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~ spyglass into the past ~
meticulously selected passages celebrating the heritage, history,
local legends and luring lore of our native long island and vicinity

Loafing Down Long Island
Charles Hansen Towne
New York: The Century Co., ©1921

A captivating journal detailing the accounts of Charles and his fellow travelers as they strolled across our island during several whimsical excursions just after the first World War, utilizing various methods of transportation, noting every detail, scrpiting wondrous poetry and dreamy doodles of the landscapes...

"Dreamed beneath a spreading tree, Looking at the sky. Ah, we let the weary world, Like a cloud drift by."

"I recall sunrises of tropic beauty, and flaming sunsets that could not be matched even along the Mediterranean, and hours of such complete solitude that I completely erased the thundering city from my brain and existed only in a realm of dreams."

"There were many little roads tempting us out of the beaten paths, and several times we took one, rejoicing in the proximity to the ocean, where the salt air came to our nostrils, and great elms and oaks sheltered us from the blazing rays of the sun."

"Between Patchogue and Bellport there is a road that dips and turns, with here and there a bridge to break the monotony of one's walk and glimpses of pools and streams to add delight to what is a charming province."

"Jim went bathing at Blue Point, a few miles away, while I strolled around Bayport, through lanes where the trees looked oddly enough, like kneeling camels, and where the sidewalks, as in Douglas Manor, are built to go around them, and where there is a hush that must be like the quiet of heaven, as far you from the railroad with its iron clamor."

>> Stay tuned, more Loafing to come. It's just too great!


Greenport: Yesterday and Today
Elsie Knapp Corwin and Frederick Langton Corwin
Mattituck, New York: The Mad Printers of Mattituck,
Original published by Ameron House, ©1972

A deeply informative account of the life and
history in the quaint colonial seaport village of Greenport

Before leaving Greenport, I want to say a word for and about it. It is a good place to wear out old clothes in - easy fitting old clothes; and to go about in wide roomy slippers. Everybody takes life easily there, talks so leisurely and composedly, rides, walks, drives, eats, drinks and communicates information,so slowly and serenely, that I can imagine a tight boot or collar never exists there at all, and would not be tolerated a moment. Appleton

"The Indians, who were here when the first settlers arrived in what is now Greenport were few in number and quite peaceful... They grew excellent corn, having found a useful fertilizer, the bunker fish. In the season when the bunkers arrived in dense schools in the bay, nets were run around rows of corn on the upland. There were wig wams here and there, near the head of the inlets to the bay."

"Greenport is a New England fishing town - if ever there were one out of New England itself. The Long Island Railroad terminates on a little pier built out onto the water, whence you foot it to the Peconic Hotel."


The Forests and Wetlands of New York City
by Elizabeth Barlow

Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., ©1971
A wonderfully informative, detailed collection of essays filled with a rich environmental history of the City that leaves you wondering about modern populated existence over a rapidly evaporating ancient world

"The Indians were marsh men, too, weaving trails through the cordgrasses as they went back and forth to their fishing stations. Archeologists have found evidence of their occupation in the shell heaps beside the bartlow Creek tidal inlet (obliterated by dredging for the Olympics rowing basin in the 1950's) in Pelham Bay Park; in the ovens or steaming holes filled with shells and other fragments (covered over by ball fields in the 1930's) near Sputyen Duyvil at Inwood Park; and the burial chambers and extensive collections of artifcats (now a garbage dump) bordering the south shore of Staten Island and the Fresh Kills marshes.

"Reverend Charles Wolley, writing of his stay in the city from 1668 to 1670, declared, "It's a Climate of a Sweet and wholesome breath, free from those annoyances which are commonly ascribed by Naturalists for the insalubriety of any Country, viz. South or South-east winds, many stagnant Waters, lowness of shoars, inconstancy of Weather, and the excessive heat of the Summer, the extremity of which is gently refresh'd, fann'd and and allay'd by contant breezes from the Sea." (pp9)

"The waters were abundantly filled with fish as the sky with birds. In those days before pollution made New York Harbor a sterile sewer, Danckaerts wrote, 'It is not possible to describe how this bay swarms with fish, both large and small, whales, tunnies and porpoises, whole schools of other innumerable fish, which the eagles and other birds of prey swiftly seize in their talons when the fish come to the surface.'" (pp12)

"At that time Jamaica Bay had a population of squatters -- old-timers who lived in weather beaten shacks perched over the water on wooden stilts -- in a community called The Raunt. Artists frequently sketched the picturesque seen." (pp113)

"Life at The Raunt was colorful but primitive. Water was collected in rain barrels and plumbing was nonexistent. There was electricity, a boon to John Pasky's Hotel, where there was, according to local account, "a real humdinger of a dance every Saturday night." (pp113)

“Besides Pasky's, there were two other hotels for summer visitors: Smith's Run and Brorstrom's. The hotels and all the other decrepit structures that comprised the Raunt were ordered demolished by [Robert] Moses at the time the [Jamaica Bay] refuge was created. Demolished too were the squatters' cabins that dotted the marsh grasses around Ruffle Bar.” (pp113)

"The inscription at the base of the
[Blackwell's Island] lighthouse reads"

THIS IS THE WORK
WAS DONE BY
JOHN MC CARTHY
WHO BUILT THE LIGHT
HOUSE FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE
TOP ALL YE THAT DO PASS BY MAY
PRAY FOR HIS SOUL WHEN HE DIES

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