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The Hurricane of ’38

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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 …

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Wolcott Gibbs: F.I. mellows a curmudgeon

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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 …

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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 …

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Lambda Legal: Protecting LGBT rights for 45 Years

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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 …

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

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Fire Island on the Small Screen

By FIN

By Thomas McGann Fire Island has had its share of exposure on the big screen (movies), not often, but enough to be notable. However, it is not much seen on the small screen (television), until fairly recently. To touch on just a few movies, perhaps the most significant was “Last Summer,” a 1969 coming-of-age story about burgeoning adolescent sexuality. The …

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Fire Island’s Woodhull School Celebrates Its Centennial

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By Thomas McGann Happy birthday to the Fire Island School District! Fire Island’s only school, the Woodhull School, is a public school located on the southeast corner of Midway and Surf Road on the border of Ocean Beach/ Corneille Estates on Fire Island. It is named after Richard Woodhull who served first as a teacher and then as principal from …