By Robert Laravie
One always wonders if it a good idea to open an email from a name you do not recognize. In early April of this year one came in from Caroline Carless. I almost thought it was an email version of the robocalls I receive about extended auto service coverage — you know something like “Don’t be left carless…extend your car warranty.” In a weak moment I decided to open it.
It turned out Caroline was from SW England in Dorset and she must have found my contact information from the promotion of the 2021 Port Jefferson Hill Climb. She stated that her companion, Colin Burnett, collected three handled cups and she had two trophy cups from the 1911 Port Jefferson Hill Climb. They were acquired over 20 years ago at a Lawrences auction in England. She felt it would be best if they were returned to Port Jefferson.
Together with Chris Ryon, the Port Jefferson Village Historian, we researched the event numbers on the cups. One was No. 14. It appears event No. 14 was won by W.J. Fallon. Fallon was in real estate and one of the organizers of the hill climb and drove in a few events. He posted fastest times in the two amateur classes he entered, one for cars from $1200 to $2000 he won in a Corbin, in 34.56 seconds. The other for cars $2001 and over he won in a National in 25.30 seconds. Don Herr, in a National was overall fasted of the day in an event called the Free- For- All at 21.31 seconds, just beating out a Knox driven by F. W. Belcher at 21.57.
The event number 15 trophy has engraved on it “Presented by Mrs. C. B. Zabriskie.” A little more research in the Port Jefferson archives and on line revealed that Mr. C. B. Zabriskie was an executive with the Borax Company. He lived, when not managing the mining operation in Death Valley, in New York City and in his summer house in Belle Terre on Woodland Road. Zabriskie Point in Death Valley is named after him as well as a Michelangelo Antonioni movie of the same name, but that’s another story.
Thanks to the generosity of Caroline Carless and the collecting passion of Colin Burnett, the Port Jefferson Conservancy will have the trophies back in Port Jefferson and will have them on display at the Port Jefferson Village Center at 101-A East Broadway during the annual 1910 Hill Climb on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A resident of Port Jefferson, Robert Laravie has been a member of the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy for the last seven years.