Over 100 years has passed since the first issue of the Port News was released. William M. Hyde had many great visions for the community when he first founded the paper in 1903. How did his visions help Port Washington to become the community it is today?
This building is where the Port News had its first office. The Post Office and other offices were also located here.
It was 1903 when the first issue of the Port Washington News was published. William M. Hyde, founder and editor, printed the following "Founder's Creed" notice on the front page: "With this issue, the Port Washington News makes its initial bow to the public. It is the intention of the management to make a strong exponent of county, town and local affairs, especially the betterment of the community. Its intention is to, at all times, advocate measures looking to the advancement of the community and it will work hand in handle with those who favor village improvements. The News will endeavor to be a first class family newspaper and, in every respect, will be fully in accord with the best interests of Port Washington and the surrounding communities. We hope to secure a liberal patronage from the inhabitants to the community, and we will endeavor to retain it."
"Port Washington, the place to live." This slogan was originated by Mr. Hyde in 1923, marking the 20th anniversary of the Port Washington News. Mr. Hyde constantly praised Port Washington for its many desirable qualities and how much he loved this town. He envisioned and wrote "No words could describe the progress Port Washington has made in the past, and no mind can conceive the progress it is destined to make in the future." We all have a part in keeping the community a fine, clean healthy and progressive town. Hyde felt that by creating public awareness from reporting news on important issues and concerns of the community, Port Washington would continue to grow positively and prosper.
If Mr. Hyde looked into the future, he would see that Port Washington residents still care and are fulfilling his dream. They are aware that their decisions today shape the community of tomorrow. He believed that it is vital that every resident expresses themselves through local government, and that they know how their local district works. The News is not only a chronicled documentary of the communities' events and its people, but a most valuable tool for the expression of concerns and issues that can continue to improve the community.
William M. Hyde (1860-1927) came from an idealistic family of early pioneer settlers in Port Washington. His father was a bay man. From a sloop that he owned, he fished and then sold the fish, clams and oysters to local markets and in New York City. William loved fishing as a hobby. As a career, he had a great interest in news reporting. After gaining experience by working for several different papers in New York City, he bravely decided to start his own newspaper.
When William Hyde founded The Port Washington News in 1903, he had it printed in New York City for several years and then brought to Port by train. Later, it was printed in the print shop of the Sea Cliff News and taken to Port by trolley. After the printed paper arrived in town, the task came of folding it and addressing it to subscribers. At first, Mr. Hyde's home on Jackson Street was where the newspaper was folded on the kitchen table and then cut with a butcher's knife before going to the post office for its weekly mailing. He needed help with this tedious task and ran an ad for the job. Ernie Simon, a student from Port, was hired to work each Saturday for 35 cents. He worked hard to fold 400 copies of the four-page paper and address it in time to go out from the post office by 6 p.m. His passion for working at the Port News began at an early age, only to grow stronger with the passing of time. Later Ernie quit school to work fulltime for the paper at $3.00 a week. He would work long hours, sometimes until 3 a.m. because he enjoyed his work at the paper. Then Ernie sadly left his employer and good friend, Bill Hyde, for a bank cashier's job which paid $6.00 per week, which was double his salary.
For many years it was Hyde's dream to have his own print shop, and in 1910 he achieved this goal. He built a one-story building, opposite 324 Main Street where his first office was located. This now became the first real home for the Port Washington News. The Port News Building was located on lower Main Street, now where the Port Washington Police Athletic League (P.A.L) stands. Job printing was the main support of the newspaper at that time. The foreman of the shop then was George Wachter. Sidney, his brother, was his only assistant. Ruth Moshier later helped with type-setting that was set by hand.
Business went well until a serious problem suddenly occurred with the location of all shore-front property and the building had to be vacated. It was in 1912, when the North Hempstead Town Board, then Democratic, decided that the town had a claim to all water-front property. They took the issue to court. Oyster shells paved the road originally and were attributed to being the original high water mark of the road. A ditch of about eight-feet was dug. When the original oyster shell road was found, this proved the point. The courts ruled in favor of the town. So-called property owners along the shorefront were now considered squatters and, to their dismay, ordered to move out.
In 1916 Mr. Hyde moved uptown to 166 Main Street (across from where the movie theatre is now located). Here he had tremendous success in the job printing business. He set up a new machine called the linotype machine that he bought for typesetting. To publicize this new method, he placed the machine in his front window. Quite a large crowd of spectators would be drawn to watch in amazement. Joe Fay set the type for people passing by to see. Not only was this news in town, but also quite a sight for the times. In 1930, a bronze plaque was mounted on the top of the building by Charles E. Hyde, the brother of the founder. The tablet inscription stated, "The Port Washington News founded in 1903 by William M. Hyde".
Bill Hyde died in 1927 at the age of 67. For 24 years Hyde committed himself to publishing the Port Washington News, the paper that he loved so dearly. According to Ernie Simon, who remained friends with Mr. Hyde till his death, "his paper became a power for good in the public life of the village, town and county. It teemed with his strong personality. William Hyde stood for the best things in the community."
When the Port News was up for sale in 1927 as part of Mr. Hyde's estate, Ernie Simon quit his job at the bank. He formed a corporation to purchase the paper with several prominent Port Washington residents. They were Albert S. Brown, Sr., Albert E. Gunn and Hartford N. Gunn, Charles E. Hyde and Charles Lewis. Simon became editor and was later assisted by Dorothy G. Ford, who had worked with Hyde since 1914 on the Port Washington News.
After fighting many tough years from the depression, an agreement was made in the spring of 1940 to sell and merge the Port Washington News with Times-Post of Griscom Publications, headed by Bronson W. Griscom. Not only was he well-educated at Harvard and Cambridge, he also the son of Col. Lloyd C. Griscom , a former Ambassador to Italy. Ernie Simon continued as editor and manager and Gray Mason of the Times-Post became editor of the Manhasset Press. The News Building was still located at 166 Main Street where it had been for many years.
Then in 1950, the office of the Port News relocated to 186 Main Street. Additionally several changes in management took place. In the early 1950s Jacklyn Farrell joined the paper as society editor. She worked closely with Ernie Simon, the editor. Mr. Simon became the managing editor and Farrell was then named the editor. Farrell held this position until the paper was sold in 1963 to Peter Benziger and Gray Mason. During the time that she was editor, Farrell covered everything a small town paper does such as birth announcements, obituaries, and the stories of the times. She stated the following which was published in the Nov. 1, 1987 issue of the Long Island Forum about her days as editor: "Well, first of all, I remember Ernie Simon, managing editor and manager, who was frequently referred to as "Mr. Port Washington News' inasmuch as folks always associated him with the paper. Of course there were my colleagues, "Uncle" Henry W. Loweree, circulation manager and columnist who authored "Old Time Port Stories," and Arnold Dickerson, sports editor, who always submitted his sports copy moments before deadline."
First prize was won by the Port Washington News for weekly newspapers with a circulation of more than 2,500 in the state from a contest sponsored by the New York State Press Association. This was during the Griscom ownership in the 1950s. In 1963, when the Griscom Publications were sold to Peter Benziger and Gray Mason, the chain's name changed to Community Newspapers, Inc. In 1972, the chain was sold to John Dyson of Dymer Communications, who later became a New York State Commerce Commissioner. When, the Port Washington News and the Community Newspapers were owned by Dymer Communications, Corp. Lester Grolnick,was the publisher at that time.
In May of 1984, the Long Island Community Newspaper Group, owned by Karl V. Anton, Jr., acquired the Port News. Amy Pett served as editor of the Port News. She wrote about her experiences working with Ernie Simon, who started writing his column about local history, call "Port Remembered." He continued to write until his death in September 1976. Until three weeks before be died of a stroke at age 86, Ernie wrote his column, the obituaries and handled the advertising, bookkeeping and billing. He was a professional until the very end, when he died just one hour before press time that week, just in time for the notice of his passing to be printed in the paper. Ms. Pett added, "Ernie was a sweet, gentle friend and a fierce newsman, who never missed a deadline or got his facts mixed up." At the Port Washington Library is an extensive collection of photographs and articles containing information about Port Washington called "The Ernie Simon Collection." This reflected his many years of being part of the news in a town that was equally a part of him. Before his death, the Ernie Simon Journalism Award was established by the Port News at Schrieber High School. This award was established in his honor and dedication, and in hopes of carrying on his tradition of very professional journalism.
When Karl Anton died in 2000, his wife Angela Susan Anton became publisher.
Since the paper has been owned by Anton Community Newspapers, Port Washington has undergone many changes. Development of many vacant parcels of land and the redevelopment and expansion of existing properties has led to more congestion, less open space and more traffic. Local civic activists were able to stave off the construction of an incinerator in the sand pits, sometimes called the Morewood property. In its stead is now a beautiful links golf course and some senior housing.
Over the years the prices of the homes have skyrocketed, attracting many affluent buyers. Some fear that Port's diverse character is threatened because the home prices are so high. They lament the fact that their children will not be able to afford to raise their children here.
As far as the editors go, Amy Pett was at the helm through 1985. Eileen Brennan, who currently edits the Manhasset Press, edited the paper from l985 to 1988. Then, Andrea Martone took over through 1994, followed by her assistant editor Christina Southard through 1997. Jackie Pierangelo has been editing since March of '97.
When asked to comment on editing the Port News at the turn of the century, Jackie Pierangelo replied, "Port is an amazing community, filled with civicminded, caring people. I call it the small town with the big heart. I hope that it retains its diverse nature because it gives the community a vibrancy that few other places have the good fortune to experience."
During the years the paper moved five times until its current location of 270 Main Street. Also, many changes in management have taken place. The telephone number once started as 35 and now still ends with 35: (767-0035). Something else remains the same. If Bill looked into the future, he would see what he envisioned. The paper which he founded is instrumental in creating public awareness which allows for the people of the community to voice their opinions and concerns. The decisions of today shape the community of tomorrow. All residents have a part in keeping the community a fine, clean, healthy and progressive town. William M. Hyde truly loved "Port Washington, the place to live."