This Week in North Fork History: Turtle saved, soldier killed

07/28/2014 4:00 PM |
A loggerhead turtle was rescued after it was slashed by a boat propeller in the Long Island Sound 25 years ago this week. (Source: The Suffolk Times, Aug. 3, 1989, photo by Judy Ahrens)

A loggerhead turtle was rescued after it was slashed by a boat propeller in the Long Island Sound 25 years ago this week. (Source: The Suffolk Times, Aug. 3, 1989, photo by Judy Ahrens)

The following stories were published in issues of The Suffolk Times printed between 20 and 135 years ago this week:

25 years ago this week

• Rare turtle cheats death in the Sound

A rare 100 pound loggerhead turtle was saved after it was slashed by a boat propeller in the Long Island Sound and turned over to a marine biologist in Mattituck on Aug. 1, 1989.

The turtle suffered an 18-inch gash in its shell that had become infested with about 500 shrimp and a dozen blue mussels. The turtle was picked up by Okeanos Ocean Research Center biologist Vinnie Burke and brought to Mattituck veterinarian William Xitek, who operated on it.

It was released back into the Sound two days later and was expected to make a full recovery.

15 years ago this week

• Arrestee escapes police headquarters

A traffic stop on Kaplan Avenue in Greenport became anything but routine after the driver gave a false name and then escaped from police headquarters following his arrest Aug. 1, 1999.

John Carter of Bellport first tried to escape police by foot when they stopped his car.

After he was apprehended and brought to police headquarters, he ran out the front door and escaped into neighboring vineyards, heading west.

Police searched unsuccessfully for him the next two days. They said the 21-year-old had a history of fleeing the police.

20 years ago this week

• Sunken treasure found in Sound

Centuries old Spanish coins were discovered in the Long Island Sound of Hortons Point in Southold. The 18 pieces of silver Spanish reales were discovered by a local scuba enthusiast.

The pieces — minted between 1720 and 1782 — were said to be worth about $5,400 at the time of their discovery.

The diver and Southold Historical Society officials theorized the coins may have been dropped overboard two centuries ago by an unfortunate sailor caught in bad weather or a boating accident.

• Southold loses two stalwarts

A pair of noted North Fork  environmental activists were killed in a two-car collision in Laurel on July 27, 1994.

Terry Harnan and Ginnie Moore of Southold were traveling east on Route 25 when Ms. Harnan, 79, swerved into the Westbound lane and collided with a car being driven by Scott McAndrews of Port Jefferson. All three died.

“The North Fork lost two of its strongest forces for keeping Southold the way it is,” longtime environmentalist Paul Stoutenburgh said in that week’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

The duo was heavily involved with the North Fork Environmental Council and Ms. Harnan volunteered as a guide with the Southold Historical Society.

• Local songwriter nominated for an Emmy Award

Greenport songwriter Hugh Prestwood said he didn’t even know he had been nominated for an Emmy Award until he received a letter of congratulations from someone in Nashville 20 years ago this week.

He was nominated for outstanding achievement in music and lyrics writing “The Song Remembers When,” which was performed by singer Trisha Yearwood on a Disney television special earlier that year.

He would go on to win the award on Sept. 11, 1994, beating out songs written for “The Simpsons” and “Murder, She Wrote,” among other programs.

40 years ago this week

• Boy drowns in Mattituck creek

A 5-year-old boy drowned near his family’s dock in Darby’s Creek near Mattituck Inlet on July 27, 1974.  Following a four-hour search, Ronnie Rakowski’s body was discovered 15 feet from the dock.

Family members said he hadn’t yet learned to swim.

50 years ago this week

• Law creating Southold Town Police Department introduced

The law proposed by Councilman Louis Demarest that would eventually lead to the creation of the Southold Town Police Department was first introduced 50 years ago today on July 28, 1964.

The Town Board voted that night  to schedule a public hearing, and the resolution was eventually adopted on Sept. 29, 1964. It was the second attempt to create a local police department.

• Church manse struck by lightning

A manse at Greenport Presbyterian Church was struck by lightning during a storm on July 29, 1964.

The lightning bolt tore a hole in the roof before following the metal coping and jumping to the plumbing and burning a water pipe, causing flooding in the downstairs bathroom and a collapse in the ceiling.

70 years ago this week

• Another Greenport man killed in action

A Greenport woman received a telegram from the U.S. War Department on July 28, 1944 stating that her son, Sgt. Samuel Widirtsky, had been killed four weeks earlier during the capture of the Island of Saipan in the Marianas.

The 27-year-old had served four years in the U.S. Army during World War II. He had two brothers also in the Armed Forces at the time of his death.

Another local man with the same last name, who was not one of Mr. Widirtsky’s brothers but whose relationship to him was not explained in our article, was injured in the same battle.

80 years ago this week

• School tax rate is same as last year

The Greenport School District announced that its tax rate would remain the same as the prior school year with about $73,000 of the district’s $129,000 budget being raised from taxes.

The district’s budget this coming school year is $16.39 million.

85 years ago this week

• Restaurant fire extinguished in Greenport

A fire broke out at Keen’s Restaurant on Front Street in Greenport on July 26, 1929, causing $250 worth of damage to the kitchen. No one was hurt.

John Mullen, who was known by many as “Keen,” was pitching for the Greenport baseball team at the time of the fire, which was extinguished by the use of chemicals.

• Bridge opens to traffic

Cars were allowed to pass over the Arshamomoque bridge in Greenport for the first time on Aug. 3, 1929. The crossing took six months to build and cost $82,700.

135 years ago this week

• Butcher kicked by horse

A butcher was kicked by a Greenport man’s horse while he was trying to usher one of his cows away from the other animal on July 28, 1879. Louis Reichart of Reichart Bros. butchers was trying to prevent his cow from being kicked by J. Willard Preston’s horse after it walked under the horse.

Instead, it was Mr. Reichart who was kicked. No bones were broken, but the story made its way into that week’s issue of the Suffolk Times.

170 years ago this week

• LIRR train makes maiden voyage to Greenport

A Long Island Railroad train arrived in Greenport for the first time on July 27, 1844. French champagne was served to commemorate the occasion. Stories about anniversary celebrations were published 1944 and 1974 editions of The Suffolk Times (the paper was not printed until 1857.)