I have been writing stories in Dan’s Papers about the goings on here on eastern Long Island since the paper’s founding in 1960. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president then. Civil rights protests were taking place. An arms race was consuming the resources of the United States and what was then the Soviet Union. Cars had tail fins.
It occurred to me earlier this year that because of the fact I am Founder, President and Editor-in-Chief, and I have taken home one copy of every issue of the newspaper every week for the past 57 years, this collection might have some value to readers and researchers. I also thought that the collection might find a home somewhere. As it happened two years ago, Stony Brook University contacted me about collecting my papers after I pass on. They also, upon seeing the collection, asked if I would will it to them and they would preserve these items in their climate conditioned SBU Libraries Special Collection Archive. I agreed to do so.
This may be all very well and good for posterity, but it would be even better, while the collection is still in my hands, to find a way to have it scanned and put online for the general public. As a result, I have, at my own expense, had the first 20 years of Dan’s Papers scanned and made into searchable PDFs. Last week, with the click of a mouse, I sent a link (to the PDFs) to the Montauk Library, who now have the issues available to the general public. Soon I will send these files to other libraries in our community. I have also made arrangements with the librarians at the New York State Historic Newspapers to have them add the PDFs to their searchable collections. They will set that up sometime in July. Go to nyshistoricnewspapers.org. And of course, I will also have them available through DansPapers.com this summer.
The first 20 years, from 1960 through 1979, saw dramatic changes on the East End. During the late 1950s, Montauk entrepreneurs built about 40 brand new motels that would result in that town becoming an area of summer resorts largely for fishermen and beachgoers. Just to the west, the sleepy farming and fishing communities of the Hamptons had long been, along with Newport, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, a retreat for the super rich of New York City. However, back then in the 1960s the East End was awakening to soon become a nationally known upscale resort community largely populated by people in the entertainment, arts, banking and advertising communities with primary homes in Manhattan.
Also thriving in those years were the potato farming and sport fishing industries, which were also providing prosperity to the sleepy North Fork. The era also saw the rise of the counterculture and surfing community, and one day a winery opened on the North Fork.
My physical collection from this period, now about to be made searchable through the Historic Newspaper Collection in July, consists of about 20,000 pages. It ends as a new generation of super rich banking and real estate individuals began to impact the area. It also documents the start of a change in how celebrities coming here viewed this area. Early on, celebrities saw the community as a place to hide away. Toward the end of the era, many more had come and were hiring press agents to report on their doings.
Come July, you will be able to search the full 20 years by going to nyhistoricnewspapers.org. You’ll be able to type in “Rolling Stones” and up will come—in the Historic Newspaper Collection—all references to the Rolling Stones in the Dan’s Papers pages, indicating dates and page numbers where such references can be found. Those pages will also come up with the words “Rolling Stones” highlighted in blue.
The years from 1980 to 2007 have not yet been digitized, but they will be the next phase. They remain in physical form, in my library. This part of the collection consists of about 90,000 pages. Whereas I paid to have the early years of my personal collection digitized myself, this second part of my collection, from 1980 to 2007, is a very large and costly project that can be digitized by the New York Historic Newspaper Collection, a nonprofit that can receive funds earmarked to do just that.
The final 10 years, from 2008 to present, is currently available online as individual issues in the “Read the Paper” section of DansPapers.com. Making these pages fully searchable, in a format for libraries and other entities to share with their visitors and readers as well, will be the final stage of the project.
This is a very exciting project, especially for me, as early on it was just myself and three or four other people I employed at any one time. There were also columnists. Elaine K.G. Benson wrote of the arts scene. Jan Silver covered cultural events. It’s all there. You can dip right in. Here’s a short piece on page 4 I have just lifted at random from an issue dated July 1, 1967. You get what you get when you do it this way. This first article is about what is today the Montauk Suffolk County Park in Montauk and its historic Third House headquarters. It was Deep Hollow Ranch in 1967.
Page 4 POLO EVERY SUNDAY
“The return of Montauk Polo began one cold evening last winter. It was at that time that Jack Dickinson, manager of today’s Deep Hollow Ranch and his family, decided to attend an indoor professional polo match in the Long Island Arena in Commack, about sixty miles away.
“There wasn’t much else to do that evening in Montauk. The usual activity of the ranch, that of raising cattle and horses was over for the winter, as was the activity of the ranch house, where guests were accommodated and dined during the summer season. There were three bison maintained in one of the pastures just for fun, as well as the ranch hands’ private horses down in the polo stable, but here was not much else.
“The Dickinsons were joined by several other Montauk residents who owned horses, and between them they made a kind of caravan over to the Long Island Area that night…”
Page 6 VIETCONG AND INDIANS
“Many captured Vietcong soldiers, when shown American western movies for entertainment in the detention camps, cheer for the Indians. They show encouragement when the Indians attack the wagon trains, then scoff and jeer when the cavalry come to send the Indians scattering.
“According to an Australian source, one Vietcong who asked for his release on the grounds that he would now support the Saigon government, gave himself away at the end of a movie by crying when the Indians lost. He was handed over to the South Vietnamese authorities and interned in a prisoner of war camp.”