The Hurricane of ’38: A Remembrance

hurricane path

Here is one of the stories from old Sayville that I have been collecting and writing down:

Bill Brady and his brother, Dick, had ridden their bicycles to school that Wednesday morning unaware that a hurricane was on its way.  Their father, John Brady, had been the chauffer for John Hughes who was the Vice President of the Steel Corporation.  When Mr. Hughes went back to Brooklyn, Bill’s father worked for Morgan’s in Bayport.  Mr. Hughes had a seat on the stock exchange and Bill’s father had invested in stocks through his employer.  As a result, Bill’s father lost $25,000 during the crash on Wall Street in 1929.  In January of 1938, Bill’s father passed away.  To support the family, his mother, Nora Costigan Brady, started a laundry business that catered to the millionaires in South Sayville and Bayport.  She was intending to move her family from Bayport to Sayville that weekend. 

When the hurricane hit during the day on September 21st, the children who had been bused to school in the morning were told they would be spending the night at school.  Meanwhile, the local children were told to go home.  In those days, Sayville High School was the building we now call “The Old Junior High” on Green Avenue.  Bill and his brother, Dick, got on their bicycles and started peddling for home.  As they passed St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Crossing Guard, Mr. Case, asked the boys where they were going.  They told him they were heading for Bayport and he told them to go to their grandparents’ house on Main Street instead.  The boys did as he directed and they spent the night safely at their grandparents’ house in Sayville.  Trees were uprooted and there were no chainsaws in those days so the cleanup was difficult. Telephone cable wires were down across the roads and it was a Federal Offence to cut a telephone cable without permission.  In spite of that when no one was looking, Elmer McKee (sp?) took it upon himself to cut the cable that was laying across Collins Avenue.  In spite of the great damage that took place during the hurricane, Bill’s mother was able to move their family to Lincoln Avenue in Sayville on that Saturday. 

Theresa Dodaro is the author of The Tin Box Trilogy.


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