For the Love of Parkways

Highways, dirt roads, back roads and even interstates each have their own allure; but parkways might be my greatest love if we are talking about roads. Here are a few of my favorite Long Island Parkways.

Ocean Parkway near Jones Beach State Park, NY.

Ocean Parkway near Jones Beach State Park, NY.

The Meadowbrook Parkway, Nassau County, NY.

The Meadowbrook Parkway, Nassau County, NY.

The Meadowbrook Parkway and the exit to Loop Parkway heading to Point Lookout, NY.

The Meadowbrook Parkway and the exit to Loop Parkway heading to Point Lookout, NY.

The Loop Parkway.

The Loop Parkway.

The Loop Parkway almost at its terminus. To the right you turn to Lido Beach and Long Beach. To the left you turn to Point Lookout.

The Loop Parkway almost at its terminus. To the right you turn to Lido Beach and Long Beach. To the left you turn to Point Lookout.

A good overview of Long Island Parkways: Long Island Exchange and scenic byways.

Love to Long Island

The memories of Tropical Storm Irene of August 2011 are all too familiar here in Vermont, so when the mid Atlantic was struck by Hurricane Sandy, Vermonters knew exactly how people felt. Roads washed out or blocked, infrastructure damaged, homes washed away, entire towns flooded, people stranded, people wondering what to do, communities coming together – yes, we do know how you feel. I remember being more worried about Long Island than Vermont before Tropical Storm Irene, and this time praying that both places would be spared. Fortunately Vermont was spared. Not so fortunately, Long Island and the entire tri-state area was pummeled. Having lived through a flood and worked personally and professionally through the aftermath of the storm’s destruction, I can say it is a long road to recovery. But everything will be okay.

Sadly, this time, my favorite place in the entire world flooded – Point Lookout, NY, about which I’ve written many times. As with many other homes, my family’s home flooded. Though an old house, it is not historic; it’s significance to us derives from family memory and emotional importance rather than characteristics of historic integrity qualifying it for the National Register. Though, to us – to our family history – it might as well be a national landmark. So when you say your house or that place is important to you, significant to you though not historically significant on the local, state or national level, I completely understand what you mean.

And our house will be fine in time, though it’s going to require complete renovation. The silver lining is that we were eventually going to get to that point.

If you or anyone you know was affected by Hurricane Sandy, I share your pain and I lend my support. Historic or not, we can all appreciate that every place matters to someone. Historic preservation isn’t only about historically significant buildings; it is about your community and having pride where you live and being a part of the greater story. Stay strong everyone and lend a hand to those in need.

Preservation Photos #43

Decades ago, beach bungalows stood across Reynolds Channel (view from Point Lookout). As far as I know the story, as the hurricanes damaged or demolished the bungalows, the owners were not allowed to rebuild, and eventually they were only a memory.

It’s a beautiful view anytime of the year.

This picture is in memory of my grandmother, Jeanne O’Shea.

Preservation in Pink will be taking a break for the week. Fun pictures and posts to come for next week.

Enjoy the first week of August.

Landmarks Shaping Me

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.” -Winston Churchill

How many places have played a part with defining moments that shape your life thereafter? It is possibly one that is significant to you, but not necessarily on the National Register of Historic Places (sounds like the National Trust’s This Place Matters campaign). A few weeks ago, fellow preservation blogger, Sabra Smith at My Own Time Machine, followed suit of another blogger and asked and answered the following question:

Can you think of any time or landmarks in your life that can teach you something about yourself that you’ve forgotten? We hold so many stories within the gaps… Find something heart warming and worth honoring about your life today.


(Read Sabra’s post; you’ll enjoy it!) What does this question mean to me? Well, first of all, trying to remember something that I’ve forgotten about myself sounds like a trick question, something along the lines of trying to look up a word in the dictionary that I don’t know how to spell (yea, thanks, Mom for that answer all of these years). I’ve been pondering this question for a while, and I cannot pinpoint just one. Maybe it is because when I think of landmarks in my life, I don’t think of buildings. I think of places, places in which I have spent much time in over the years because I know this was where the best conversations have been with the great people in my life.  To me, landmarks are landscapes, streets, and buildings with the human component. There are a few places that I know have shaped the person I am.

First, I think of Point Lookout, which I’ve written about many times (see this list and here). When I stayed with my grandmother in the summertime I would get up early and walk, run, or ride my bike to the beach, early enough that I had time to sit on the jetty before the lifeguards chased me away (KEEP OFF JETTY, the signs read). The sun would be shining brightly, halfway up the sky, the wind blowing my hair, and the ocean spray just reaching my toes. I loved to walk on the jetty or just sit there, imagining, thinking, dreaming. I might be imagining the lives of historic characters I was reading about (i.e. Laura Ingalls or the American Girl Dolls). Or I might be trying to recall days at the beach when I was much younger, when my dad would stand with me under huge, crashing waves. I know that this beach is deep in my soul and it is the reason I love the ocean as much as I do, and why I have to visit the ocean every time I visit Grandma Jeanne.

Another place that comes to mind is the basement of my parents’ house, before we finished it to the den, computer room, and another bedroom. My three sisters and I would play for hours, making up the best games from animal school, house, Global Guts obstacle courses, anything we could imagine and recreate amongst the workbench, Fisher Price kitchen sets, laundry room, hot water heater and furnace, on roller skates, on furniture dollies, and with our many, many toys. We would play the radio, sing, dance, skate, and to keep warm we turned on the small box electric heater and wear extra socks.  Between the four of us, we had the best imagination. The basement holds so many memories for all four of us, and it is a strong bond between us. The basement serves as a reminder of the importance of sisters and family and just how much fun we had without video games or really expensive toys. I think it kept us grounded and we understand the importance of an imagination and free playing. It shaped our personalities (I may have been the bossy, oldest one, ahem) and I would bet that part of my love for ordinary houses and the need to know the stories of buildings comes from the memories I have in an “insignificant” house.

I must have a thing for basements, because I also think of the basement in Combs Hall at Mary Washington, where I spent many hours studying, drafting, talking, developing into a preservationist and deciding to embark on whatever preservation task came my way. And I think of the basement of Kenmore Plantation in Fredericksburg, VA, where I worked as a restoration intern. And now I think of the basement of Wheeler House at UVM. Actually, why are preservationists always in the basement?

But let’s take a step back in time, before I was studying preservation in basements. Aside from basements, I think of Room 216 in my high school, Mrs. Morahan’s room. She came to be the in-school-mom for my best friends and me. We stored our track bags under a table in her room, gathered there in the mornings before the bell, during free periods, and always after school. My best friend and I had lockers right across the hall, so there was always a reason to go there. My friends and I spent our time with the loving Mrs. Morahan, and we loved her back. We talked about school stress, college choices, boyfriends, siblings, worries, happiness, track, student government, and just about everything that was on our minds. She taught us in the classroom and out of the classroom. It was always, always warm in her room and full of decorations (school related and holiday related), munchkin donuts every Friday, and the best teacher’s chair in the world. Whoever had the worst day got to sit in the chair. Mrs. Morahan remains my favorite teacher, she means so much to us, and I don’t think any of us would have done so well in school without her. Room 216 in the 1971 high school is truly the type of unassuming place that matters. Much of who I am developed in that room and many important decisions were made.

I don’t know that I have answered the question that Sabra asked, as my answers are more shaping who I am, rather than one defining spot. Maybe with more time, I can think of one place and one moment, but for now, I think in terms of connectivity. So instead, I ask the question:

How would you define landmarks of your life? What does that mean to you and what types (and specific) places have made you the person you are today? What do these places teach you about other places?

And, so, we continue the celebration of places and they shape who we are.

Right Place at the Right Time

If we had tried to find them, we wouldn’t have. On a trip out to Calverton, NY my family and I stopped to eat lunch at J&R’s Steakhouse (a Long Island restaurant). Previously there had been a little village of shops behind the restaurant, mostly antique shops and boutiques. Now, the small dollhouse looking buildings remain empty and overgrown with weeds. However, one antique shop & art gallery is still open, so we went to wander in there. When I walked in my dad showed me that he found a set of six bowls from The Lido Club Hotel in Long Beach, NY.

The Lido Hotel in 1942.

The Lido Hotel in 1942.

The Lido Club Hotel opened in 1929, attracting stars of the day and their guests.   Its history includes serving as Naval Receiving Station, closing during WWII, and suffering under poor management. According to “Toasting an Icon of Lido Beach’s Golden Era” by Marcelle S. Fischler (October 3, 2004, The New York Times), the hotel officially closed in 1981 (after many struggles and ups and downs) and was converted to condominiums. The Lido Club Hotel is now the Lido Beach Towers. The grand days of Lido-Long Beach had faded and its former pink stucco is now gray, though the building retains its Moorish style.

The Lido Club Hotel

The Lido Club Hotel

To most people these restaurant ware bowls wouldn’t mean much, but to my family they are significant. The Lido-Long Beach-Point Lookout area is where my grandmother lives and where my father and my uncle grew up during the summers. My father worked at the Lido Hotel one summer as a valet parker and driving a shuttle bus between the resort and the golf course. He remembers driving some fancy cars. Plus, we love all things related to Point Lookout and the history of that small piece of Long Island.  The price tag on the plates read that they were from the Lido Hotel in Long Beach, NY and were $9.95 each.  Now, if just the price tag said Lido Hotel, I might not have believed it, but the bottom of the bowls read “Lido” and one said “Lido Club Hotel.” We loved them. As we were mulling over a purchase, the owner came down from the gallery to tell us that he was closing in about one month and would make anything a very desirable price for us. Bingo! He sold us the bowls for 50% off the asking price.

A bowl from the Lido Club Hotel.

A bowl from the Lido Club Hotel.

Close up view of the pattern.

Close up view of the pattern.

Another close up view of the pattern.

Another close up view of the pattern.

We are thrilled to have these pieces, but the next step and the hard part is trying to find information about the pattern and looking for additions to our new collections.  There are five bowls with the red writing on the back and one with the green writing.

The back of the bowls. Lamberton China - Lido - Nathan Straus & Sons - New York.

The back of the bowls. Lamberton China - Lido - Nathan Straus & Sons - New York.

The back of one of the bowls. "Royal Schwarzburg - Germany - Made expressly for Club Lido Hotel - Long Beach, L.I. - By Nathan Straus & Sons - New York."

The back of one of the bowls. "Royal Schwarzburg - Germany - Made expressly for Club Lido Hotel - Long Beach, L.I. - By Nathan Straus & Sons - New York."

An internet search isn’t much help and Nathan Straus & Sons only appears on Replacements, Ltd. but not with the Lido pattern. I would like to find out more about the pattern and if any pieces exist anywhere else. I would assume that everything was auctioned off when the hotel was closed, so the restaurant ware could be anywhere.  Can anyone help with finding more information, determining the age, learning about the company, or any other relative information?

September 11, 2008

Seven years ago, I was in 11th grade sitting in Mr. Posnanski’s 3rd period precalculus class when another teacher popped his head in the door to say that we should go to the library to watch TV because a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  For the rest of the day and week, in all of my classes, we spent a lot of time listening to the radio or watching the news, and talking about the attacks on the twin towers.  I spent a lot of time writing – not necessarily how I felt, but more so what I had been hearing on the news and what we were doing in school. 
 

Even though I grew up on Long Island, until September 11, 2001, I did not know much about the twin towers or the World Trade Center.  Due to my lack of knowledge, it seemed like the best thing I could do would be to record my surroundings.  It’s not a literary work of the century, but at least I’ll have decades from now. 

Personally, my life was not altered by September 11.  However, my extended family lost a member. My cousin’s cousin, Kristen Montanero, worked in one of the twin towers.  We never heard from her.  We attended her memorial service in the winter of 2002.  She remains among the missing.  I especially think of her today.

Every anniversary of September 11 has been different.  Sadly, it seems as though every anniversary places less and less emphasis on itself, the day, and the people lost.  Of course, I am also moving geographically further from New York every few years (by chance.)  I thought that working on an Army base, there would at least be a little ceremony, but no one mentioned anything all day.  Maybe the soldiers had something, but civilian contractors did not hear a word.  My sister who attends college in Pennsylvania emailed me to tell me that no one mentioned September 11th there either.  We both would up searching the internet to find that Point Lookout had a memorial service on the beach.  We wanted to go. 

Again, it’s not that September 11 changed my life forever, at least directly, but shouldn’t a day like this deserve some attention? What happened to the unified country and patriotism and never forget?  Just like we should remember soldiers on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and December 7th for Pearl Harbor, shouldn’t we give remembrance to today, a day marked “Patriot Day” on calendars? Granted, American society is fickle, but it seems to me that September 11th will be one of those days where you should remember where you were so someday you can tell your children and grandchildren of the day Americans were attacked on our own soil, but how we all came together to remember that we were indeed Americans. 

Forget politics, opinions, and side agendas: September 11th is about remembering people, honoring the heroes.  At least offering a moment of silence like we do for the Oklahoma City bombing, would show respect and remembrance.  It’s a date in history that Americans should never forget.

On the note of remembrance, decades from now, oral history is probably going to play a role in recording the events to share with that generation what happened.  Fortunately, some institutions have already begun the efforts.  (See Columbia’s Oral History Program.)  But, traumatic experiences affect memories and different instances of oral history will recall various stories.  Oral history isn’t always about interviewing elders – it’s anyone who experienced an important part of history and has a story to tell.

September 11, 2008: I’m in the oral history field.  I suppose it’s the appropriate choice for me as I’m a proponent of the ideas: remember the fallen, bless the heroes. And never forget, because people and their history deserve to be remembered. 

American Flag in Point Lookout

American Flag in Point Lookout

This Place Matters

The National Trust for Historic Preservation launched a campaign entitled “This Place Matters,” in May 2008, during National Preservation Month.  “This Place Matters” encourages citizens to print out a sign reading National Trust for Historic Preservation, this place matters and to photograph the place with the sign.  After taking the photograph, it can be uploaded to the website.  Accompanying the photographs are paragraph-long captions offering why that place matters. There are no criteria for age of a place, condition, or meaning.  The only qualification is that it matters to someone, whether it is a childhood home, playground, historic building, a bridge, a restaurant, a landscape, etc. 

 

“This Place Matters” sends the message that the National Trust is making a conscious effort to engage local citizens and everyday places, thereby increasing the range of accessibility to historic preservation.  As a preservationist who leans more towards the vernacular, I commend the National Trust.  Hopefully, there will soon be more than 25 photographs contributed to that page.  I encourage everyone to submit a photograph for the “This Place Matters” campaign, and I will do the same.  

 

Currently, I do not have a sign printed, but I’ll include a photograph here for a place that matters to me.   

Point Lookout, NY

Point Lookout, NY

Point Lookout, NY is a tiny beach community that dates to the 1920s when it was no more than a few bungalows near a place called “Nassau by the Sea.”  My father’s family has owned a house in Point Lookout since 1965 and it is my favorite place, and it means the world to me.  The photograph shown above is what my family and I call the “side beach,” which is along Jones Inlet.  We always walk/climb the jetty, which is comprised of old Lido Boulevard and some other streets.  Beyond this jetty/retaining wall is an actual beach to one side where the sandbar comes out and people walk their dogs and watch the boats go by.  On the other side is more of this wall that runs the length of town until reaching the main beach. In other views, you can see the drawbridges along the parkways leading to Point Lookout.  Behind this photograph are the town ball field and playground and a street of houses (no longer the beach bungalows.)  This place matters to me because it contains much of my family’s history and good memories.  On this cloudy day that my sisters and I visited, the photograph did not capture the sun, but in any type of weather, I love this place.  (For reference on my love of Point Lookout, see this post: Old Memories, New Memories: An Evolution of my Favorite Place.)