It’s a bit off-putting when 100 years doesn’t seem that long ago. Perhaps because, as we age, we remember those from previous generations who were once integral to our daily lives. Once we have that connection with a person, it seems to shrink the years. Perhaps knowing an aunt or uncle who was there from your earliest days and lived till you were well into adulthood would offer that perspective. Growing up with relatives close by, you might be shocked to realize they would have been over 100 by now.
Why the focus on 100?
Well, this of course is the 100th anniversary of our name change. In 1922, Good Ground was replaced by Hampton Bays. It was brought in on a rail car and plopped down over the old hamlet with a crane.
Actually, other than some postal and railroad changes, we are not sure there was much that actually changed. Yes, after 184 years with a name, it must have been difficult for the residents to change, but here we are. As one would imagine, this name change wasn’t done overnight or without some commotion. There was a faction that thought Good Ground had been a perfectly good, usable name for over a century, so why ruin it. There must have been some who continued to write Good Ground with their dying ink. Ahh, but time does march on.
What was news 100 years ago? Well, my Uncle was born, but that is probably not of interest to most readers, so we shall dig a bit deeper.
On a larger scale, Warren G. Harding was President. He and Mrs. Harding took time out from listening to their newly-installed White House radio to visit the Canoe Place Inn. It was reported that the President was especially interested in seeing Hercules during his visit, as the figurehead was originally from the U.S.S. Ohio. Yes, he was from Ohio and states once meant something. Harding would die the following year in another recently renovated upscale hotel in San Francisco, The Palace, with his wife at his side, and is why the 1920s are mostly thought of as the Coolidge years.
Off to the morgue – the newspaper sort – to see what we can find.
Let’s see, the V.C.F. gave a cafeteria luncheon in the Church Parlor. Yes, still the Methodist Church, although we aren’t sure what V.C.F. stood for nor what a “cafeteria luncheon” is, nor why a luncheon would be at 6 pm.
We often have more questions than answers after a romp through the printed page. But this was the Roaring 20s. War was behind us and the future looked rosy. Women were bobbing their hair, shortening their hems and getting the Vote, although no one was able to raise a glass to that since Prohibition was in effect. If you are somehow not familiar with Prohibition, it was either a bold venture to prevent America from succumbing to the Evils of Alcohol or a dirty electoral trick played by women on men while they were out of the country fighting a war.
The fact was, however, that if someone wanted to Go On A Toot at a Juice Joint with some Giggle Water and was willing to be just a little circumspect about it – since it was illegal and all – they would have little problem succeeding. It was mostly the Rum Runners and the Speakeasies that had to fear the law. A whole language of circumspection and slang words grew up around the illicit practice – along with that other festering evil: Jazz – inventing words and phrases, some of which are still around today.
The Hampton Bays Library was sending Lone Scouts around begging for donations of books, while 15 Girl Scouts under the leadership of Miss Percy were being taught how to operate the library, which was still in the planning stages (the Scouting movement was only twelve years old at this point and still thought of as very cool – or perhaps, the Bees Knees). Mrs. Gillingham was hosting .10 teas at her home in PonQuogue, while Mrs. H. M. Wells held one in Springville and Mrs. Theodore Tilton opened her home in East Tiana. Mrs. Alvin Squires stuck to what she knew and settled for a bake sale at her home. She netted $25, all for the same valuable cause. After all, as our local newspaper stated, Good Books are ‘next best’ to Good Neighbors.
While the name Hampton Bays was meant to unite us, it was decades at the very least, before residents refrained from using these old names to designate parts of the town. In fact, Rampasture, Squiretown, Canoe Place, etc. are still used commonly. Surely we are not alone in this quaint habit. All in all, there were about a dozen place names used routinely for different parts of what is now Hampton Bays, starting out as bonafide hamlets, some with schools, churches, and a store or two. Indeed, Good Ground was only one of them, before it started being used to refer to the whole area, the benefit of being on the railroad, the main highway, and holding the main post office.
For those who have visited the Prosper King House, you may have noticed a framed, full page newspaper dedicated, predominately to Hampton Bays and its best news. We are not sure what prompted the extensive newspaper coverage. Perhaps our residents were revitalized by their new sobriquet or maybe the Board of Trade decided to remarket our hamlet as a vacation spot. We already had many boarding houses, as well as ferries to the barrier beach. The Bridge was not yet a blip on our radar, but, as we never tire of saying, Dune Road was open all the way to Southampton. The new Canoe Place Inn – under the direction of Joseph Field – had risen from the ashes on the same footprint as the old and was open for business and nightly food and entertainment.
Depending on the week, one could put on their glad rags and for less than a clam enjoy live music at the Chateau de Legion, formerly the Shinnecock Field Club. These events were sponsored by the Eugene Hand Legion Post. Other plans for the Chateau included a dance to raise funds for – yes, of course – the new Library, with Mr. Carnegie apparently being confused by the name change. The Riverhead Piccadilly Orchestra, well known for their “pep, punch and kick” were scheduled to “officiate.”
Hampton Bays Realty Company, owned by John F. Barrett, specialized in summer cottages. We believe he was kept busy with politicians wanting to beat the heat of the city and putting on the Ritz at the Inn.
The BayHampton Band was holding their annual block party. We applaud them for not changing their name to fit the hamlet’s, though Bay Hampton was the runner-up new name. Dance music would be provided by a 15 piece military band. The Legion Boys were raffling a Durant car, which would be on display for the evening.
The Bellows House in Springville was making a name for itself with their guests for having installed a nine-hole golf links. Hard to imagine enough area in Springville for nine-holes but it was the Cat’s Meow.
The Hotel Clifton was revitalized and now known as Del Monte Hotel, inaugurating the pattern of purchase-rename-insolvency that still plaques us a century later. Their claim to fame was “Japanese service and cuisine.” The Foster House in PonQuogue had been sold. The new owners were anticipating being open for the season for guests.
Rev. W.M. Warden was the Minister at the Methodist Church while Rev. Samuel C. Fish had the reins at the Episcopal. Uriah Hulse, recently returned from a stint in Queens, was the depot master. So many personalities who have faded into history, along with our one-eyed cop, with few to remember them.
Mr. & Mrs. Lester had arrived from New York and Mr. had just opened his tailor shop on Main Street. A new meat market, The Public Market, opened around the corner on Ponquogue.
Plans for a theatre – the upscale spelling – on Main Street were afoot. Thanks to E.H. King – father of our favorite Milliner – and Fred Phillips. We are unsure if this is where the movie theatre was or if in fact there was another theatre. Again, more questions than answers – at least our descendants will have Google Street View to answer their questions about us.
Everyone’s favorite designer, Lyzon, had recently completed improvements to his studio at Camp King. The salon was scheduled to reopen in August with the latest millinery creations on display.
So that is our brief-ish window on Hampton Bays in 1922. We’ll get a wiggle on now, but leave you a few more gems of slang until next week. Till then, don’t take any wooden nickels.
Sockdollager – amazing
Know your onions – knowledgable
Oliver Twist – good dancer (No, nothing to do with Chubby Checkers)
Berries – see bees knees and Cat’s Meow
Iron your shoelaces – go to the bathroom