Oral History Collection
THE MONTAUK LIBRARY ORAL HISTORY COLLECTION
The Montauk Library Oral History collection documents the history of a small Long Island fishing village through the memories of those who lived there. Several narrators who grew up in the Fort Pond Bay fishing village share detailed information about their family histories as well as offer a window into a way of life long forgotten.
The story begins with the narrators arriving in Montauk with their families at the turn of the century and moves into the 1920s when the fishing village consisted of a few houses built out of fish boxes, a general store, post office and three docks.
It was a time in which cattle roamed freely on the hills, otherwise law-abiding citizens moonlighting as bootleggers and doors of their homes were never locked.
With the arrival of the developer Carl Fisher, Montauk grew at an alarming rate. Craftsmen and construction workers flocked to the area and new buildings sprang up over night. The once sleepy fishing community was transformed into a seasonal retreat for the wealthy.
The next era in Montauk begins as the residents of the fishing village sacrifice their way of life for the sake of victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. The United States Navy took over the fishing village and transformed Montauk into a military hub.
Residents further discuss the extensive military presence in the area and the changes that resulted from the war effort coming to Montauk.
The post war era brought a renewed sense of hope and prosperity to the area as Montauk regained its reputation as an exclusive resort community. The growth of the sport-fishing industry drew day-trippers and the advertising efforts of Fishangri-La encouraged the commercialization of the area.
As the Cold War began to simmer, Montauk was again called into action. Its strategically located Camp Hero Air Force Base brought renewed military activity to the area. As a result, the local population grew and the development of Montauk's grasslands and waterfronts became inevitable.
Throughout the 1950s more and more people discovered this beachfront paradise. Nevertheless, residents retained their community spirit and remained close through human tragedies, natural disasters and a shared sense of concern for the town in which they lived.
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS