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Stonewall Rebellion: The Best and Worst of Times

by Thomas McGann |

By Thomas McGann Who really knows why it all happened? Probably no one, not even those who were there. At least that’s how the story of the Stonewall riots continues to be told. But something was in the air that sweltering night at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, June 28, 1969, a crazy night during crazy times. … Full Story

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The Miraculous Rescue of the “U.S.S. Northern Pacific”

by Thomas McGann |

By Thomas McGann No one knows how many wrecks have occurred off Fire Island’s shores, some horrific, some forgotten to history, but the most miraculous rescue must be that of the “U.S.S. Northern Pacific,” which ran aground on New Year’s Day in 1919, with a shipload of wounded soldiers. The World War I troop carrier left Brest, France, en route … Full Story

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O Whitman! My Whitman!

by FIN |

By Thomas McGann Happy birthday, Walt Whitman, born 200 years ago, May 31, 1819. It is of thee we sing! We celebrate your birth! “Starting from fish-shape Paumanok, where [you were] born, well-begotten, and rais’d by a perfect mother…isle of salty shore and breeze and brine.” Printer’s Devil, typesetter, pressman, editor, publisher, teacher, writer, government clerk, nurse, poet of the … Full Story

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The Hurricane of ’38

by FIN |

Personal Stories from Fire Island By Thomas McGann The hurricane hit Fire Island around 2:30 p.m. The eye was about 50 miles wide, the storm itself about 500 miles across. High tide was even higher than usual because of the autumnal equinox when the sun and moon align with the Earth. Pushed by winds gusting over 180 mph, the sea … Full Story

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Wolcott Gibbs: F.I. mellows a curmudgeon

by FIN |

History By Thomas McGann “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind,” reads Wolcott Gibbs’ parody of Time magazine, an article that is still highly touted, so much so that it tends to obscure much of what else he wrote, and write he did. Gibbs concluded his lampoon, “Where it all will end, knows God!” Gibbs wrote for The New Yorker … Full Story

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The Fascinating History of Lighthouses

by FIN |

From Pharos to Fire Island By Thomas McGann On Aug. 7, we will celebrate National Lighthouse Day, and countdown to the 30th anniversary in which Congress passed this resolution. It was on Aug. 7, 1789, that the Bureau of Lighthouses was founded. When President Ronald Reagan signed the bill 200 years later, he did so in recognition of the incalculable … Full Story

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Lambda Legal: Protecting LGBT rights for 45 Years

by FIN |

By Thomas McGann Lambda Legal is a civil rights organization that specializes in lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender (LBGT) rights, as well as those living with AIDS/HIV. In 1971, Lambda Legal’s founder William J. Thom was sitting around a pool in the Fire Island Pines lamenting the frequent arrests of local gay men. Before being a liquor store owner, the … Full Story

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Von Steuben (1730-1794)

by FIN |

Friedrich Wilhem von Steuben and the American Revolution By Lorna Luniewski This is a name that many may not be familiar with, myself included, but Baron von Steuben is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army, teaching military drills, tactics and disciplines. He is still considered one of the most important German Americans, as his training … Full Story

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The William Floyd Estate

by FIN |

Gunpowder and Gumption By Thomas McGann This year celebrates the 300th anniversary of the William Floyd Estate, one of the gems of the Fire Island National Seashore. The estate is the ancestral home of William Floyd (1634-1821), one of only 56 original signers of the Declaration of Independence. The estate is not contiguous with the rest of the FI National … Full Story

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History: Rumrunners of Fire Island

by FIN |

By Thomas McGann It started with Prohibition. Thanks to the active political participation of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Anti-Saloon League, and the likes of Carry A. Nation, an uncorseted woman (“bad for the vital organs” she claimed) who went about town with her handy hatchet chopping up taverns preaching “Death to Rum!”, in January 1919, the Eighteenth … Full Story