Since our April 9th, 1955 purchase of the lot 78 at Section 4 of the Holiday Beach, the events developed very fast. The next weekend after the purchase I learned that the city code would not permit to build a weekend tent and that I could build a garage only after construction of the main building. For this reason I decided to design my dream weekend shack and contracted a local builder Loeffler & Hetzel to do the work. Giving permission to the builder to show this unique structure to prospective customers, named the Beachcomber”, was completed within six weeks from the prtyoper purchase.FROM NOTES OF Josef Schrabal
There was no electricity and water available, only through a hand-pump from a ten-foot deep well. Despite all that, we had a great time spending our 1955 summer there.
It was the first house built within the entire Section 4, which still didn’t have the roads, completed and remained truly as a wild jungle. Namely our two-year-old dog, black Belgian sheepdog Teddy was enjoying the wilderness running free all over.
Heather Drive in April 1955:"Somewhere over there is lot # 78"
Eleanor, dog Teddy, 1955 Chevrolet
About 120 feet of front lot, (where the house was located) was cleared by a bulldozer but the back of the lot remained a jungle. By a very difficult hand clearing we managed to clear an alley to complete the south end of the lot bordering the Masury estate, the portion they kept for themselves.
One summer day at about noontime a man came from the back alley with our black dog Teddy on a string:
“I am Alex Klapatov, manager of the Masury estate. You cam call me Alex”, he said. “You look to me as very nice young couple, and the dog behaved peacefully, so I didn’t kill him. You know, we have a sheep herd back there and by law, when a do, such as yours comes close to the herd, I have the right to kill him.”
Our dog Teddy still tied by string next to Alex was happily gazing at him and us indirectly saying, “he’s right”.
Then my wife started a friendly conversation with Alex that lasted probably a couple of hours after which Alex departed as a friend.
A few days later a few sheep came from the back to our lot. So my wife Eleanor tied them together and walked them back to the Masury estate. Finding Alex she told him “hey Alex, your sheep were scaring my dog Teddy so I wanted to reciprocate and here they are back”. Alex took it as a joke but was very glad that our relationship developed into a friendly one. He invited us for a tour over the estate.
He explained that the estate was not just a summer retreat for the family. John Masury used a large portion for gardening. Landscapers laid up the gardens and six large greenhouses. Gardeners grew flowers and vegetables, both indoors and outdoors sending them three times a week by train to the Masury townhouses on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
On the right (west) was the remainder of the Sturges estate to be kept. At the entrance (north) was a house, residence of Alex Klapatov, his wife Pricilla (daughter of Edith Sturges) and children, six daughters.
Alex Klapatov is showing to Eleanor Schrabal (right corner) the Masury Estate, he manages, from top of the "Beaurivage" windmill later in 1955
In the mid-1800’s it was a source of jobs for local Centermorichians being paid above average, one-and-half dollar a day salary.
Madam Edith was especially grateful to the head gardener and gave him a lovely stone house at the shore of Senix together with easement to cross all the roads and land of the estate. (This lot is one of those houses not belonging to the Holiday Beach development.)
During our time (1955-1958) garden fields just behind our lot were still in use.
Alex took us to the center of the estate where a marble platform for a band was preserved. There were three major parties every year, each lasting several days: Summer season opened at the Fourth of July with a band playing patriotic music, a cannon shooting off and the children raising the Stars and Stripes.
On August 1st, a party celebrating Grace’s birthday with well-known entertainers, such as Paul Whiteman, performed for distinguished guests.
The summer season officially ended September 6th at Edith’s birthday party but there were many other lavish parties during the summer season
After then the family would be departing for their winter home in Georgia.
During World War II 1942-45, the Masury family offered to service organization to hold three formal dances in the estate’s facilities, including the ballroom, to the Army band playing and local girls dressed in formal evening gowns danced with boys from Camp Upton, the Moriches Coastguard and Westhampton Air Base.
Another estate’s attraction was the deserted “Beaurivage” windmill supplying water to the estate. It was visible far from the Atlantic Ocean and marked on the maritime maps as a navigational point.
Alex took us into the deserted structure and we walked up to the top viewing the entire region and taking glorious photographs from the tower’s walk. The structure itself had cedar-shingled walls but the frame was from galvanized steel with steel stairs to the top.
On the west of the estate were two houses for guests. They had a large porch overlooking the. There was also a hunting lodge.
At our (north) part of the estate were staples, carriage house and storage sheds.
(For another story I am leaving out the Ballroom with bowling alley, billiard house with a card room, solarium and other entertainment structures.)
At the end of 1955 season, Alex, knowing that we are coming from New York City just for weekends, asked us to give “the old man” (Ralph Sturges) a ride to the city. During that trip Ralph was telling us that during early times such trip to the City by a stage coach would take two days with overnight stay at middle of the trip. He also mentioned that he had been driving a motor vehicle before any driver licensing and that he had one of the first driver licenses issued by NY State. We discharged him at the East mid-60’s Street where he had a condominium near York Avenue.
Sometimes during November 1956, Alex invited me on a duck-hunting trip with his oldest daughter using the family (origin sail) vessel – or better what remained of it. It was just a hull covered with grass-like tent. It was a nasty, freezing day. We sailed far south of the bay where what used to be the “Bellport Inlet” destroyed and closed by the ==== hurricane. We did all the tricks and sounds to attract the ducks – but failed. The nasty day changed into a horrible winter-like storm. We had difficulty getting back and finally managed to land at the Mastic shore. I was sick for a week from this duck hunting adventure.
During later years my wife became quite friendly with Alex’s daughters, namely the three oldest. They were visiting us nearly every weekend. I had a Glastron speedboat that time and on evening I would take all of them (our dog Teddy included) across the Moriches Bay to little cove, east of the Town’s docks on Fire Island, walk over to the oceanside, build a tent and sleep overnight. We would make a fire, have hot dogs and marshmallows. Then I would bringeveryone back the next morning. Josef SchrabalBack to the MENU