Written by Howard Blankman Friday, 08 March 2013 00:00
Port Washington has been my home since the late ’50s—more than half my life. I love the town. I almost feel like a Clam Digger. But I know I’m not. A “Clam Digger” is a name reserved for those born here when locals dug for clams.
How do I know? Because I asked an old friend, Reed Markham, who is a real fourth-generation Clam Digger. Markham lives and raised a family in a house on Jackson Street, built by his great-grandfather (mother’s side) Alfred C. Bayles as a wedding present for his son Alfred S. Bayles, PhD. (Reed’s grandfather and “Doc” Bayles to locals). Reed says he likes to tell people he owns the Long Island Rail Road. My eyes popped; he explained.
In 1897, Alfred C. was the catalyst who sparked the drive that brought the Long Island Rail Road into Port. He owned the land the LIRR coveted for its station – a piece 66 feet wide, running 700 feet from Main Street south. While other local landowners sold their surrounding properties to the LIRR, Alfred C. granted the railroad a right-of-way for free. But no fool was he. Mr. Bayles got a restrictive covenant which, in effect, said, “You guys can use my land for your railroad, but should you get cute and try to use it for anything else, it reverts back to the Bayles/Markham family.” Added Markham, with a chuckle and an I-gotcha smile, “They [LIRR] can’t condemn it because they got it for nothing.” That’s one for the little guys.
You are cordially invited... along with your family, friends and neighbors, to join Everybody’s Port. It’s a new kind of club that really is not a club at all. No dues, no officers and no meetings. And the only thing it takes to join is a shared deep affection for and pride in Port Washington. In return, you can have a hand in this column any time you’ve got a hankering to. Like the rest of the Port Washington News, this space is to be people-oriented, a place where you and what you do are prime. Your help is needed to ensure that this column carries information in an entertaining way that you will look forward to reading every week.
Frankly, the only way that can happen is for you to be a kind of roving reporter and shoot me news that you would like to see in print. It could reflect how you feel about something and why. And it can be humorous, sad, patriotic, surprising, historical, personal, or whatever tingles your bell.
For example, your church/temple/ synagogue, social group, club, school or whatever is putting on a play or doing something special. Tell me about it in advance. Invite me to come, and maybe I will. If it’s a play or musical production, please give me about three weeks’ notice. I’ll come to a rehearsal and try to write about it prior to its first performance — not as a drama critic, but as someone who wants to tell Port Washington that something good is about to happen here.
At all times, the content of this column will be restricted to Port’s people and what’s going on here. Take this past Valentine’s Day: The Cow Bay Theatre Company presented a dinner-theater potpourri of love songs dedicated to the legendary patron of love, St. Valentine, at Ayhan’s Mediterranean Marketplace Café. While St. Valentine was never a resident of Port, most of the singers were. Schreiber graduate, Laura Leigh Carroll emceed and sang as good as she looked; Schreiber grad Jake Glickman (accompanying himself on piano) delighted the crowd with two Beatles’ songs; nationally-acclaimed Elana Hayden (lives here), singing over a cold, delivered a masterful performance of “My Funny Valentine”; Michael Copeland (lives here, too) did Dylan, and Warren Schein, Port’s COC co-prez, tickled everyone’s funny bone and sang like the pro he is. Some of Schein’s groupies were also on hand, including Linda and Neville Newby, Marion and Allan Hirsch former Port Singers stalwarts.
Everybody’s Port Question Of The Week: Somewhere in this column a body of water is mentioned. Can you name it and tell how it came by its name? Be the first to email me the correct \answer and you win a prize. See ya’ next week with the winner’s name.