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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Robert Kennedy told the New York Post that “not under any circumstances” would he run for president or vice president in 1968. He ended up reversing himself and entering the race against Vice President Hubert Humphrey for the Democratic nomination that culminated with his assassination in June 1968 in Los Angeles

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison announced he would solve the assassination of John F. Kennedy, maintaining it started with a conspiracy planned in New Orleans.

The Soviet Union announce it had sent troops near the Chinese border.

The United States Civil Rights Commission called for half the seats in a black school to be filled with white students, opening the necessity for busing for many children.

Vice President Humphrey, speaking at Stanford University, accused 250 protesting students of “immaturity and intellectual tyranny” for walking out on his speech in defense of the administration’s policy on Vietnam.

And on Shelter Island …

Cliff Clark wins athlete’s award

In February 1967, South Ferry’s Cliff Clark was a senior at Harding College and two-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All American in track when he was selected as the winner of Neil Gibson Martin trophy as Arkansas’ most outstanding amateur athlete.

The Reporter’s report at the time said he won the national title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in the NAIA track and field meet the previous June at Sioux City, South Dakota.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Clark returned to his beloved Shelter Island where, besides running the family business at South Ferry, he has coached numerous successful athletes.

Balloons mark hundreds day

Back in the 1980s, teacher Martha Langdon annually had her third graders launch balloons from Shelter Island, hoping to track their routes.

In February 1987, a balloon launched from here by student Mark Rendeiro was picked up from a tangle of low brush in . . . New Hampshire!

Larry Gould, a member of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory notified young Mark about his find and started a dialogue with students, helping to explain how various weather conditions affected the flight of the balloon. He promised to keep an eye out for future Shelter Island balloons, although as of that time, none had been recovered.

POSTSCRIPT: In 2014, a Shelter Island student, Connor Corbett-Rice, had a somewhat similar experience with a message he tucked into a bottle that his teacher, Jack Reardon had dropped from his boat off the Shelter Island coast in 2011.

The bottle was picked up in the Bahamas by a couple who saw it floating in the water thousands of miles from where it had started its journey.

That it had traveled that route was attributed to time, tides, currents and a little bit of luck. Mr. Reardon suggested that the bottle had taken a northern course as expected, but was pushed eastward by swells moving it toward Europe and then hit another flow that sent it around the west coast of Africa and back on a southwest spiral to the Bahamas.

Passionists re-assume directorship of St. Gabe’s

The Very Reverend Robert Joerger and the Provisional Council recommended 20 years ago that the Passionist community of St. Paul of the Cross Province re-assume responsibility for St. Gabriel’s.

The reasoning was that the community needed the commitment the Passionists had given to the youth ministry.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the Passionists are gone as is St. Gabe’s, sold off in pieces with the last 25 acres being purchased for $15.1 million in the spring of 2015 by Pandion Acquisitions LLC for development of a housing community.

Legislature can’t revoke ferry rates

There was a clamoring 10 years ago for a cut in North Ferry rates. But then County Legislator Ed Romaine let people know that while the County Legislature reviews requests for ferry rate increases, it has no power to cut rates, undoing the legislation that raised them by a unanimous vote.

Years earlier, Mr. Romaine’s predecessor, Mike Caracciolo had tried to impose conditions on North Ferry, but the company sued to block such a legislative effort and won its case.

The county’s Budget Review Office carefully vets requests from ferry companies to raise rates, looking at such factors as increasing costs and possible investments in new equipment that prompted the approval in the first place. During the summer of 2006, one of the major considerations for granting the requested fare hikes was the need for a construction loan to build a new 25-vehicle boat with consideration of balloon payments due on existing large boats.

POSTSCRIPT: North Ferry had its last rate hike in 2014 while for South Ferry, it was 2012.

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