updated Oct '04
This 1896 Lawrence Estate survey map shows a docking facility that dates back to the days of C. J. Smith (1850's ) This is where Beach Ten would be built in 1940's, The long penisula would get sliced off most likely by Knapp in 1917 to manuveur his seaplane and yacht into that cove where he would build a small marina. Today the southern tip is a small island.
Although Beach 10 came last in the development schedule of Mastic Beach, it was always number one with me. It didn't have snack bars like Beaches 1 & 5, nor much in playground equipment, 3 swings and a slide and they weren't there that long, but somehow whenever I think of the beaches of Mastic Beach, ten always comes first. It may of been because it was the closest one to our house, which was also in section 10, or it may of been that's where I first learned to swim with confidence. My sister Gerry was a lifeguard there in the early '50's. I remember her telling Butchie and me about the deep hole that was between the two poles they used to anchor the raft. The raft was a lot of fun, but it was a lot more fun once I could really swim. Butchie never learned to. Even the U. S. Navy could not teach him and frustrated they sent him home in 1962 after 30 days of trying.
It wasn't a very big beach, it was kind of L shaped with a small three side bulkhead that jutted out into the bay. On one side you could dive into the swimming area that was fenced and netted for jelly fish. On the other two you could fish or go crabbing. At first our Mom was would always have to take us. I think I was around 10 or 11 when I really learned to swim and we could go with our summer friends. It took a lot of asking before she finally let us do that. I think it was because neither one of us could swim. Sally Ann Yodice the oldest of the three Yodice kids we hung around with, was a certified life guard and that may of helped ease Mom's concerns.
As I said in the Swamp Road story, Beach Ten was an all year round affair with us, so that too may of been, why it always came first. In October of 1957 I remember racing down Jefferson at night to see Sputnik go sailing by overhead. Also in the '50's when we became car conscious, there were some fine looking rides that would turn up at the end of Jefferson Drive, Like local resident Bobby Kappel's black '58 Impala convert, offset by an identical white one owned by a city kid named Jay. I think Jay was also a MBPOA guard stationed at Ten who checked your pass. Yes it was Property Owners Association members only....in the summer.
With the top down and the Elegants on the radio singing "Little Star" for everyone on the beach....It's as good as it gets ...click on song title to turn your radio on
I do recall the first time we ever were allowed to go to beach by ourselves, we went to # 1, but that was Sally Ann Yodices call. She liked that one. So the Denning, Yodice and Joseph kids and more all turned up there with sacks of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and thermos bottles, along with the stern warning "Don't go in the water for a half hour after eating!" Sally Ann had a watch and held us to it. One also had a pagoda like 10's, both were moved from the head of the Lagoon. I recall eating lunches in them and always having some sand in the sandwich. Beach one also had a small snack bar. Originally it was started by Gus Lundgren, but during the '50's our neighbors the Hausers ran it. Larry Hauser and our father worked together at the phone company. Larry asked our folks to go in on the concession business with them, but that never happened. After the Hausers closed it around 1954 or so, it seemed to stay closed. In the late '50's we spent a lot of time there with Doug Percoco and his friends and family. Today everything including the beach is long gone there.
BACK TO THE BEACH AUGUST 2004
Beach 5 was a wild place! We only went there a few times when I was a kid, mainly because you had to drive to get there. But the first time I recall going was an early Sunday Morning. I don't think I was more than 5 or 6. I had gone with my father up to the Mastic Bakery (by the railroad station) for Sunday rolls. On the way back he said, "I want to show you something. We had an alarm last night, but it wasn't for a fire." He was in the Mastic Beach Volunteer Fire Department. So when we came back down Mastic Road from the bakery we went right at the fork instead of left, then when we got to the 5 corners, we kept going south and headed for the bay. I remembered the scenery from the time I took the wrong bus my first day in school. We got to the bay and there was this long white building. When we walked in, I could not believe my eyes. Almost everything in the place was smashed. The furniture in splinters, broken glass all over the floor, a total wreck. Years later one of the opening scenes of the TV Show F-Troop had this huge fight in a saloon with the entire troop and about 50 cowboys smashing the place up in full John Wayne style. An ultimate western saloon fight. That scene always took me back to the Beach 5 Pavilion. There was a guy behind the bar trying to clean up and one weird thing I recall was, at the far end of the room there a fine old jukebox. It was unscathed, lit up and playing Tony Bennett's version of Cold, Cold Heart. About 40 years later when I met Tony in Nashville, I wanted to tell him that story, but we ran out of time.....(another long story, for another place) We did get to reminisce briefly about him singing at the Island View Manor though. Anyway the fire department had been called out to help the cops quell the riot. "HOSE 'EM DOWN BOYS" I think it was the only time I was ever inside the pavilion, and I think they may of stopped serving booze after that. Originally it was not built as a saloon, but it was built by a saloon keeper. None other than the Mayor of Mastic Beach himself .....Paul Schulte. Here is a rare view of what it looked like freshly built around 1930.
As far as using the beach there, I think we only went a couple of times. I do recall one summer night in the early '60's being down there and getting held up at knife point by a small gang. I was with my pal Donald Denning, who was from Brooklyn and pretty tough, but he later agreed the two of us were no match for the 5 of them and their knife. They took the two or three dollars we had on us and told us to take off....we did.
In the 1970's I heard it was getting really torn up and once again the Mastic Beach Fire Department was called out to do something ......and they did. Gary Messinetti was chief then and he took the photo below of some of his men taking care of the problem at Beach 5.
There's an old saying that the only thing you can ever be sure of is death and taxes. In the 1930's during the infancy of Mastic Beach and the M. B. P.O. A., the Smadbeck Brothers approached them about taking title to the waterfront for free! Warren and Arthur most likely realized they had got a few acres of swamp with their initial deal and if they couldn't re sell it for homes, why pay the taxes? At first the M . B . P. O. A. balked, citing all the squatter shacks and fishing stations that had sprung up along the waterfront. When that got cleared up, they did take title and certainly put it to good use. The three beaches were put up and maintained. It was one of the features that made living there in the 50's very nice.
Having been gone for some 38 years, I don't know all of what happened with the beaches, but I know when I last saw Beach Ten in September of 2001, it looked like Afghanistan in October of that same year. I then heard on my last trip up in January of 2002, that Beach Ten and the old Knapp Dock Road area had been lost to back taxes. Beach Ten.... it was always number one with me and the last to fall.
MEMORIAL DAY MAY 30, 1944
Sixty years ago this card was sent to Marie Zeitelhack in Mount Vernon NY and it said : " Dear Marie: I'm having fun up here. Wish you were here we would go swimming. I am going to the beach now. I'll be seeing you Wednesday night X Love Herman"
I wonder which beach he went to.... One, Four, Five or Ten?