Tags Posts tagged with "Beverly C. Tyler"

Beverly C. Tyler

Advertisement for the Auto show at Athena Hall. Photo courtesy Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Athena Hall, now Theatre Three, was Port Jefferson’s community hall from 1874, when it was built, until it was remodeled into the Port Jefferson Theatre in 1928. Until then it was an open flat floor area above the Griswold Machine Shop where vaudeville, minstrel, magic lantern, automobile shows and local plays were held. The space usually included music and entertainment and by the early 1900s, “Moving Pictures” as well. 

Athena Hall was also used for high school graduations, as a meeting house, election headquarters, dance hall, roller skating rink and by organizations such as the Port Jefferson Fire Department which held a benefit show in 1927, featuring a one-act play, a movie and the Port Jefferson High School orchestra. Earlier the same year, Bridgeport radio station WICC held a two-night show featuring Charlie Cole and his singing orchestra, with music for dancing every night from 9 p.m.. to 2 a.m. There were even musical and Charleston dance contests during the auto show in January 1927. 

Advertisement for the Auto show at Athena Hall. Photo courtesy Beverly Tyler

About this same year, 12-year-old Blanche Carlton was asked to play the piano before a film and to accompany her close friend Veronica “Ronnie” Matfeld who would sing. Mom told me over tea, “I believe it was all arranged by Charlie Ruggles who got the director to run skits at the theater before the movie. I think the director’s name was John. I could hear the tunes so I didn’t need the music and I could pick out other tunes. For the last piece Ronnie sang “O Sole Mio” and when Ronnie reached the highest note I was to reach for the notes beyond the piano and fall off the stool onto the stage – and I did.” That ended the skit. Mom and Veronica went off stage and the movie started.

Charlie Ruggles came to East Setauket in 1926 and purchased property at 16 Coach Road. He maintained this East Coast residence until 1942. Ruggles was probably best known for his performances as a character actor in films such as “Bringing up Baby” with stars Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. In this crazy hectic comedy film he played Major Applegate, a big game hunter. Ruggles was in more than 100 films over a more than 50 year career. He began his career on the stage and was also well known for his work in radio and on television. 

Ruggles’ career included Long Island at the Player-Lasky Studios, later the Paramount, where he made four silent films in 1915. His comedic talents also extended to his personal relationships and he made many friends, many famous in their own right, as detailed in the May 13, 1927 “Brooklyn Daily Star”.  

“Due to the cordial relations existing between Charles Ruggles, popular comedian of ‘Queen High,’ at the Ambassador Theater, and Lieutenant Commander Byrd, Clarence Chamberlain, Bert Acosta and other famous airmen, the actor has erected a huge searchlight on his estate near East Setauket, to guide flyers in their aerial navigation during night hours. The Ruggles light has already become a landmark among the eastern aviators.”

Ruggles, as detailed in the October 1, 1936, “Mid-Island Mail”, came here often. “Movie Star at East Setauket  – Charles Ruggles of the movies flew from the coast last week to spend several days at his home in East Setauket. The well-known comedian is a frequent visitor here.” Ruggles was here enough to be included in the 1930 census for East Setauket along with his future wife Marion La Barba. 

Many other vaudeville, minstrel and Broadway actors came to this area with its pleasant villages and picturesque harbors. Getting out of the noise and smells of the city was one reason to come to places like Port Jefferson and Setauket and the presence of local theaters, dance halls and entertainment venues just added to the appeal.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Rd., Setauket, NY 11733. Tel: 631-751-3730. http://WWW.TVHS.org

S.H. West’s first blacksmith shop. Photo courtesy Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The first of the West family line to come to the Three Village area were Mary Morris West and her two sons Kendall (known as Harvey) and Ebenezer. In 1836 Mary’s husband, Ebenezer West, died in Delaware. The 1850 census lists a Mary M. West, of the right age and birthplace, living in Connecticut with another family, suggesting she may have moved there from Delaware. By 1860, the West family bought a house on Old Town Road. Mary and Harvey were living there along with his wife, Mary Eliza Terrell, whose family lived just south at Walnut Tree Farm, and three children, including Samuel. 

Samuel and Ida West and children on July 4, 1892. Samuel is holding his twins Harvey and Hazel West. There are seven children present. Mary, George and Ida were yet to be born. Photo courtesy Beverly Tyler

Carrie West, wife of Clinton West, noted that her father-in-law Samuel, born on April 8, 1953 in East Setauket, went to Bay Shore to learn the blacksmithing trade of George Thorne. Here, Samuel boarded with the Thornes and spoke of them as a fine family. In 1875, he bought the old Elbert Wheeler blacksmith shop that had earlier belonged to blacksmith William Smith, who owned the house on the corner of Main St. and Gnarled Hollow Road. 

As told by Clinton’s son, Forrest West, “In April of 1881, West had a new shop built on the same site as his first and eventually added a two-story building next door where carriages were repaired.” 

Carrie West noted, “Houses were built up to West’s blacksmith shop. Samuel West was a thorough high-class mechanic, a hard worker, a man of integrity, a devout Christian, a worker for temperance, devoted to his family and home. He had an extensive horse-shoeing trade where he shod the numerous running horses for the Vinguts, farm horses and many carriage horses for Strongs, Tinkers, Rebouls and many other well-known families from Miller Place to Smithtown. He was a clever ironworker; he did the carriage and wagon repair work for the community. He was a wagon maker and built farm wagons, light delivery wagons, and butcher wagons and sleds. He enjoyed hunting and he and Mr. Selah B Strong with their bird dogs enjoyed hunting together. They were great friends. Special horses were brought from a distance, because of his ability in handling them. His shop was a well-equipped, light shop, always very neat, and it has been said by his customers he was always so gentlemanly and courteous.”

Samuel West’s second blacksmith shop. Photo courtesy of Beverly C. Tyler

In 1879, Samuel married Ida Augusta Hulse. Together they kept house in a rented home on Station Road, now named Gnarled Hollow Road. Here, five of their children were born. In 1889, he built a spacious two-story house on the corner of Main St. (now 25A) and Bayview Ave, where five more children were born, the first being twins. A great tragedy came to this happy family when Ida Augusta died in 1899 at the birth of the tenth child. 

Samuel’s only sister, Mary Emmaline Loper (Mrs Gilbert E. Loper Sr.) of Port Jefferson, took his tenth baby into her home and tenderly brought her up with their children. Although crushed in heart, Samuel, a faithful father, brought his large family up in a splendid useful manner, each helping the other. He lived to enjoy four generations. (Based on Carrie West’s notes).

West used the 1881 shop until the 1930s, practicing as one of two East Setauket blacksmiths (Henry Rakow, the other smith, operated a shop on Shore Road.) West’s shop moved in 1951 to become a part of what is now the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook. The shop still can be seen with most of the equipment used by West to make and repair the metal parts of wagon wheels, shoe horses, and fashion various items that were essential to the community. 

Samuel West in his blacksmith shop. Photo courtesy Beverly Tyler

As detailed in the “Island News” on August 15, 1932, “Three years and six months before entering the blacksmith trade, Mr. West went to sea with his father, who was by trade a spar maker. This October will end the 57th year he has been open for business on the same spot…One man in Miller Place calls in his car to take the smithy to his horse. He now charges $3 a head but [the Miller Place man] pays three and a half times as much for shoes. Mr. West says that when he first raised his price one customer sold his horses rather than pay it.”  

It is difficult now to understand how important the blacksmith was to this community from the first  settlement through the early twentieth century. The blacksmith was vital to the early farm family as he was an artisan, performing a trade in which few men had the ability to do themselves. Working mostly with iron, he produced hand-cut nails; farm tools, such as axes and hoes; cooking utensils, such as pot hooks, toasters and dippers; and hardware for houses and barns, including hinges and door bolts. He was also a farrier, shoeing horses and oxen. The blacksmith took a great deal of pride in his work as evidenced by the fine ornamental iron pieces that exist as candle holders, gates and other decorative accents. Many blacksmiths also provided various related or unrelated services for the community, such as pulling teeth for local residents and treating horses for minor ailments. These services were quickly abandoned when a doctor or a veterinarian was available

Beverly Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Rd., Setauket, NY 11733. Tel: 631-751-3730. http://WWW.TVHS.org

Photo by Raymond Janis

Keep those letters coming

Congratulations to my fellow 2023 letter to the editor writers. Surveys reveal that “Letters to the Editor” is one of the most widely read and popular sections of any newspaper. Most newspapers will print letters submitted by any writer regardless of where they live so long as the topic is relevant to readers.

It helps to have a snappy introduction, good hook, be timely, precise and to have an interesting or different viewpoint to increase your odds of being published. Many papers welcome letters commenting on their own editorials, articles or previously published letters to the editor.

I continue to be grateful that the Times of Huntington-Northport, Times of Middle Country, Port Times Record, Village Beacon Record, Times of Smithtown and Village Times Herald along with other newspapers afford both me and my fellow letter writers the opportunity to express our views, as well as differing opinions on issues of the day.

Please join me along with your neighbors in reading the Times of Huntington-Northport and all other sister TBR newspapers. Patronize their advertisers — they provide the revenues necessary to keep them in business. This helps pay to provide space for your favorite or not-so-favorite letter writers.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Wouldn’t you prevent cancer if you could? You can. January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The Cancer Prevention in Action program at Stony Brook Cancer Center wants to share how you can prevent cervical cancer for yourself and your loved ones.

There are two things you can do to significantly reduce your cervical cancer risk: regular cervical cancer screenings and getting the HPV vaccine. Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus. Being vaccinated against HPV would prevent most cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for children beginning at age 9 and can be given to young adults through age 26. This vaccine can prevent about 90% of HPV-related cancers from occurring later in life, including cancers of the mouth, throat, anus, vulva and vagina, and penis.

Regular cervical cancer screenings can also help you prevent cancer. Cervical cancer screening tests can find the cells that lead to cancer before it starts. These cells can then be removed. Screening also helps to find cancer early when it may be easier to treat. Cervical cancer screening is recommended from age 21 to 65.

The CPiA program at Stony Brook Cancer Center works to increase HPV vaccination and help reduce cancer rates on Long Island. CPiA educates health care providers, community organizations, parents and young adults about the benefits of the HPV vaccine. 

To learn more about cervical cancer prevention and the HPV vaccine, go to takeactionagainstcancer.com or contact us at 631-444-4263 or [email protected].  

The best time to take action against cancer is before it starts.

Cancer Prevention in Action

Stony Brook University

Inspirational family stories

My wife and I wondered how we could leave our children and grandchildren with a record of some of the history and genealogy we have collected over the years and make it interesting as well.

This Christmas, we gave each of our children and grandchildren a book of short stories about our families. The 85-page book we finished in early December is titled “Grandpa Swallowed His False Teeth and Grandma Got Run Over by a Cow.” These two stories plus many others, some going back more than 10 generations, are included. We worked diligently over the past year to pull stories together and to edit and correct the book until we were satisfied with its content. We also included many pictures to go along with the text. Some of the stories are parts of articles I have written in The Three Village Herald and The Village Times Herald over the past 40-plus years. 

We hope this may inspire you to write down some of your family stories and possibly even share them with readers of TBR newspapers.

Beverly C. Tyler

East Setauket

Above, Miller Frank Schaefer feeds ducks and swans in front of his Stony Brook Grist Mill. Schaefer had kept the mill in operation until 1947. Photo courtesy Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

“Don’t change Stony Brook too much! Leave some dirt roads, some crooked lanes, some old trees, some old homes and the winding brook and creeks. Clean them up a bit, if you will. Restore for permanency, but don’t use 20th-century plastic surgery on a 17th-century face.” — Edward A. Lapham, “Stony Brook Secrets”

Author Beverly C. Tyler

Frank Melville, Ward’s father, was intrigued with Williamsburg and wanted to do something here. After Frank Melville died, Ward carried out the project and said in January 1940, “This project has been in my mind and in the minds of my mother and father before me going back some 10 years.”

Ward Melville envisioned the rehabilitated Stony Brook as a beautification project, an economic engine and a community social undertaking. As described in a pamphlet, “An interesting and most pleasant consequence of the Stony Brook project was the new interest the villagers took in the appearance of their own homes as the village green and shopping center took shape. … As pride of appearance asserted itself, the whole village began to acquire its present neat, clean-cut look of simplicity.”

Melville saw Stony Brook as a community where people would walk, greet one another, converse, discuss the day’s politics and be responsible, involved citizens. The village green and central post office were the keys to this concept. However, the inclusion of village shops and offices for doctors, dentists and real estate agents was designed to make this a functioning community.

Main Street in Stony Brook during the 19th and early part of the 20th century was an active commercial area with a wide variety of shops. This commercial and tourist-generated activity ended with World War I as Stony Brook became a small, locally used harbor village.

South of Harbor Road and the mill pond, there were several small homesteads and farms, a harness maker’s shop, a blacksmith shop and a schoolhouse. The business area began at the grist mill, and except for Jacinsky’s Saloon and a bakery opposite Harbor Road, all the stores were on the west side of the road between the mill pond and the harbor.

Shops included an ice cream parlor, drug store, hardware store, tea room, secondhand clothing store, Chinese laundry, a tailor shop, a harness maker’s shop that became a butcher shop and grocery store about 1900, a barber shop, livery stable, shoemaker’s shop, post office and at least two general stores.

The butcher in Stony Brook at the turn of the 20th century was Orlando G. Smith. His brother, Charles E. Smith, ran a butcher shop and general store in East Setauket. Orlando took over the butcher business from Bennie Wells, who died in 1875. In 1898, Orlando built a new store on the site of an earlier butcher shop run by George Hawkins.

In his booklet “A Century of Progress,” Percy Smith indicated, “In the mid-[1890s], farmers around Stony Brook began decreasing the sale of their livestock, and Orlando Smith was forced to find another source of supply. The closest place was Bridgeport, about 15 miles across the Sound, but Smith encountered many difficulties obtaining meat from even so short a distance.

“His order had to go to Bridgeport by mail. The meat was then hauled to the Bridgeport docks and shipped by boat to Port Jefferson. There, it was loaded into a wagon and brought to Stony Brook. During this time, Orlando bought what meat he could, but this had dwindled mostly to calves, lambs and pigs.”

Orlando Smith’s butcher shop was located south of the current Reboli Center. In 1913, Percy Smith took over the butcher business after it had been owned for less than a year by Captain Robert F. Wells and then by Percy’s father, W.H. Smith. In 1922, Percy moved to a new location in the old post office building located a few lots north of the Reboli Center.

Tom and Mamie Anderson stand outside their general store around 1920. Photo courtesy Beverly C. Tyler

Up Christian Avenue and just to the left, behind the house on the corner of Sand Street, was Tom and Mamie Anderson’s store. According to Edward A. Lapham’s “Stony Brook Secrets,” it had been a general store until World War I, when “groceries became so difficult to obtain that Tom gave up that end of the business and sold only ice cream and candy. He also sold real estate and looked after the town roads.”

When they first came to Stony Brook in the 1920s, Lapham and his wife Anna took a room at the Andersons’ home. Lapham noted that Mrs. Anderson “explained that her home was old fashioned, that there was no running water and that the outhouse was located on the hill above the store. However, if we wanted the room, she would try to make us comfortable.”

Many residents in Stony Brook would provide a room for visitors, especially during the summer when the Stony Brook Assembly was in operation.

Returning to the center of the business area of Stony Brook, the Bank of Suffolk County began its operation in 1907 in a building at the south corner of the old business triangle, which is now part of the Stony Brook Village Green. The building, featuring a shingled mansard roof, was owned by the Odd Fellows and contained a drug store and soda fountain, a library, lodge and dance hall in addition to the bank. The bank moved to the current Reboli Center in 1912, and the original building was torn down as part of the rehabilitation of the Stony Brook shopping area in 1941.

When the bank moved, it occupied a location formerly owned by Dan Sherry, who ran a livery stable before the turn of the century. Just north of Sherry’s was the home and general store of J.N. Gould. Gould’s house later became the home of Doctor Squire. North of Gould’s home was the general store and home of Edward Oaks. Oaks, in 1873, was a “dealer in dry goods, groceries and other supplies.”

According to Percy Smith, Oaks’ general store — later Toppings general store — was the “better” general store in town. “It had everything,” Smith commented, “Bales of hay, kerosene, hardware, patent medicine, food and clothing.”

When the rehabilitation of Stony Brook was completed, Percy Smith was the first shopkeeper to move into the new shopping center. Percy opened his butcher shop in what is now Wiggs Opticians. Many old stores and homes were moved and restored, while many others were demolished. The result was a modern Stony Brook business area with a strong flavor of the past.

An “Images of America” book on the history of Stony Brook is available from the Three Village Historical Society. For further information, contact the Society at 631-751-3730 or stop at the Society History Center and book/gift shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket, Thursdays through Sundays from 12-4 p.m.

A copy of “Stony Brook Secrets” is available in the Long Island collection of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society.

Photo from Pixabay

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Here we are, once again feeling the excitement of starting a new venture the way we did, more than 47 years ago, when we published the first issue of The Village Times. Tomorrow we start the first of our weekly podcasts, “Press Room Afterhour.” It’s heady stuff to be an entrepreneur. All that adrenalin is addicting.

So what is “Press Room Afterhour”?

It’s the name of our podcast. We have been practicing Thursday evenings after the papers come out. We, the editorial board, sit around the conference table and talk about some of the news stories of the week, filling in more details that didn’t make it into print, giving our personal take on the articles we wrote. The sessions will be available to listeners each Friday and will last 20-30 minutes. Each story is discussed for about 3 minutes. We sometimes pepper each other with questions or add our reactions, even as we fill in the readers who perhaps haven’t had a chance to keep up with the news.

The permanent members on the podcast are : Managing Editor Raymond Janis, Co-Producer Mike Vincenti and me, Editor and Publisher. We are grateful for our Audio Editor and Co-Producer, Michael Dunaief, behind the scenes. There are also one or two reporters who have written some of each week’s news. And we might even have a distinguished guest attend the session.

Mike often asks questions, prompting us to expand on the information we are offering our readers and viewers. He represents the less well informed listener since he comes straight from a long-day’s work, and he hasn’t yet read that days’s paper or watched our website and wants to know what has happened in the villages and towns since last week. This works to tease out some of the facts we might not have included. Raymond, the reporters and I field the questions and sometimes add our perspectives. And we encourage the guest, if there is one that night, to add his or her thoughts relative to the subject. 

To lead off this week, we have invited Beverly Tyler to be our honored guest for tomorrow’s podcast since he was on the front page of The Village Times in the first issue April 8, 1976. Bev is a highly respected author, speaker and many-splendored historian who knows endless stories about the Revolutionary War and its local participants as it took place on Long Island. He also specializes in other aspects of our history.

So how do you hear the podcast?

For starters, you can hear it on our website: tbrnewsmedia.com. We also will have it on Spotify on Fridays after 12 pm, if you wish to go to that platform. 

So why have we begun this? Really for the same reason we started our papers, our website and our social media platforms. We know that information is vital for every resident to have if we are going to participate in a democratic form of government. Without news, without a discussion of the issues, residents would not be able to vote knowledgeably, would not participate in local issues that might affect them directly. They would not have the pleasure of reading about cultural offerings and their children’s sports teams. In short, there wouldn’t be the sense of community that a local news outlet provides.

Additionally we are sponsored by local businesses with brief advertising spots included among the news items. If you would like to be a sponsor please contact us. 

Podcasts are another way of reaching you, the public, with the news you need and, we trust, want to know. And it’s a way for you to reach us and tell us how we can help. News deserts are popping up throughout the nation, and those communities without media to give them voice and protect them from various civic ills are much the poorer. They are without spokespeople who can and do speak truth to power on their behalf.

We would welcome your thoughts regarding this new venture. Email us your comments to [email protected].

Here we go.

36 Bayview Ave. in East Setauket on the morning after the ‘38 hurricane, the house’s chimney obliterated by the storm. Photo courtesy of Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Author Beverly C. Tyler

Eighty-five years ago, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 1938, just past noon, a tidal wave swept over Fire Island and the Long Island South Shore, the advance wind and waves announcing the arrival of a hurricane, later named the “Long Island Express.”

It swept across eastern Long Island and continued across Long Island Sound to have even greater destruction and loss of life in southern New England.

That evening at 10 p.m., my grandmother, Edith Tyler, then Setauket’s postmaster, wrote on a penny postcard describing the storm’s local impact. She postmarked the card the following morning and sent it to my father in Brooklyn.

Edith wrote, “Beverly – Did you have a storm today? We have had a northeaster followed by west wind – no lights, telephone – and what a wreck Setauket is – about a dozen trees down. … The green was a wreck – 25 trees from here to Catholic Church down – 100 they say down at Wide Water … mail didn’t get in until 8 p.m. … Jimmy says the Bridgeport boat hasn’t been reported since 2 p.m. Never saw anything like it before – tree blew down on Brennan’s house – wind changed and blew it off … general destruction all around – Mother.”

The hurricane was the subject of Three Village Historical Society oral history interviews. A few were printed in the society’s journal, “The Three Village Historian.”

East Setauket’s Forrest West described the hurricane. “I was commuting in those days on the [Long Island Rail Road] from East Setauket to Brooklyn,” he said. “On my usual afternoon train that day, my head was buried in my newspaper. Only at Huntington did I look up briefly. Noting people braced into the wind and umbrellas being blown inside out – or away – I mildly noted to myself that there was quite a wind blowing and returned to my paper.”

He continued, “Nearing Smithtown, I laid my paper aside and noted that we seemed to be held up going into the station. Held up we surely were for the remainder of the trip, as trees had to be cleared from the tracks. The immensity of the storm was finally getting into my consciousness. Arriving hours late at the Setauket station, I by then knew that my wife would not be meeting me. Surprise, though! There was a fellow I knew there in a pickup, and he offered me a ride. There were so many trees down that we hardly used the streets but rather detoured constantly through people’s yards. Home safely, the night was beautiful and quiet … We were without electricity for 13 days, but we had bottled gas for cooking and a little heat.

“My wife, Peg, was then teaching in the old high school on the hill. She recalls how she and her class watched from the second-story windows as bricks flew out of the walls of the old brick (rubber) factory building on Chicken Hill. No buses, the teachers were obligated to get the students home. She drew a crew that lived in Old Field. With trees crashing alongside and behind, she made her last delivery, advised at one point by an official to ‘get out of here fast. This is the last road open.’ Aside from the safety of her kids, she had one concern on her mind: ‘Please don’t hit this car; we are trading it in tomorrow.’”

Elizabeth R. Medd, from Stony Brook, noted, “The Old Field Club was to have a bridge luncheon that day to start at 11:30 a.m. In spite of the warnings on the radio, we decided to attend, thinking we could drive quickly to our homes if the storm became really threatening. We soon realized we all should go home as the tides were rising, and the winds became fierce from all directions very suddenly.

“I live on Christian Avenue. When I made the turn off Quaker Path, a huge tree fell across the road directly in front of me. I quickly got out of the car and somehow managed to reach my house, dodging other falling trees or climbing over them. In a similar fashion, my older son managed to reach home from The Stony Brook School.

“Suddenly, there seemed to be a lull in the storm. We decided to try to get to the village to find our young son, who was at the village school. At the corner of Cedar Street, we saw a neighbor with five children – two of his own, two who lived in Old Field and our son. He had abandoned his car and was trying to get home by climbing over fallen trees. He continued with his children, leaving the other two with us. As the hurricane soon returned, they had to spend the night, and my heart ached for their parents, who, of course, had no idea where their children were until the next day when the town did a great job repairing communications and clearing roads.”

William B. Minuse, who lived on Shore Road in East Setauket, said, “That day, I went to work for Robartes in Port Jefferson. It was storming. Too rainy and windy to work outside … I really wasn’t aware that it was such a severe storm. The wind blew very hard, but the area where I was was rather sheltered.

“I worked until 5, then I started home. At that point, I realized that there was something more serious going on than an ordinary storm. There were limbs down on the road and some trees down, but I got home without any real difficulty.

“By that time, I believe the electricity was off … I ate dinner, and by that time, the wind had gone down. I got in my car and drove to Stony Brook after dark. … A great many trees [were] down, although I managed to get through Christian Avenue. … Prior to that storm, Stony Brook used to have a beautiful growth of locust trees along Christian Avenue. A great many of them were destroyed and were lying across and alongside the road. Somehow, I managed to get through right down into the village.

“Next morning, I went back to Robartes’ office to go to work. Got there without any difficulty, and he sent myself and my helper, George Brown … to survey some lots in Mastic Beach. … We got into where the lots were located, not far from the Great South Bay. There were trees down there more seriously than there were over here, I would say.

“While we were working there, this bleary-eyed figure came out of one of the houses. It was a man. He told us that he had been in the house all night long. The water had come up around the house, and he had sat on a table waiting for the water to go down, and he had a bottle of whiskey. I think he must have emptied the bottle because he was just about able to stagger when he came out to talk to us. I guess he had a pretty good scare.

“We finished the survey … and started home. At that time, the police had formed a roadblock around the entire Mastic Beach area to prevent looting. We established our identity. … We had no problem with the police, but at that time, the seriousness of the situation was really felt.”

The Port Jefferson-Bridgeport steamer ferry boat, Park City. Photo courtesy Beverly C. Tyler

In Port Jefferson, concern was for the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport steamer ferry boat, Park City, which left Port Jeff at 2 p.m. on the day of the hurricane and was not heard of again until she was discovered anchored in the Sound. The boiler had been flooded, but the crew and passengers had kept the pumps going. She was subsequently towed back into Port Jefferson Harbor by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. In addition to the crew, two men, three women and a baby were on board, who arrived on the little 40-year-old vessel after a harrowing 18 to 20 hours.

 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.

In the Fort Pitt Tunnel. in Pittsburgh. Photo by Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

John Broven’s article on his Amtrak trip to and from Pittsburgh [Our turn: “In praise of Amtrak, LIRR not so much,” TBR News Media website, June 5] inspired me to write about my 31-hour bus trip from Kansas City, Missouri, to New York City in 2018. This took longer than our trip from Setauket to Sidney, Australia in 2002.

I attended the American Association for State and Local History Annual Meeting in Kansas City at the end of September. I flew out and to do something I’ve never done before — I took the Greyhound bus home.

The scheduled departure was 10:25 p.m., however the bus was behind schedule. I discovered the seats here and at every bus terminal were uncomfortable, metal and ribbed, so sitting on them was painful. I met fellow traveler Don in the terminal and we talked about history and architecture. The staff here were not sure of how the bus was doing until about 15 minutes before the bus arrived. We finally left Kansas City a little more than two hours late.

Just after sunrise between St. Louis and Indianapolis. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

The seats on the bus were very uncomfortable with little legroom, no place for my travel mug and no overhead reading light in any seat. In the rear of the bus people talked constantly and loudly. I was about in the middle. The bus was very noisy, rough riding and included a disturbing high-pitched squeal that became higher as we increased speed.

We had a rest stop in Columbia, Missouri, a nice clean place with good food and drink choices. We arrived in St. Louis at 4:45 a.m. and expected to be there about two hours. The small hot food place (pizza etc.) was not open, just snack food, water and sodas available, no juices. 

We changed buses and left St. Louis at 6:28 a.m. I got a much better seat with good legroom in the escape window aisle. There were no snack tables on any of the buses. I know I shouldn’t expect them, but they are normal on buses in Europe. No overhead individual lights and no Wi-Fi on this bus. The only electrical outlets that worked were on the right side of the bus, but otherwise this was a better bus. The last one had trouble with shocks, according to the driver who almost left the road at one point due to hitting a bad spot in the road. The new driver really laid down the law with respect to noise, cellphones, bathroom, courtesy, etc. He even said that we had to keep our shoes on, in case of emergencies. First time I heard that. We had a beautiful sunrise with fog across the open fields as we left St. Louis, very picturesque. My seatmate was on the phone for at least an hour after we departed.

We arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, just before noon. It was Sunday, and the crowds were already coming into the Colts stadium next door. The weather was gorgeous We had just 20 minutes to get something for lunch or breakfast although the schedule called for 55 minutes. The only place close by was a White Castle across the road with a long line. The waiting room and restrooms were dark and dreary, not sparkling and scrubbed as they were in Columbia. We lined up to get back on our bus and were told to get our carry-ons from the bus and get on a new bus. 

Homeward bound

We left Indianapolis at 12:42 p.m. This bus was not well maintained. Most of the seats were threadbare and cracked which gave rough edges. Just like the first two buses, we felt every bump in the roadway. We paused in Dayton and Springfield, Ohio, to pick up local passengers and stopped for 45 minutes in Columbus, Ohio. There was nothing in the bus terminal except a few snack-and-drink machines. I hoped to get a meal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I talked to a lady who embarked at Indianapolis and had to work this night in Pittsburgh. She said Greyhound was delayed in both directions and the worst part was that no one could tell her when the bus would arrive — they kept saying “15 minutes.”

We arrived in Pittsburgh about 8 p.m. We are told only 20 minutes here. The restaurant in the bus terminal was closed, so the only choice for supper was a pop tart and an iced tea from one of the machines. Just as we were leaving, they opened up again — too late. We thought they were closed for the night.

When we got back on the bus, we found out there were two wheelchair passengers to load so seats had to be removed. As a consequence, we had to move our stuff to a seat in front or at the rear. We hustled to get it done. I ended up sitting with a woman on her way to Philadelphia. We started a conversation just before the new passengers came onboard, including one couple who insisted on sitting together, but there were only single seats available. The woman insisted that they had assigned seats, which nobody gets. The agent said they would have to take available seats or leave.

Unfortunately, both the couple and the agent were yelling loudly, insistent and unmoving. Before it got to the point of throwing the couple off the bus, my seatmate whispered to me that she would move if I did. We got up and offered the couple our seats. Everything calmed down. Like so many of the people I met on this trip, my brief seatmate was a pleasure to talk to. The people I met, including the new bus driver we had from Pittsburgh to New York City, were the best part of the trip.

We left Pittsburgh an hour behind our new scheduled time. None of us on the bus from Indianapolis had any supper, but no one really complained. Sitting in the front for the first time the road ahead was mesmerizing.

At 10:35 p.m., we stopped at the Sideling Hill rest stop in Pennsylvania. Some of us got off the bus to use the restrooms and were surprised that the shop there was open with all kinds of drinks and sandwiches that we could microwave. It was a real treat and our driver gave us up to 45 minutes even though we were scheduled for 30. I treated myself to a green chili fajita and a pumpkin spice latte. We all hurried up as fast as we could and were back on the bus and on our way by 11:10 p.m.

We arrived in Philadelphia just after 3 a.m. I finally got some sleep on the way to Philly. I stayed on the bus so I didn’t have to go through the regular process of getting a return note or tag and wait until we were summoned to get back on the bus. This happened at every bus terminal stop. Interestingly, the two best rest stops we stopped at were along the PA Turnpike an hour and fifteen minutes out of the Pittsburgh bus station and Columbia. Neither is a bus terminal, but they are the cleanest places with the best choices of food.

We left Philadelphia for New York about 3:30 a.m. and I was able to sleep. We arrived at Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City at 5:15 a.m. I couldn’t believe how fast the trip was from Philadelphia.

I walked to Penn Station and made the 5:47 to Stony Brook. We had to change at Huntington, and I was glad to have my walking stick as we had to walk up and over the footbridge to get the train to Port Jeff. The walking stick really helped on the climb and descent. Barbara picked me up at the Stony Brook station at about 7:45 a.m. I was glad to be home at last..

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.

Kevin and Helen Sells, above, at the Setalcott Nation Corn Festival and Powwow. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

Two of the events which bring family members back to Setauket from all over the country are the Hart-Sells reunion, held during Labor Day weekend in September, and the Setalcott Nation PowWow and Corn Festival held this year on July 8 and 9 on the Setauket Elementary School field.

Kevin Sells pictured in front of the Three Village Community Trust’s restored rubber factory houses. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Kevin Sells, now retired and living in Tucson, Arizona, made the trip east this year to renew his connection to Setauket and to be with the cousins and other relatives he usually communicates with from a distance. Kevin’s cousin, Helen Sells, who suggested Kevin come to this year’s powwow said he and I should meet as he is a fellow family historian who spent a lot of time in Setauket when he was growing up. Helen introduced me to Kevin, and we spent a few hours together around Setauket, in the Chicken Hill exhibit at the Three Village Historical Society History Center and at the Three Village Community Trust’s rubber factory houses.

Kevin commented while viewing the Chicken Hill exhibit, “The biggest part of it I remember is my great-aunt Mamie, my grandfather’s sister.” He remembered Mrs. Hart lived in a big old house just a few yards south of 25A along Old Town Road. “The place, it wasn’t as sturdy as it could have been but the place was full of love — of laughter … My mother used to tell me stories, my mother — all my aunts and uncles — used to tell me stories about how as soon as school let out over in [Bridgeport] Connecticut, all the parents got their kids together and marched them down to the ferry, which my great-grandfather worked on for many years. His name was John E. Sells, everyone around here knew him as Dass … He worked on the ferry for 25 or 30 years. So all the kids, they get shoved up the gangplank onto the ferry and great-grandpa was there to make sure they behaved and no one fell over the side and so on and so forth. And we had another family member … who had a cab company. They’d be two taxis to meet the kids when he herded them down the gangplank … we’re talking about 15-20 kids … everybody piled into that one little house … parents would come over on the weekend. That was always a great thing.”

Painting of Sarah Ann Sells by Ray Tyler in the Chicken Hill exhibit at the Three Village Historical Society.

He noted they would always come over for the Hart-Sells reunion as well. “We’d all meet at the hall. The hall was in pretty good shape at that time. There’d be just hundreds of us that would show up and all us kids would run around. Eventually we’d all end up running up and down the hill of Laurel Hill Cemetery.”

Kevin noted that when he came to Setauket as an adult the first thing he would do was to climb up Laurel Hill to talk to Sarah Ann. There was no stone for her for many years but he would find a place close to where he thought she was. He mentioned the lack of a stone. He continued, “It was years before Sarah Ann got a stone … She was the matriarch of the whole darn family … Last time I’d seen her I was probably five years old. She was living in the house on Gnarled Hollow … we didn’t know her that well because we were little kids.”

Looking at the painting of Sarah Ann in the exhibit, Kevin noted that the smell on her tobacco was one of his most vivid remembrances. “That memory sticks after all these years … That smell just permeated the air around her … any time I smell that particular type of pipe tobacco it snaps me right back. 

“She kind of doted on me and Mamie’s granddaughter. We were like the last of the great-grandchildren she got to cuddle and play with — spoil a bit … How many people did she deliver in this town as a midwife? She made sure they came into the world … She was a trusted individual.”

I truly appreciate that the historical society is putting this exhibit together … this is forgotten history … Chicken Hill is — most people who drive up and down the road have no idea whatsoever that all that existed — that all those lives were affected.”

At the rubber factory houses Kevin commented, “I’m really impressed with what’s being done around here, there seems to be like a critical mass of people who come together to say ‘well no — maybe we shouldn’t do that …’ A town that remembers its past is always going to have a good future.” 

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.

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

Honor the past. Embrace the present. Look to the future.

Beverly C. Tyler is the author of multiple works focusing on local history. These include Founders Day, Down the Ways—The Wooden Ship Era, and Setauket and Brookhaven History (all reviewed in this paper). Tyler now turns his eye to a detailed history of Setauket’s Caroline Episcopal Church, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year.

Front cover of book

The book is an excellent blend of the historical and the personal. In one- and two-page sections, Tyler covers everything from the church’s construction to its pastoral care ministry. Sunday school, past and present, and the church’s choir are presented. Tyler traverses the many milestones centered around religious, societal life: baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals. The many facets of the church—Bible study, eucharist, caregiver and grief support groups—are all mentioned. Caroline Church is a rich resource for those connected to the church and may also serve as a model for those looking to preserve a civic organization. Detailed lists and a plethora of dates are neatly organized throughout the entire volume. 

The book shares letters from clergy alongside personal reflections. In his message, Reverend Canon Richard Visconti expresses his gratitude for his connection to Caroline Church: “Your faithfulness in worship, your extension of Christ’s healing touch to a broken world within the community, year after, is a testimony to the goodness and blessing of God … May Caroline Church continue to grow in its mission to help all live transformed lives for Christ.” The Rev. Nickolas Clay Griffith suggests to have “one foot planted in the Anglican tradition and the other foot working to … reach for the opportunities where we can be people of Christ in the world today.”  

Parishioners tell of what drew them to the church (or, in some cases, back to it). The theme of family is often celebrated. Given two full pages is “Caroline During COVID.” This chronicle shows how the church adapted and persevered in a challenging and difficult time where streaming and social distancing became the necessary norm. 

Back cover of book

Rev. Sharon Sheridan Hausman strikes a gardening metaphor in her piece, referencing growth in “vines,” “seeds,” and “root.” Colleen Cash-Madeira opens with the Swedish saying, “Even the devil gets religion in old age.” The twenty-nine-year-old then discusses church attendance as “exposure to a set of tools: faith, hope, compassion, community.” 

Tyler gives an in-depth but concise history of the inception of Caroline Church. In “How It All Began,” he starts at the end of the seventeenth century and continues through 1730.

Cleverly, the author has inserted a timeline ribbon across the top of each page. He begins on April 14, 1655, with the English settlement of the town of Setauket. The entries culminate in 2021, with the installation of Rev. Griffith; Camp DeWolfe’s celebration of its seventy-fifth anniversary (2022); and the church’s marking of its third century (2023).

And like with all of Tyler’s previous works, the book is replete with hundreds of photos as well as historical paintings and sketches. The images alone carry much of the church’s story. The last page is particularly fascinating: a re-imagined eighteenth-century prayer service, shown in six photos, including video projections.

Perhaps the best summation is in Henry Hull’s final couplets of An Ode to Caroline Church:

So here’s to the Clergy and Vestries, too

They have led all the flocks of communicants who

Have passed through the portal of dear Caroline

And have lived, loved and learned in a way most divine.

Copies of the book are available for sale at the Caroline Episcopal Church office, 1 Dyke Road, Setauket. For more information, please call 631-941-4245. 

Photo by David Ackerman

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Maybe it sounds like I’m tooting our horn too much, but I have to say how proud I am of the columnists who write for our papers and website. They are clearly bright and offer the reader information and knowledge that aren’t usually found even in a big metro daily or a glossy magazine. They are, collectively and individually, one of the main reasons our hometown newspapers have managed to survive while so many of our colleagues, 25% of them in the nation, have had to shut their doors.

Readers want to learn from our regular columnists, who, by the way, are local residents. That’s not surprising, though, because the population we serve is exceptional, accomplished in their own right, and can be expected to harbor such talent. Let me explain.

The columnists are found in the second section of the newspaper, called Arts & Lifestyles. In the interest of full disclosure and without false modesty, I point out and salute my youngest son, Dr. David Dunaief. He is a physician totally committed to helping his patients, and the high regard is returned by them in equal measure, as testimonials about him confirm. In addition, he writes every week about current medical problems and brings readers up to date with the latest research and thinking regarding common ailments. I know him to be a voracious reader of medical journals and he footnotes his sources of expertise at the end of every “Medical Compass” column. 

Dr. Matthew Kearns is a longtime popular veterinarian who writes “Ask the Vet,” keeping our beloved pets healthy. Michael E. Russell is a successful, retired financial professional who cannot cut the cord with Wall Street, and  shares his thoughts on the economy and suggesting current buys on the stock market. He will also throw in something irreverent, or even askance, to keep you tuned in. 

Also writing knowledgeably on the contemporary scene about finance and the economy is Michael Christodoulou, who is also an active financial advisor. Ever try to read your auto insurance policies? If I had trouble falling asleep, they would knock me out by the second paragraph. Enter A. Craig Purcell, a partner in a long-established local law firm, who is attempting to explain auto insurance coverage, a merciful endeavor, with his column. His words do not put me to sleep. Shannon Malone will alternate the writing for us. Michael Ardolino, a well-known realtor, somehow manages to make both ends of a real estate transaction, for buyers and sellers, sound promising at this time. 

Our lead movie and book reviewer is the highly talented Jeffrey Sanzel. In addition to being a terrific actor, he is a gifted writer and almost always feels the same way about what he is reviewing as I do. No wonder I think he is brilliant.  Father Frank has been writing for the papers for many years and always with great integrity and compassion. 

John Turner, famous naturalist and noted author and lecturer, keeps us apprised of challenges to nature. This is a niche for all residents near the shorelines of Long Island. He also writes “Living Lightly,” about being a responsible earth dweller. Bob Lipinski is the wine connoisseur who travels the world and keeps us aware of best wines and cheeses.

Lisa Scott and Nancy Marr of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters, keep us informed about upcoming elections, new laws and important propositions. Elder law attorney Nancy Burner tells us about Medicare, estate planning, wills gifting, trustees, trusts and other critical issues as we age.

The last columnist I will mention is Daniel Dunaief, who, like bookends for my salute, is also my son. Among several other articles, he writes “The Power of Three,” explaining some of the research that is performed at Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Labs and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He makes a deep dive into the science in such a way that layman readers can understand what is happening in the labs. He has been paid the ultimate compliment by the scientists for a journalist: they pick up the phone and willingly talk to him, unafraid that he will get the story wrong or misquote them. In fact, he has been told a rewarding number of times by the researchers that his questions for the articles have helped them further direct their work.

When my sons began writing for TBR News Media, a few readers accused me of nepotism. I haven’t heard that charge now in years.

P.S. Of course, we can’t forget Beverly C. Tyler and Kenneth Brady, stellar historians both.