Thursday, August 6, 2015

Goats - not Ghosts! -- Franklin Butler Lord's Meadow Edge Farm

In the early morning of October 11, 1907, Rev. John J. Fouse ,  was awakened in his parsonage, across the street from the Lawrence Methodist Episcopal Church, by a noise that seemed to come from the Church.  As he watched, a white figure appeared in the doorway and Rev. Fouse crossed the street to investigate.  What he found was not paranormal.

He discovered that the church's new addition was occupied by a flock of forty angora goats, which had wandered in an open door and settled in for the night.  All but one were asleep.  This story appeared in newspapers as far away as the Cincinnati Times and the Daily Arizona Silver Belt.

The goats had escaped from Franklin Lord's Meadow Edge Farm, where they had been purchased to eat weeds on the lawns and meadows. 

Meadow Edge Farm was part of the Lord Family's extensive holdings in The Branch.  Their property extended from West Broadway (the railroad tracks) all the way to the Hungry Harbor Road.  When the property was purchased, around 1880, The Branch area was part of Queens County, and encompassed the watershed later known as Lord's Woods.

Before Franklin Lord's death in 1908, the farm, raised rare Berkshire pigs, White Leghorn chickens, Guernsey, Jersey, Ayrshire and Holstein dairy cows and, of course, the angora goats.  It  was located on West Broadway, a 337-acre site of meadowlands and forests.  During its years of milk production, which ended with the closing of the dairy farm in 1912 (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 5, 1912, p. 14),  it was a consistent winner at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, and at the National Dairy Show in Chicago for excellence in milk and cream. In 1924, the last twenty of the family cows were offered for sale (Daily Review, January 25, 1924). The chickens, which were also award-winning layers, remained well into the 1920s.   In 1926, Lord's sons (S.D., Edward and George) sold the land  to a  real estate syndicate for $2 million.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 5, 1912, p. 14.

Franklin B. Lord, c1900
 (photo courtesy Library of Congress)

Daniel Lord, c1850
 (photo courtesy Library of Congress)
Franklin Butler Lord (1850-1908) came from a family of distinguished attorneys.  His grandfather, Daniel Lord  , had a national reputation as " a remarkable lawyer."  His maternal grandfather, Benjamin F. Butler, was Attorney General of the United States under Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.    Franklin Lord was a member of the law firm of Lord, Day and Lord, founded by his grandfather and his father, Daniel de Forest Lord (1846-1899). According to an article in The New York Times  (2/14/1926, p. RE2.), the property was purchased originally by Daniel Lord  for less than $300 an acre, or a total of about $110,000.  It had been in the Lord family for three generations and had been largely undeveloped since its purchase.  By May 1926, advertisements for a public auction of Lord Estate lots were appearing in The Times and other newspapers. 

English and Spanish-style homes designed to sell for less than $12,000 were constructed in 1928.  They were designed to contain six rooms and bath, a built-in standing shower, an extra lavatory and garage. (NYT, 1/17/1928, p.51.)  The seller was listed as the Woodmere-Cedarhurst Corporation. Louis Minsky (1862-1934), the father of the burlesque producing brothers, was the president of the Lord Estate Corporation at the time of his death in 1934 (NYT, 1/17/1934, p. 17).  In 1938, "the Seymour property... known as Sosiego" , twenty acres on Broadway in Lawrence, was purchased by Henry Greenberg and Louis Goldschmidt through Joseph Jackson, a broker, of Lawrence (NYT  7/31/1938, p. 34).  Sosiego was the name of the mansion and gardens built by Daniel D. Lord V, Franklin's brother, and later owned by his daughter Frances Seymour.  (Spinzia, p. 225)  It was located at 20 Westover Place, Lawrence.   The house currently on that site was built in 1921, according to Nassau County tax records.
Blogger S. Berliner shares his thoughts on the Lord's Woods and Robert Arbib's book of the same name.  Arbib, who grew up in the Five Towns of the 1930s and 40s, wrote an evocative account of his formative years exploring the woods, and the process of development that reduced the woods to a small sliver of trees behind the LIPA/National Grid building on Mill Road.

Further reading:
 (may require HW-library card login)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

German Spies in Cedarhurst; U-Boats off Long Island

     The sinking of the R.M.S. Lusitania by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915 and the loss of 1,198 lives (among them 128 Americans) was instrumental in the United States declaring war on Germany, but the process was very gradual.   President Woodrow Wilson had, since the outbreak of hostilities in Europe during the summer of 1914, tried to maintain the United States' neutrality.  Although American banks provided financial assistance to its European allies, overt military intervention was not popular.   During the years before the U.S. entered the war in 1917, there was a German consulate in New York, an embassy in Washington, D.C.  and the summer embassy in Newport, R.I. --  long the playground of Vanderbilts and Astors.  Newport was also the home of the U.S. Naval War College (est. 1884) and a major U.S. Navy installation since the 1790s.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 23, 1915
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 23, 1915
   In 1912 the German communications giant Telefunken funded the construction of a wireless station in Sayville, on Long Island's South Shore (about 50 miles from New York City).  Situated on 100 acres adjoining the Long Island Railroad.  Its two towers, 393 and 100 feet high, were powerful enough to send messages 3,200 miles to the German wireless station at Nauen, near Berlin. 1.  In his article "When Wireless Was Young,"  Wilson L. Glover remembered:
"the overwhelming whine-and-drone [of the Telefunken tower] quite often utterly precluded decent reception of more distant stations.  Anyway, its messages were always in code and so unintelligible that they proved deadly dull reading.  The big German station was a clearing house for a vast network of spies then operating in the United States." 2
     From the start, the station was observed by the Navy Department and the Department of Commerce and Labor.  But the technology was so new that laws had not yet been written to regulate its use. 3Civilian "Ham" radio enthusiasts were asked by the government to  monitor and record the transmissions, which were then decoded by Secret Service agents.  The obituary for Charles Apgar, one of those radio operators 4  recounted how the Secret Service broke the German code and discovered that they were directing the activites of submarines. along the Atlantic coast. Although unsubstantiated, there was a rumor that Apgar's recordings provided the message "Get Lucy," which resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania.
Buffalo Evening News, June 14, 1915, p. 6.
     In the summer of 1915, the German Embassy quietly rented an "unpretentious house on the north side of Central Avenue, two blocks from the railroad station" in Cedarhurst, as its summer residence.  It was described in the Daily Star,  as "a weather-beaten, two story gable-roofed structure, with a large corner lot and a hedge running around the front and western side."  5 About 100 feet from the Embassy was a booth which was continuously manned by Embassy personnel for the transmission and reception of wireless messages to and from the Sayville tower, and ultimately, Berlin.  The ambassador, Count Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, was rarely at the summer embassy and preferred to return to New York City at the end of the day if he came to Cedarhurst.   As relations with Germany declined, members of the Cedarhurst Country Club rescinded their offer of membership to the embassy staff,  preferring to offer them the services of the club as guests rather than members.  Prince Hartfeld von Trachenberg relaxed by playing croquet on the lawn lawn of the Embassy. 6

 Brooklyn Daily Eagle,  April 24, 1915, p. 1

By 1916, the increasing u-boat activity in the North Atlantic shipping lanes in defiance of international law increased anti-German sentiment in the U.S.  In October of 1916, the submarine U-53 threatened and attacked British and neutral merchant ships off the Nantucket Lightship, within 100 miles of Newport, R.I.  

   During the years preceding the Great War, approximately 100,000 German reservists resided in North and South America.  Although there were plenty of active duty enlisted men in Germany, there was a shortage of officers, and a plan was developed to send as many reserve officers as possible home to Germany.  As early as 1914, agents of the German Embassy bought passports from longshoremen and sailors -- Swedes, Norwegians, Swiss and eventually, even Americans were willing to sell their passports for $25 to $100.  It was easy to substitute a photograph and stamp for the originals and soon a brisk business was underway.  The leader of this network was found to be Franz von Papen, a military attaché with the Embassy in Washington, D.C., but Ambassador von Bernstorff certainly had knowledge of the scheme.  Von Bernstorff, preferring to be involved in the Washington and New York social scenes, was definitely involved in a the appropriation of funds collected  for humanitarian purposes by German-Americans and using the money for pro-German propaganda.
     When it was made public that Germany had invited Mexico to enter the war as Germany's ally against the U.S. 7 and offered  German assistance in  recovering Mexico's former holdings in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, even Wilson re-evaluated his position and severed relations with Germany in February 1917.  On April 6, 1917, the United States entered the Great War.

 In addition to the passport plot, the possible targeting of the Lusitania, the misappropriation of the relief funds, the damage done by the German spy network included the destruction of the Vanceboro (Maine) bridge (1915) which linked the U.S. and Canada, the Black Tom ammunition depot in New York Harbor (1916), and plots to bomb Ontario's Welland Canal and to attach "rudder bombs" to the propellers of ships leaving U.S. Pacific ports. Authorities foiled plots in Seattle, San Francisco and Hoboken.  On July 19, 1918, Coast Guard patrols at Fire Island sighted a submarine off  Bay Shore.  Shortly after that, the U.S. cruiser San Diego, was sunk 10 miles off Fire Island.  It was never officially determined whether the cruiser was sunk by a torpedo or by land mines laid by the submarine.  The ship sank in fifteen minutes, resulting in the loss of three lives, although almost all of the crew escaped in lifeboats. Within a month ( August 13) the Norwegian freighter Sommerstad was also sunk of Fire Island, the victim of a German torpedo.

Throughout 1917 and 1918, German agents and propagandists were apprehended throughout the New York area, sent to detention camps on Ellis Island and then to prison.8  The diplomats had either already left or were forced out.  Von Bernstorff returned to Germany with his American wife. 
"Bernstorff served in the Reichstag from 1921 to 1928. A fervent supporter of international cooperation, he was the cofounder and president of the German Association for the League of Nations, president of the World Federation of Associations of the League of Nations, and a member of the German delegation to the League of Nations.  Bernstorff co-chaired the German Pro-Palestinian Committee that supported the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and during 1926-1931, he chaired the German delegation to the Preparatory World Disarmament Conference.  Explicitly mentioned by Adolf Hitler as one of those men bearing "guilt and responsibility for the collapse of Germany, Bernstorff fled Germany in 1933 after the Nazis came to power.  He died in exile in Geneva, Switzerland on October 6, 1939."9

Franz von Papen was expelled from the U.S. in 1916 and, after serving in the army and entering German politics, he became its Chancellor in 1932 and Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933-34. The Nazis soon marginalized the more moderate von Papen and his allies.  He left the government after the Night of the Long Knives.  Von Papen died in West Germany in 1969 at the age of 89.

Links (*access may require HWPL library card)

1 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 10, 1912, p. 1.   

2 Long Island Forum , vol. 20 (1957), p. 2+.
3 The New York Tribune, August 10, 1912, p. 3. 4 The New York Times, August 19, 1950, p. 12. 
5 "German Embassy moves to L.I," Daily Star, June 10, 1915, p. 2.

6 "Prince enjoys "Jitney Golf," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 26, 1915, p. 1.
7 The "Zimmerman Telegram" was intercepted by British intelligence in 1917.  
8 "36 German agents off to Oglethorpe," The New York Times, January 20, 1918, p. 4.

9 Tucker, Spencer C. (ed.) Count von Bernstorff in World War I: the Definitive Encyclopedia and Document collection. ABC-CLIO, 2014, p. 248.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Weaving the Story Mary Kavanagh, Postmaster of Lawrence

Mary Kavanagh, who lived at the turn of the 20th century in Lawrence, New York,  is a mystery waiting to be uncovered.

Alfred Bellot, in his History of the Rockaways (1917), devotes one line to
"the late Mrs. William J. Kavanagh, a resident of Lawrence for many years,and a well-known Indian scholar and literary woman..."
Map of Lawrence, 1891
The only facts related here are 1) Mrs. Kavanagh's husband's name was William J. and 2) she died sometime before 1917.

It was my goal to reconstruct Mrs. Kavanagh's life from readily available Internet sources and subscription databases through the H-WPL database page.    Combined, these individual facts will show that she was a wife and mother, an author, educator and, in an era when women rarely had professions outside the home, she was a notary and Postmaster.

William J.Kavanagh and his wife, Mary lived in the Town of Hempstead (then a part of Queens County)  in the 1880 U.S. Census and the 1892 New York State Census with their four children: 
  • William L. born 1866 (died 1892)
  • Victor Frank, born 1868  (died 1901)
  • Edmund Arthur, born 1873 (died 1935)
  • Mary Gabriella,  born 1876 (died after 1917)
William was born in New York in 1840.  Mary, born in 1834,  emigrated from her native Ireland in 1842.  Working backwards, it was then possible to verify them in the 1870 Census with the two older boys, as resident of New York City.

There are several William Kavanaghs listed as New York Civil War veterans in various databases.  One lived to collect a pension; the beneficiary was his wife Mary.  This William Kavanagh served with several cavalry units, spent some time as a Quartermaster Sergeant and a Regimental Sergeant Major,  and ended the war as a commissioned First Lieutenant.  He lived to collect a pension, of which Mary was the  beneficiary.  This Quartermaster experience may have prepared him for his profession as "leather dealer." (as "our" William is listed in the 1880 U.S. Census).
Articles from local newspapers of the era provided some insight into the lives of the Kavanaghs, who had a home with a beautiful garden in Far Rockaway (South Side Observer, July 7, 1882).  During a crime wave in 1882, the home was the site of an attempted burglary (SSO, October 19, 1882).  That same year, Mrs. Kavanagh purchased the property of Jacob L. Wood in Lawrence (probably located on West Broadway) in the hope of making it "a handsome and very desirable country home." (SSO, April 27, 1882)
Cedarhurst Post Office block, c.1910
In 1883 (SSO, November 17, 1883) Mrs. Kavanagh is credited with "organizing a first class private academy for a limited number of pupils" in Far Rockaway.  The Kavanagh sons established themselves as real estate and insurance brokers in the Branch communities.   William J. was appointed Postmaster of Lawrence in March of 1886.
Unfortunately, the Kavanagh's good fortunes were not to last.   Mention is made of Mrs. Kavanagh in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of July 13, 1889 as "a lady of fine literary tastes" who, at the time, was suffering from nervous prostration.   In June 1892, the oldest son, William L., died of consumption at the age of 26.  Unable to recover from the loss of his son, William J. fell into a deep melancholy and took his own life the following year.  The elder remaining son, Victor, died of consumption in 1901.
Late 19th Century Postmistresses (Cushing. The Story of our Post Office) 

The appointment of a Postmaster was a political appointment.  Although he only served for one term, Major Kavanagh, a Democrat,  was a respected veteran cited for his integrity and was endorsed for a second term by both parties.  With the election of Grover Cleveland, the widowed Mary Kavanagh was appointed Postmaster of Lawrence in 1893 and again in 1897.

She advertised "two fine homes, fully furnished; all improvements, with stables and five acres of ground, located on main road. in the New York Herald of March 1, 1896 and moved to smaller quarters  on Maple Avenue in Cedarhurst with her daughter, Gabriella.  Mary Kavanagh died in Lawrence on March 26, 1917;  her funeral was held at St. Joachim's Church (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 27, 1917, p. 8).(blog updated 5/14/2015)

At the present time, I have not definitively verified a maiden name for Mary Kavanagh, although she is regularly listed as Mary A.S. Kavanagh and she appears as "Mary Ann Stevens O'Reilly Kavanagh" in transcriptions of  birth records of two of her children.  I also have not verified why she was considered an "Indian scholar" by Bellot, though The History of Queens County, New York (Munsell, 1882) refers to her article on another historical subject.   Hopefully, more research will shed more light on this interesting woman and her accomplishments.

Further information:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fowling in the Branch

In 1840, Daniel Tredwell (1826-1921) wrote:
From our earliest childhood we have beheld with marvelous admiration the phenomenon of the migration of a flock of wild geese.  There are but few Long Islanders, who are not familiar with the mysterious annual pilgrimage of the wild goose northward in the spring and his return in the fall.
Brant on Woodmere Bay (photo: M. Vollono)
 The wonder of the autumn migrations has not diminished since then and Woodmere Bay is the perfect place to view ducks, geese and other water birds, as they rest during their journey south, which can last for thousands of miles.

In Tredwell's time, two hundred species of water birds were know to frequent Long Island (p. 96) and the Great South Bay and its branches were a haven for both the birds and the humans who hunted them.  He also writes that the Canada goose, known as a pest in our era, was considered the same in the 17th century.

Town [of Hempstead] Meeting, May 5, 1682 
"Att the foregoing townd Meeting it was concluded by the Ma Jer Vote that No Teame Geese should have liberty to goo on the commons.  In the townd after the fift of November Next insuing and that it shall be lawful for any Person to shute any they shall find on the commons aforementioned after the time..."   The above was re-enacted yearly. (p.100)
Duck hunter reclining in a camouflaged boat.
(Photo: Courtesy Library of Congress)

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries,  the Branch communities became known for tourism.  "City folk" took advantage of the area's bounty and hired local farmers and fisherman as guides for recreational fishing and hunting expeditions.

Typically, a hunter's boat would be camouflaged with grasses and reeds.

Nancy Solomon chronicled the traditions of the baymen of Long Island's South Shore in her book On the Bay, published in it's second edition in 2011.  The chapter entitled "A day in duck hunter heaven," gives a clear picture of the lives of  "market gunners" as some of the baymen supplemented their income by selling duck meat to local restaurants, feathers to the millinery industry and creating decoys for their own use and local sale, and eventually for sale to collectors.  Market gunning was outlawed in 1918 as a conservation measure, but the guide businesses continued. (Solomon, p. 28)

Today, the antique hand-carved decoys of  baymen Obadiah Verity, Thomas Gelston and Bill Bowman are highly sought-after collectibles.  Contemporary decoy carvers such as Ken Budny, George Rigby Jr. and Larry Udell carry on the tradition .

This decoy, carved by William Bowman of Long Island, New York, c. 1890, sold for $10,500 in 1973. It was the first decoy to sell for more than $10,000, but it turned out to be a good investment. In 2000, the decoy was re-sold at a joint auction by Guyette & Schmidt, Inc. and Sotheby's for $464,500. (Photo Courtesy of Guyette &Schmidt, Inc.)

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation web site:

Long Island holds the majority of New York's wintering waterfowl. Tens of thousands of ducks and geese of at least 28 species are available to Long Island's waterfowlers. The various seasons run from early October through mid-February. The early sea duck season offers generous limits and a long season to those hunting scoters, eiders and long-tailed ducks in Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bays.
A brant, one of many varieties of ducks and
geese which visit Woodmere Bay during their
Many duck hunters pursue the dabbler species, rigging primarily for the prized black duck, with mallards, pintail, widgeon, gadwall and green-winged teal filling out the bag limit.  
Those that seek out the diving duck species generally set for broadbill (greater scaup) and are rewarded with a variety of other open water species, including bufflehead, goldeneye and redhead. Most waterfowlers hunt on the tidal marshes, bays and creeks found along our shores; Canada geese and brant are popular in the western bays of the south shore.

Further Research:

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Lennox Shop

 In 1928, Richard Lennox opened the Lennox House shop in a 12-foot by 18-foot cottage on the site of his grandfather's dairy farm.  Lennox created his version of a general store and featured Early American reproduction furniture.  Enhanced with rescued artifacts from the Oliver Hewlett homestead in East Rockaway (demolished in 1936) , it grew into a charming complex of buildings and a mail order business with over 100,000 customers per year.
Richard and Edith Lennox

An article in the December  29, 1994 South Shore Record states that 19 year old Richard Lennox began with a one-fifth interest in the property, a $200 wedding gift, his wife, Edith's $22-a-week secretarial job and his grandmother's signature on a bank loan. With those assets, and a $50 inventory, Lennox expanded the business, created their own brand of Early American furnishings, and expanded the ambiance of the shops. By 1953 was the subject of a feature article in the trade publication Giftwares, which shared Lennox's story, his business philosophy and his techniques for growing his business into the success that it became, attracting shoppers from all over the metropolitan area and mail orders from all over the United States.

Building the Honeymoon House (c1952).
The shop and its subsequent additions:  Easy Street (which originally featured glassware), the Card Barn, the Fireplace Room, and the Hewlett Room (elegant Early American furnishings) became a fully decorated country home and a showcase for Lennox furniture and decorating services. The 1952 construction of the Honeymoon House enlarged the display and created an environment which those who remember it still miss.

 At this time, the original Seaman homestead (home of Lennox's grandparents) was moved to the corner of Broadway and Trinity Place.   Joan Battino wrote in the December 31, 1998 South Shore Record:
Their home, shop and country store was a great success for more than 70 years.  If ever one needed a special wedding present, a baby gift, a knicknack or just a fun afternoon in a wonderful place to shop, the Lennox Shop was the first place to come to mind.  Christmas transformed the store into Santa's own private haven.  Incense burned throughout, a fire roared in ever fireplace, light hearted holiday tunes were piped into every corner and the shop was decorated from roof to floor plank with pine branches and red ribbons.  No one left without a candy cane.

Richard Lennox died in 1989 and the property was eventually sold to the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library for its 1994 expansion.

 During this month's exhibit of Five Towns History in the Library's Gallery, we have on display some memorabilia from the Lennox Shop as well as local artist Maxwell Diamond's renditions of views of the Lennox Shops buildings, photographs from the H-WPL collection and examples of work from other local artists.
The late Bob Longworth, a cousin of Richard Lennox, created a miniature reproduction of the original 1928 building in its Christmas glory.
More information:

Battino, Joan. "Lennox Shop remembered in miniature," South Shore Record, December 31, 1998, p. 8.
Namee, M. Virginia.  "The Lennox Shop Story, 1928-1953," Giftwares, November 1953.
"The Way We Were: Lennox House,"  South Shore Record, (date unknown)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fathers of the Five Towns: William Soper Pettit

William S. Pettit
(photo courtesy Linda Forand)
From humble beginnings in a family that traced its roots to the earliest settlers of the Town of Hempstead, William Soper Pettit became one of the most respected and influential civic leaders in the New York metropolitan area.

William Pettit was born on January 20, 1880, to Mary Elizabeth Craft and Theodore Edward Pettit.   From the age of 9, he sold newspapers and delivered telegrams at the Cedarhurst LIRR Station.  He was a descendant of Joseph Pettit, the first clerk of Hempstead (about 1657).

After graduating with Far Rockaway High School's Class of 1900,  Pettit went on to attend Columbia University's Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1903.   He authored a book History and Views of the Rockaways, published in 1901.  

Pettit was a leader of the secessionist movement to separate Far Rockaway from New York City and to create a "Rockaway City."  Although the movement was popular and Pettit felt that the legislation's passage was inevitable, it was vetoed by New York's mayor in May 1915.   In 1915, he also served as Special Counsel to the Nassau County Board of Supervisors.  He subsequently served as Chairman of the drafting commission for the Nassau County Charter, Chairman of the Nassau County Child Welfare Board, President of the Nassau County Historical and Genealogical Society and President of the Long Island Y.M.C.A.  In 1920 the Nassau County Republican party backed Pettit in an unsuccessful bid for Justice of the Supreme Court. 
Mary and Theodore Pettit
(courtesy Linda Forand)

In 1925 he won the first Alfred C. Bossom Gold Medallion for distinguished public service by a New York high school graduate.  The award was made for active work in furthering the development of the Rockaways and for leadership in civic and welfare enterprises."  (NYT 5/20/48, p. 60)  When the citizens of Hewlett Neck voted for incorporation of their village (1927), they met at Pettit's home on Barberry Lane in Woodmere.  Pettit was the attorney for the property owners in their quest to have more control over the future of their community.

     During World War I, Pettit headed the local draft board and during World War II, he was chairman of the Lynbrook Ration Board.  He organized the Five Towns War Finance Committee, was a president of the Nassau County Bar Association and a vestryman of Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church in Hewlett (now Trinity-St. Johns) from 1920-1947.  In addition, he was one of the first Trustees of the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library, when is was established in 1947.

Unfortunately, his illustrious career was cut short in May 1948, when he was killed in a collision with a truck in upstate New York. His wife of forty years, the former Dorothea Smolling, was seriously injured in the accident, but survived.  After his death, his home in Lawrence became the headquarters of the Five Towns YMCA, an institution he helped to found. They had no children.  Mr. and Mrs. Pettit are buried in the family plot in Trinity-St. John's churchyard.

Plaque in honor of W.S. Pettit
from the Trustees of the
 Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library

A 1929 article in the Rockaway Beach Wave listed Pettit's business affiliations:
  • President and Director of the Bus Line Holding Co., Inc.
  • Director and counsel of the National Bank of Far Rockaway,
  • Director and counsel of the Rockaway Beach National Bank
  • Vice President, director and Counsel of Hewlett-Woodmere National Bank
  • Director, Long Beach Trust Co., Vision Realty Corporation, Coney Island Estates, Atlantic Beach Realty Corporation, Madison Mortgage Corporation, Equitable Mortgage and Title Guarantee Co., Darwinian Realty Co., Bay Ocean Realty Association, Boardwalk Associates Inc. and Sarego Realty Co.

Further reading:
Bea Jones. "Nassau Civic Leader Dies in Crash, Newsday, May 20, 1948, p. 3.   (requires HW Library card login)
"Citizens of Hewlett Neck Vote for Incorporation," Long Island Daily Press, February 4, 1927, p. 10.
"Mitchel rejects the Rockaway Bill," The New York Times, May 2, 1915, p. 19.
"W.S. Pettit killed in auto accident," The New York Times, May 20, 1948, p. 60.
William S. Pettit. "The Cornell Cemetery, Far Rockaway," Long Island Forum, August 1946.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New York World's Fair 1964-65

One of the great events in the memories of baby boomers and their parents living in the metro New York area, the New York World's Fair opened to the public on April 22, 1964. 
The Unisphere
 The Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library is proud to share some of the photos in our collection, taken the late Max Hubacher, a local resident, during his many visits to the Fair.

The Unisphere, the most recognizable symbol of the Fair, was presented to the Fair by U.S. Steel in 1964.  Standing 140 feet tall, it was the World's Fair's most popular meeting place and is the centerpiece of the modern Flushing Meadow Corona Park in Queens.

 For an adult admission of $2.00 ($2.50 in the 1965 season), and a children's admission of $1.00, visitors could spend the entire day in the world of the future.  In 1964 color TV was in its infancy, computers were limited to large businesses, where they occupied entire rooms with less computing power than an average laptop.  The Fair gave visitors a glimpse of a future that was right around the corner, a world united by technology and trade -- and a universal love of strawberry-topped Belgian waffles!
 New York mayor Robert F. Wagner and a team led by master builder Robert Moses, chose Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1939 World's Fair, as the location for the exposition.  Many years before the Fairs, this reclaimed garbage dump had been referred to as "the city of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925).  It was transformed into a pristine and usable public space, close to  transportation hubs and New York City's many attractions.  
The New York State Pavilion
At the height of the Cold War,  the theme "Peace Through Understanding" resonated with the public as America took on the challenges of the nuclear arms race, the Vietnam War and the future of space exploration.  Thirty-six foreign nations and twenty-one states sponsored pavilions  -- among the most celebrated were the the Vatican Pavilion, where Michelangelo's Pieta was displayed, the New York State Pavilion (above) with its rotating towers, and the Swiss Sky Ride (below).   

In the part of the fairgrounds closest to the Van Wyck Expressway, more than 45 pavilions  surrounded a pool around which was held a nightly fireworks show. With pavilions from Ford, DuPont and  General Electric Pavilion’s Progressland, the Industrial area was a showcase for corporate America. The Kodak Pavilion’s roof was designed like the surface of the moon, and Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen’s egg-shaped IBM Pavilion, where visitors sitting on grandstands were lifted swiftly into a theater. At the Bell System exhibit, visitors previewed touch-tone phone technology that was soon to replace the rotary dial.

Lake Amusement Area
Walt Disney Studios introduced "audio-animatronics," their new robotics technology, in the form of the Illinois Pavilion's Abraham Lincoln, the General Electric "Carousel of Progress," which showed the progress of the American family  through the technology of the Twentieth Century and the Pepsi-Cola Pavilion’s Unicef-Disney production of “It’s a Small World,” featuring animatronic dolls in their national costumes and a theme song, sung in several languages, destined to be lodged in the memories of all who attended.

The United States Pavilion
While it never became a financial success, over 51 million people visited the Fair over its two seasons.  And for this visitor, who first saw the spectacle as a wide-eyed twelve-year-old, the memories of the exhibits, the rides, the pageantry and the belief that all things might be possible are recollections almost as sweet as those waffles!

More Information: