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Ward Melville

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.

Pictured from left, Dr. Richard Rugen, WMHO Chairman; Honorable Steve Englebright; Olivia and Harlan Fischer, President of Branch Financial Services; and Gloria Rocchio, WMHO President. Photo courtesy of WMHO

Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) announced on Oct. 13 that former Assemblyman Steve Englebright has successfully secured a $125,000 grant for repairs to several of Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s historic properties.

Pictured from left, Dr. Richard Rugen, WMHO Chairman; Honorable Steve Englebright; Olivia and Harlan Fischer, President of Branch Financial Services; and Gloria Rocchio, WMHO President. Photo courtesy of WMHO

“When Ward Melville rehabilitated the village most of the renovations were completed at the same time. We have had repairs done over the years, but everything is accelerating because of age. It is hard to do everything at once. Thank you, Steve and so many more for helping us preserve this legacy,” said WMHO Chairman Dr. Richard Rugen.

The properties to receive restoration are the Stony Brook Grill Mill c. 1751, the Brewster House c. 1665 and the Eagle (1940) atop the Stony Brook Post Office.

Honorable Steve Englebright said, “This beautiful, carved, mechanical eagle is likely the earliest public art sculpture in our region. It is also a symbol of our nation. It is an honor to have helped advance restoration of this icon of American history.”

This iconic eagle is the only one in the United States to flap its wings every hour on the hour. When word went out about repairs needed to the eagle, donations were received from around the country. The cost to restore it was larger than anticipated, so WMHO organized a Summer Soiree and Olivia and Harlan Fischer, Branch Financial Services, came forward with the largest donation to meet the goal of $75,000 for the eagle alone.

Olivia and Harlan Fischer and Dr. Richard Rugen, examining the mechanism that controls the eagle. Photo from WMHO

In making this contribution Olivia and Harlan said, “That eagle has been flapping its wings every hour for over 80 years. Both residents and visitors wait in front of the Post Office just to watch. We wanted to make sure that this tradition continues.”

A restricted account has been established to handle any repairs to the mechanism or the eagle itself in the future. Any donation to the eagle is tax deductible.  Work will begin in the Spring of 2024, but the work on the elements of the eagle will begin over the winter 2023. Work on the other properties will begin in the Spring of 2024.

Founded in 1939, WMHO is a not-for-profit corporation that develops and fosters community enrichment through cultural and educational experiences. WMHO accomplishes this by enhancing and interpreting its historic and environmentally sensitive properties and by utilizing state-of-the-art technology. For more information, please visit www.wmho.org

Tom Manuel Photo by Adam Hurewitz

By Thomas Manuel

From the ancient Greeks to Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, George Clooney, Bill Gates, and countless individuals in between, philanthropy, a love for humanity and a desire to see it thrive, has been a common thread. It has been said that effective philanthropy requires a lot of time and creativity; the same kind of focus and skills that building a business requires. Miriam Beard once pointed out, “The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation.”

Philanthropic giving is not just a phenomenon found in certain parts of the world, rather it is a spirit of giving back which is global. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain in speaking about philanthropy expanded that the best philanthropy is not just about giving money but giving leadership. The best philanthropists bring the gifts that made them successful — the drive, the determination, the refusal to accept that something can’t be done. These are the characteristics they invest  into their philanthropy.

There are many reasons that drive and motivate philanthropy and not all are fueled by great passion for causes or humility. For every person that seeks anonymity there is another who desires their name be etched in stone. Regardless the motivation, our society at large has been beneficiary to philanthropic giving since the dawn of time.

Those of us in the arts tend to be especially in tune with the concept of patronage. Our forefathers such as Beethoven and Bach thrived upon such support and although terminology has evolved since their time, most artists would agree that it is a healthy combination of donors, grants, sponsors, and our regular concert going patrons who collectively produce our living.

Finding the correct way to properly thank a donor is about as easy as sneaking an elephant out of a circus tent! I recall inquiring once with a very special person, one who without his support so much of what both The Jazz Loft and my career has become would not have been possible, why he didn’t come to more events. He responded, “Do you really want to know why I don’t come to anything?” To which I replied, “Yes, I do!” To this he quickly quipped, “Because every time I show up you thank me!”

Over the years I’ve found joy in getting to know every individual that supports The Jazz Loft. I’ve truly enjoyed figuring out and discovering who finds appreciation in a letter, who welcomes a phone call, or who enjoys an annual summer lunch get together for a lobster sandwich and a beer. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of running a not-for-profit — getting to know amazing people, building real and genuine relationships, and forging what I know will be some lifetime friendships.

I was inspired to write this op-ed out of the desire to find a way to capture in words the gratitude I feel towards the philanthropists among us. Our community was literally designed and built by a philanthropist, Ward Melville. When I think of the names of those who have continued that bold tradition of giving and support, I resist sharing specific names, but suffice it to say you all know who they are even if you don’t know them personally. 

Chances are you bought your house from them, or perhaps they’ve managed your retirement through the years. You might get your morning coffee from them or chat with them when you’re picking up your kid from school. They might volunteer or help run one of our many outstanding museums, art galleries, community institutions or preservation organizations. Maybe they fixed your car recently or you’ve bumped into them about town, at an outdoor concert, or in your favorite park. They’re quite often invisible, or as we say in Jazz, “tippin’ on the QT.”

What I do know is that no matter how little or how much in the spotlight or foreground they choose to be, these individuals are an incredible part of the fabric of who we are as a community. They are an invaluable resource, beyond definition, and without question an incredible gift to us all. 

I consider it an honor and a privilege to serve our community in the positions and places I’ve been blessed to be and I’m inspired by those who are the philanthropists among us. To all of you out there, and you know who you are, THANK YOU!

Author Thomas Manuel, DMA is a Jazz historian, Artist in Residence at Stony Brook University, trumpet player and President and Founder of The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook. For more information, visit www.thejazzloft.org.

When the Patriots of Ward Melville came knocking on Eastport South Manor’s door the Sharks would take the match to five sets in league volleyball action Sept 8.

Ward Melville senior Jaron Popp, a powerhouse at the net, had 37 kills in the contest leading his team to the 3-2 victory — 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 24-26 and 15-11 in the fifth and deciding set.  

Teammate Carlo Fontanini killed 11 along with four blocks, and Keelan Sohl had 38 assists.  

The win lifts the Patriots to 3-0 and hands Eastport South Manor their first loss, dropping the Sharks to 2-1 

Observing Dogwood Hollow documents at East Hampton Libarry, from left, Deborah Boudreau, WMHO Education Director; Mayra Scanlon, East Hampton Library Archivist Librarian; Andrea Meyer, East Hampton Library Archivist Librarian, Collection Chair; and Sean Brass, WMHO's Young Gardiner Scholar, funded by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced the digitization of over 500 records of Dogwood Hollow and the development of Stony Brook Village Center in conjunction with the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection. These records are available to the public free of charge on a “next generation” interactive platform. The archives can be found online on the East Hampton Library website, easthamptonlibrary.org.

In November of 2021, East Hampton Library announced a new virtual research platform for their Long Island Collection. The research platform was customized for the East Hampton Library, which is the first public library to use this next generation digital archives software, called TIND. 

Ward Melville at Stony Brook Village Center’s Harbor Crescent in the 1950s. Photo from WMHO

Unlike other archive platforms being used in New York State, this digital archive is entirely interactive—contributor accounts can be created, higher resolution images can be downloaded and links are embedded to enable viewers to comment and share archived items on social media platforms. To learn more about Digital Long Island, the East Hampton Library’s new digitization platform, visit their website at digitallongisland.org.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) was created in 1939 by businessman and philanthropist Ward Melville. Ward Melville was President of the Melville Corporation—the third largest retailer in the country at that time. WMHO owns and manages historic and environmental properties deeded to the organization by Ward Melville. These properties include Stony Brook Village Center, Thompson House (c. 1709), the Brewster House (c. 1665), the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c. 1751), the Erwin Ernst Marine Conservation Center and the 88-acre wetlands preserve at West Meadow.

The WMHO archives on this platform include the creation of Stony Brook Village Center and Dogwood Hollow. Considered the first business community in the United States, Stony Brook Village Center was created in 1941 by Ward Melville. In addition, in honor of his mother, Jennie, who loved dogwood trees, Ward Melville created Dogwood Hollow, a 2,000 plus seat amphitheater in Stony Brook Village that hosted greats such as Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and over 100 other musicians. 

Other subjects that will be digitized are Mr. Melville’s history of bringing Stony Brook University to Stony Brook, the creation of the Long Island Museum campus, the restoration of historic properties, the housing developments built by Ward Melville, the creation of the West Meadow Preserve, and the creation of the Three Village School District and its buildings. To learn more about the WMHO, visit wmho.org.

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The Patriots of Ward Melville went into the half time break, protecting a two-goal lead , before exploding in the second half rattling off ten unanswered goals against Lindenhurst to win 15-3 at home on senior day May 5. 

Senior attackman Tyler Ruffini led the way with three assists and two goals. Kevin Dolan netted two goals and a pair of assists and Andrew Belli stretched the net three times in the Division I match-up. Goalie Zachary Licavoli had six saves in net.

The win lifts the Patriots to 9-2 in the division, 9-4 overall, trailing Smithtown East and Northport with three games remaining before post season play begins May 17.

After a long and intensive search, Suffolk County Community College has officially welcomed its new president, Edward Bonahue. 

Now overseeing the college’s three campuses — Ammerman in Selden, Grant in Brentwood and Eastern in Riverhead — Bonahue said he’s excited to come back to Long Island after leaving for his education and career decades ago. 

Bonahue grew up in Setauket and attended Nassakeag Elementary School, Murphy Junior High and then Ward Melville High School, Class of 1983. 

“It was wonderful,” he said. “Growing up in the Three Villages was a wonderful privilege, just because it taught me about the value of education.”

Ed Bonahue graduated from Ward Melville in 1983. Photo from SCCC

As a teen, he taught swimming lessons for the Town of Brookhaven, which he cites as the reason he became so fluent in the different areas of Suffolk County. 

“I had taught swimming everywhere from Cedar Beach to Shoreham,” he said. “I taught at the Centereach pool, Holtsville pool, West Meadow — it was one way of getting a sense that we live in a bigger place.”

Bonahue said he was “one of those kids” who was involved with the arts more than sports — although he did run track during his junior and senior years. 

“Ward Melville was lucky to have a great arts program,” he said. “They have a great jazz program and I was in that generation of kids where I was in the Jazz Ensemble all three years.”

His love of arts and humanities led him to North Carolina upon graduating, where he received his B.A. in English Literature at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. 

After his undergrad, Bonahue took a job in Washington, D.C., working as an editor at the U.S. General Services Administration and then as managing editor for Shakespeare Quarterly at the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

“That convinced me: ‘Oh, yeah, I kind of like this. And I think I’m going to go back to graduate school.’” 

Bonahue enrolled at the University of North Carolina where he received his M.A.  and Ph.D. in English Literature. He then moved with his wife to Gainesville, Florida, to hold the position of visiting assistant professor of humanities at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida. 

In 2009, he was a Fulbright Scholar with the U.S. International Education Administrators Program in Germany, and in 2016-2017, he was an Aspen Institute College Excellence Program Presidential Fellow. 

And while in Florida, Bonahue eventually headed to Santa Fe College, also in Gainesville, serving as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, along with several other roles. 

But as the years went on, he decided he wanted to head somewhere new and began looking for fresh opportunities. Through networking, he heard about a post back on Long Island – a place he knew very well. 

New appointment at SCCC

Bonahue took on his new role officially on June 28. Under his leadership, he oversees the current enrollment of more than 23,000 credit students and 7,000 continuing education students. 

“One of the one of the opportunities for Suffolk going forward is to think about how we’re serving all of Suffolk County,” he said. “It’s no secret that the number of traditional students graduating from high school is going down every year. Over time, that’s a lot of students.”

While the majority of SCCC students are on the traditional path, Bonahue said that moving forward they need to figure out ways to do better outreach to nontraditional students. 

Bonahue said one of his many goals is to converge with employers and help their workers continue their education through Suffolk or connect them with future employees while still in school. He added that in a post-COVID world where there can be gatherings, he would like high school guidance counselors to come and visit. 

“I think high school students get a lot from recommendations from their teachers and guidance counselors — especially students who are underserved because of the parents haven’t been to college, they don’t have that network of what it’s like to go to college,” Bonahue said. “So, they rely on their teachers and guidance counselors for that information.”

He added that one thing that was learned during the 2020 census is Long Island is becoming a more diverse place. 

“Many have not had the privilege of any exposure to higher education,” he said. “And that’s what community college is for —
 providing access to educational opportunity and access to economic opportunity for folks who, without it, might be stuck in some kind of dead-end, entry-level service sector job.”

Bonahue noted that SCCC as a college needs to internalize its mission is not only to serve 19-year-old students.

Photo from SCCC

“Our mission is also to serve a mom with a baby at home, someone who’s taking care of parents, someone who’s working in a family business, could be a worker who’s already been on the job and has been displaced  — those are all of our students,” he said. “I think our mission is to embrace that larger sense of community, and then on top of that there are areas of Suffolk County that have not been particularly well served, or where services are not as strong as elsewhere.”

Appointed by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, the SUNY Board of Trustees and the Suffolk Board of Trustees, Bonahue said that in his new role, he wants the college to be an agent of change. 

“I think they wanted someone who understands that Suffolk County is a diverse place — that it has many constituencies and that the three campuses have different personalities,” he said. “So, someone used the phrase that I checked a lot of boxes for Suffolk. My hope is that also I can present pictures of best practices that are practiced in high performing community colleges across the country, and if those best practices have not been adopted by Suffolk, then I think we have huge opportunities in terms of best practices that relate to community outreach, to academic and student support services, programming, workforce development, transfers and so forth. I think I think I can make a big contribution to Suffolk in a variety of ways.”

Bonahue said he plans on being not just on Selden’s Ammerman campus, he wants to be active on all three.

“I’m going to try to celebrate Suffolk across the whole county, including being present on all three campuses,” he said. “Each college serves a slightly different demographic, but one of the things I sense is that the college is hungry for a coherent and unified strategy.”

Coming back to Long Island was an exciting moment for Bonahue over the summer, but now it’s time for work. Since school started Sept. 2, he has been busy meeting faculty, staff and students, while focusing on his plans to better the local community college.  

“I loved growing up on Long Island,” he said. “And so, it’s been a pleasure to return here.”

Julianne Mosher is an adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College.

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On Sept. 9, Smithtown East led 20-11 in the first set and let Ward Melville right back in it when the Patriots rallied to win 25-21. The Bull’s answered in the second set squeezing out a two-point win to tie the match at one all. The Patriots countered in the third set edging the Bulls by four, but Smithtown East dominated the fourth set winning by 10 to force a game five. The Patriots picked their spots and took the deciding final set 15-11 to win the match 3-2 on the road.

Jaron Popp a junior led the Patriots with 22 kills, and senior Timmy Chu notched 51 assists followed by Dylan Fagan who killed 14 and had 18 digs in the contest. Both teams retake the court Sept 14 where the Patriots host West Hampton and the Bulls hit the road to take on Comsewogue. Game times are 4:15 and 5:45 p.m. respectively.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

With a flap of the mechanical eagle’s wings above the stately façade of the Stony Brook Post Office, the Secrets of Stony Brook Village Tour had begun.

On August 26th, the small group gathered on the shady lawn beside the post office in the center of the charming village. There we met our enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide, Deborah Boudreau, the education director for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization for the past 12 years. She began the tour by telling us about the picturesque shopping center where we stood. 

Built in 1941 by philanthropist Ward Melville as a part of his industrializing ‘rehabilitation’ project in the area, it was the first shopping center of its kind in the country. We then proceeded to visit the firehouse and the Jazz Loft, which at the time of Ward Melville was the Suffolk Museum. The museum, housing works by genre artist William Sidney Mount and a large collection of wagons and carriages, was eventually moved down the road to where the Long Island Museum stands now. 

The tour group visited the historic Three Village Inn and the Hercules pavilion overlooking the magnificent Stony Brook wetlands stretching into the Porpoise Channel. The vista was spectacular and full of life; a flock of geese swam by and momentarily joined our tour, and cormorants and gulls flew overhead. 

Inside the pavilion stands a figurehead of Hercules which once adorned the prow of the USS Ohio, and a wooden whaleboat recovered from an expedition to the Arctic in 1870. The tour concluded on Main Street across from the All Souls Episcopal Church with fascinating stories about the architect of the church and an actor who once resided in one of the Victorian-style homes along the road.

It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Accompanied by such a congenial group of people, I learned so much about the village I love and grew even closer to it.

As we said our goodbyes, Deborah announced that the Ward Melville Heritage Organization would be running another tour, called the Stony Brook Village Secrets and Spirits Tour. Just in time for Halloween, this walking tour is taking place for two days only — on October 28th at 2:50 pm, and October 29th at 10:50 am. It will begin at the Stony Brook Post Office. The event costs $10 per participant and the WMHO recommends that participants make reservations. To reserve a spot on the tour or to find out more about the program, call 631-751-2244.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching. 

Riley Meckley with her award

Riley Meckley, a junior at Ward Melville High School placed third at the NY State Competition of the 84th Annual American Legion Oratorical Contest, earning a $2,500 scholarship.

Competitors had to first advance from their respective county, district, zone and regional areas in order to advance to the state finals. Each student had to prepare a 10 minute speech based on the United States Constitution, highlighting the duties and obligations of a citizen. The oration must be given without any notes. 

They then had to perform a second speech based on the articles and amendments to the Constitution. 

“The Oratorical Contest has been a long standing program of the American Legion,” said Gene Ordmandy Jr., county commander and past post commander of the American Legion Post 432 in Port Jefferson. 

“Every year we search for bright young students with a willingness to learn and give an oration from memory. We are fortunate to have Riley Meckley, a Junior Member of the Legion Auxiliary, participate for the past two years, advancing to state and earning unprecedented third place New York State titles both times,” he said.