Patrolman William Baessler's Year Book
Brookhaven Town Police Department
Like just about everything that I've ever come into regarding this website, the story of how this yearbook came my way is to me truly amazing and again demonstrates the power of the internet and of folks who hold fond memories of where and when they grew up. And like I said on here six years ago but still bears repeating " Had J. F. Knapp not sold off his estate in 1938, a whole lot of us (sections 9 & 10) would of grown up someplace other than Mastic Beach!"
This caper started a few weeks ago with an e mail from an old William Floyd school kid I knew of named Billy Baessler. Bill was in the class of '63 and lived over in Section Two of Mastic Beach. Though we didn't hang out with each other during our school years, we both knew of each other and were both there at Floyd from the git go. When Bill discovered the website, he contacted me and said I needed to talk to his parents as they both were in Mastic Beach from the very early days of the town. Needless to say I was on the phone with Bill & Gloria Baessler within days and we had a fantastic time.
Bill's mother's maiden name was Gloria Chester. The Chesters moved to Mastic Beach in 1935 and operated the general store / post office on Aspen & Whittier. His father who grew up in the Bronx was in the Coast Guard stationed at Smith Point during the early 1940's and later on he joined Brookhaven Town Police from 1949 - 1959 until they were taken over by the new Suffolk County Police Dept in 1960. He retired from the force in 1971.
One of the major discoveries for me the day I first spoke with the Baessler's was learning that they were introduced to each other in April of 1942 by none other than Gloria's high school girlfriend Estelle Parr. If that name rings a bell it should. Mrs. Estelle Parr Schulz is the mother of my first and oldest friend from Mastic Beach Larry Schulz. Her father was the auto and boat mechanic who worked for all the private estate owners: Smith, Lawson, Dana, Tolfree, Nichol, Floyd and Knapp.
Besides reminiscing about many things Mastic Beach related that will be featured as soon as Billy scans the family scrapbook photos. ( There are a few photos his sister Caroline, Floyd class of '61 has sent me just added into the Way We Were pages, but hopefully a lot more to come) I also talked with Officer Bill about his days on the Brookhaven Town Police as they figured into this Knapp story from the git go. It was officer Charlie Ratigan who I turned the alarm in to, the day the Knapp Mansion burned down in 1959.
The Brookhaven Town Police are the ones I have a lot of fond memories of. Not that I didn't have a few hairy moments with some of them like in 1955 when Sgt. Dave Burkhardt, who lived just up the road from me, came with his partner to pay us a visit as me and my pals (about 8 of us) sat on the steps of the abandoned Knapp Mansion after raising a ruckus in there for about an hour. Or in 1959 when Miss Ostroski (later Mrs. Doroszka) the school nurse / truant officer sigged the Boys in Green (their patrol cars were forest green) on me and two other 7th grade classmates, because we had the audacity to walk out the front door at the start of second period, straight up Lawrence Road and then we held up in a house just off it that was under construction. She came charging up with Mr. Turpin and we ran into the woods. After she snagged her stockings on some branches, she cursed and went back to her car. About 15 minutes later there was a '58 Ford Brookhaven Town Patrol car searching the area for us. That would be my scariest memory. But most of the time I would see them at parades or carnivals or patroling our town in the summertime on foot or at the Howard Johnsons where my Mom and sister worked or naturally at the 4th Precint located in Center Moriches. There was a large parking lot right in front of the little station house. I didn't start driving (legally) until four years after they ended their 22 year run (1937-1959) Seeing this yearbook again I recognised a lot of faces I never knew the names of, and I got to see the faces of names of some of the veteran cops I have read about like George Schulz in my research going back into the 1930's.
So here are some of the officers of the 4th who patroled our town and tried to keep us all safe. A special tip of the hat to "Knappster" Gary Messinetti who drove over to the Baessler home in Hudson, Fla from his house across Tampa Bay to borrow the yearbook for copying. He also took their photo (July 21, 2006) that I'm proud to kick this part off with. Come September 12th, ( my sons 23rd birthday ), the Baesslers will be celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary.
Gloria & Bill July 2006
photo : Gary Messinetti
Charlie Ratigan : We (Doug Percoco, Butchie & Me) flagged him down the day we saw the smoke coming out of the Knapp Mansion. I heard he retired to Florida too.
The Burkhardts lived on the corner of Alder Dr & Neighborhood Rd. They always had fantastic Christmas Decorations.
I knew his son Jackie, who followed his father onto the force and was killed in the line of duty in the 1970's.
I remember the face from in town
Gerald Garrett lived right in town