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Pixabay photo

Holiday lights are now everywhere come the holiday season. Private homeowners tend to hang the holiday lights outside their homes around Thanksgiving weekend and keep them up through New Year’s Day. 

Though it might seem like a tradition without a deep history, decorating a Christmas tree with electric lights can be traced all the way back to the nineteenth century. 

In 1882, Edward Johnson, who was a friend and colleague of the man who invented light bulbs, Thomas Edison, replaced candles, which had traditionally been used to briefly light Christmas trees, with light bulbs. 

But at the time of Johnson’s innovation, the high cost and relative infancy of light bulbs ensured the idea did not catch on. And though United States President Grover Cleveland used electric lights to illuminate a Christmas tree in the White House in 1895, it would be another eight years before General Electric would begin selling Christmas light kits. 

Those kits cost $12 in 1903, which equates to several hundred dollars today. The first outdoor Christmas light shows started to become popular in the 1920s, and this is the same time when commercial sales of Christmas lights picked up. 

In the 1960s, GE’s decision to begin manufacturing Christmas lights overseas helped reduce the price of outdoor lights even further, thus paving the way for the tradition of decorating home exteriors with string lights during the holiday season to take a firm hold. And that tradition remains wildly popular today. 

This week marks the 81st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the darkest episodes in American history. Pixabay photo

“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” 

— President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D), Dec. 7, 1941

This week, 81 years ago, the United States was thrust into the global conflict of World War II.  

Isolationist tendencies had kept the country out of the war during its earliest years. Prominent Americans such as Charles Lindbergh and Joseph Kennedy Sr. widely considered the fight outside the United States’ strategic interests. 

It was an unsettling moment for the nation as Americans watched Britain and the Soviet Union on the brink of defeat from invading Nazi forces. Meanwhile, the Japanese moved against its neighbors from China to Indonesia, controlling significant parts of the Pacific and Asia. 

‘A date which will live in infamy’

Within the early morning of Dec. 7, 1941, American ships on patrol outside Hawaii discovered the periscopes of Japanese submarines. Five of these underwater vessels were stationed near Pearl Harbor, ready to pounce upon American ships attempting to flee the assault. At the same time, Japanese planes departed from aircraft carriers that were 275 miles north of Hawaii. 

The government and military never feared an attack by the Japanese against its army and naval bases in Hawaii. They feared a possible assault against the Philippines but never believed Pearl Harbor was a target.

Across this country, from the North Shore of Long Island to Hawaii, American citizens were awakened by the horrifying sounds of news reports of the assault. The Japanese rising sun logo was seen on high-level bombers and torpedo planes that swarmed over the morning skies of this island paradise.  

Within moments, a wave of 360 enemy fighter planes produced staggering losses on the American side: Five sunken battleships, three destroyers and almost 200 planes were hit from the air. As the Japanese pulled back after this assault, they understood their plans were not fully achieved. Three American aircraft carriers, untouched by the Japanese, would hold down the fort as America rebuilt its Pacific fleet.

Awakening a sleeping giant

American service members scrambled to survive the aerial onslaught. The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians. The government later discovered that 40 of these deaths were residents of New York. All of this was overwhelming for the stunned American people, stung by this attack and unprepared for this global war effort. 

A relieved British prime minister, Winston Churchill, stated that the American partnership in World War II was the ultimate factor in achieving a two-front victory. The Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor would push 16 million Americans to enlist in the armed forces over the following four years, putting the world back on a path to peace.

In the months after the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan gained one of the largest territorial empires in world history. The island nation’s conquests stretched from the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, toward Australia, into China, through several Pacific island nations and to the doorstep of India. 

This empire would quickly unravel, thanks to American efforts in the ensuing years. A three-year “island hopping” campaign would eventually bring massive American military power onto Japan’s home islands.

From 1943-45, Japan absorbed constant blows from air, sea and land, pushing this military regime back into its own territory. The war ended after President Harry S. Truman (D) authorized the use of the atomic bomb, obliterating the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Connecting past to present

For decades after Pearl Harbor, there were groups of veteran survivors of this surprise attack that once numbered 18,000 nationally and 70,000 around the world who could recall this tragic date. Today, fewer than 1,500 Pearl Harbor survivors remain.  

Moreover, less than 240,000 World War II veterans are still living. The “greatest generation” passes away at a rate of 234 people daily, according to the VA.

The United States has been pivotal in thwarting Russia’s attempts to overrun Ukraine. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, had comprehensive plans to conquer Ukraine and then move against his neighbors. 

While the Ukrainians deserve credit for carrying out a reversal of fortune against Russian aggression, they have gained tremendous military, economic and political aid from the United States.  

As we reflect upon the moments after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we must remember that America has adversaries around the globe. The American response following Pearl Harbor should remind Putin never to underestimate the resolve of the American people, its leadership or its mission to combat tyranny around the globe.  

Friends and foes should always understand the historical examples of strength the United States illustrated during that dire moment in our national history. 

Remember to thank veterans for their services. Their contributions before and after Pearl Harbor have continually promoted the cause of freedom and security throughout the world.

Rich Acritelli is a history teacher at Rocky Point High School and adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College. Written in conjunction with Manny Watkins, Matt Liselli, Jake Donovan, Evan Donovan, Colin Singh, Simone Carmody and members of the high school’s History Honor Society.

The Hercules Pavilion in Stony Brook. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced their next walking tour – “Winter Secrets”, on Wednesday, December 14 at 10:30 a.m.

As participants stroll the walkways of Stony Brook Village with a toasty cup of hot chocolate from Stony Brook Chocolate, they will hear about Stony Brook residents, artifacts and the holiday spirit. Stories include gilded age socialite Alida Emmet’s holiday parties, the year Dorothy Melville saved the holidays, arctic fever and the Polaris whaleboat, finding joy during the holiday season (and beyond) during the Great Depression, and more!

Rain date is Thursday, December 15 at the same time. Reservations required. $15 per person, includes hot chocolate and a complimentary glass of wine with the purchase of an entrée at Mirabelle Restaurant & Tavern at the Three Village Inn. To reserve your spot on the tour and to learn more about the WMHO, call 631-751-2244.

Photo from Whaling Museum

The Whaling Museum & Education Center, 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor has announced it will host new “Holiday Walking Tours” this December.

These educator-led tours through historic Cold Spring Harbor village will explore Victorian seasonal traditions in the 19th century. Participants will learn about how local homes and businesses celebrated holidays in December.

Photo from Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum

Hot chocolate will be served inside the museum’s workshop at the start of the tour while participants arrive. The tour starts on the pavement outside of the museum.

“The Whaling Museum’s themed walking tours have become quite a hit. Our Harbor Haunts tours, offered in October, sell out every year. With the introduction of new tours each season, we aim to engage our community and our visitors in history through fun and familiar frameworks. Our education team is excited about the new stories we get to share with this new holiday tour. We look forward to offering a space to gather and spend time outside this December,” said Nomi Dayan, Executive Director of The Whaling Museum.

Tours are approximately 45-60 minutes and end at the harbor. All ages are welcome to attend.

Spaces are limited and registration takes place online at cshwhalingmuseum.org/walking-tours. The “Holiday Walking Tours” are $15 per participant / $10 for members. Dates: Dec. 10 & 11, 17 & 18 | 3 & 5pm and Dec. 30 at 4:30 pm. For more information, call 631-367-3418 or visit www.cshwhalingmuseum.org.

Photo from Hallockville Museum Farm

Experience old-fashioned North Fork holiday traditions during the Historic Christmas event at Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead on Sunday, December 4 from noon to 3:30 p.m. Holiday displays in three historic residences on the 28-acre preserved farm will be staffed by costumed docents welcoming guests and sharing stories of past holiday celebrations. Historic Christmas at Hallockville is free and open to the public as the Museum Farm’s holiday gift to the community.

The Hallock Homestead, a mid-eighteenth-century structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be decorated for a Victorian Christmas. Visitors may tour the residence while enjoying the aromas of holiday treats being baked in an antique wood stove as they learn how Christmas came to the North Fork primarily as a secular celebration.

At the Cichanowicz Farmhouse, guests will enjoy a Christmas Eve celebration as it would have been experienced by Polish immigrants to the North Fork in the 1930s, when the house was built. In Polish culture, Christmas Eve is a major holiday, highlighted by a special dinner, gift-giving and other traditions.

The Hudson-Sydlowski House will feature a display of dollhouses from the museum’s collection decked-out for the holidays. The exhibit will also include a two Victorian dollhouses loaned by Bonnie Zulli as well as a Christmas dollhouse, a miniature farmstand and several room vitrines loaned by Jeff Hallock and Debbie Bowen created by their parents, Norman and Joan Hallock.

For further information, call 631-29805292 or visit www.hallockville.org.

The Cinnamon Candle will be selling custom-scented soy candles at the 1st annual Three Village Winter Market.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Garland-bedecked main streets and ancient forests blanketed in sparkly snow aren’t the only idyllic qualities of wintertime in the Three Villages; it is the area’s warm and embracing community that invokes the holiday spirit above all else. That said, there’s nothing that says “community” and “holiday spirit” better than a winter market! 

From farmers and chefs to crafters and artisans, vendors from all over are welcome to participate in the very first annual Three Village Winter Market, hosted by the Three Village Historical Society on Dec. 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

As the TVHS says on their website, “Give big by shopping small”—and locally —this season. Not only does shopping locally at fairs and markets support the community we love, but it can also reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, you’re bound to find one-of-a-kind items that are homegrown, handcrafted, or home cooked. According to Dan Murphy, the TVHS staff member organizing the event, “There is something personal when you visit these small shops and vendors. I love the care that everyone puts into their work; it’s not just an item to sell, it is a passion, an art, and it’s worth sharing and certainly worth supporting that type of art and creativity.”

Located on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society’s headquarters at 93 North Country Road in Setauket, the Winter Market is expected to feature at least 50 vendors selling everything from soaps, candles, beeswax, stained glass, and chainsaw art to wine, cheese, chocolate, and macarons. 

Keep an eye out for adorable and skillfully made felted gifts at Ewes and Coos Felted; delectable, homemade treats at Barry’s Baked Goods; fragrant soaps; and balms at Amadeus Aromatherapy; beautifully crafted stained glass ornaments and hangings by Cashmere Pecan; custom scented soy candles by The Cinnamon Candle, woodworking inspired by our rich maritime history by The Nautical Arts Workshop and so much more. The event will also feature a children’s crafting station and is dog-friendly 

Stop by the Society’s museum, located in the circa 1800 Bayles-Swezey house and decorated in Victorian-era holiday finery to check out their award-winning exhibits and the gift shop’s exclusive holiday offers. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are welcomed. 

If you are interested in participating as a vendor, please reach out to the TVHS through their website at www.tvhs.org/wintermarket to sign up. Artisans and small businesses of all kinds are welcome to bring their wares to sell. Each space is 10×10 feet, and participants are required to bring their own tents and tables. Vendors can purchase a spot for $100 for one day or $150 for the whole weekend. These fees are non-refundable unless the whole event is canceled due to inclement weather. Please reach out to Dan via email for additional information at [email protected]

“It truly is so inspiring to see so many Long Island-based entrepreneurs that bring so much talent to the table,” said Mari Irizarry, TVHS director. “This Winter Market honors their struggles and their craft. Our one and only wish that we’ll be sending off to Santa is that the community comes out and helps each vendor completely sell out! … See you at the Winter Market!” 

For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

The Dogwood Hollow Amphitheater was once located behind Stony Brook Village Center. It was the place to see musical stars such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Liberace, Tony Bennett and more until 1970.

Now it’s the spot to celebrate music once again. The Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame officially opened Friday, Nov. 25. On the night of Nov. 23, a ribbon cutting was held followed by a red carpet event,  preview of exhibits and performances by LIMEHOF inductees.

The 8,800 square-foot building is the first physical facility of the nonprofit organization and was previously used as the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational and Cultural Center.

“We are thrilled our organization has found a permanent home in such a wonderful location,” said Ernie Canadeo, LIMEHOF chairman in a statement. “We’re excited to be able to share our world-class displays and unique memorabilia collection that showcases Long Island’s rich and diverse musical and entertainment history in new and exciting ways. We feature different and exciting exhibits, displays, videos and education
offerings that make the center a dynamic place for people to visit on a regular basis.”

The event was well-attended by entertainers, including members of Twisted Sister, Blue Oyster Cult, Zebra, Jen Chapin and Carole Demas and Paula Janis of “The Magic Garden.”  Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), state Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) and WMHO President Gloria Rocchio were on hand to welcome the inductees and LIMEHOF organizers.

Attendees were able to preview the nonprofit’s first exhibit, “Long Island’s Legendary Club Scene — 1960s-1980s.” Designer Kevin O’Callaghan created the exhibit, featuring many of the LIMEHOF inductees, to be like a club crawl through the 60s, 70s and 80s club scenes.

Demas and Janis said they were honored to represent family entertainment in the hall of fame. While the show “The Magic Garden” went off the air in 1984, the duo have performed on stage occasionally through the decades. Janis said the two have known each other since they were teenagers in Brooklyn. The hall of fame includes artists who have lived in Suffolk Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn.

“We never imagined ‘The Magic Garden’ would walk us into something like this,” Demas said.

Mark Mendoza, who played bass in Twisted Sister, was also impressed by the facility. He said while it has taken several years for the LIMEHOF to find a permanent home, the wait was worth it because it enabled more time to collect impressive memorabilia from various artists.

He said Long Island is finally being recognized as music hotspot and the hall of fame will help to recognize even further the talented musicians from the Island.

“It’s definitely going to be a place for tourists to come — a lot of people to come here because of the music,” he said. “It’s great because it’s so diverse. The music is so incredibly diverse, and it’s great seeing all the other artists here tonight. This is definitely going to be a destination for people to show up at.”

The Nov. 23 event ended with performances by Demas and Janis,  Harry Chapin’s daughter Jen,  Elliott Murphy and Zebra.

The Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame is located at 97 Main Street, Stony Brook. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit limusichalloffame.org.

Above, Celebrated local artist Louise Brett, left, and Theresa Emery, right, are pictured on the bridge that crosses over the LIRR tracks at Sheep Pasture Road, February 1948. Note the sign for McDonald turkeys. Photo courtesy Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

McDonald Farms, once the largest turkey breeding farm in New York state, was located south of Sheep Pasture Road and the LIRR tracks in Port Jefferson Station.

Established in 1939 by the William P. McDonald Construction Company, the farm was tucked away in the woods nearby McDonald’s sand mine on Sheep Pasture Road.

In 1944, Ledkote Products Company, the corporate predecessor of now-shuttered Lawrence Aviation, purchased McDonald Farms and continued raising turkeys on the property.

Retaining the name McDonald Farms, the business flourished after World War II, creating a demand for poultrymen who were offered $30 per week and lodging as compensation.

In 1947, the farm had 5,000 breeders and raised over 20,000 Broad Breasted Bronze and White Holland turkeys, advertised as the “undisputed monarchs of the entire turkey kingdom.” 

Above a Thanksgiving postcard. Photo courtesy Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The business boasted everything necessary to ready birds for the market, including incubators, nurseries, floor brooders, houses for the hens and toms, ranges planted in clover and dressing rooms.

A leader in the poultry trade, McDonald Farms hosted the regional Northeastern Turkey Growers Convention in July 1947. The two-day event featured a tour of the farm, a banquet at Teddy’s Hotel and Restaurant at the intersection of Main and East Broadway in Port Jefferson, and agricultural programs at Port Jefferson High School.

McDonald Farms generously donated turkeys to needy individuals and charitable organizations, not only on Thanksgiving but throughout the year. 

The business also welcomed field trips from students in all age groups, reaching youngsters in the lower grades as well as upperclassmen in John E. Berney’s vocational agriculture class at the high school.

A roaring fire destroyed a four-story feed hopper at McDonald Farms in April 1955, but fortunately no fatalities or serious injuries resulted from the blaze.

Beginning in 1959, Lawrence Aviation began manufacturing titanium sheeting at what was formerly the McDonald Farms property, marking the site’s transformation from agricultural to industrial use.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of the village.

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day as the end of the season of harvest was and still is an important milestone in people’s lives. Diaries, journals and letters provide some of the earliest records of seasonal activity and how people connected with each other to mark occasions. In America, before the telephone became a standard household item, family members and friends stayed in touch through the U.S. Postal Service.     

In 1873, a new phenomenon began when the United States Postal Service issued the first penny postcards. During the first six months, they sold 60 million. With the postcard, brevity was essential due to the small space provided. Long descriptive phrases and lengthy expressions of affection, which then were commonly used in letter writing, gave way to short greetings. 

The postcard was an easy and pleasant way to send a message. A postcard sent from one town in the morning or afternoon would usually arrive in a nearby town that afternoon or evening. A postcard sent from another state would not take much longer.

The feasting aspect of Thanksgiving has continued to be an essential part of the holiday and many of the postcards that were sent reflected that theme. In addition, the postcard helped to tie the family members together with those who were absent during the holiday.

As the telephone became more widely used, the postcard became less and less important as a means of daily communications. However, it provided us with a view of the early years of the 20th century that became a permanent record of contacts between family members and friends.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit www.tvhs.org. 

— Postcards from Beverly C. Tyler’s collection

Three Village Historical Society presents Candlelight House Tour Dec. 2 & 3

By Cayla Rosenhagen

With its waterside, windy roads lined with old-growth forests and historic homes bedecked in twinkling lights, ribbons, and garland, a visit to Old Field is nothing short of stepping into a holiday Hallmark movie crossed with a Norman Rockwell illustration making it the perfect place to be featured during this year’s Three Village Historical Society Candlelight House Tour in December. Explore the village by candlelight and learn about its historic properties, all the while soaking up the enchanting beauty of the holiday season.

The fundraiser event was first held in 1979, and since then, has been centered around a different Three Village locale every year. Currently, the Tour is led by co-chairs Patty Cain and Patty Yantz. According to Yantz, the first House Tour was led by Eva Glaser and Liz Tyler to raise money for the restoration of the Setauket Neighborhood House, which at the time housed the Three Village Historical Society. 

“Today the Candlelight House Tour is the Society’s largest fundraiser and has become a greatly anticipated community event … The Three Village community, serving as our classroom, has given us the ability to teach about architecture, art, and various designs and period styles. However, more importantly, we have gained insight and learned about the people who came before us that have helped shape our shared community,” said Yantz.

This year, they chose to showcase the scenic, residential village of Old Field as it celebrates 95 years since its founding. Participants can look forward to tours of several historic properties in addition to an optional meal and reception at the stately Old Field Club. 

The featured properties consist of four residential homes, the Widewater barn on the Pius Estate, and finally, the Keeper’s Cottage at the Old Field Point Lighthouse, all professionally decorated for the holidays. The Gothic-Revival lighthouse is quite possibly the most famous landmark of Old Field and was built in 1869 atop the cliffs overlooking the Long Island Sound.

Hosted for two days, Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3, the Candlelight House Tour offers guests multiple ticket options to choose from. On Friday, all tours begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. The first ticket option, which includes only the tour, costs $75 for members of the TVHS and $90 for non-members. For participants 21 and over, Friday’s Tour and Reception package includes a buffet meal at the Old Field Club with wine, beer, entertainment, and a raffle of one-of-a-kind items. This all-inclusive ticket is $145 for members, and $175 for non-members. 

On Saturday, the tours are hosted in the morning and are preceded by an optional breakfast reception at the Club. For guests interested in only the tour, tickets are $55 for members and $70 for non-members. Their tour will begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. For guests who purchase the Breakfast and Tour ticket, breakfast at the Club is from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and the guests get exclusive early access to the House Tour, which begins at 10 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m. This ticket costs $90 for TVHS members and $120 for non-members. 

Tickets may be purchased at the Three Village Historical Society headquarters, 93 North Country Road, Setauket or online at www.tvhs.org. Guests must be 12 years of age and over. All ticket holders can stop by the Reboli Center to pick up a complementary art print while supplies last. 

“The tour would not be possible without our gracious homeowners, generous sponsors, our dedicated volunteers, talented decorators, and of course our wonderful, supportive community,” said Yantz. “Our motivation in co-chairing this event for a decade is appreciating how the Candlelight House Tour has become such a wonderful unifying force connecting so many people together in the spirit of cooperation in our wonderful community.”