This week in North Fork history: Guess who spent big in Greenport?

Preston's, as shown in the June 18, 1992 issue of The Suffolk Times.

20 years ago …

Q: Name the billionaire who shops at Preston’s

Bet you can’t guess who made the single largest purchase in the history of S.T. Preston & Son, reporter Ruth Jernick wrote in the June 18, 1992 issue of The Suffolk Times.

Here’s a hint: The shopper — who reportedly spent about $14,000 during a one-stop shopping spree at the Main Street ship chandlery last November — flew to Westhampton Airport from Dallas aboard a private jet, chartered a station wagon from a local limousine company and spent only enough time on the East End to select an expensive assortment of “decorative, nautical items at Preston’s.

Give up?

The mystery shopper was none other than billionaire independent presidential contender H. Ross Perot, who has maintained close ties to the sea since his days at the U.S. Naval Academy, she wrote.

Preston’s owner George Rowsom said it was the store’s biggest sale ever.

Riverhead Savings Bank declared dead at 120

The last time depositors lined up outside Riverhead Savings Bank as best as anyone can remember was after the stock market crash of 1929, publisher Troy Gustavson wrote in the June 18, 1992 issue of The Suffolk Times. But there were lines again on Monday morning, following the New York Banking Department’s decision to seize RSB and its parent American Savings Bank of White Pains. Write them off as victims of the Great Real Estate Crash of the late 1980s and early 1990s, he wrote.

The New York State Superintendent of Banks at the time told the News-Review that RSB “had a substantial negative net worth.”

“There is no equity there,” Derrick Cephas said. “There was no hope and no possibility that the banks could ever revive themselves.”

Depositors lost about $2 million with the closures, we reported. That, coincidentally, was about the same amount as was withdrawn from the bank’s three branches by depositors on the day news of the seizure broke.

The branches were taken over by the Bank of New York.

Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant declared defunct

The final chapter in the controversial $5.5 million Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, which has never produced a single watt of commercial power, is about to be written, reporter Bob Liepa wrote in the June 18, 1992 issue of The Suffolk Times.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an order on June 18, 1992 approving plans to decommission and dismantle the ill-fated nuclear power plant.

“I’m thrilled,” said former LIPA chairman Richard Kessel. “I think it’s about time.”

25 years ago …

Stoutenburgh is calling it quits

Councilman Paul Stoutenburgh will not be running for reelection this fall, we wrote in the June 18, 1987 issue of The Suffolk Times.

Mr. Stoutenburgh, an avid environmentalist and a nature columnist for the Suffolk Times since the early 1960s, issued a statement on Wednesday that touched on “the lack of enthusiasm for preserving our way of life and our limited natural resources” as a reason for his departure.

“I feel the time has come to step back and let someone new move in to cope with the pressures of today’s development on our very sensitive and fragile East End,” Mr. Stoutenburgh said.

Postscript: Mr. Stoutenburgh continued to write his nature column in The Suffolk Times through 2011. H and his wife Barbara were named Suffolk Times People of the Year in January.

Yacht is blown up for Rob Lowe film

A 36-foot yacht was blown up in Coecles Harbor, Shelter Island for filming of the Rob Lowe film “Masquerade,” we wrote in the June 18, 1987 issue of The Suffolk Times. The film, which also starred Meg Tilly and Doug Savant, filmed in various locations around the East End.

55 years ago …

Plane crashes into Long Island Sound

A U.S. Navy observation plane attempting an emergency landing overshot a 1,200 foot private landing strip of Charles Rose at Orient and plunged into the Long Island Sound, we wrote in the June 21, 1957 issue of The Suffolk Times.

The brothers whose farm borders the shoreline were picking strawberries when the two-engine Beechcraft passed overhead in the thick fog. Seconds later, they heard the splash as the plane hit the water, we wrote.

One of the brothers, Karol Sledjeski, a 41-year-old World War II veteran, ran to notify the Coast Guard. The other, Peter, 27, set out in a rowboat, we reported.

“I couldn’t see anything, the fog was so thick,” the younger Sledjeski told us. “Every once in a while I slowed up and shouted ‘Where are you?’ After a time I got an answering hail and headed in that direction.”

“They were out at least 2,000 feet from shore and I made it in less than 20 minutes. I never rowed so hard in my life. Both were afloat in life jackets. They were in good shape, but there was no sign of the plane. They told me it went down five minutes after they hit.”

100 years ago …

Fire could have destroyed much of Greenport

Just as our citizens were enjoying that after-Sunday-night nap, they were suddenly aroused by the fire alarm at the early morning hour of six o’clock last Sunday morning, we wrote in the June 22, 1912 issue of The Suffolk Times.

The boats shop of the Albertson Construction Company, also occupied by the machine works of Wood & Chute, proved to be the scene of the conflagration, we wrote. Four years ago on the 11th day of February (1908), this same structure was afire and threatened with destruction, but Sunday’s blaze was of a more fierce nature, and had it not been for the mildness of the morning and the excellent work of the fire department, there would have been nothing but ashes to tell the story of the busiest section of Greenport’s waterfront, we wrote.

The shop of the construction company was completely destroyed in the fire, which we reported started in the boiler room, and two boats also burned.

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