44 YEARS AGO
FEB 15th 1959
It is now forty four years ago that
the Knapp Mansion left the landscape of Mastic Beach. Funny thing
is I have discovered even way back then, few folks knew anything
about who the namesake family was. It's one of the true threads
that runs through this entire story. But then even in the 1930's
when folks started moving into the area around Knapp's estate
they were kept at quite a distance. The closest any bungalows
would get, would be the west side on Locust Drive, which was still
two blocks away before Dodi Knapp started selling out. With the
tall pines that were planted over there, you may of seen the chimneys
or perhaps the dormers on the the third story. Even Malcom Garrity's
view (The Dermody house) from his second story balcony was most
likely blocked by tall trees. So unless you worked for Dodi or
knew Willie Schluder or Charlie Penney (his caretakers) it's highly
unlikely you knew what went on over there.
Here again is the newspaper account
that ran in the Patchogue Advance and Moriches Tribune complete
with lots of wrong information. The only correction I made to
the original copy was to restore a 1/2 a story to Dodi's house.
It was three full stories , not 2 and a 1/2 as was reported here.
more on the errors of fact and assumptions the newspaper made,
you can read my original comments on the fire reporting here.
And also more eyewitness stuff here.
If there's one thing I really know
about this whole deal .....it's the fire, as there are only three
people that were there during the entire blaze; my brother Butch,
my friend Doug, and me. Prior to that there were only two people
there before us. The two arsonists who lit it up for the one person
who really wanted to see it go. No it wasn't inadverntaly started
by youngsters as reported here. It was deliberately started by
"adults" . As for me, this youngster would of loved
nothing more than to see someone buy it and restore it.
And so life goes on.
It's funny that I ran across this
photo of Claire Antoinette Knapp's grandaughter this very week.
She is also named Claire Antoinette and is on this 1995 cover
of a dog magazine. Timely too as this was the week of Westminster
Dog Show, the one they now call the "superbowl of dog shows".
Her grandmother and her mother both have "superbowl rings"
and she is continuing the tradition of champion dog breeding that
started all the way back 127 years ago with her great grandfather
and grandmother Joseph Palmer and Sylvia Theresa Knapp.
Claire certainly has a lovely smile
and her two whippets are stunning. I would like to think that
based on the exciting conversations I once had with her cousin
the lawyers stepped in, that we could all be friends and I
could tell her all about what I have found out about her family's
home in Mastic Beach that her cousin never knew existed. And that
she could tell me stories that she knows about her grandmother
Claire and uncle Dodi. But like my wish that someone would of
bought and restored the fine house that Claire & Dodi once
lived in , I've learned that some wishes just go up in smoke.