Dune Road Curiosities

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dune Road Curiosities

Several years back Michael Domino contacted OtBB and asked if I'd like to...

"...link my new blog which relates to creative life on Dune Road."

I took a look at "Dune Road Blog" and passed as it wasn't very realized at that time, even though he did have some nice, if obvious, photo subjects.

(I mean, c'mon, how many shots of "the lumber brassiere" do we really need?)

But one set of photos of a group of structures caught my attention, as they have forever intrigued me.

The six WW II-era bungalows

There's six of them, on the bay side of Dune Road in the Village. They're iden­tical in construction and date back to my earliest recollections, which would mean they were around in the early '40s.

That, and the fact that they remind me of some of the structures I used to see on mil­itary bases as a post WWII "Army brat."

And, as I recall, in the late '60s a real estater told me that they had been built to house Suffolk County Army Air­field personnel, which would make them post January 1943.

("Personnel?" On Dune Road? Odds are they were officers, if not pilots.)

I also recollect being told by that same real estater that all six cottages were built for less than what one then cost for a Summer rental!

I'd like to know the full story behind them some time... nothing shady is suspected, it's merely of interest in local lore.

Their size and style also bring to mind much of that part of Dune Road in what is now incorpo­rated as "West Hampton{sic} Dunes" before the wind and water had their way with the area in the early '90s.

Now when I venture that far West along the barrier beach, it's all sideyard-to-sideyard mc-mansions, something nature never intended for the dunes, I am reminded of S.J. Perel­man's words about Hollywood.

"There were times, when I drove along the Sunset Strip and looked at those build­ings ... that I fully expected God in his wrath to obliterate the whole shebang."

I confess that I was looking forward to blogger Domino addressing that section of Dune Road, but while his blogspot remains on-line, it was only active for two months two years ago, and was never fully realized.


1. Hampton West said...

Where did personnel live in those days? There was no Hampton West a/k/a (dare I say it) "base housing" (yuk) until 1959.

Were they on the base itself? Only wish my uncle was alive as he was here during the war in the "Army Air Corps."

Don't know. Maybe an OtBB reader does.

I know there were a number of barracks on the post... which is what they were called back then... the last of which were razed about 20 years ago..
– Dean

2. Tugboat Bertha said...

Those barracks were on Mill Road along Maple Street and the land between there and Lilac Road during WWII. We used to walk past them on our way to school every day. They housed the motor pool guys who were soldiers sent here from the South. A number of those soldiers married local girls. This area where the barracks were located was an army camp. I don't know if they were affiliated with the Army Air Force that was at the base but I expect that they were. Surely there is some written history about this somewhere. There are a few still alive and living around here who would remember all about it. I can name you a few but not on the blog.

I'll call on you... time's a-wastin'.

3. Ray Overton said...

My dad tells the stories that during WWII, Westhampton Beach was also a holding area for troops before they shipped out overseas (primarily I believe because of the train station). The area behind my house off Cooks Lane all the way to the train station were temporary quarters (tents). Dad remembers that one day, the place would be very busy, all sorts of troops around, ball fields active, etc. and overnight, they would break down and head off to Europe. The amount of military activity in the community was huge.

4. Tugboat Bertha said...

Yes indeed, the amount of military activity in the community was huge. There were several different branches of the service here and in the evenings the streets were full of handsome young men in various kinds of uniforms. There was a canteen in one of the old houses on Potunk by the Country Club and there was another canteen in the old hanger on Riverhead Road that later became the Coca Cola plant. The SCWA building is now on that location.

I flew out of that "coke plant," when it was still an aeroplane hanger, with my Dad between '48 and '56.

5. EastEnd68 said...

I believe that camp goes back to WWII when many troops were stationed on the barrier beach to watch for submarines.

Not a credible explanation... the U.S. Coast Guard (vestiges of that service may still be seen along Dune Road in both Quogue (a private residence) and East Quogue (the old Tiana Beach Club)... was assigned that duty.

I actually remember that period and the stern admonishment from my mom to not "touch anything" I might find on the beach itself. "Remember what happened to Frank the shoe's brother!"

Of course that I didn't remember since I think whatever happened happened during WWI, but I'd heard the warning so often it was like I had been there!
– Dean

6. Tugboat Bertha said...

Unless what happened to Mary, Frank the shoe's wife also happened to his brother, then I think someone has the story wrong. The story is that one of Frank's and Mary's sons found a bullet on the beach and thought it was a lipstick. So he brought it home to his mother. They were living at that time over Gelston Walter's store. Mary picked at it to try to get the "lipstick" opened and it blew up in her hand and she lost a finger. A bullet hole remained in the window for years and years and I used to look up at it when I walked by.

Your details sound more credible than my admittedly vague recollections... other than my mother's core message: "Don't pick stuff up off the beach." (She was big on horrifying tales of what could happen if I wasn't hyper aware!)

That was during a time of war, and I have distinct memories of petroleum washing up on the beach from a tanker sunk aways off-shore, and having to peel "tar" off my feet after walking on Rogers.
– Dean

7. Montauk2002 said...

These "shacks" were moved from somewhere in Westhampton Beach to Dune Road in the early 1950s. They orginally had canvas roofs that were replaced with solid roofs after they were moved. The other two houses on the property were also moved to this location. The large white house came from a dairy farm in Huntington, NY and the brown shingled house came from behind the old "Gloria's" store in Westhampton Beach. Some famous people have rented these houses for the Summer, including Richard Avedon in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Laura Branigan in 1993-4, producers of "Sesame Street", and the actress "Gloria" from "Sesame Street" in 1990-1992.

Interesting... an actress who played "Gloria" (have no idea who that might have been), a singer who's big hit was "Gloria," and a house from behind "Gloria's!"

I knew Laura back then, and I recall her living on the Bay side of Dune Road, but much closer to what is now West Hampton{sic} Dunes.
– Dean

8. Virginia Whitelaw said...

To me the houses look like they're on Pond Point.

I know what you mean, but they're not.

9. Harris said...


So glad I met you today and I found out about the blog. I may have just learned more about the history of this place then all the romantic lore I had been led to believe.

Whatever the story may be, the "shacks" are still standing and being rented out for the Summer. I became property manager here last year and we did a number to fix up the cottages; patching holes in the roofs, demo-ing the bathrooms, and putting in all new furniture.

I still get a lot of people passing through and offering their memories about the "Shacks" or the "Pimples" or whatever else they used to be called. Today we affectionately call them the "Beehive Bungalows."

Great meeting you. Stop by if you ever want to see what the insides are looking these days!

Nice to see you, too, Harris. Thanks for the invite.

10. D. Jones Zarse said...

My family owned the six cottages from November 1946 until January 2011.

11. Shaun said...

Hi, Would love to how I could rent one these great little Historical Bungalows.

You're not from around here, are you?

The area is littered with real estate offices crammed with sales agents who'd love to help you out, even show you something else they for which they have a listing. Just stand in the middle of Main Street any weekend and holler: "I wanna rent on Dune Road! Who has a listing?" Look out you don't get trampled... it'll be like the bulls running in Pamplona, only scarier.

12. Michael Domino said...

I should have kept the Blog going! Sorry....

Butcha didn't, didja?

13. Lillian Hubbs said...

Loved renting one of the cottages last year. I found it a fascinating story and wished to hear more about it. It puts a little extra spice in staying there.

Not super modern but what a beach cottage should be. Very relaxing and quiet and Harris is a good host (makes a mean fire!). It is haunting and if you are spiritual, it makes you wonder about the history.

I've been here more than 70 years, and haven't yet filled in all the blanks. For me, it's an artifact of my single-digit youth.

14. Harris said...

Five years since my last post and still going strong, for those interested.

And those are always places of considerable interest!
– Dean

15. Felicity said...

LMAO. I am renting one of these from Harris this weekend with my husband... and hmmm doesn't Dean's name sound familiar to this former New Moon barmaid. (Rushes away from site hoping to find more info elsewhere.)

Well, g'luck with that! This may be the most complete resource available.

16. Susan said...

Can someone please tell me the name of the ice cream shack (and share any info on it) that was toward the west end of Dune Road in the late 1950s? It was on the bay side. Thanks!

Morgan's White Cap, 812 Dune Road in what is now the Incorporated Village of West Hampton{sic} Dunes. It quickly evolved into a whole lot more than an "ice cream shack."
– Dean

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