POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE
OF MASTIC BEACH & BEYOND
Bay Shore, Long Island, New York is not really on the edge Mastic Beach, Long Island New York . They are two south shore towns about 20 Miles apart as the crow flies, with several towns like Patchogue, Sayville , Islip between them . Bay Shore is much larger than tiny Mastic Beach. In April of 1917 when America first entered WW I , both towns hosted what is now very obscure Naval Reserve Aero and Wireless Radio Stations to patrol the coast of Long Island against German U -Boats. German sub captains had actually brazenly sailed into US Harbors before we got into the war to demonstrate how much a threat they could be if we did dare meddle with the "affairs of Europe". In reality Mastic Beach was still a decade away from being anykind of a town yet , it was just a place known as Mastic on the map and comprised of all private estates of country gentlepeople. The first station #1 btw was on the north shore of Long Island at Huntington and Dodi Knapp's stepbrother "Chip" McIlwaine flew out of there
The largest station in Bay Shore was officially known as Aerial Coast Patrol Station # 2 and the one in Mastic as Aerial Coast Patrol Station # 3. Number 3 by far the smallest and most obscure, was also known as The Knapp Seaplane Base because it was actually on the banks of the Knapp Estate before it grew from 3 hangers and 3 planes with 12 original pilots (mostly comprised of Yale & Princeton college students from very wealthy families) and all of them living on the Knapp estate. When they rapidly expanded to 36 many of them probably moved into the Hedge's Hotel at Smith's Point, Fire Island about 2 miles west around August of 1917. Unit #3 always seemed much more informal and under the loose supervision of two civilian instructors, E. Kenny Jaquith and Leonard Bonney Some of its pilots like Joseph F. "Dodi" Knapp went to the USN base at Pensacola, Florida for additional training by the winter of 1918 and became full fledged Navy aviators. With it's namesake flyboy gone south, it seems by this time the Knapp Seaplane Base shut down and it's remaining members either went west to Bay Shore or down south to Florida. Much of this is documented on this website in both photos, news paper clippings, that report fun stunts like Gyro Sperry loop the looping Tom Dixon's flyingboat over Pattersquash Island or Mr Howe crashing into the wooden Smith Point Bridge and wiping out his Curtiss F-5 and even USN Reserve publications I have found in the Smithsonian Air Museum Library.
As has been written before, at the start of this website 7 years ago, it was my discovery about 55 years ago of old WWI radio and airplane parts in one of the Knapp estate barns in Mastic Beach that started to provide the first dots to connect this loosely generated written and pictoral history of my home town , the Knapps and just about everything else that has caught my fancy and attention. Those who know me know I am a big antique boat and plane buff.
About a month ago I discovered some very clear photos of the Knapp Sea Plane base published in a Paris Newspaper in 1917 . Now on the eve of my departure for Paris as I was making out my postcard list, I ran across this set of rare post cards from Bay Shore. Although my thoughts this last week have been mainly on my forthcoming trip to France and Greece , I can't help but take notice of finds like these. You see I once lived in Bay Shore too. And although I have no plans to do anything but be a tourist in Paris and Greece, way in the back of my mind I have to wonder what I might trip over in Paris, as that is where the Knapps spent a lot of their time in the 19th and 20th centuries not to mention that Sylvia T. Knapp, the mother of Joe "Dodi" and Claire Knapp actually moved there in the 1920's and as far as I know lived out her long life there. ( She did return to visit in Mastic at least once in 1925 ) I will be in Paris on April Fools day, so there is no telling what could happen??? ..... Or Not !!!
TWO STRONG KNAPP INTERESTS
The boat is a Sea Sled The Knapps bought the Sea Sled Company in 1924.
Those who know me know I have a strong interest in both old boats and planes
There Is A Much Closer Photo Of The Guys In Mastic Beach Doing This Same Thing Here
"DOING THEIR BIT"
A LITTLE BIT OF HYDRO PLANE HYPE BY THE POST CARD AUTHOR?
Although they did actually train some in "Sham Dog Fights" at least at Mastic The true purpose of the Hydro -Aeroplane was to spot Subs beneath the water .
I WONDER WHO PRINTED THESE FINE POST CARDS?
A Page From My Past : Bay Shore, 1971
"I'll Be Back Again"
PS :You'll hear a touch of very Beatlesque Orchestration In This Version
The Sperrys At Home
Winnie, Larry & Gyro