the continuing autobiography of Capt. Dan
In 1930, we rented a large bungalow in Bayville on Madison Ave. My maternal grandmother stayed with us there. I remember the Lyon’s girls who lived there all year round in a house at the corner of our avenue, Madison, and the beach. I had a crush on Regina. Her sister, Marie, was about six years older.
There were many kids my age around the neighborhood, the Lynches, McSherrys, Croaks, etc mostly Irish. In fact, a Pat Kerr owned the house we rented. The Croak family had about five brothers; one was a priest, then Babe, Tom, Phil. I can’t remember the other one. They built a beautiful home for their mother a few blocks away. Phil use to date Marie Lyons. We had a raft out off our beach where we guys and gals use to assemble. We had beach fires at night, and went canoeing at night. I use to ride my bike up to Center Island a lot. Again, we had lots of company on weekends. Regina would ride a bus from Bayville to a Catholic girls school in Jamaica. The Croaks were the only family that lived there in the winter. She went to college later on, became a chemical engineer, married and had six children. I got my driver’s permit and was allowed to drive the Chrysler to the Glen Cove theatre. There use to be a good ice cream parlor on Bayville Ave about three blocks from us. It had the best malts and sundaes. My Aunt Bessie rented a house down a lane near the bayside just down from the ice cream parlor. I remember it was loaded around her area with mosquitoes and green sand flies. When you dug for clams in the mud on the bayside, you had to keep one hand free to swat the green sand flies! We had milk delivered and Dugan’s bakery truck came by everyday. Their cup cakes were my favorites, also the French coffee cake. We went to the little Catholic Church about a mile away down the road, opposite where the Harrison Williams’ estate used to be. The red brick wall of the estate is still there. Like many of the old estates, it was subsequently sub divided.
In 1931, we rented a large bungalow on the beach right next to the home of the Lyons girls, oh boy! My maternal grandmother lived with us. We also had an Irish maid and my father had his handyman from the Press Club out occasionally to do some work around the bungalow. Tony built me a small wooden kayak type boat. He had been an Italian Naval officer in WW1. One night at the Press Club, where he lived, he shot and killed a burglar. Babe Croak, or his brother Phil, used to row a boat and coach me swimming long distance from Oak Neck Point to the ferry slip at Reinhardt’s Beach. Again, we guys and gals use to row or paddle a canoe to the freighters forming the ferry slip breakwater; and picnic aboard, swim, play an old phonograph, etc. I swam in a one and a half mile swim in Oyster Bay, finished 15th out of 140 some odd entries. All the NYAC, Dragon Club, YMCA swimmers, etc were in it. One time when Vinnie Sims spent a week with me, we took the Mandy Lee, a sport fishing cruiser out. My father had gotten a boat from a friend who owed him money. It was 55′ of wooden lap strake construction. It was anchored on the bayside of Bayville. We had to go through the bridge that connects Bayville to Oyster Bay. As we headed south on Oyster Bay, the salt water-cooling line separated at a connection, doused the engine causing it to quit. While Vinnie and I were busy trying to find out what had happened, we drifted over onto a rocky shoal off Center Island and bumped gently on top of a big boulder. Vinnie immediately got an anchor out, which we should have done sooner. Vinnie reconnected the hose fitting but couldn’t get the engine started. We signaled a passing small boat, which came over and was able to get alongside as it drew less water than us. He looked the engine over and said we would have to wait awhile and let things dry out a bit. He towed us out to deeper water. Later we got it staffed, headed for the Sound via Cold Spring Harbor area. We got around Rocky Point and headed for Bayville Beach opposite our bungalow. I took many of my friends out for a ride plus my mother, Tommy and Margaret. My father was away at the time and did not know anything about it. Vinnie and I eventually got it back to Oyster Bay and anchored it without further mishap. One weekend my father took Vinnie Sims, Vinnie Guido and my family to Fairfield, Conn. to visit his partner Tom Lynch who had a cottage there. I can remember us hanging onto a towrope getting dragged astern at 10 kts, lot of fun! We also had aquaplanes that were towed behind the boat. It was sort of a flat board with a small bridle at the front connected to a towrope. You stood on it holding onto another bridle that came up from each forward corner, lots of fun, forerunner of water skiing. Labor Day came late that year, and school started a week later, so I was able to enjoy Bayville a little longer.
My mother would pick us all up at school on Friday afternoons, and let me drive the car to Bayville; which we did each weekend until Columbus Day. How I loved those Indian summer days, warm days, cold nights! Water remained halfway warm until the end of September. On such Friday nights at Bayville, it was cold canned salmon, Franco-American spaghetti, salad, cheese, fruit, cake and milk for supper. We had to dress in the kitchen by the stove especially in October, as there was no heat in the bungalow. On July 4th everyone had fireworks on the beach. My father liked to buy the biggest fireworks to outshine the neighbors. One of his skyrockets fell over after it ignited and flew out and hit a canoe in the side putting a hole in it. He arranged to have it repaired. No one hurt. We had periods of being inundated with large jellyfish that stung like all blazes, also had horseshoe crabs. It was fun picking one up and chasing some girls with it. I rigged a rowboat out as a small windjammer one time and we sailed around Oak Point, but had to row back against the wind. I also talked an Italian kid, who had a nice outboard motor and boat, to take a trip across the Sound to Greenwich. Our parents gave us hell when we got back. We had no problems over or back. It was an all-day trip.
to be continued….