Our Little Town  

Hometown History

Until a few years ago, the history of our little town was documented in print media only twice in the last century:   

  

The first of these (which is pictured at left, above, in an unpublished version re-issued in 2000 by the Oceanside Educational Foundation, a volunteer organization operated in close relationship with the Oceanside Union Free School District) originally appeared in serialized form in late 1959 and early 1960 in


The Story of Oceanside was written by Dr. Walter S. Boardman, a name that should be familiar to all of us. After serving 20 years as our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Boardman retired early in 1960. Prior to that, Dr. Boardman was Principal of Oceanside High School from 1927 to 1940.  

Dr. Boardman's scholarship and his 33 long years of dedicated and inspired service to and love of our community certainly qualified him to write our little town's story. The work served as his parting gift to our community upon his retirement.  

The school that now bears Boardman's name (No. 9, built in the southeast part of town in the early '60s after his retirement and after our graduation, originally as a second junior high) is now an elementary school, but the same building also houses Oceanside's middle school (there is no longer any junior high).   

When The Story of Oceanside was completed in 1960, it was distributed locally in typewritten, mimeographed form (without pictures) and bound with a single staple. As noted, the cover you see illustrated above at the left is from a reprinted edition of Boardman's booklet, issued in 2000. The reprinted edition remains essentially Dr. Boardman's work, without update, but it includes some photographs, maps and a little bit of other additional material not contained in the original.  For example, it includes the following, which appeared originally in the Boardman Elementary School's Newsletter:
    

"In our community, Dr. Boardman has been admired and respected as one who might be called upon on any occasion and never be found wanting. Without thought of self, he has been available to organizations and individuals on an almost round-the-clock basis and has always been willing to offer his services if he believed that in doing so he might promote a worthy cause.

"To our schools he has been the spark and the inspiration which makes the difference between mediocrity and greatness ..."

  

Click on the thumbnail image at left for information as to how to purchase a copy of The Story of Oceanside (1960), by Dr. Walter S. Boardman.

  

The second volume illustrated at right, above, The History of Oceanside, also unpublished, was distributed only locally and copyrighted in 1975 jointly by a youth group sponsored by the local branch of the Jewish fraternal organization, B'nai Brith, the Oceanside AZA (for the Hebrew letters, Aleph Zadik Aleph), and the First United Methodist Church of Oceanside. It was the work of a joint committee of those organizations.  Among the committee members who prepared the history were now late Bea Danziger (the mother of one of our classmates, Sabin Danziger, and the mother-in-law of another, Mike Brozost) and one of our OHS guidance counselors you may remember, Susan Braca. The 1975 history contained substantially all of the Boardman material, virtually verbatim, but it was expanded and updated through the mid-1970s. 

More recently, a lifelong resident and OHS teacher, Richard Woodss(or "Richie," as we know him) authored two widely published, histories of our little town, one in 2004 and the second in 2013. Then first tells the story of our little town with annotated photographic images from its early beginnings through about 1960, and with some more recent information appended. The second is comprised of thumbnail biographies and photographs of over 150 of our little town's most notable personalities. throughout history

Click separately on the images, below, of the covers of these works for detailed information about them and how to get copies for yourself. You will be glad you did.

   

 

 


Click here to read about  Richie Woods.

 

Above is advertising material from an auction of new homes, some only partially completed,
               that was to be held April 30, 1930 (only six months into the Great Depression).                                     

  

The selected excerpts below are derived primarily from the 1975 history (much of which, shown below in regular typeface, are attributable, in turn, directly to the Boardman piece) have been reproduced here with the kind permission of Rev. Janet Porcher, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Oceanside, New York; they relate primarily to our time in school in our little town the 1950s. (Your website editor's annotations are shown italicized in brackets.)  

As you can see (if you don't remember), the dominant theme during our time as kids in Oceanside clearly was unprecedented growth. According to census information included in The History of Oceanside, the population of our little town grew 78% (from 17,111 to 30,448) between 1950 and 1960. (And our great class of 500+ was 43% larger than the previous recordbreaking class of 1959.

Oceanside in the 1950s


"The end of the war ushered in new and overwhelming growth. ... Houses were put up by the hundreds."


The end of the war [World War II] ushered in new and overwhelming growth. The population which was approximately ten thousand at the close of hostilities doubled by 1950. Houses were built on garden plots, in back yards and other unanticipated places. New and easier Township regulations regarding building as wall as new techniques for filling in land made it profitable to build on the marshes. Houses were put up by the hundreds.  

Ocean Lea, built in the early 50ís [sic] in south Oceanside, was the first large development. Wedgewood Park, along South Park Avenue, was built in 1956-57.  Preston Park was built south of Wedgewood in 1958-59. The Madison Homes were put up in the Oceanside Beach area and were followed by Ocean Harbor.

As a result of this building, about one third of the population of Oceanside moved here after World War II. As had happened many times before in the history of Oceanside, the arrival of newcomers brought problems to the town.  During this particular period of rapid growth, many problems centered around the school facilities which could not accommodate the vastly increasing school population.


"... about one third of the population of Oceanside moved here after World War II."


By 1950 it became apparent that the secondary schools would require more drastic expansion than the adjoining sites would permit. After consultation with real estate people, the Board concluded that a new large site for a senior high school must be found at once. The matter was studied and a thirty-five acre golf course that lay west of Skillman and north of Waukena Avenues [originally part of the site of the Middle Bay Country Club, which then built a new golf course south of Waukena] was selected. It also seemed necessary to secure land in the southwest area for a new elementary school. A ten-acre tract of marsh land south of what is now Moore Avenue was chosen; however, there was some objection to this site for it seemed to be at the very edge of habitable territory. A special election was held on December 11, 1951. The purchase of both tracts was approved by a wide margin, although a substantial number of citizens felt that the land would never be needed.  

So rapid was the enrollment growth that even those close to the situation began to differ on their ideas of where it would all end. To check on its own estimates, the Board hired the Governmental Statistical Corporation to assist with the school census and to present estimates on population trends and potential limits.

On the basis of these findings and all other available data, a series of proposals ware presented to the voters. These were to (1) increase the existing high school building to 63 classrooms and convert it to junior high use, (2) overhaul the old junior high school and adapt it for elementary children [Central School No. 1], (3) erect a new modern high school (School #7) [our high school] on the 35-acre site [purchased in March 1952 for $201,000], and (4) construct a new elementary school (School #8) on Fulton Avenue [principally for residents of Ocean Lea. This, the Board stated, would provide adequate classroom space unless houses were built on the marshes, an idea then regarded by many as quite out of the question [but which subsequently occurred in the southeast part of town, where the Boardman School was built in the early 1960s]. 

  

Our jr. high, when it opened in 1936 (expanded in 1954 by adding the south wing )
     

 

Central School No. 1, built in 1895
(no longer standing)
     

 

Our high school, opened in 1955
(expanded several times since)

The proposals were approved; by 1954 the new high school and School #8 were built. [The year is an error in Dr. Boardman's account; while the south wing of what was to become our jr. high was, in fact, opened in September 1954 (click here for more about this), our high school building, designed by architect, Andrew R. Fritz, of Rockville Centre, wasn't completed until August 1, 1955, (opened in September) at a total cost (including the land purchase from the Middle Bay Country Club) of $3,451,000.]

During this time, the need for an elementary school lunch program had evolved, for some students lived a great distance from their schools. In 1953, a pilot program was initiated at School #1 [then, a jr. high]; a complete lunch was served for 25Ę. The program was successful and eventually was extended to the other schools."  

[On September 15, 1954, our little town was distinguished when Betty Robbins (Mrs. Sheldon Robbins) became the world's first woman cantor at services held at Temple Avodah.]

The 50ís [sic] saw an end to the era of community harmony that had existed during the previous decade. As more and more housing developments were built, schools quickly became inadequate for the large numbers of students being enrolled. The increased costs for education led to increased taxes which, in turn, led to divisiveness in the community. The newcomers in town wanted mere and better schools for their children; older residents resented the large amounts of money being spent to build and expand schools.

By 1957 the school enrollment was well over 8,400 students and children were being bused out of Schools #4 and #8 to alleviate overcrowding.

With the mounting pressures of the Cold War, precautionary measures were taken. The Boy Scouts delivered Handbook for Emergencies, a Civil Defense publication, to the Oceanside residents. The handbook provided basic first aid references and vital home precautions to take in case of natural disaster or nuclear attack.
  

After twenty-five years, Levinís Pharmacy, a popular landmark, was razed by fire in 1959. It was immediately reopened at a [temporary] new location which was formerly the site of another drug store. 

In September 1960, Hurricane Donna struck Oceanside bringing a heavy toll in damages to many houses. There were no personal injuries, but cellars were flooded, trees and shrubs uprooted and windows were broken by gusts that reached up to ninety miles per hour.  [Remember people rowing boats down Windsor Parkway, Mott St., and some others?] After all the students were sent home, the junior high school was used as a shelter.

Also in 1960, Oceanside honored an OHS varsity pitcher, Howie Kitt, who Boardman called her "star athlete" [the late Artie Heyman was not one of Dr. Boardman's favorites; both were of the class of 1959]. Howie [who was signed after graduation by the New York Yankees for what was then one of the largest signing bonuses in baseball history ― reported at various amounts up to as much as $100,000] was presented with the key to Oceanside.  
     

       

But what about 

Roadside Rest?

        

Unexplainably and conspicuously absent from both the original Boardman work and the later 1975 account of our little town's history is any mention of Nathan's Roadside Rest, unquestionably, its most well-known landmark and business enterprise.  (It was, however, featured in Richie Woods' 2004 pictorial history, Oceanside).

More than anything else, the Roadside Rest put our little town "on the map." If you haven't already visited our Nathan's page, click on the hot dog  logo or the photo above for a tribute to and brief history of the world famous hot dog emporium in our little town.
         

 

According to the preface to The History of Oceanside: 

"Oceanside, unlike many other towns on Long Island that sprung up out of nowhere during the real estate boom that followed World War II, has a history that goes back to the seventeenth century."

But despite its richness, the only known documented account specifically of Oceanside's history that pre-dates the Boardman work was a manuscript, also unpublished, written between 1936 and 1940 by Frances Weaver Heinley, an Oceanside High School teacher (still on the faculty during our time), and entitled, A History of the White Man in that Part of the Town of Hempstead, Long Island, that Became the Village of Oceanside (soon to be made available online by our historical society, the Oceanside Educational Foundation). Among other things (including interviews of long-time residents), Dr. Boardman relied upon this work for his research and also upon a mimeographed history of the Oceanside schools entitled Fifty Years in Union Free School District #11, prepared in 1949 by George V. Lascher, then a school district employee.

Click on the thumbnail image at left for information as to how to purchase a copy of the reissued version of The Story of Oceanside (1960), by Dr. Walter S. Boardman.

 

  • Click on the Beacon masthead below for more historical material and memories from the 1957-1960 pages of .


 

        HOME PAGE