Manhasset Memoirs


South Strathmore was William Levitt’s dream. Consuelo Vanderbilt sold him her 100-acre estate, including her mansion. Manhasset was growing but there were problems. The most outstanding was the fate of the Plandome Road School. The D’Oench era had produced the Plandome Road K-12 brick and granite school. It carried kindergarten children all the way to their graduation from high school. It had to be demolished. All sports were played on Memorial Field. It would remain for community use. A perfect property for a new high school was found a few blocks behind with room for several playing fields. If you haven’t seen it, go! Space for a new K-5 school was found in Munsey Park and later another on Shelter Rock Road. Both would have playing fields. The K-12 property is now Mary Jane Davies Park. You may enjoy concerts and celebrations at the gazebo or just sit with a friend and chat. Behind the gazebo is an enclosed playground with lots of equipment for youngsters to explore. Cheers to the old K-12!
Manhasset has always attracted people of note—theater, music, sports, et al. But for me, there is only one Leroy Grumman who lived in Plandome Manor. His Grumman Engineering Corporation designed and built the Lunar Excursion Model (LEM) which landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. As Armstrong stepped from the capsule he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It will echo forever. During WW II, Mr. Grumman designed Grumman-built fighter aircraft for the U.S. Navy. Mr. Grumman died at North Shore-LIJ Hospital on Oct. 4, 1982.
My own life was filled with serendipity. The first dip was a call from Mitch Luther, owner and editor of the Manhasset Mail. He had seen my cartooning in the Manhasset High Club Reporter. He signed me up for a three-column weekly cartoon of interesting Manhasset residents of note at $15 per week. Bingo! A week later Mitch sent me to interview Larry Clinton, leader of the Big Time Swing Band, who lived in South Strathmore. My assignment was to ask questions about his hobbies. Larry loved to play golf and fly his single-winged airplane. We chatted while I made notes. I delivered my first three-column cartoon to Mitch. Celebration was at the brand new Manhasset movie theater with my date in the last row of the balcony. For 25 cents each we saw two full features, a Mickey Mouse cartoon, a Grantland Rice sports piece, the news, a travelogue and coming attractions. That’s Manhasset, with things to come.
Bob Lubbers

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Elizabeth Johnson is former editor of Manhasset Press and Manhasset Press Magazine. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community Newspaper" several years in a row.


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