Dan Rattiner's Stories

Founded When? Date Trouble with Kite Fly, Hampton Classic, Schiavoni’s and Maybe HIFF

Several Hamptons institutions have run into problems establishing the year they began.

It began this summer, two weeks before the Dan’s Papers Kite Fly, when an ad appeared in Dan’s Papers for that event stating that this was the 47th Annual Kite Fly. That number 47 appeared in white letters on the back of a blue kite in the upper right-hand corner. I’m the one who organized the first kite fly, and it seemed to me the current staff had the wrong date—47 years ago would have been 1972, around the time of Watergate. I seemed to remember it was a bunch of years after Watergate.

Early back issues are at nyshistoricnewspapers.org, and so I went there and searched for the first references to the Dan’s Papers Kite Fly, and that turned out to be 1978. So for the ad in the next issue of the paper, we erased 47 and made it 41. Still a long time ago.

Earlier in the summer, I wrote a story in which there was a bit about the painter Jackson Pollock drunk-driving the car off the road at the curve where Abrahams Path meets Springs Fireplace Road, killing him, and it resulted in a bunch of letters demanding a correction because it had taken place further up the road.

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This past month, a new date for the founding of Schiavoni’s Market in Sag Harbor appeared on the sign above the door to their building on Main Street. The old sign, which had been there forever, said “Schiavoni’s Market, Founded 1941.” But now an edition of The Sag Harbor Express had been found from July 1932, which said that the opening of the new Schiavoni Food Store by the Schiavoni Brothers had taken place the week prior.

Also last month, stories started to spread—not in Dan’s Papers—that the Town of Southampton had arrested a surfer in Southampton and charged him with surfing without a license and fined him $500. This turned out to be a hoax. But a very real inquiry from a surfer had gotten town and village clerks to comb their own laws and ordinances to see if they’d had anything on their books like that. At first they said they did not. But then it turned out that the Village of Westhampton Beach has such an ordinance, still on the books, which was written in 1974.

It reads: Anyone surfing within 1,500 feet of the village boundary must have a license, and that they must wear an identification badge while surfing. From June 1 to September 30, licensed surfing is permitted only between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m.

The town fathers and mothers were horrified to learn this law existed in their town—hadn’t anybody read the town ordinances in recent days?—and though it had never been used to ticket anybody surfing in the village, now, with times having changed, it needed to be scrubbed from their books. And so, at their next Village Board meeting, a proposal was made to put a new ordinance on the books that would delete the old ordinance. It was passed unanimously. Now comes a public notice, a village meeting in 30 days to discuss the matter and then, after that, with all taken into consideration by the Village Board, a new ordinance will be passed declaring the old 1974 law to be null and void.

Shouldn’t it be a requirement that any incoming mayor read every ordinance in the Town or Village manual before taking office?

The Hampton Classic Horse Show, now finished for the year, says it started in 1976. But they also say it was first organized in the 1920s, revived in 1952, named the Southampton Horse Show in 1959, dormant from 1966 to 1970, revived in 1971 and ultimately renamed The Hampton Classic. Hmmm.

And now comes the Hamptons International Film Festival. Was it really founded in 1993?

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