Adjustment, advance, development, difference, diversity, innovation, modification, reversal, revision, revolution, shift, switch, transformation or transition. Call it whatever you want, it all equals change. And if there is one thing history is chock full of, it is change. And, obviously, chock.
1922 was a year of change – and it also happens to be exactly a century ago. As we mentioned a few months ago, it was the year that we shed the name Good Ground and reimagined ourselves as Hampton Bays. While those who spearheaded this name change envisioned adding Hampton to our name would somehow include us as one of The Hamptons. Well, just like the bookish learn during prom season, this never happened, we are not the cool kids, and many are just as pleased it did not.
We are sure our readership will know the broad strokes of what was different 100 years or so ago: lots of farms, one school, no fire department, no Ponquogue Bridge, a Lighthouse, no inlet. Those are the biggies, but how about the little differences?
We would imagine you are looking for an example. Let’s take a quick jog down Main Street, aka Montauk Hwy aka Merrick Road aka South Country Road. Right, even major road name changes.
Starting at the corner where Tony’s Asian Fusion is today, we can track back to 1865. The Civil War had just ended and a cemetery for soldiers who served in the war was started on that spot. Yes, right smack dab in the middle of Good Ground. At least The Departed probably got more visitors than normal. But 1896 maps show this parcel as vacant land.
The bodies of our brave soldiers had been disinterred and relocated to the new Good Ground Cemetery – raise your hand if you have seen Poltergeist! – and Phillips Grocery Store was moved from the corner of Springville and Main Street/Montauk Hwy/Merrick Road/South Country Road to the corner of Ponquogue et al. (Please reference just about half of the articles we have ever written showing our ancestors moving buildings around like they were playing Monopoly)
The Phillips were replaced by George Squires Fruits & Vegetables – circa 1925 – with a dwelling overhead. Next door (south) was George Squires restaurant, with his barn in the back. Yes, obviously before Carl n Jacks and Gayles. This barn was said to eventually relocate to where Leander Squires had his store by the railroad tracks. Our heads are spinning and we haven’t even gotten to the 1930s.
It would be untrue if we said we could not find much on George D. Squires. We found quite a bit. He was a politician, head of the school board, and involved in local charities, so most of what we found had nothing to do with the building. We would hazard a guess that there was an office of some sort in there as he also sold real estate. Wonder who minded the store? Perhaps his wife Annie was entrusted with those duties.
The changes kept rolling on, the corner building became Joe’s Restaurant, owned by Joseph Balzarini. In 1936 the building was torn down – it seems like they had just built it, from our perspective, but it was forty years old – and we were back to vacant land on the corner, which was used as a park. Within a few years, a Roll of Honor for our men serving in World War II was erected. 1949 saw the property sold to the Blowes family who built Dardy’s Restaurant. This was followed by a stream of restaurants, a bagel place and, last time we looked, Tony’s.
Whew, two pages in and we are still on the corner.
Just west of the Squires enterprise stood a wooden building which housed the Elite Market, then a restaurant – name unknown – owned by everyone’s favorite policeman, John Sutter. The wrecking ball came calling again and a new structure popped up which housed Bohack’s Market and in more recent memory, S. Grand Five and Ten. Not sure what it says that I can recall the Five and Ten much more vividly than what is there today: an insurance office and a tech store. The Buckaroo roof shingles and somewhat similar brickwork makes it seem like the same building as Tony’s, but one look using the aerial view will dispel that notion.
Step west and we come to what is today a nail salon, previously Poppa D’s Restaurant. Most vividly recalled by the current generation as Carolyn’s Luncheonette, owned by the Micari family. This structure was built circa 1926 by J.E. Tunnell. They sold candy, soda and tobacco and, yes, they had their dwelling there as well. Charles Jackson had a soda fountain there, according to local historian Edna Foster Jackson. The rear of the building was sectioned off by folding doors and Mrs. Jackson held the class picnic in this room. Then, later, Carolyn’s. Many tasty memories there.
Picking up the pace a bit, the following buildings, which are a mishmash in our minds without looking at them, were occupied by a variety of venues. Frank Brothers, Adlers, Burt Coons’ Liquor Store, Ancient Mariner, a few real estate agencies, and of course the current UPS store, which was originally Backstatters Drug Store, then Bangstons (the pharmacy, not the fuel company), before its current metamorphosis.
The current day Scotto’s Pork Store was once the very popular Chocolate Shoppe, followed by a card store and…well we’ll leave that to our readership to fill in.
The #39 Main Street – sigh, aka Montauk Hwy aka Merrick Road aka South Country Road aka summer car lot – is today a small strip mall. It started life as the A & P grocery store built in the 1970s, then Associated, and then a number of shops, including Krieg’s Bakery and the recently closed Liggetts. But alas, it had a very lively, um, life before that. Exact dates are unknown, but the earliest reports state this property was owned by Allen P. Squires and housed, yes, you guessed it, a store and also the Post Office. Mr. Squires was known to own the “mercantile” on this spot.
Just to the west, after the bank property (so, 7-11?), stood the A.P. Squires family home. This plot of land extended south to the Railroad and west to Springville Road. In the 1920s there was a butcher shop owned by Joseph Szymanowski. 1925 saw Mr. Szymanowski build a store on a different plot of land and the Daniel Capone family move into the apartment above the stores. Boy, people really moved around a lot. The structure burned in 1932. The Post Office located next to the building was damaged by water, but the contents were quickly transferred by the quick thinking Rose Warner to Alwin Scholz’s store across the street- you will know it as the Good Ground Antique Center, still owned by the Scholz family, and still good neighbors willing to help.
We realize we didn’t get terribly far. The layers upon layers of names of individuals and stores is daunting. Yet what each generation wanted and what they were willing to pay for is interesting, in a time-capsule sort of way. Future historians will wonder what had happened that we need so many nail salons today.
Still, each person, family and business over the decades lent a small part of itself to what we now know and love as our hometown. Now multiply that by the thousands of other hometowns across the country and all over the world.
To celebrate the centennial of our new appellation, the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce is diligently working on a celebration in the month of September. Please visit their website or facebook page for details. As for the Society, we shall be hosting the community at the Lyzon on Friday, September 9th. Please drop by for a tour and a cookie and see what all the noise is about!