Albert Bayles Diaries 1930-1939
edited by
Mr. Donald Bayles


Several years ago I prepared a biographical sketch of my grandfather based on diaries that he kept nearly all his life. I also wrote my memories of the war years before they began to fade. So why not fill in the intervening years? This story begins after the death of my grandfather Richard M. Bayles in November 1930. Albert took over my grandfather's insurance business and continued to work the printing press. He did this when he wasn't busy fixing something for someone. My father worked in the Patchogue railroad station from 1 PM to 9 PM so he had the mornings free to engage in other activities. The were several chicken houses on the property and it seemed as though we always had chickens.

I had started my first grade of school in September 1929 at the new East Middle Island School which had just been completed. In fact it was not 100 per cent finished because we had to use the desks from the old school for a while. The school had electricity and running water with flush toilets in the bathrooms. We had none of these luxuries at home.

During my teenage years Swezeytown played a important role in my family. One of my early memories was a birthday party for Mrs. Martha Edwards who died in 1933. Later my father used several acres of her land to raise corn and he also set out several hundred seedlings of spruce trees which he hoped to sell when they got big enough. At the same time he was using several acres in Chestnut Pound for beans, corn and strawberries.

On the west side of what was later Swezey Lane were three fields of 4 1/2 acres each separated by wooded hedges. The east field belonged to George Edwards, the next which we used belonged to Alice Albin and the west field belonged to Hewlett Mott. This was Chestnut Pound which we reached over a farm road that snaked through a long overgrown field from Half Mile Pond Road which then was open only from Swezeytown Road east. There was also a farm road that George Edwards used running north to the Coram-Swezeytown Road which was widened about 1935 and became Swezey Lane. In 1954 while working for a surveyor in Patchogue I surveyed these fields for the site of a new West Middle Island School using diagrams that my grandfather had made many years earlier.

Although my father was employed by the Long Island Railroad as a ticket agent in Patchogue his hours were 1 PM to 9 PM so he had all morning to take care of his farming activities and he liked to get up early in the morning. He never owned a farm but instead he rented fields at various locations. In addition to the Chestnut Pound lot he used three of Lewis Ritch's lots, a couple of acres across the road belong to Mr. Ferguson, another piece adjoining Mr. Pfeiffer's pond, another in back of Martha Edward's house and several acres at the north end of Wellington Farms. I don't know exactly how many acres he used for raising crops but would guess it was about 15 acres. I don't think he ever used all of these lots at the same time.

To pick the strawberries my father would get a crew of girls usually daughters of Ed Swezey whose home was about one half mile south of Middle Country Road on a private road. At that time you received 3 cents a quart for picking berries. During the height of the season in mid June we would be getting about 500 quarts. Later in July my father and I would pick the sweet corn, usually about 1000 ears the first thing in the morning. There were also tomatoes and beans. Three stores in Patchogue took some of what we had and some were sold on a roadside stand in front of our house. But we still had to ship some to the market in New York City. My days during summer were spent hoeing the weeds from the rows of corn, beans, tomatoes and the new strawberry plants that had been set earlier that year.

In 1937 when I was 14 years old I bought a 1928 Chevrolet roadster from Wal Mott for $ 5.00. He had used it as a tractor but it was not running and a good portion of the body was missing. I bought a new coil and got it running and used it in farm fields and wood roads around home until I was able to obtain a driver's license in January 1940. When someone stopped and offered to buy it I asked $10 but the person had only $6.50 so I sold it anyway.

One favorite road to drive my unlicensed car was Middle Island Blvd. although I didn't know the road had a name at the time. It was just a dirt road running through the woods to Whiskey Road and located a few hundred feet west of Mr. Miller's fields. To get there I would drive across Mr. Ferguson's apple orchard just west of our house to Mr. Miller's field. Mr. Miller had a farm road which started at Middle Country Road and ran along the east side of his property about a mile to the north end of his fields. This continued north as just a wood road to Whiskey Road. Just north of his fields there was another unused wood road which ran west to Middle Island Blvd. From there it had been widened to Davis's Pond.

In 1937 I remember there being only one house on Middle Island Blvd. However by 1940 the Estonians started to build houses along there. I guess that I first realized this in 1940 when I had my driver's license and was no longer traveling on Middle Island Blvd. My father was using Lewis Ritchs fields for his corn, strawberries, etc. The north field ran to the north boundary of the Ritch property. One day while hoeing corn I heard the sound of someone practicing their musical scales at some distance to the north. I learned that this was Mrs. Kukepu who was one of the new Estonian families. Her home was about one half mile north of Ritch's field on Middle Island Blvd. and she gave singing lessons. I think that her husband George was a piano tuner. Immediately north of Ritch's north lot lived the "goat man". We teenagers were a little leery of this man as we had heard stories of his shooting at people. Although I spent considerable time in this field hoeing corn for my father I never met the man until over 25 years later when I was surveying the property for Raymond Ritch. I met the "goat man", chatted with to him and didn't find him to be very fearsome.

Written by,
Donald Bayles
December, 2000

My uncle Albert kept a diary every year from about the age of 15 whereas my father never did. However since we all lived next to each other on the same piece of property Albert was able to keep a pretty good account of every thing that went on. As he sat at his office desk he could see everyone coming and going. I don't know what my parents would have done if he wasn't always close by. He was a mechanic that could fix just about anything so my father never tried, he just called Albert. I guess my father took after his father whereas I don't know who Albert took after.
I have shown some of the entries from Albert's diaries below although I have substituted "Albert" for "I" as though written by a third party.

Jan.7 & 11 - Albert and others drove to Westhampton Beach to see a coal freighter stuck on sand bar. On Sunday the 7th Albert estimated over 1000 cars were at the beach.
Feb. & Apr.- Albert knocked down an old brooder house and salvaged lumber to build a garage for his car. When completed (with concrete floor) he figured the total cost at $ 38.90. On March 18 he started working for Joe Herbert on a house in Commack at $ 7.50 per day. On April 14 a union delegate threw him off the job for being non-union.
May 5 - Tom was replaced by Mrs. Ferguson as School District 17 Treasurer at the annual meeting.
May 8 - The new concrete pavement on the relocated Rocky Point Road through Mr. Pfeiffer's land north to Rulands was opened to traffic.
May 10 - Grandma & Albert drove to Riverhead to the dedication of the new L.I. Historical Society building.
May 31 - (Sunday) Albert reported the heaviest traffic ever on Middle Country Rd (almost 1000 cars per hour).
June 24 - Tom had 300 Rhode Island Red chickens delivered. This meant more work for me.
Sept. 15 - Miss Marguerite Holmes from Westbury arrived to take up the position as new school teacher for District 16. She was 21 years old and would board with Grandma. At a meeting on Sept. arguments were heard for and against dissolution of the school district and it was decided not to dissolve the district.
Sept.25 - The new concrete road from Coram to Port Jefferson Sta. was completed.
October - Albert was voted in as a member of the Coram Fire Dept. There was only a fire dept. at Coram and Yaphank to serve the Middle Island area. Albert was insurance agent for both districts.
Nov. 3 - Harold Davis was elected Supt. of Highways. This was important as he and Tom were good friends and both were active in the church. Later on Tom would lose his job with the LIRR and would be able to augment his income by hiring his truck out to the Highway Dept.
Dec. 3 - Beatrice Ritch was taken to the County Home in Yaphank where she remained in a bedridden condition for the rest of her life.

Apr. 14 - Tom lost his job at the Patchogue R.R. station.
Apr. 23 - Albert emptied their cistern, borrowed some 1" pipe, connected it to Ferguson's well and pumped for about 17 hours to fill it.
Apr.-May The family dug about 5250 plants from Tom's strawberry fields to fill orders for various people. Each spring plants were dug but this year there was one order for 3000 plants.
June - Albert was helping to lay out footings for new Coram Fire House.
June 24 -1200 tomato plants were set.
July 8 - Tom started working at the Babylon R.R. station.
Aug. & Sept. - Albert was constructing a new building for Mr. Pfeiffer to be used as a real estate office. It was located on the N.W. corner of M.C.Rd. and Rocky Pt. Rd.
Sept. - Gus Terry was building a concrete pit at east end of Pfeiffer's store for greasing cars.
Sept. 6 - Miss Holmes started teaching for another year and boarding with us.
Sept.30- The old Thompson house at bottom of hill burned to ground. This is very close to the location of the present library.
Oct. 10 - Laying of the 3rd conrete lane on M.C.Rd. was started at Coram. By the end of the month it had advanced to our place.
Oct. 13 - Tom and Gus Terry took a load of cauliflower to N.Y. market and then drove upstate for a load of apples.

Tom was working at Blue Point R.R. Sta. Albert doing printing jobs on his press and writing insurance. Miss Margeurite Holmes ( teacher of District 16 school ) was a boarder. Not many days passed without visiting or receiving a visit from Gertrude's relatives in East Moriches or Florence's numerous aunts and cousins. Albert spent time making mechanical repairs for various neighbors and sharpening saws. He listened to his short wave radio for broadcasts from various parts of the world.
Jan. 9 - Checker season opened at Pfeiffer's store. There was always a checker board set up at the rear of the store behind the pot bellied stove.
Jan.11 - Nowaski's house on Rocky Point Road burned to ground. Was formerly Eugene Ruland home.
Jan. - Arthur Viertel died at 89. Mr. Bussing was starting to build on east end of Schmierer land ( where Suburban Set dress shop was later located ).
Mar. 4 - Albert listened to inauguration of F. D. Roosevelt.
Mar.11 - Heard about earthquake which hit Los Angeles killing 131 people.
Mar.17 - Tom finished job at Blue Point R.R.Sta. The next day he went with Gus Terry to the city in Gus's truck and brought back fruit and vegetables to sell.
Apr. 7 - Albert and Marion Van Horn treated themselves to some beer which was legal for first time since 1919.
Apr.13 - Tom started working at Babylon R.R. Sta.
June - In mid June Tom was getting about 500 qts. of strawberries from his patch (over 800 picked June 12).
June 16 - Miss Holme's father took her and her belongings back to Brookville. Last day of school.
June 22 - Elwyn graduated from E. Middle Island school.
July 9 - A very short severe storm in afternoon with hail stones 1 1/2 inches long. Small tornado caused very severe damage between Selden and Lake Ronkonkoma.
July - Cousin Lavinia Rackett is 91 this year (not birthday).
Aug. 15 - Funeral for Adam Bubb.
Aug. 17 - Mr. Pfeiffer and Mrs. Dixon married.
Toward end of August Tom was picking about 1000 ears of corn.
Sept. 4 - Clinton Smith (new teacher for District 16 ) arrived to board with Grandma.
Oct. 11 - Rupert Zebrowski cut foot while sawing wood at Pfeiffer's and died at Mather Hospital.
Nov. 7 - At election prohibition was repealed and Harold Davis of Coram was elected Supt. of Highways.
Nov.16 - Mrs. Martha Edwards of Swezeytown died.
Nov.25 - Gertrude, Elwyn and Donald went by train to city and to RKO Music Hall.
Nov. 30 - Thanksgiving Day with turkey on Florence's table for the first time in 35 yrs.
Dec. 2 - Albert bought a Delco electric plant from John Randall of Ridge for $ 35.
Dec. 18 - First electric lights from Delco plant. Previously kerosene lamps had been used.
Dec.29 - First time the temperature fell below zero in years.

Tom working at Babylon RR station. Clinton Smith, the District # 16 teacher, was a boarder.
Jan. 5 - First electric lights from new Delco batteries.
Jan. 23 - Albert got old printing press that had been stored in barn and rigged it to run with an electric motor. Thereafter he periodically converted 110 volt appliances for use with 32 volt current supplied by Delco batteries.
Feb. 4-9 Spell of cold weather. Coldest ever recorded in N.Y. City on Feb. 9 ( 14.3 degrees below zero ).
Feb. 18 - Family drove to West Meadow Beach to view 16" thick ice cakes piled up 10 to 15 ft. high on beach and Sound frozen as far as the eye could see.
Feb. 20 - Blizzard with drifting snow. No train service, mail or school. Jim Ashton plowed open Middle Country Rd. to Coram with his "V" plow tractor with men digging through drifts. School closed for a week.
March - Albert borrows pump and pipe to empty their cistern and then fill it from pipe temporarily connected to Ferguson's well.
May 17 - Albert started doing carpentry work for CCC at Camp Upton.
May 21 - Everett Pfeiffer, Jr. born.
Sept. - No mention of any teacher boarding.
Sept. 2 - Prager's gas station burned down.
Sept.26 - Launching on Cunard liner "Queen Mary" in Scotland heard over radio. Albert often listen over short wave radio for broadcasts from Europe and other distant places.
October - Tom and Albert attended cauliflower auction in Riverhead several times. On Oct. 9 Tom bought a new Chevrolet truck from Behan in Patchogue. The next day he bought 100 crates of cauliflower at the auction and had Gus Terry drive it to the Baltimore market. Almost every other day from then until Dec. 6 he would buy from 100 to 150 crates of cauliflower and have Gus drive the truck to Baltimore or Philadelphia. Often he would return with a load of apples or other fruit which he would sell locally. Some apples were obtained in Loganville, PA.
Dec. 27 - Tom and Gus go to Florida with truck.

Jan. 4 Gus returned from Florida with a load of oranges that my father had bought. From Janary to May he bought a number of truckloads of apples from Baltimore, Loganville, PA, York, PA and Stewartstown, PA. and peddled them. About 160 bu. per load. On these buying trips he used the train as much as possible while Gus drove the truck. My father always kept his railroad pass which usually would be honored on other lines.
Jan.11 - Mrs. Ferguson's father, Hal B. Fullerton died in Pathcogue Hospital at age 76.
Jan. 28 15 - 20 degrees below zero.
Jan. Listened to radio broadcasts from Byrd expedition in Little America.
Mar. Gertrude and Donald took train to Brooklyn and saw Helen Brown Carder and family off to the Canary Islands for their missionary assignment.
April 25 House was connected to new electric line.
May 8 - The Delco plant was sold.
July 29 Aunt Mattie celebrated 84th birthday. Cousin Lavinia Rackett of East Marion is 93 this year. (I haven't figured out the relationship).
Sept. 2 Ralph Thomas, new teacher for District 17, arrives to board with Grandma.

Mr. Ralph Thomas was boarding with my grandmother. He was teaching the 4 upper grades at the East Middle Island school where I was in the 7th grade. Cousin Lide Carman was also boarding with my grandmother. Evenings were often spent next door listening to the radio and playing checkers with Albert and Elwyn. The economy was bad all over and Tom was looking for ways to use his truck to make money. Sometimes he would buy apples from Hallock in Rocky Point and sell them to stores or pedal them house to house.
Jan. 20 - Heard on the radio of the death of King George V of England.
Jan. 22 - " " " " the cermonies and proclamation of Edward VIII as King of Great Britain.
Mar. 19 - Reports on radio of floods in 14 NE states, some places the worst in history.
Mar. 23 - Tom began using the truck working for the Brookhaven Town Highway Dept. three days a week.
April - Tom set strawberry plants out on a lot he rented from Hewlett Mott in Chestnut Pound. He planted corn on Pfeiffer's land by the pond, tomatoes across the road on Schmierer's land and he rented an field of asparagus at Harold Davis's in Coram.
May 8 - Heard radio broadcast from the German dirigible "Von Hindenburg" which was crossing the Atlantic to the U.S.
May 14 - Gertrude attended shower for Elsie Brenner Faron at Watsel Zebrowski's.
May 27 - Heard radio broadcast reporting departure of liner "Queen Mary" from Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to U.S.
June - Between 200 and 300 quarts of strawberries were being picked at Chestnut Pound during middle of month.
June 11 - Tom picked up 240 "N.H.Red" 12 week old pullets at Yaphank RR station and put them in chicken houses out back. These were first chickens on place in some time. During late winter and spring the chicken houses were being made ready with new roofing and other work.
June - Donald took Regents exam in geography at Port Jefferson and got 95%.
June 18 - Graduation exercises at E. Middle Island school with 2 graduates, Edith Ferguson and Vera Depta.
June 20 - Albert shot 3 woodchucks under brooder house in back lot and another the following day.
June 22 - Mr. Thomas left for summer at his home in State College, PA.
June 23 - Albert took Gertrude and his mother to Port Jefferson graduation exercises and dedication in new high school.
July 4 - All attended parade in Patchogue celebrating Suffokk County Tercentenary.
July 6 - Depta's house burned to the ground.
July 11 - Cousin Lide moved to her new boarding place in East Moriches.
Sept.14 - Tom bought peaches from "Bess" Hallock in Rocky Point to sell.
Sept.28 - Tom bought first truck load of cauliflower at auction in Riverhead and had Gus Terry drive it to the Philadelphia market. During October and November he bought about 26 truckloads most of which Johnny Robinson drove to Philadelphia with a few times to Baltimore. An average load would be about 144 crates of cauliflower. The trip to Baltimore took about 8 hours and Tom would travel there by train and buy something to bring back and sell.

At end of January Albert listen's on radio to reports of record floods on the Ohio River. He mentions that my grandmother had seen Chief Sitting Bull in Wisconsin about 1886. My father was working 2 or 3 days a week with his truck for the Town Highway Dept. In late February and March he bought several loads of apples from Stewartsville, PA. He always traveled by train where possible while Gus drove the truck.
Apr. 10 - Tom and Albert took tour of NBC studios in the city.
Apr.14 - Fred Randall returned to Ridge after being in California since he was 18 years old.
May 6 - "Hindenburg" airship disaster at Lakehurst, NJ.
May 12 - Albert spent most of day listening to coronation of King George VI.
June - At mid month Tom's strawberry beds were yielding about 500 qts. a day.
June 17 - Don graduated from E. Middle Island school.
July 17 - Elwyn bought his first car, a 1929 Ford Model A, for $ 35.
Aug. 10 - Don bought his first car for $ 5. It was a 1928 Chevrolet roadster which had been used by Wallace Mott of Swezeytown for plowing his garden until it died.

I was in my freshman year at Port Jefferson High School. The school bus made stops along Middle Country Road and I was picked up next door along with Edith Ferguson. The bus was owned and operated by the Quinn Bus Line from Patchogue and Frank Bright was the driver. If I wasn't out front he would stop and blow the horn. The bus also ran in the evening to special activities so quite often I attended basketball games as well as school plays and other events.
Feb.24 - Gus returned from Stewartstown, PA with a load of 130 bu. of apples that Tom bought to pedal.
May 16 - Elwyn started tending Brenner's store.
June - Picking about 500 qts. of strawberries at mid month. Selling for 10 to 15 cents a qt. on stand and in N.Y. market.
July 14 - Donald had his tonsils removed by Dr. Barber at Holbrook Hospital.
Sept.21 - The most devastating hurricane on record hit.
Nov. - Tom was buying cauliflower at Riverhead auction and shipping it to Philadelphia or Baltimore market on his truck.
Nov. 7 - A total eclipse of the moon.
Dec. 29 - Tom started buying truckloads of cinders and selling to the Town Highway Dept. He hired Tom Eve and Charlie Campiche to load the cinders which were obtained from the Patchogue Electric Light Plant, the Patchogue lace mill and greenhouses in Blue Point.

Feb. 22 - Tom took Don to the Sportsman's Show at Grand Central Palace in the city.
Mar. 4 - Gertrude's father, Gilbert Benjamin, died at his home in East Moriches.
Mar. 9 - Elwyn traded in his 1929 Model A Ford for a 1933 Ford V-8 coupe.
Mar.14 - Rev. Fred Swezey returned a book to Grandmother Bayles. He wrote "Genealogy of the Swezey Family" in 1939.
Mar.22 - Albert baked his first loaf of bread and said it came out OK.
Apr. 7 - Tom was renting a lot from Lewis Ritch and set out about 600 raspberry plants.
Apr.15 - Tom set 1000 strawberry plant at Ritch's. More were set Apr.17 and again on Apr.20. He also had strawberry patches in Chestnut Pound and on Harold Davis property in Coram. He had fields of sweet corn in Wellington Farms and in Pfeiffer's lot.
May 8 - Gertrude started doing housework for Louis Vogel in Yaphank for a two week period. This was during the Depression and money was scarce.
May 15 - Tom went to the N.Y. World's Fair by train.
May 24 - Albert looked over an Army searchlight set up on Coram-Yaphank Rd.
June 19 Albert noted that Don took 4 hours walking home from Port Jefferson after taking a typing exam in high. (I don't remember this at all).
June 21 Gertrude took Don to high school for shop exam.
July 1 - Albert drove Gertrude and Don to historical pageant at Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
July 15 - Elwyn drove Grandma, Albert, Joe Brenner, Pete Goldstein and Don to N.Y. World's Fair - in his Ford coupe.
July 18 - Elwyn drove Albert and Don to Frank Buck's Zoo in Massapequa and then to midget auto races in Freeport. He burned out a connecting rod near Commack on way home, managed to drive as far as Selden and then had to get someone to push him home.
Aug.26 - Gertrude and Don saw "Wizard of Oz" in Patchogue.
Sept. 1 - Albert noted that Germany attacked Poland and took over Danzig early this morning.
Sept. 3 - Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Nov.16 - Tom bought first cauliflower at Riverhead auction and shipped it to Philadelphia.

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