The Above Is Not A Typo Pilgrim __ All Will Be Explained
By The Time You Finish Reading This Page
THE NORTH END OF KNAPP ROAD IN MASTIC BEACH, NY
AS IT JOINS WITH MASTIC RD
Photo Taken March 2001
Boy Oh Boy Does this photo take me back to when my Knapp project was in its infancy. Actually there wasn't any Knapp Project per se then and the furthest thing from my mind was writing a book about them. In March of 2001, I was actually in New York for a totaly different reason. My son Erik who was a junior in high school, was scouting the campus of Pratt University. It was his first choice of schools and where he earned his degree in graphic arts in 2006. In 2000 & early 2001 I had written a few stories about growing up in Mastic Beach in the '50's and had made contact online with a fellow named Mike Knapp in California, who after reading my story The Mansion, thought I may of been writing about his great grandparents and more. That's how it all started. I told him what little I knew about the Knapp family who owned an estate in Mastic Beach I grew up on and that I would do some research for him to see what I could find out. On that trip, Erik discovered in a file in the Mastic -Shirley library, the name Joseph F. Knapp as the owner of the Knapp estate in Mastic who sold it to the developers. He wasn't a relative of Mike Knapp's, but by then something about the Knapps had really grabbed me and I was off and running.........
The ten years of The Knapps Lived Here website is a big part of that run, as is a book I have been talking about now for some time. "Knappsters" in the know ( regular readers of the website ) have known for sometime that a book by the same title has been written and in production for quite a while. Much longer than I care to say. The manuscript itself was finished, in its rough draft form in late August of 2008, and I have have been saying off and on over the months passed that we were very close to having it in book form.
There's been some rough spots along the way in both the research, and the production of the manuscript into book form, but I have no regrets about taking Knapp Road and it has been mostly nothing but a journey filled with wonder especially in the manner in which most of the really obscure information found me and vice versa. All through the years of discovery, as the Knapps story came to me in tiny fragmented pieces, from all over the globe, I have used Knapp Road as a metaphor for my long journey. That is quite ironic, because Knapp Road itself only ran about 1.5 miles in a south easterly direction from what was originaly called, the Mastic Turnpike or sometimes Railroad Ave. in the 19th century, to the entrance of the Knapp Mansion that vanished from the Mastic Beach landcsape in a hellish blaze 51 years ago .
They Say The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions
Truth be told, there has also been nothing but good intentions on the part of the books designer and typesetter, who as many of you know is none other than my son Erik. It's just that his real job for the last two years as Art Director of Discover Magazine, occupies quite a bit of his time.
On this past Father's Day ( last Sunday June 20, 2010) an e mail came in from him with the cryptic subject The End Is Near! ..... As I opened it, there it was in all its glorious 379 pages. The PDF Files of the the entire interior of the book save for the photos with 21 blank pages put aside for me to pick out which photos I wanted to include. I nearly fell over and was dialing Erik's number, before it actually had completely sunk in. My wife confided later he was trying desperatly to have it wrapped up for my birthday last month and was depressed that he missed his target. She too was taken by surprise on Sunday. Actually I think it has more meaning as a Father's Day gift.
The pool of photos, along with the captions, have actually been ready and waiting for at least a year, but it was still a three day job for me to pick 40 some odd photos out of the 170 I had originally set aside. I could of fit 90 into the book, but their size and impact would be greatly dimished. But consider this, I started out with just these two tiny pics 10 years ago, sent to me by Jim York a website reader. They were taken by Jim's Mom in the early 1930's, when her family lived right on the western border of the Knapp Estate golf and would watch the Knapp helicopter land on the golf course. A helicopter in the 1930's was beyond rare, but I would soon discover that pioneer aviation was part of the Knapp story. And now the webite has several hundred photos plus many, many documents. A message will be included in the book directing new readers to the website for all the photos and more details if they desire them, as if the book doesn't have enough already.
"KEN SPOONER, WHO HAS THAT WEBSITE, KNOWS MORE ABOUT MY FAMILY HISTORY THAN I DO" The late Margaret Penney Newcombe, first daughter of Claire Antoinette Knapp.
LOOKING NORTH AT
Knapp's Observation Tower
On The East Side Of Locust DR
circa early 1930's
View From Up On The Tower Of Locust Dive and The Bay
(The two cottages BTW are still there)
So now I think I can confidently say The Knapps Lived Here book will be in print before the second anniversary of my putting this page FINIS online rolls around !
BUT WAIT ! ....THERE'S MORE ! !
Like many, many Knapp surprises that have come my way, right out of the blue through the years, this next one that also showed up this week, is a true Dilly or should I say Dodi . It sent me back to the finished manuscript to add in a "This Just In" paragraph to the afterword.
DOTY, DODI, DODIE !
More than once on this website, I have dealt with the question of just how did Joseph F. Knapp 1892 - 1952 , the owner of the Mastic Beach Knapp Estate and last of the three Joseph Knapps I chronicle, spell his nickname and what might be the orgin of it ? As I write in the text, I first heard it mentioned by Estelle Parr Schulz, when I interviewed her in 2001. Her Dad, Bill Parr was a mechanic in Mastic in the 1920's - 40's who worked on the fancy cars, like W. S. Dana's Rolls Royces and the Stutz Bearcat of The Tangier Smith family and virtually all the machines of the 5 grand estate owners in Mastic. Estelle told me as a young girl, she recalled sitting aboard the Knapp yacht moored at Knapps private dock near the foot of where Jefferson Drive is today. She said her Dad usually dealt with Willy Schluder, Knapp's caretaker but one night her Dad came home and proudly announced that he was invited to go out drinking with Doty Knapp. When I asked her who the heck was Daty Knapp ?, she said she wasn't quite sure but she assumed it was the Mr. Knapp who owned the estate.
She was proved right a few days later when I interviewed a niece of Joseph F. Knapp and upon the first mention of his name said with a smile, "Oh ___ Uncle Dodi." She wasn't quite sure how he spelled it, but she pronounced it the same way Estelle did and so did many others through the years. A website reader in he UK said he saw it in print as Doty, I knew there were basically three ways to spell it, but the only way I ever saw it in print was in a 1911 news item about Joseph F . Knapp and his friend Thomas Dixon surviving 5 hours in Bellport Bay after their sailboat capsized returning one night from Smith's Point. In the New York Times article no nicknames were used but in the local news account they spelled it Do - Do Knapp which I'm sure was a intentional local Bellport swipe at Joseph F. Knapp.
Through the years, I have settled on the Dodi spelling for really no particular reason. Several years back I received a recording of an oral history of the entire Mastic area in the 1920's- '40s from Darby Penney, who's father, the now late Arthur Penney grew up there and whose father Clarence, actually worked for the Knapps. Not only that, Clarence's younger brother Willis married Dodi's sister Claire Knapp making Arthur a nephew to Claire Knapp. On the tape of which a snipet is included here, Arthur prononces Dodi .... DOAD...and I have always wondered why, as he was the only person I ever heard say it that way ... You can hear him plainly say Aunt Claire's brother DOAD by clicking here..
Though we can't ask Arthur, as he passed away in October of 2008, it was another voice from the grave that spoke to me this week and gave me the answer in writing. It came via a most generous gift from the alive and well True Blue Sue Cheaney, who in the last 5 years I have known her and her Dad Phil, has cleared up many a Knapp mystery for me both via photos, documents and personal recollection. You see Susan's Mom, Shirley was technically Dodi Knapp's stepdaughter, as Sue's grandmother was Dodi's second wife Marion H, Knapp! And now the reason Arthur Penney called him Doad is revealed by no less an authority than Dodi's long time boy hood friend and eventual Brother In Law, Thomas Dixon Jr. 1892-1953.
You see Thomas Jr's father, highly controversial playwright and author ( Birth Of A Nation )Thomas Sr., who in reality was the real Thomas Jr. but his son often used Jr. too __ ( I know, it's confusing and part of why Knapp Road is a long and winding one ) wrote his last novel, The Flaming Sword in 1939. Thomas Jr., the junior Jr. gave a signed copy of the Deluxe First Edition to Dodi Knapp as a gift. While packing up some family items last week Susan "accidentally" came across the book, looked inside it, saw what was written and sent it to me. So now just as my own book on the three generations of Joseph Knapp 1832 - 1952 is about to appear, I am very proud to say I personally own a book that each Joseph Knapp once had in his personal possesion.
I have a page on the first Joseph F. Knapp's St. Johns book from 1869 located here. The personal photo book on Joseph P. Knapp's ALCO printing plant located here and now a novel, that once was a gift to the grandson of Joseph F. Knapp. The inscription reveals just how his nickname was spelled and as you can see, it was none of the afore-mentioned three ways.
IT's DODE !
Dode Knapp At The 1939 Worlds Fair
And so now I have inserted a short paragraph into a perfect sized space, that seemed to be just waiting for one more Knapp fact, in the afterword along with the probable theory of the origin of the unique spelling that was pronounced just as uniquely, by a very colorful person.
As we go to press, a gift to me of author Thomas Dixon’s last novel The Flaming Sword, cleared up the question of how Dodi spelled his nickname. It is inscribed To Joseph F. Knapp With a thousand memories of a happy boyhood _ Sincerely Thomas Dixon -- Dode: May I be permitted to insert my oar into the above sentiment and add "manhood" Love Thomas Dixon Jr. July 28, 1939 I had never seen Dodi spelled that way. My research found a 1907 Cincinnati Red’s outfielder, George “Dode” Paskert, who was known for his speed. As late as 1949, Joseph F. Knapp, still enjoyed demonstrating his running ability.
And so with that , I have got to run too, as I will soon have a new book to promote.
Hope to see you on the road sometime!