THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLE DAYS…… (I used to cringe when my parents used this expression)
I grew up on Northport Harbor but on the beautiful shores of the Centerport side. My Mom and Dad found a little enclave of pilots in Centerport in the late 50’s. (My Dad was a pilot for Pan American Airlines)…. Beautiful, rural, tranquil, and sitting on a beautiful harbor which was mudflats at low tide… Yes, back then low tide was mud all across the harbor. You couldn’t walk on it (believe me we tried but you would start to sink as if you were in quicksand)…you, of course, couldn’t swim or boat in it, you could just observe it! But two times a day when the tide was high it was a beautiful paradise with beautiful birds like ducks and geese and it was a great fishing spot. There were many Mallard Ducks which swam on the harbor (thus the name of our street, Mallard Cove)… Sometimes men with “duck blinds” located right where Sea Spray Drive is now…. They would sit with their loaded shotguns till the timing was just right and hunt ducks. Duck was a food delicacy and these guys at it every night during the duck hunting season.
Growing up there gave me the opportunity of learning to water ski daily (when it was high tide) from the early spring after school, weekends, and the whole summer long, into those warm days of fall. What a wonderful life to live this carefree style. Waterskiing was my passion … As soon as I heard the roar of a boat engine starting I threw on my bathing suit, water skis under my arm and off I went. Oh, by the way, there were no speed limit restrictions for running a boat on the harbor. It was fair game, and as fast as you wanted to, you could do it. We water skied traversing the harbor from Northport to Centerport and back and forth…. it was pure bliss and a great way for a kid to spend the afternoons and weekends… carefree like a kid should be, and having fun!!!
In around 1959 one morning we woke to the sounds of roaring engines in the harbor, it was loud and woke us all up that morning… we had no idea what it was… It was the engines of a dredge that was clearing out the harbor. They decided to make deep waterways so that boats could come in and out of the harbor even at low tide.
Have you heard of BIRD ISLAND in Northport Harbor? Bird Island at that moment was being created! The dredges worked day in and day out digging out and piling all the mud in the middle of the harbor creating what then became BIRD ISLAND. During the transition my dog Rex was banned from the beach… Why you ask? Because as soon as he heard the sound of the engines starting to roar, he would run right down to the beach and swim out to see what was going on. That was fine but it was distracting to the captain and mates of the dredge boat. One day they thought, “let’s teach this dog a lesson. Let’s get him in the bucket and drop him out over the water! He’ll never come back and bother us again”… Their plan failed because Rex loved this little game and kept swimming back for more each time!!! Af first the guys on the boat Loved the fun of this, but realizing that this just wasn’t going to get their job done, a few days later they walked up to my house carrying Rex and handing him to my Mom and said she would have to keep the dog hostage until the job was done!
Ahh, these were the days!! Here is where my story begins…