By Barbara LaMonica
It might be fun to look at some articles from The Long Islander over December-January long ago. It is fun to see the topics that concerned the editors from roughly the 1840s through the 1930s. You will find that some of these issues are still around today! Hint-traffic congestion and parking for instance.
Complaints about town parking
In the December 3, 1920 issue, complaints were made about parking cars on the sides of New York Avenue between Main Street and Elm Street in spite of a Town Ordinance prohibiting the practice.
“The congestion is so great at times that it is with great difficulty a car going in either direction can get through. It is worse since the trolley cars have been running. It is at times impossible for a person wishing to get mail to the Post Office without alighting a block away.”
It was suggested that cars be parked diagonally to the curb with no parking on the east side. In addition, a yard should be put aside for the care of the cars for hours at a time at a moderate fee.
Seems like congestion and parking have always been a problem!
We are a healthy locality
December 25, 1885. Article claiming Long Islanders in general and Huntington residents in particular are a healthy lot reaching advanced age.
“...Thomas Scudder, 87 recently remodeled his house at the Harbor with the hopes of living many more years...Mr. Isaac Titus, aged 88, was one of them who did his share of farm work during the past season. His memory is very good and a chat with him concerning events of the War of 1812 is very interesting. Jonathan Jarvis is 84 and can been seen about our streets everyday taking great interest in the passing events...P.C. Jarvis his brother who sailed many a sloop between this harbor and New York is an octogenarian and his mind is clear...There are numerous others we might include in this article but we mention the above as proof of the healing locality we live in.”
A few of Huntington's Spry Elders
Too many escapees
January 10, 1913 article reported that the number of escapees from the Suffolk County Jail was the subject of a Grand Jury investigation. Apparently, the escape of the notorious thief and confidence woman, Esther Harris, ignited the crisis. Esther entranced her jailers who allowed her all sorts of supplies and gourmet treats from the outside as well as holding bridge whist parties in her cell. She also ran a jewelry business within her confines.
“...Esther who could acquire in a clandestine way an average of a thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry and silverware in a month.... Among her assets was a gold watch...which she let the wife of the jailer have for $20 throwing in a ring for the daughter for good measure."
Eventually outside friends provided Esther with a car ride to the local train station before daylight. Other inmates included Peter Musso who ran a barbershop in the jail and made a tidy sum shaving outsiders, with as the article continued, no rent to pay and razors furnished by the county.
As a remedial measure, the article suggested that prisoners should no longer have the keys to their own cells and corridors!
“The taxpayers of Suffolk County should feel highly gratified that they built such a handsome and comfortable boarding house for their prisoners, and it is said to be so safe that it would take an experience burglar to break in-few ever care to get out.”
On December 8, 1911 The Long Islander urged Huntington residents to do their shopping local.
“Nearly all the local stores have laid in large stocks of useful and ornamental Christmas goods, which you can buy just as cheap as to go to city stores...Remember that the businessman hereabouts pays his part toward supporting the village and town government. He is at your service every day in the year. Do not forget him at Christmas.”
Huntington Village continued to be a bustling shopping spot.
December 10, 1920. Article on a crime wave that hit busses running between Melville and Huntington Station.
“The hold-up of the bus....by a couple of highway men, and the robbery of the passengers, smacks of the terrors of travel in the Far West when Ben Halliday ran stage coaches from the railroad terminals in Missouri and over the Rocky Mountains to California.”
The article speculates that drivers and passengers may have to be armed unless the “carnival of crime” is stopped by an effort of all the police forces of county, state, national levels cooperate to end this crime wave.
December 1, 1938. There is a long tradition of holiday parades in Huntington. This article reports on plans for Christmas parade with several cartoon characters popular at the time.
Thousands of children will be on hand to welcome Santa Claus and his court when they arrive from in their special auto trailer from the North Pole...Popeye, no less, will be the grand marshal of the parade and the flower- smelling, peace-loving Ferdinand the Bull will also be a member of Santa’s court, as will Mickey Mouse, Eskimo Eddie, Patrick Penguin, Polar Bear Pete and the seven dwarfs, not forgetting Dopey”
This blog has been written by various affiliates of the Huntington Historical Society.