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Winter Dreams: Respite From The Snow

At the same time Monica Randall was setting up the slides for her speech on Winter Dreams, on Sunday, March 2, there was real winter action at the Theodore Roosevelt Beach. To celebrate the 10th annual UCPN Polar Bear Plunge, Atlantic Steamer Fire Company ex-chief Frank Ozol and Jack Sullivan, event co-chairs dipped into the water wearing tuxedos.

Inside the warm and cozy Koenig Center of the Oyster Bay Historical Society, listeners learned about winters 100 years ago. Monica Randall introduced her talk on Winter Dreams with a quote from one of the listeners. “Of snow, the gentleman said, ‘I don’t want to see another snowflake.’”

“People are getting depressed with all the snowfall recently, but, they are not doing stuff like this,” she commented as she showed slides of the magic and enchantment of the winter season as it was celebrated during the last century. The Victorians regarded winter as a time for gala ice skating parties, winter carnivals and horse drawn sleigh rides.

Her program also featured her personal dreams of the Gold Coast era, garlanded in snow as she took “selfies” at Chelsea in Muttontown; at Old Westbury Gardens and at Lake Mahopac’s Hotel on the Mountain.

Costume Collection

Randall recently loaned many items from her collection of antique clothing, including winter furs, for an exhibit at the North Shore Historical Society building in Glen Cove: the old Courthouse. Clothes she rescued from oblivion.

She said in the 1950s and 60s, she and her little sister visited Gold Coast estates as they were being demolished. Once they saw the bulldozers shut down at 5 p.m. they knew they could freely explore the mansions. In the third floor of the houses they discovered steamer trunks with old gowns in them, and dresses that cost thousands, such as ones made by famous designer Charles Worth of Paris.

“We found three metal steamer trunks with winter clothes. It was like discovering King Tut’s Tomb. There were unusual furs like moose, Russian sable, ermine and Chinchilla.” The sisters “rescued” the clothing with the goal of starting a museum.

Randall showed a slide of a skating party in Central Park, and added that Louis Comfort Tiffany was known for having a skating rink on his estate in Laurel Hollow, where his friends wore costumes for parties.

She explained that for his skating parties Tiffany brought the New York Philharmonic Symphony to play Straus waltzes as women wearing hoop skirts ice skated. There was a hot air balloon from which “Old Man Winter wearing a crown with crystals, tossed snow balls down at the guests. That’s imagination,” she said.

She showed a slide of a young girl wearing an ermine hat and coat and explained that the $400 outfit was really for showing off by taking a studio photograph.

Gold Coast residents went snowshoeing in Westbury; they took their horses out in the snow for fox hunting; and in Suffolk County they “poured water on a hill to create an iced-over toboggan run for sleds.” She had a slide of ice tennis but she doubted it was a true event.

Push Sled

Randall discovered a push-sled in an outbuilding at Mal Maison on Cedar Swamp Road that she used to stage a skating party with friends that she photographed.

Another slide was of ice palaces created in Montreal in 1898. She pointed to a metal saw on the wall of the Koenig Center, part of their exhibit Snow Day In Oyster Bay, saying that it was the kind used to cut out blocks of ice to build the houses.

Creative Photography

The costumes Randall has rescued have not been left in their trunks. Dressed in a red silk opera cape she took photographs of herself at Westbury Gardens and later in another costume at Lake Mahopac’s Mohonk Mountain House. There they have horse drawn carriages and an ice sleigh that are available for guests to use she said.

Randall is the author of three books, including The Mansions of Long Island’s Gold Coast: Revised and Expanded. The hardcover is currently selling on Amazon for $373.14. She also authored Winfield: Living in the Shadow of the Woodworths; and Phantoms of the Hudson Valley: The Glorious Estates of a Lost Era.

Philip Blocklyn, OBHS executive director, who previously was a bookseller of old and rare books said, “Her Mansions of Long Island’s Gold Coast was out of print, and whenever I got a copy, it was bought right away. It was hard to find and someone recently paid $100 for a copy.”

For more information on the OBHS events please call 516-922-5032 or visit them on the web at oysterbayhistorical.org.

News

Some people deserve a long obituary: in a way, it is a tribute to the number of people’s lives they have touched, so for Dottie Brandt, it is a given. A long line of mourners stretched down the street from the Francis P. DeVine Funeral Home, in Oyster Bay, where Dorothy R. Brandt, known to everyone as “Dottie,” was laid to rest, soon after her death on Friday, Sept. 12.

Dottie was a beautiful woman that age couldn’t change. When your warmth, spirit and love come from the inside, it keeps the outside looking bright and fresh. Dottie was always smiling, full of energy and always willing to help people.

The music was rocking and everybody was dancing on Friday, Oct. 3 in the St. Dominic High School gymnasium as the school hosted its Fall Ball dance. The event included gregarious kids from St. Dominic’s dancing and socializing with 20 disadvantaged children from St. Christopher-Ottilie Family of Services in Sea Cliff.

“St. Dom’s is very active with St. Christopher-Ottilie during the school year,” said Janice Seaman, who was the party coordinator and one of many volunteers at the dance, which ran from 7 to 10 p.m. “This was the first time, though, that St. Dom’s invited the kids from St. Christopher-Ottilie to their school for a dance and it is a great way to bring some normalcy into these children’s lives and show them what a school function is like.”


Sports

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.

The Diane Whipple Foundation with the cooperation of Manhasset PAL, Manhasset School District and St. Mary’s High School Athletic program has announced a premier College Division I Women’s Lacrosse Scrimmage day on Saturday, Oct. 18.

Competing in this great event will be Columbia, Fairfield, Michigan, Sacred Heart, Stonybrook, UCONN, UMASS, and USC.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com