Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Better than Coney Island???

I don't buy it.

[Correspondence of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.]

From a Typo in the Country to the Eagle in Town.

July 25, 1851

DEAR EAGLE :--Since I left Brooklyn I have enjoyed myself tolerably well in the quiet little village of Sayville, on the Island ; a village numbering, I should say, about one hundred houses, and quite a sprinkling of men, women, and of course, children. The business mostly carried on at present is fishing, although every fisherman has a bit of a farm on which he works when the fishing season is over. The crops, however, are in a beautiful condition ; corn expecially. Fruit, I am sorry to say, is rayther scarce.

Most of my time is occupied on the water, fishing and eeling, which I am very fond of. In a good season, like the present, a man goes out in the morning and before sun-down, probably catches one hundred dozen of eels, which he sends to New York. Each fisherman has about twenty or thirty eel pots. Oysters, in season, are very numerous, but this not being the right time, they are not very good ; but I have as many as I want, never theless--of my own catching, too. Clams--of the largest kind--are very plenty, and are firstrate.--Berries--black, blue, and whortle--are very thick; ditto mosquitoes…

I have made two excursions to Fire Island beach, which presents a magnificent prospect. It was here, I believe, that the ship Elizabeth was wrecked a few years ago. I had the pleasure of seeing Smith Oakes, of Fire Island notority (sic); and he is, without doubt, an ugly looking customer.--The beach is a splendid place for bathing, and far preferable to Coney Island. O, it is delightful!--I wonder that it is not a more fashionable place for summer resort. I need not go to the beach to bathe, however, as there is a shore a short distance from where I put up. There are plenty of girls in the house, and, of course, I take them along, just to sweeten the water. How you'll appreciate my taste.

To a person who has lived in the city for a long time, plenty of sources of pleasure and amusement may be afforded. I could not, however, live long here. It does for a short time, but the excitement of the city, is sadly deficient. J.N.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, July 19, 1851

I had no idea whortleberries existed. It sounds like they may be referring to blueberries.

A quick search didn't reveal any particular notoriety as far as Smith Oaks, so I guess the writer may have been merely referring to him as "famous." Volume 69 of The Atlantic Monthly cites Oaks as the one who offered the most assistance regarding the wreck.

From Sayville's website it still looks kind of like a small town, doesn't it?

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