Category: Authors

Treading Clams

National Poetry Month is almost over but we have time for one more power ballad. This time, we’re looking over the body of work of Paul Bailey. Bailey was a newspaperman from Amityville (founder of the Amityville Sun) as well as the publisher of the Long Island Forum. His dedication to Long Island history ran deep as he was also president of the Suffolk County Historical Society and Suffolk County Historian. He wrote a syndicated column on Long Island History and was a sought-after public speaker on the topic.

So it’s no surprise that his posthumous book of poetry, Treading Clams (1965) is filled with light verse on all aspects of Long Island. Today we read through excerpts of three of the poems, “The Midnight Rides of Austin Roe,” “Shoes from the Sea,” and “When Prohibition Came.”

Born in 1885, Bailey actually spent some time out west before settling down to his newspaper career. He worked on cattle ranches and possibly in the movies – enough experience, at least, to fuel a number of Western stories that he wrote for pulps like Argosy later on. He also struck up a friendship at home with nearby neighbors Will Rogers and Fred Stone. Stone was an actor and comedian and the first person to play the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz (in the 1902 Broadway version).

Our reader today is Dr. Josh Gidding, Professor of English at Dowling College. Thanks, Josh! And we hope you’ve enjoyed our spelunking through poetry history. Make sure you check out our other Long Island Power Ballads and leave a comment on what you thought.

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Writing the Rails

Back when men were men and railroads were railroads, Charles M. Murphy challenged a locomotive and lived to tell the tale. He rode behind a Long Island Railroad locomotive in 1899 and clocked a mile in under 58 seconds, earning him the immortal nickname Mile-a-Minute Murphy.

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Geneva Daily Times, Sept 2, 1899

 

On today’s episode we look back at Murphy’s accomplishment through the eyes of Si Tannhauser. Who was Si Tannhauser, you ask? Only the “poet laureate of Long Island” circa 1934. That’s when he published his ode to Murphy in the Leader Observer. Si was a ticket agent for the Long Island Railroad by day, poet by night.

The lives of both men brim with anecdote and pathos. Tannhauser survived the San Francisco earthquake as well as hardscrabble times that left him near blind, lame and half-deaf. Murphy went on to Vaudeville and the New York City Police department where, among other things, he wrestled down a runaway horse.

This episode is part of our celebration of National Poetry month and the reader of this particular Long Island power ballad is Rick Jackofsky of the Home Grown String Band. Many thanks, Rick! And check out our past ballads for more poetry/history mashups.

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“The Land of Rum and Romance”

We continue our celebration of National Poetry Month with our second Long Island power ballad from the past. This time out we are looking at “A Babylonish Ditty” by Frederick Swartwout Cozzens (writing as Richard Haywarde).

Frederick Swarthout Cozzzens. From The Knickerbocker Gallery, 1855.

Frederick Swartwout Cozzzens. From The Knickerbocker Gallery, 1855.

Few will remember New York wine merchant-turned poet Cozzens and his heyday as a humor writer in the mid 1800s (although you should try his Sparrowgrass Papers, something of a 19th-century prototype for the sticom Green Acres.) Fewer still will remember the Knickerbocker, the magazine where he cut his teeth. But that’s where, in 1850, he first published “A Babylonish Ditty,” a quick-trotting ode to a long gone summer romance.

Why Babylon? Well, the south shore of Long Island (“the merry old south side”) had a reputation that drew men out from New York City. Mostly they were merchants and lawyers, amateur sportsmen drawn to the abundant fish and game along the Great South Bay. They came by rail and stage coach and after a long day traipsing through the great outdoors, they retired to one of the many inns and taverns strung along the South Country Road (today’s Montauk Highway).

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Listen to Cozzens relive those hazy summer days and wonder to yourself how the “fickle” object of his affection viewed the whole affair. Many thanks to our guest reader, Steve Birkeland.

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Swimming with Dolphins and Alligators

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dontwanttogo

I Don’t Want to Go from Lobster Press Written by Addie Meyers, illustrations by Andrew Rowland ( Image from GoodReads)

 

A self-confessed Nancy Drew aficionado, Addie Meyers has followed her passion and made writing an integral part of her life, finding inspiration for her books from the wide range of her experiences. Here she discusses how she went from raising children in Sayville to teaching poetry in schools (Alligators, Monsters & Cool School Poems), researching dyslexia (The Upside Down Kids written with Dr. Harold N. Levinson)  and swimming with dolphins (Top Fin.)  She also discusses the writing process – refining concepts, finding the right publisher, and ignoring trends in favor of your own ideas.  You’ll hear her read some of her poems and the picture book I Don’t Want to Go, revealing at the same time the secret to Grandpa’s super special tomato sauce.

Books by Addie Meyer Sanders via Worldcat.org

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Warren McDowell and the Fire Island Tide

The summer of 1977 brought Star Wars, blackouts, and the first appearance of The Fire Island Tide. From that first 24-page Memorial Day edition, Warren McDowell’s dream grew to a  140-page color news magazine with poetry, history and artwork along with community news.  Here Warren recounts that growth and the work it took: delivering papers every Friday by boat from Kismet to Watch Hill, dealing with national advertisers warily marketing to the “alternative lifestyle”, and loving every minute of it. Although clearly aware of the dangers facing newspapers (and radio stations) today, his message to those dreaming of starting their own: go for it!

 

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