PAT & MIKE'S

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Illustration by Stevan Dohanos for Fortune Magazine August 1937

 

Though the Buzz & Pee Wee, Butchie & Me stories are mainly about brothers, I'm going to depart again for a bit here, like I did when I wrote "OH YEAH" about my big sister. This time I'm going to tell you about some brothers in law and their families. But not to upset my editor,(me) there will be plenty about how these two brother in laws, effected the lives of Butchie and me and the whole gosh darn town we lived in. After all, aren't we all just one big family, on a very small planet? I've had this story in the works for some time now, but the main person that has helped it surface was Gary Messinetti, an old school chum of Butchie's. He found my website and got in touch, then went into his attic or whatever and sent me the great old photos you will see here. I hope he's not the last Mastic Beach person to do so........ Folks...It doesn't matter what condition or size they are...Gary sent me Brownie snapshots that were in not in the best of shape....But the fantastic technology that is allowing you to find stuff like this on the net, also allows me to restore photos fairly easily. I actually enjoy it, 'cause it's just another way of preserving history. Enough of this,you got pics send em.....

Ladies & Gentlemen.... may I introduce you to......

 

Mike DiPierro & Pat Messinetti

Forever Known As Pat & Mike

When I first started working on restoring this photo, I actually flipped it so Pat would be on the left. The main thing that convinced me to put it back was.... their hats would be slanted the wrong way....and we just couldn't have that. I'd know, Gary would, so would Johnny, Bobby, Vic, and the rest of their family and anyone who ever encountered these two great guys.

 

Long before there was Tommy & Ray Magliozzi (the Car Talk Brothers) there was Pat & Mike. Real guys with a real garage, located in the heart of Mastic Beach, NY. (The 5 Corners) They opened it in the late 1940's and it was as much a fixture and community meeting place as any in town. One of my earliest memories of them, was when I was probably around 4 or 5 years old. I always loved to watch the small glass globe spin on their gas pumps and hear the bell ring with each gallon of Fire Chief they would pump into our old family clunkers. It would be years away before we had a car that demanded Silver Chief (High Test) though Pat would always ask my Mom if she wanted high test in our '29 Model A Ford. He never tired of asking and she never tired of laughing at his joking.

This particular day Butchie and me were in the back seat of probably our '41 Hudson or it could of been the '40 Olds convertible. It was most likely one or the other 'cause like I said this was my first memory of Pat & Mike. I don't recall exactly which one it was, who was waiting on us, ( I think it was Mike), but when he came back with the change, he handed my Dad two red fire helmets for Butchie & Me. I think they were made of pressed cellophane, but it didn't matter, they were really neat and I wish I still had mine today. With Pat & Mike and my Dad being members of the Mastic Beach Fire Department, it felt like Butchie and Me were in their club too.

Another very early memory was when Pat showed up at our house with the wrecker. It was an old WWII army truck painted white. That story, Trouble Still Knows Where You Live, has already been told and you can read it here. I guess I was born to be a "car guy" and stuff like Pat & Mike's wrecker would always intrigue me. I can still recall how quick Pat was at cranking it up by hand and clearing off the trouble that happened at our house around 1951. About ten years later they would add a second wrecker, a ten wheel drive version of the first one.

What kid wouldn't think stuff like this was neat? Here they are parked on another piece of Mastic Beach hallowed ground. The land that once held Fischer's Market. Fischer's like too many Mastic Beach landmarks, was a fire victim around 1962, Butchie had his first summer job there. Behind "Wrecker One" is Schulte's Stable, the first business located in "new town" The actual stable (high roof) came from The Knapp Estate and was moved into town, as was the Knapp secretaries home that is visible behind the " Ten Wheel Drive Big Boy" . In the background on the right is Kate's Fruit Stand & Jay Don's Hobby Shop (formerly Joe's Barber Shop) and half of the old Parr Brothers garage.

 

I got a couple of more personal stories to tell you about Pat and Mike, but for those who were not fortunate enough to grow up in Mastic Beach in the 1950's let me give you a little background, as I recall it, on them. This info may be subject to change when Gary or John Messinette or Bob Siriani or anyone else in their family reads this and weighs in.

Mike DiPierro was the only boy in a very large family. I believe he may of had 9 or 10 sisters. When his sisters married, most of them eventually wound up living in Mastic Beach. That was all helped along, when I believe one of Mike's sisters (Elsie) married Doctor Frank Calabro. The good Doc, bought the old Lawson estate, which was originally the Richard Floyd estate. Now this place was a real piece of history and always seemed to have some controversy surrounding it. It was in limbo for years following the revolutionary war because Richard Floyd had to get out of town fast when his side lost. Now there's a family contrast for you, cousin William signs the Declaration Of Independence and Richie sides with the British! Not a pretty sight at Thanksgiving....... For years the estate fell in limbo, then the Dr. Robert family aquired it. The last Robert to own it ,I believe committed suicide in the 1890's. I'm not sure if anyone owned it between then and when John Howard Lawson got it nor do I know exactly when he bought it, but according to Estelle Parr Schulz he owned it in the 1930's as her father would make house calls there to fix Lawson's ailing autos.

 

A then young Doctor Frank Calabro at his new front door

John Howard Lawson was a screenwriter (One of the Hollywood 10) who felt the wrath of congress during the "Red Scare" and gave up the estate (perhaps to pay his legal fees) in the 1940's. He went to prison for contempt of Congress in 1950. Gary Messinetti (one of Pat's sons) told me he thinks his uncle Doc bought the place from David Simon. He was one of the realtors that originally worked with Home Guardian developing the town. Simon's little office was located directly across the street at the 5 corners on Neighborhood Road from where Pat & Mike would build their garage. Some years later Mike DiPierro's wife Mildred would work in the Louis Stein Real Estate office just up the street, along with her sister in law Carol DiPierro Messinetti who was already a broker there. But Doc originally had all the extended family (Calabro's Calabria's, Messinetti's, Siriani's et al) stay during the 1940's summers, in the mansion house which if you haven't seen it yet (you can by clicking here) would hold a small army or the entire food poisoned William Floyd School. (More Thanksgiving Trouble) There was quite a few acres of property with it too. After the family decided to settle in Mastic Beach, they built several business on the original Richard Floyd estate property, some using actual buildings from the estate like the Red Barn which was moved up onto Neighborhood Road. Pat Messinetti (whose father was a mason)& Mike DiPierro built their cinder block garage on the south east corner of Neighborhood Rd and Bayview Drive, here are some very early photos circa 1946 of it going up & getting finishing touches while open for business.

 

BUILT TO LAST

click to enlarge

 

FILL ER UP?

That's a '39 or '40 Buick Convertible Sedan (Doc Calabro's?) getting filled up with High Test I bet. Click On The Photo and you will see some amazing details like the temporary sign,with the raised metal letters, leaning against the pumps that offers Tire Craft Recaps. There are two guys on the side up on a ladder, either painting the block or putting up the permanent signage that would be covered up in a few more years by an extension. I believe that old house of Mrs. Ennesser's was gone by the time I moved to town in 1950. I hear it may still be in Mastic Beach. I love the cars on both sides of the garage. The trees are probably several hundred years old. For an even older look at this location CLICK HERE

This is how it looked around 1947-48. The Austin Showroom extension and Siriani's Deli were added on the eastwing by 1949. That looks like a Model A Ford roadster pickup on the right side and a '35 or '36 Ford sedan on left. Gary & Johnny Messinetti & Butchie & Me would have a lot of fun with a '36 Ford Sedan in the field behind the station in a few more years.

CONTINUED