Traffic in 1914 Recalled

Footnotes to Long Island History

Traffic in 1914 Recalled



Thomas R. Bayles


     Some idea of traffic conditions on Middle Country road 40 years ago is shown in the following local news item of August 2, 1914.

       “Last Sunday there passed through here by actual count 102 automobiles five bicycles, three motorcycles, 18 wagons and carriages, and 25 people on foot.”

The Advance for October, 1931, carries the following item: “Walter Swezey walked from Morristown, N.J. to Middle Island last week in 35 hours, leaving there with one cent in his pocket and arriving with two cents. He is open to challenge anyone to make a more economical trip than that. Mr. Swezey is a great walker and says he can enjoy the scenery better than when riding in a car at 40 miles an hour.”

“The Presbyterian Church choir gave a surprise party at the manse on Monday evening to Everett Pfeiffer and Miss Grace Faron which was voted a success by all present.” This local item appeared in October, 1931.

The same month appeared the following: “Donald Ferguson won 37 first prizes at the Mineola Fair last week for fruit exhibits from his orchards.”

“Andrew Mailer made 28 entries of vegetables at the Riverhead fair last week and won five first prizes on watermelons, four firsts on muskmelons, six firsts on tomatoes, two firsts on peppers, one on carrots, cauliflower, eggplants, and sweet corn.”

A reminder of the days when Port Jefferson was the center of a thriving ship building industry is the following item in a local paper dated May 10, 1873. “James M. and J. E. Bayles are getting out the timber for a large three masted schooner for Captain Joseph Brewster. Her dimensions are 120 foot keel, 32 foot beam, and she will carry 450 tons.”

The Advance for March 1932 carried the following:

“That far-famed spot, the checker board behind the stove in the Middle Island postoffice, was once again the scene of an exciting contest one day last week when Raymond Ritch, Suffolk county champion of the game, met his defeat at the hands of George Kapp of Port Chester.

“Mr. Kapp is a member of the Port Chester checker club which has cleaned up everything in Westchester and is going after national clubs. Mr. Ritch, who has been unable to find anyone in this part of Long Island who can trim him in a game of checkers, lost four games yesterday afternoon to Kapp, and won the game.

“Around the stove in the postoffice and store has been the social gathering place for the past 50 years of men and boys for miles around, where all the news of the day is discussed and big stories are swapped with the salesmen who frequently drop in.

“During the years, many a checker board has been worn out behind the stove and although that master player, Everett Topping, who for many years occupied the seat of honor, is no longer in evidence, another star player, Raymond Ritch, now holds forth.”

An item dated March, 1932:

“The latest report on the electric light line is that the Long Island Lighting company is going to extend its lines from Shoreham to the State Game Farm at the Ridge. This leaves out all the section along Middle Country road from Coram to the Ridge which has been in hopes of getting current when the lines was extended to the Game Farm.

Also in October, 1932: “Construction of an additional 10 foot strip along the middle country road from Coram east is underway. And the grading is completed as far as the Presbyterian church, and everything is in readiness to lay concrete.”            

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