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The Two Other Halves: William Floyd’s Wives

by Thomas McGann |

General William Floyd (1734-1821), one of only 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, had two homes and two wives. The first home is the William Floyd Estate in Mastic, part of the Fire Island National Seashore. His first wife was Hannah Jones (1740-1781), daughter of William and Mary Jones of Southampton. His second home is the General William Floyd … Full Story

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Shinnecock’s Missing Light

by Thomas McGann |

Necessity builds lighthouses. Progress replaces them. Heritage preserves them. At one point there were three proud lighthouses standing guard over the south shore of Long Island: Fire Island Lighthouse, Montauk Lighthouse, and the Shinnecock Lighthouse. Today only two remain. Where the Shinnecock Lighthouse once stood something is missing. Even back in the mid 19th century something was missing. There was … Full Story

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Wild Things: Maurice Sendak on Fire Island

by Thomas McGann |

Maurice Sendak is the author of the 1964 Caldecott Award winning children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.” The book remains number three on the top 10 bestselling children’s books of all time.1 You may have read it yourself. And while not often documented, Sendak also spent time on Fire Island. Background: The basics of Sendak’s life are well documented. … Full Story

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The Bizarre History of the Smith Point Bridge

by Thomas McGann |

Fire Island is accessible by boat or by bridges at either end. The more well-known of the two bridges is the Fire Island Inlet Bridge, sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Robert Moses Bridge because it is a continuation of the Robert Moses Causeway and ends in Robert Moses State Park. The lesser known of the two bridges is the … Full Story

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Stonewall Revolution: The Best and Worst of Times

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. Judy Garland, a … 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