Werewolf Path: The Southampton Town Trustees Give Werewolf Path Another Chance

Dan protests the removal of Werewolf Path in Southampton
Dan protests the removal of Werewolf Path in Southampton

People have been asking me whatever happened to that story about Werewolf Path? I had written about it several times this summer. There was a conflict with the Southampton Town Trustees about it. Back in the 1970s, I drew a map of the Hamptons in which I indicated the names of every known road in the Hamptons. It was a fold-up map, the kind you keep in your car. I printed it up in editions of 20,000 a year, gave it away free in stacks in stores, and paid for it by selling ads to merchants that ran in a border around it every year.

There’s nothing unique about making maps like this to give away in resort communities. But there was something unique about this map. At the time I drew the first edition of it, in 1970, there were many roads that were just dirt roads without names. I put them in my map, indicating they were dirt by drawing them with dotted lines, but then, without hesitation, I named them.

Most of these names—they were all odd names such as Jeep’s Folly or Lost Cow’s Journey—went by the wayside as these dirt roads got paved and named officially by those who created them. But one of them stuck. Werewolf Path is today a paved road identified in Hagstrom Maps, and on cellphones that use Google Maps, and though it is not the most creative of my names, the fact that it has survived is something I am very proud of. It is a dead end road that goes off Noyac Path in the Deerfield section of Water Mill. You could look it up.

The reason I have been asked about this these days, and intend therefore to give an answer here, is that over the summer I learned that Werewolf Path has not officially been accepted. Indeed, as I learned, the Southampton Town Trustees insist that this road is called Old Sag Harbor Road. And the Secretary/Treasurer of the Trustees, Fred Havemeyer, told me that since I’d brought it up, the Trustees could discuss passing an official designation reconfirming its name as Old Sag Harbor Road on the upcoming Friday. This resulted in my having staff use magic marker to create a poster for me that was supposed to read SAVE WEREWOLF PATH which I would, and did, carry back and forth in front of Town Hall on the morning that was supposed to happen. (Unfortunately, the sign was misspelled WERWEOLF PATH, a fact which went unnoticed until it was about to be published in this newspaper the following week. We publish it here.)

Also unfortunately, or should I say, fortunately, the Town Trustees on that morning did not pass any resolution. It was never proposed. As Mr. Havemeyer told me later, Hagstrom and I and Google and others were welcome to continue to call it Werewolf Path. They would continue to call it Old Sag Harbor Road. The fact was, he said, there were many roads in the town that have an official name and another name and sometimes if the second name attains legendary status, the Town Trustees will follow suit, although they would not this time.

“Why not?” I asked him. “The name I gave it has become a legend.”

He was apparently talking about legendary names from the 17th century. My name is a legend only since the 20th century.

Well, I thought, time will tell.

And so THAT, which I never did report in any follow-up in this newspaper, is what happened, or didn’t happen to the status of Werewolf Path, the only thing in the Hamptons I have ever named that might actually stick.

Since this failure on the part of the Trustees to drop the ball, I should report, the new iPhone 5 came out with its new Apple Map software. Apple Map software also calls this road Werewolf Path. We are on the march.

I might note that there is at least one road I can think of that is just aching to bear some legendary name. The reason is because although it has a name, it is a lousy name. This same road, because it has a lousy name, was recently given an even lousier name, and that name has never stuck, either.

I refer, of course, to what today is known as, for lack of any better name, County Road 39, in Southampton, where, presently, there resides the offices of Dan’s Papers.

There are so many roads with so many interesting names out here. Flying Point Road. Abrahams Path. Gin Lane. Jobs Lane. Highway Behind the Pond. In 1952, in order to hasten the traffic that was going through Southampton for destinations east in Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Montauk, the county built a road that went through a potato field to loop around Southampton Village called “Southampton Bypass.” When it was originally built, there was really nothing except the bare road. No traffic lights, no buildings, nothing. So indeed, it was a quick bypass around Southampton.

Over the years, however, this road got so built up with traffic lights and businesses that “Southampton Bypass” really was an inadequate name for it. It took as long to get through as going through downtown. Indeed, today it has more traffic lights at more intersections than are downtown. It needed a new name.

But there was none. The only other thing that was attached to it was the bureaucratic name the suits at the county gave to it when they ordered it built, a name which they thought would be replaced by some real name when the time came. Thus the road became known by its bureaucratic name, “County Road 39.” Businesses along it, which include the Hampton Jitney, Buzz Chew Chevrolet, Storms Motors, Suffolk Lighting, Burger King, and the aforementioned Dan’s Papers, now have on their stationary their street address and then the words “County Road 39.”

Two years ago, our County Legislator, Jay Schneidermen, aware of the rather broken-down situation on, ahem, County Road 39, decided to rename the road for a prominent Southampton politician. This could have been a very good thing. Had that politician been named Ebenezer Hildreth, the 17th century colonial magistrate, people would, I think, be calling it Ebenezer Hildreth Road today.

Well, the road got named after the very well-liked behind-the-scenes Republican politician in town who recently passed away named Schwenk. The road now bears street signs. They read Edwin M. “Buzz” Schwenk Memorial Highway. So everybody still calls the road County Road 39.

My opinion? The Dan’s Papers Parkway sort of rolls off your tongue, does it not?

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