jordan Kaplan, Hey Long Island … Do U Remember? (MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.) is a fun, informative tome, blending a diverse collection of photos with fascinating anecdotes. The project began in 2008 when the authors started a Facebook group for the sharing of pictures and the history of Long Island. The group has since grown to more than 159,000 members.
The book opens with a quick Long Island overview — a did you know?: geography, legal status, etc. Following this, the authors present a brief timeline, beginning with Long Island’s formation from a glacier in 19,000 BC and quickly working up to December 14, 2020, when the first vaccine was given in the United States, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in New Hyde Park. This thumbnail sketch sites the building of the Long Beach Boardwalk (1914); The Big Duck, off Route 24, in Flanders (1931); Levittown, the first modern American suburb (1947); the invention of the first video game (1958); the Blizzard of 1978; and the founding of the Long Island Ducks baseball team (2000), among other particulars.
On page ten, the book proper begins with Bald Hill in Farmingville. Each one- or two-page spread covers a different place, person, or event. With over 130 black-and-white photos — many seen here for the first time — Hey Long Island … Do U Remember? is a delightful collective history of the place that over eight million people call home.
One of the book’s many joys is opening at any point and working in any direction. The book requires no specific course, and the reader can dive in at will. For example, on page 14, one can read about the Bethpage Air Show. On page 75, details are offered on the “Sweet Hollow Creamery and Milk Home Delivery on Long Island.” On page 87 there is the “Riviera Bath Club.” Turn the page to have the author’s take on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Some pieces neatly build on others. “The Fashion Industry on Long Island” segues into “Fashion Trends on Long Island.” The latter starts with a portrait of the patriotic-influenced clothing of the Word War II 1940s. It travels through the media-influenced 1960s, moving onto the bold 1970s and the MTV 1980s. The authors’ crisp prose paints vivid images in a few short strokes.
The creators beautifully shape each entry, knowing when to allow the visuals to take the primary focus. “Charles Lindbergh’s Historic Flight” is dominated by a photo of the Spirit of St. Louis spanning a page and a half. They provide the most basic information (the flight from Roosevelt Field, Garden City, to Paris, the 3,600 mile/thirty-three-hour flight) and let the image carry the power. The prose-centric on “Airfields and Airports” is next, followed naturally by “Cradle of Aviation.”
Cultural nods range from the band Ninedays, Jones Beach Theater, and the Ray Romano house to Port Washington’s Beacon Theatre and the Long Island Musical Hall of Fame. Oheka Castle warrants three pages with incredible photos, including an aerial view of the castle and another of the gardens and reflecting pool. “Houses of Worship” spans five pages and offers a complete range of religious denominations. There are a plethora of parks and preserves (“Tanner Park,” “Long Island Game Farm Wildlife Park and Children’s Zoo,” “Eisenhower Park,” “Muttontown Preserve,” “Bethpage State Park”) and restaurants (“Nathan’s Famous,” “Wetson’s,” “Pastosa Ravioli,” “Frank’s Steaks” and the “Lincoln Inn”).
The book celebrates a varied and fascinating cross-section: everything from Grumman, Newsday, Superstorm Sandy, and the LIRR, to the Montauk Lighthouse, Whisper the Smithtown Bull, the Hope Sculpture, and the World’s Fair … Sagamore Hill and Sam Ash … the beaches, the festivals, the parades. And, of course, no book on Long Island is complete without at least a reference to poet Walt Whitman, as writer and icon.
The authors smartly present enough information to cover each subject and stimulate interest. In addition to casual reading, the book is ideal for the classroom. Students could utilize the book to gain general knowledge on various events, ideas, and themes and then select topics to explore further and in-depth.
Hey Long Island … Do U Remember? is a wonderful book and terrific addition to the library of works honoring the rich Long Island narrative. Order a copy today at www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.com, or your favorite online retailer.