I'm not sure what prompted the Penney family to pull up stakes in Yaphank in 1928 and head further north across Long Island to Stony Brook, but the building in the above photos may of played some part in it. It was known as the Stony Brook Hotel and Willis O. Penney became the manager of it. Today it is the site of the Stony Brook Carriage House museum. Claire set up her kennel nearby the hotel and kept on raising her prize chows along with raising two small daughters. I have seen a few ads and read a few show results that refer to the Stony Brook Clairedale Kennels but noticed in the history of Clairedale article in Dogs In Review that Claire's eldest daughter never mentioned the place. I'm sure Claire still had a first class kennel and I know from the 1930 Census that she had several people employed there. The Stony Brook property was about the same size (12 acres ) as Yaphank and after 5 years there the Penneys sold it too in 1933 . Why they sold it probably hinged upon the tragic events that happened at their winter home in St. Johns Island, South Carolina.
I spent some time in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1970's and 1990's and can vouch for what beautiful area it is. Clairedale was located on a plantation there at St. John's Island and I'm sure it was a real paradise. Claire's daughter Margaret certainly recalled it that way too in Kerrin Winston-Churchill's article for Dogs In Review, June 2003, " Living there in that country with those Chows in that gorgeous country what more could a child ask for? I was in heaven."
But unfortunately because of the water and swampy area, mosquitos carrying Heartworm attacked Claire's dogs. Although this could of easily happened back on Long Island too. I know from the experience of dealing with this awful disease there that nearly killed my Irish Setters in the 1970's how hard the cure can be ....but it was much worse for Claire in the 1930's because there was no cure.
Margaret : "Oh, my poor Mother. She lost her entire kennel of Chows except for Son Too and his son Little Pal, Heartworm wiped them out. In those days there was no prevention and you couldn't tell the dogs were affected until the disease was in its advanced stages. You can't imagine the horror my Mother went through."
Many years later Claire herself would write this in Popular Dogs Magzine " After concentration on one breed for 16 years, this experience would be calculated to take the joy out of any optimist's life and we found ourselves in a muddy bog, after having worked years to establish a type of dog .... successfully I believe."
That catasrophe alone would make anyone want to move on if only to forget regardless of how nice the area might be and so the Penney's moved back to Long Island, this time further east to a place known as Red Cedar Point on the Peconic Bay in Hampton Bays. Many reporters called it Riverhead because of the PO Address, but it was really several miles south of Riverhead on the north side of the former area known as Good Ground.
With her breeding stock gone Claire also was faced with another big decision. The future direction of Clairedale. Of course she seriously considered re building her Chow line but after looking long and hard at available bloodstock she was very disappointed in what she saw happening in the breed. She felt the correct type was quickly disappearing to fads that focused on exaggerated individual characteristics. This is where her strong Knapp genes of both her father and grandfather kicked in and served her well. She wrote: "Probably I am a hard headed breeder and fancier, but I do prefer very little variation in type in all breeds. and feel that many different ones harm all of us." Although she vowed to " always know and love the Chow " she turned her focus to a breed she referred to as "Little varmints and rouges"