MEET THE CLUNES
"THE CLUNES LIVED HERE"
Loretta & William Clune at their "Caretakers House" on the Pattersquash Estate circa 1930's. It appears Loretta has her purse with her and may be ready to do a little shopping. If it was for food, she only had to walk a about 100 feet west to Paul Schulte's 5 Corners Market and Delicatessen that was built in 1929. Civilization had arrived to Mastic Beach!! Their home at this time was located on the southeast side of "The 5 Corners" . Professional estate caretakers, the Clunes were in the area over almost two decades before the picture above was taken and a good decade before it would become known as Mastic Beach . While living here they worked for Pattersquash Estate owners The Roberts, Laniers and Lawsons leaving this estate when Doctor Calabro bought it in 1946 and turned it into Bayview Hospital. Behind them is Neighborhood Road and the new Section 4 Mastic Beach bungalow in the background was turned into a pizzeria by Joe "Rug" Ruggerio in the 1960's. It is still there today as a private house with a different front. The Clunes 19th century caretakers home was moved to Center Moriches in 1956 and also is still standing.
The bungalow in the background October 2003 & The caretakers house October 2005
THE HOLY GRAIL OF EARLY MASTIC BEACH PHOTOS
Update : 9/14/2007 : Kathy Clune contacted me and has found a dated copy of this photo It actually predates the town of Mastic Beach by just over three years. It was taken on March 8, 1923. Which was during the first year that the Laniers purchased the Richard Floyd Estate.
Regular website readers may have seen this photo before but NEVER like this. This is a scan of the original and it reveals so much more than it did before. It is taken at the future 5 corners of Mastic Beach . Standing at the crossroads are Mildred, William and Arthur Clune. Under the tree keeping a close watch on them is their mother Loretta (the earlier poor print I had there was no way to tell who was with the dog and it was assumed it might of been William ) The Chow dog is indoubtebly from Claire Knapp's Clairedale kennel. That is Neighborhood Road trailing off to the east through the woods behind Mildred. Just wide enough for a horse and buggy. This photo was supposedly used by the Home Guardian Development Co to assure prospective purchasers that this new town was safe for children. Word had spread that there were Indians nearby and the Smadbeck Brothers (Home Guardian Co) were afraid that it might scare off potential buyers who were mainly blue collar NY City folk. There were always Indians in Mastic. The Unkechogues sold the place to The Smiths and Woodhulls in the 1600's. About 1700 the Smiths provided the land that would become Poospatuck Indian Reservation for them. William & Loretta Clune would have two more children Charles and Lenoard shown below in their motor boat.
Leonard & Charles circa 1940
Back in the dark ages of my starting this website six years ago, I found a 1920 Federal Census taken in Mastic (there was no Mastic Beach yet) that showed the William Clune family living very close to Claire Knapp and her brother Joseph. They actually were the next family enumerated on the form. My earliest assumption was that perhaps the Clunes were caretakers for the Knapp estate as that is what William lists his occupation as. Also enumerated with them was a houseman of Japanese descent named Mak Sayama. That really bolstered my assumption that perhaps the Clunes were employed by the Knapps because all the rest of the estate owners around at that time were basically native to the area but the Knapps were from the city.
I would later change that assumption after mentioning it to Mrs. Estelle Schulz who grew up as Estelle Parr in Mastic. Estelle was born in 1925 and her father William Parr like many of the other local folks worked at the various private estates that occupied about 95% of the property back then. She told me that the Clunes worked for the Lawsons. This was further backed up by that early photo of the three Clune kids standing at the crossroads in 1926. Well Estelle was right about that the Clunes did indeed work for the Lawsons but The Lawsons did not arrive in Mastic till 1930. Several years later I would find out a whole lot more about it that pulled a lot of my assumptions , hunches, educated guesses and corrections out of their respective columns and into the fact column.
This all started in May of 2005 with an E mail from one Kathy Clune complimenting me on the stuff I already had on the website and also suggesting that I talk to her Aunt Mildred. "Who is Aunt Mildred I asked?" .... "She's Mildred Clune the young girl standing at the 5 corners in the 1920's with two of her brothers , and that's William their father sitting under the tree, I know this because I'm his grandaughter" ........ WOW.... "That's incredible". I said..... "I'd love to talk to your Aunt Mildred" ...so Kathy set it up for me.
Last May I called Mildred Clune whose almost shares a birthday with me except she was born in May of 1916!!! not May 1947. I went to school with her eldest son Jack Skolnik, who graduated from William Floyd in 1960. We had ourselves quite a chat to say the least. Some of the details I am reserving for the manuscript, but in essence what was revealed during our converstion was what I needed to really start putting The Knapps Lived Here into manuscript form. When I brought up the 1920 census I mentioned if she knew who Mak Sayama was as I thought that a Japanese "houseman" in a tiny area like Mastic Beach would certainly stand out. "Yes I knew him he was the Knapp's butler." No kidding so you knew the Knapps then too? Of course I did !... my father ran their estate and my mother was their cook" We lived right on the estate then in a large two story house and Mr. Sayama lived in their mansion."
Well that certainly got my attention and before we hung up that day I was told that my original assumptions about one Joseph F. Knapp aka Dodi that recieved a whole lot of static and threat of legal action by his surviving nieces were not just assumptions. I was given some very colorful details from one who was there and they too will be in the manuscript.
Besides working for the Knapps probably since the day they arrived in 1916, William Clune had worked for the Lawrences from whom the Knapps purchased the estate from, and the Roberts, the Laniers, the Lawsons (all of Pattersquash), the Tolfrees and at times the Tangier Smiths......just about every estate on the Mastic peninsula save for the Floyds and the Danas.
William who was born in 1878 was a horse handler and worked at the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn in 1900. He reportedly came out on Long Island with the August Belmont stables. Claire Knapp had several show and race horses at this time and that could be how they made contact.
SHEEPSHEAD BAY 1900
THE CONEY ISLAND JOCKEY CLUB
His father Dennis and mother Alicia ran a resort hotel in Babylon at the turn of the century and then settled in the Huntington area about 1910. Most of their large family moved to Huntington with them. His younger brother Henry followed William to the Knapp estate in Mastic
IN THE GREAT WAR TO END ALL WARS EVERYONE REGISTRED FOR THE DRAFT
EVEN THOUGH WILLIAM WAS ALREADY 40 YEARS OLD . BELOW IS A TRANSCRIBED COPY OF WILLIAM'S CARD.
Thomas HENRY Clune Age 39 Registered At Babylon NY on Sept 12, 1918
REGARDING THE MASTIC MORICHES ADDRESS : MORICHES REFERS TO THE POST OFFICE , MASTIC WAS STILL 4 to 5 YEARS AWAY FROM HAVING A POST OFFICE AND MASTIC BEACH WAS STILL EIGHT YEARS AWAY FROM EVEN BEING ON THE MAP.
Last month I spoke on the phone with Len Clune (Kathy's Dad) who is the youngest son of William & Loretta. Born at home in 1935, he is considered to be the first child born in the new town of Mastic Beach. He had some interesting stories too to tell about growing up there at that time. Including playing with the children of John & Susan Lawson who owned the Pattersquash Estate from 1930-1945. He told me of working at the Becken's Farm Stand which was located seasonaly on the 5 Corners right in front where the Clune's house was (Pat & Mikes Texaco would be built there in 1946). The stand would sell his mother Loretta's home made pies. "On Labor Day it was like watching a parade out of town as everyone (the summer residents) left to go back to the city" Len worked during high school at McClean's Market in Mastic and graduated from Seton Hall in Patchogue in 1953. He married a "summer girl" Monica Scimeca from over on Jefferson Drive in section 9 and one of the places they lived when they were first married was in the apartment on top of Dick's soda fountain on Whittier Drive.
I also spoke with Monica Clune awhile back and she told me a great story of when the estate era ended. Her future mother in law Loretta took a job in Center Moriches cooking for the nuns who taught at St. Johns. (My mother also cooked for them) Always an independent woman she thought if she could learn to drive and get a car it would make traveling to work so much easier. Her husband William who was 12 years her senior did not approve of that idea, but being truly born and raised in the horse and buggy age you could say he was entitled to be a bit old fashioned. So she found someone else to teach her to drive. That someone was Norman Bell of the Poospatuck Indian Tribe. Upon learning how to drive she sent a letter to Albany saying someone taught her how to properly drive a motor car and they just sent her a drivers license! No test....good old daze.
Arthur Clune (in hat) at The Parr Brothers Shell Station in Mastic 1940's
THE NAME ON THE BUILDING
Plans went through for the Legion Post but a month later tragedy struck. At the first organizational meeting of the Mastic Beach American Legion held on June 6, 1946 a motion was made that the new Post be named in the memory of Arthur H. Clune. The motion was carried unanimously. Arthur who was born on August 25, 1921 was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 24 on Mastic Rd. in April of 1946. He was a para trooper veteran of WWII and had survived 16 combat invasions. A year and a half later his little brother Charlie who was also a WWII vet and had just turned 21 would also die in an auto accident. Losing one son was bad enough, but I've been told Loretta never got over the devastation of losing two of her boys.
Arthur Still Keeps An Eye On Things At The Legion Hall
Cpl Charles Clune
When Doc Calabro bought the Pattersquash Estate he offered the caretakers homestead for free to William & Loretta but by then Pat & Mike's gas station was being erected in what was once their front yard , so they moved a short distance away to smaller house on Cedar Rd & Diana Dr. Doc once came in his tuxedo directly from a New Years Eve party to tend to Lenny who was very sick that night. But those who knew Dr. Calabro knew that was just his way. He took care of my ear infection at three in the morning in the early '50's. I was never so glad to get a shot!
The Clunes were facing an empty nest too. Their oldest son William and their daughter Mildred were married. At one point the two surviving Clune Boys in the '50's were in the construction buisness together. The old homestead was moved off the property in 1956 by Norman Bell the Poospatuck Indian who had taught Loretta how to drive, today it sits on the corner of Rail Road Ave and Moriches By Pass.
SETON HALL GRADUATION DAY JUNE 1953
William & Loretta With Their Youngest Son Lenny . After High School Lenny Played Ball For The Mastic Indians and was scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers. There are more pics of Monica & Len in Mastic Beach in the 50's at that link. It seems that the Clunes & The Indians had a very long history.
MONICA'S GRADUATION 1954
NOVEMBER 24, 1956
William Jr, & Bern , Monica & Len, Loretta & William, Mildred & David Skolnik
Newlyweds Len & Monica first moved to Shirley near the Smith Point Bridge. At their second home an apartment ontop of Dick's Soda Fountain is where they started a family. Their first daughter Kathy was born in 1958 and her sister Lori followed in 1962 when they moved on to Patchogue. Today they reside in Sunny California. Next month Monica and Len are celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
MONICA GETTING INTO HER NEW 1959 FORD BY THEIR ORIGINAL APARTMENT ON TOP OF DICK'S STORE
THAT IS ONE OF THE 1929 TOURIST CABINS BEHIND HER
Like the Penneys, The Schluders, The Ross', Hulses etc, The Clunes were a part of Mastic Area History that was totaly unique and would be totaly erased by 1940's ...... That is the care of the great estates that once occupied everything and just about everyone who lived there. My one regret is that someone never documented their histories when they were all still with us. That said I will be forever greatful to the folks I have been able to speak with like Darby Penney who documented her Dad Arthur's Mastic boyhood days and Roland Penney, Estelle Parr Schulz (mother of my oldest friend Larry) Fred Gillespie and now Kathy , Len, Monica and Mildred Clune for sharing what history they have saved in both stories and photos.
Born in 1890 Loretta Clune passed away in 1961 at the age of 71. Her husband William died eight years later at the age of 91. Both had spent the greater part of their lives in one small place.... my hometown. Culmatively William & Loretta Clune lived in this little town of Mastic Beach for over a century. This little letter a neighbor would write to William in 1961 seems to be a good way to sign off here.