Bob Keeler wrote the book on Newsday, a candid history detailing the origin story of Long Island’s original tabloid. Started in 1940 as the “toy” of Alicia Patterson, the paper went on to influence the growth of Nassau and Suffolk counties in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
Harry Guggenheim had his own views on how the paper should be run. Not a problem if he was just Alicia’s husband. He was also, however, Newsday‘s majority shareholder. Their relationship unfolded in a strange duet from the newsroom to their Sands Point estate: his gentleman’s conservatism matched against her shoot-for-the-knees liberalism.
Bob explains it all in a fascinating walk through Long Island’s growth in the second half of the 20th century.
Newsday: A Candid History of the Respectable Tabloid by Robert Keeler (find in a library)
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro (find in a library)
Folklorists would make good podcasters. They are used to finding interesting people and getting them to tell good stories. Take Nancy Solomon for example. As the executive director of Long Island Traditions, she has spent years collecting and studying the stories of baymen, offshore fishermen, boat builders and the like. Today we’ll talk to her about a number of those stories revolving around the subject of weather lore. Continue reading “Stories of Storm and Sea”
It’s 1962 and a Nor’easter has just torn through Long Island. In its wake is another storm, Long Island Parks Commissioner Robert Moses with his plan to build a road down the middle of Fire Island. It will stabilize the beach, he says. It will provide beauty and ease to the motorist, he says.
But local builder Murray Barbash notices that the road will run right through his new development of Dunewood, flattening it and pretty much anything else in its path (including Sunken Forest). Murray gets together with his brother-in-law Irving Like and the rest, if you don’t know already, is history.
Murray’s daughters Cathy and Susan knew the story but over the course of the last year they set about documenting that history. Sifting through a number of local and regional archives (including Dowling’s) they pieced together the saga of the road-that-never-was. On this episode you’ll hear from Cathy and Susan and their mother Lillian about how an unlikely coalition of Long Island “vigilantes” outwitted and outlasted the great Robert Moses.
You can soon see Cathy’s and Susan’s research for yourself when the exhibit they created is permanently installed with Seatuck at the Suffolk County Environmental Center in Islip. For now, use the handy scorecard below to keep track of who’s who in this gripping story of intrigue and power set against the natural beauty of Fire Island.
Many thanks to the Barbash family for sharing their time, memories and photos.
Scorecard for this Episode
The Long Island “Vigilantes”
Murray Barbash: builder with an eye for beauty, developer of Dunewood
Lillian Barbash: his wife
Irving Like: indomitable lawyer and Murray’s brother-in-law
Paul Townsend: “The Wizard,” publisher of the Long Island Business News
Robert Cushman Murphy: the tallest ornithologist in the world
Robert Moses: New York’s [insert your own adjective] Master Builder
Nelson Rockefeller: the not-to-be-bullied Governor of New York
Laurance Rockefeller: Nelson’s brother and noted conservationist
Long Island’s Legislators
Stuyvesant Wainwright: Congressman from New York’s 1st District, proposed a Fire Island National Seashore when no one was looking
Otis Pike: wins Wainwright’s seat with Moses’ backing, becomes reluctant sponsor of the Fire Island National Seashore bill
Stewart Udall – Secretary of the Interior, consummate insider and good guy
President John F. Kennedy: wanted National Parks in the East, dammit
Charles Collingwood: Saltaire resident and CBS newsman
Wolcott Gibbs: writer for the New Yorker and Fire Island playwright
Teddy White: Fair Harbor resident and chronicler of presidents
Julius Monk: New York cabaret impresario whom we have to thank for the classic “Slow Down Moses”
The summer of 1977 brought Star Wars, blackouts, and the first appearance of The Fire Island Tide. From that first 24-page Memorial Day edition, Warren McDowell’s dream grew to a 140-page color news magazine with poetry, history and artwork along with community news. Here Warren recounts that growth and the work it took: delivering papers every Friday by boat from Kismet to Watch Hill, dealing with national advertisers warily marketing to the “alternative lifestyle”, and loving every minute of it. Although clearly aware of the dangers facing newspapers (and radio stations) today, his message to those dreaming of starting their own: go for it!