In Memoriam – Matthew Morgan – Jan 5, 1927 – May 4, 2020

 

Matt on the Great South Bay

Matt on board the Lauren Kristy, a paddle wheel boat on the Great South Bay, Long Island at one of his friend’s wedding anniversary parties.

 

It is with sadness that I announce the passing of Matthew Morgan on Monday, May 4, 2020. He was 93. He is survived by his wife, Rosalinda Morgan, and their two sons, Matthew R. Morgan and Alexander R. Morgan, and a daughter by his first marriage, Marianna Paolini, and three grandchildren, Nina Paolini, Beth Paolini, and Claire Paolini.

 

Matt was born in New York City to Robert W. Morgan and Carol Kobbé Morgan, daughter of Gustave Kobbé, an opera critic for the New York Herald Tribune and author of Kobbé Opera Book. He was named after his great uncle, Matthew Morgan, first minister to Russia. He grew up on the Long Island South Shore, in East Islip, NY. After he married the second time, he moved to the Long Island North Shore, in Oyster Bay, NY.

 

At age 8, he went to boarding school at Malcolm Gordon School in Garrison, NY, and then to prep school at Storm King School in Cornwall on Hudson, NY. Upon high school graduation, he enlisted with the U.S. Navy and served on U.S.S. Fiske for three years. After the war, he went to Harvard University, Class of 1950, and then to New York University where he obtained his MBA in Finance.

 

He worked on the floor of the American Stock Exchange, and then the New York Stock Exchange as a floor broker. After 25 years on Wall Street, he got tired commuting and went on to become a tax accountant.

 

He loved the water and his family always had a boat when he was growing up. He loved cruising on his boat on the Great South Bay. His last boat was Alice V., a 45-ft clam boat, now on exhibit at the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville, NY. He was well-traveled and loved to read. He was the only person Linda knows that read the whole series of The Story of Civilization by Will Durant, all 11 volumes. A book a year project! He usually had three books going on at the same time, one in the living room, one in the dining room, and another one in the bedroom.

 

Matt was not a rich man but possessed great wisdom, rich in character, and integrity. He was a great disciplinarian to his sons, very strict with their upbringing and their school activities, and taught the boys excellent work ethics. Linda remembers the time when in elementary school, he told the boys’ teacher that if they misbehaved in school, they were authorized to punish them. In high school, all their tests had to be countersigned by the parents and so Matt will read them and signed off with comments to take points off if their spelling and grammar were wrong. You could hear the boys said, “Dad!” “They had to follow grammar rules, not just in English class! It’s the only way, they’ll learn how to speak correctly.” At home, table manners were important at family meals. He reminded the boys all the time to sit up straight, no elbows on the table, and chew your food with your mouth shut. Matt was that kind of parent and it paid off in later years.

Alex Graduation Party

Matt with his family at Alex’s Graduation Party in their backyard

 

He was kind and enjoyed helping others, always volunteering, and very supportive of his wife in all her volunteer work, especially with the rose societies, both in New York and in Charleston. Matt took pride in their rose garden of about 200 roses in NY which was the venue of fundraising events at their Annual Ice Cream Social for 20 years in Oyster Bay. He did his part in the garden, digging the holes and Linda took over from there. He enjoyed sitting in the garden and loved the beautiful roses.

 

He was a member of the Sons of the Revolution (descendants of those who were in service during the American Revolution in 1775-1783) and an active officer of the East Norwich-Oyster Bay Kiwanis Club for years. He served at various school boards, from his boarding school and prep school to his children’s school boards. He was involved at their sons’ sports teams, having coached his sons’ winning teams. He was a tough coach but they always won and the team loved him. He was the treasurer of the interreligious group in Oyster Bay, where they had toy drives and food drives during the holidays. When we left for the south, some of their friends said, “What will Oyster Bay do without the Morgans?” of which he replied, “They’ll survive!” At Whitney Lake, after they moved south, he was the chairman of the Finance Committee of Whitney Lake during the early years. He would be more active had it not been for the fact that he was diagnosed with Acute Kidney Disease five years ago.

 

He was easy-going, had a great wit, had loads of hilarious verses which he recited in unexpected moments. He possessed a quick and dry sense of humor. He was at ease in the company of both the poor and the rich and made it easy for them to talk to him. He had that infectious laugh that everyone loved. He’ll be remembered by some people as “Lou Holtz” which he had an uncanny resemblance. He even got a picture from Lou Holtz himself last year after Lou found out about Matt being mistaken for him.

 

Never in his life did Matt thought he’d make it to his 90s, but Matt made it to 93 and had a great run. He died a few days before their 50th wedding anniversary (May 29).

 

Due to coronavirus social distancing, there will be no wake. J. Henry Stuhr Funeral Home is handling his cremation and he will be buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY at a later date.

 

He’ll be greatly missed!

 

 

 

Mort Künstler’s exhibition at The Hecksher Museum of Art

Mort Kunstler is best known for his incomparable paintings of Civil War events. However, he earned his stripes as an illustrator for pulp fiction magazines with his illustrations for men’s pulp adventure magazines published in the 50s, 60s and 70s. For the first time, more than 80 of Mort Künstler’s remarkable original artworks, some shown in magazines and books but many of them never published before, are exhibited together in The Hecksher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, NY. The exhibition titled “Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators” are now on view until Nov. 17, 2019.

To see and hear more about the exhibition in Mort Künstler’s own words, click here for the YouTube video preview

Mort Kunstler Video.png

 

A press release from his office says:

Long before blockbuster superhero movies, those looking for an adrenaline rush turned to adventure magazines featuring exciting stories and thrilling illustrations. As the go-to-artist and illustrator, Mort Künstler’s work graced hundreds of magazine covers, stories, and books, firmly establishing his prominence in the pulp fiction genre.

Originally featured in magazines such as Stag, Male, and For Men Only in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, the illustrations brought to life headlines that screamed adventure. The images of men in combat, women in distress, and nature threatening man immediately caught the reader’s attention. “You try to pick a moment that will entice the reader and catch their attention and make them want to read the whole text,” explains Künstler. “The whole goal is to make them stop and go, ‘what’s going on here?'”

 

Mort Kunstler 2

Jet-Sled Raid on Russia’s Ice Cap Pleasure Stockade

Kunstler was so good, that there were instances when his carefully detailed illustrations actually inspired a story, rather than the other way around. During his long career, Kunstler illustrated stories for many authors, including Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, who wrote in the same magazines under the pen name of Mario Cleri. Kunstler illustrated Puzo’s The Godfather long before the movie franchise. His vision came amazingly close to how the characters eventually appeared in the movies. 

Mort Kunstler 3

The word Künstler means artist in German. His father kept the original spelling, with the umlaut over the u. His father was an amateur artist himself and at the age of 2 ½, his parents knew Mort was an artist. By age 12, he was painting murals at his grade school PS 215 in Brooklyn. After high school, his main focus was not art. He was a good athlete and sport dominated his life at Brooklyn College. He played basketball, football, a diver on the swimming team and hurdler on the track team. After three years at Brooklyn college, he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles on basketball scholarship. But came back home after one semester because his father got sick. Mort went on to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He graduated from Pratt after seven years of college with a Certificate in Illustration but never earned a college degree. Between commissioned painting, movie posters, magazine and book covers, Mort has never been out of work. Now at the age of 92 he is still painting.

Mort works in oils, but his favorite medium for illustrating is Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache. Back in the 60s and 70s, Mort was averaging 3 magazine covers a month, along with other illustrations that went inside each magazine. Mort also illustrated for Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Readers Digest, National Geographic, and Mad magazine. Mort also did movie posters for The Poseidon Adventure and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. His career spans over 70 years with about 5,000 paintings to his credit.

The Heckscher Museum is producing a catalogue to accompany Mort Künstler: “The Godfather” of Pulp Fiction Illustrators, and publication of a companion book on Mort’s men’s adventure art will be released during the exhibit. A traveling exhibition is being organized as well. Artist appearances and signings to be announced.

Since I’m out of town and cannot possibly go see the exhibition, I purchased the companion book which arrived the other day. What a wonderful book with pages of bright photos in vibrant colors!

For more information, visit The Hecksher Museum of Art website or Contact Kunstler Enterprises, Ltd., 800-850-1776, email at info@mortkunstler.com, or visit their website: www.mkunstler.com.

 

 

A Cannon from the Civil War ship USS R.R. Cuyler in Oyster Bay

Cannon from RR Culyer

Photo Credit – ldoysterbay.com

At Derby-Hall Bandstand in Townsend Park in Oyster Bay, there are three cannons. One of them situated at the foot of the stairs of Derby-Hall Bandstand is a circa 1861 Civil War trophy gun from the ship USS R.R. Cuyler.

On June 26, 1903, in front of the Town Clerk’s office on Audrey Avenue, President Theodore Roosevelt unveiled a Civil War parrot gun from the cruiser USS R.R. Culyer. It is a 30-pound Parrott rifle and weighs 3,510 lb.

The gun was originally given by the Navy to the Oyster Bay High School to be placed in front of the school. The school was then on the corner of Weeks Avenue and Anstice Street, but the Board of Education felt that the gun would be more appropriate in front of the Town Clerk’s office. The Town Board and the Navy both agreed with the change. The gun is still in Oyster Bay but now faces to the north in Townsend Park, a few yards away from the Town Clerk’s office.

Roosevelt’s participation in the ceremonies had been very hastily arranged at the last minute to coincide with his planned arrival in Oyster Bay, and the President was reported to have made only the briefest of remarks before he left with Mrs. Roosevelt for Sagamore Hill.

The Cuyler was a 1202-ton screw sail cruiser and had been launched in 1861 in anticipation of the upcoming hostilities. She carried several guns of the type represented here in Oyster Bay, and she was among the fastest ships in the navy.

At the outbreak of the war, the Confederate Army was planning the capture of the Naval Academy at Annapolis and one of the treasured relics of the Navy, the USS Constitution. Admiral Robley Evans, who was the commander of the Atlantic Fleet at the time Roosevelt dedicated the gun, was then a young cadet at the Naval Academy in 1861. Evans recalled in later years how federal troops from the 1st Rhode Island, the 8th Massachusetts and the 7th New York were brought in to defend the Academy from the attacks by the Confederate from Baltimore. The Commandant of Midshipmen, Christopher Raymond Rodgers suggested to the War Department that the academy be moved along with the treasured “Old Ironsides”. Robley Evans and several other midshipmen climbed into small boats and made their way to the Constitution to begin the journey. The Constitution was towed all the way from Annapolis to Newport, Rhode Island by the Cuyler. The Constitution and the Naval Academy remained at Newport for the duration of the conflict.

Source: Oyster Bay Remembered by John E. Hammond

Knollwood: The Estate and Its Owners

 

Knollwood 1

Knollwood with Garden Facade

“Knollwood”, one of architects ‘Hiss & Weekes’ most beautiful country-house commissions, was owned by a number of interesting personalities. It was built between 1906 and 1910 for Charles I. Hudson, a New York City stockbroker of the Gilded Age, at Muttontown on Long Island’s North Shore. The 60-room mansion had elements of Greek Revival, Italian Renaissance and Spanish styling with towering Ionic front columns with terraced garden and a dairy farm to satisfy his passion for raising Jersey cattle.

The house was palatially scaled and elegantly faced with smooth-dressed Indiana limestone, with design details borrowed from a variety of sources, including palaces and country estates by Palladio and Vignola built for Italian princes, and royal residences erected in France during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Inside, the house contained 30 rooms with paneling imported from England and marble fireplaces brought from Italy, as well as coffered Renaissance-style ceilings, much in evidence in the first-floor reception rooms.

Knollwood 2

Knollwood’s Interior

Viewed from the north, the most striking feature of “Knollwood” was its colossal entrance portico, balustraded across the top like the main block of the house and supported by four giant Ionic columns. In most other aspects, the north and south elevations were similar. At the ends of the two-and-a-half story main block of the house were single-story wings containing Palladian-style motifs such as arched French doors flanked by lower rectangular openings. Each of the wings, in turn, opened onto a deep loggia.

Knollwood 4

View from the North with Main Entrance Portico

Viewed from the south, the houses appeared to rest on a high basement, extending forward beneath the wide terrace at the back which overlooked the formal gardens. The terrace was reached from the gardens by grand staircases.

Knollwood 3

Landscape Design by Vitale & Geiffert

The formal gardens to the south of the house incorporated historical European precedents as well, especially in the grand scale and pronounced axiality. The landscape architect was Ferrucio Vitale. Like the great country houses of the British Isles and the villas of Northern Italy, the 150-acre estate devoted a large part of its land to commercial farming and pasturing. A stuccoed combination stable and garage building included space for 12 cars and apartments for chauffeurs, grooms, and gardeners. A poultry building and a hog house were also located on the estate, as well as an additional stable that housed farm horses, wagons, and implements. Accommodations included a boarding house for farm laborers, a cottage for the farm superintendent, and an additional cottage for agricultural workers. The presence in this farming complex of a large dairy barn for 140 head of cattle was not surprising in view of the fact that Charles Hudson took a lifelong interest in the breeding of fine Jersey cattle. A white-shingled guest cottage on the estate, designed in the Colonial Revival style, came with its own garage and stables.

Charles I. Hudson was successful and well-respected. He was elected to two terms as governor of the New York Stock Exchange. His tenure as head of C.I. Hudson & Company was not without its difficulties; the company was once sued by the brother of John D. Rockefeller and Hudson himself had his exchange seat suspended for a month following the assault of an exchange telephone operator.

Following Hudson’s death in 1921, Knollwood was sold to Gustavia Senff, widow of Charles H. Senff, director of the American Sugar Refining Company (later Domino Sugar). Mrs. Senff continued the philanthropy of her late husband, donating land in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills for Mount Tom State Park and erecting Senff Gate at the University of Virginia (she was a native Virginian).

Charles Senff McVeigh, an attorney and co-founder of the New York law firm of Morris and McVeigh, inherited Knollwood as trustee following the death of his aunt in 1927. Besides his law practice and philanthropic causes, McVeigh was an avid sportsman. He helped to establish the American Wildlife Institute which, in part, aired radio programs about land and wildlife conservation. McVeigh sold Knollwood to King Gustav S. Zog of Albania in 1951 for approximately $102.800.

Zog bought the estate to establish a kingdom-in-exile for himself, his family and 120 members of his royal entourage staffed by Albanian subjects. But the fact is that Zog never set foot on the estate and caused disdain among his Long Island neighbors by refusing to pay property taxes. Legend has it that the king bought the estate for a “bucket of diamonds and rubies” and Zog’s riches were hidden in the mansion. Vandals ravaged walls in the mansion searching for gems hidden by King Zog. The mansion fell into total ruin.

The estate’s final owner, Lansdell Christie, had a hand in many enterprises before World War II. Christie attended West Point and began his own marine transportation business. As a transportation office in North Africa during the war, he learned about extensive iron ore deposits in Liberia. Following the war, he made a fortune mining iron ore by securing concessions to mine ore in the region, seeing to it that Liberia benefited from the development as well. Progressive in terms of racial views, he befriended Liberia’s president William Tubman and helped to found the Afro-American Institute. Christie was also involved in Democratic politics. He was the largest single Democratic donor for the 1956 Stevenson campaign and a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt.

By the time Lansdell Christie purchased Knollwood in 1955 from Zog’s parliament, the estate had suffered from years of neglect and vandalism. The terraced gardens were overgrown; the farm buildings were in disrepair. The local county works department of Oyster Bay pulled down the ruins of the home in 1959 for safety reasons. A garden pavillon remained for many years, progressively vandalized, until it was razed to its foundation, also for safety reasons. The most visible remains at the present time are the remnants of a double staircase to the old formal gardens, where traces of landscaping remain; some walkways disappearing under fallen litter and leaves, some columns, and the gate structure at the old entrance to the grounds. Seeing these remnants of this once magnificent mansions will certainly pique a hiker’s interest in the people who once lived there.

King Gustav S. Zog of the Albanians gets way too much credit and press for having owned the Knollwood Estate, the ruins of which are now part of the Muttontown Preserve in East Norwich with the gated entrance located on Jericho-Oyster Bay Road on Route 106.

All photos are from L.I. Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940.

 

References:

Newsday Home Town

Wikipedia

The Freeholder, quarterly newsletter of the Oyster Bay Historical Society, Winter 2009

Long Island Country Houses and their Architects, 1860-1940

 

 

The American Legion Honoring the Fallen

The Memorial Monument by Victoria Siegel

The Memorial Monument – Photo Credit: Victoria Siegel

The U.S. army never leaves its men behind. They do everything possible to bring the men and women killed in battle home even if it takes decades. They never forget.

In that spirit, Jack Mckie legion member of Post 1285 of the American Legion in Bayville suggested that the Robert Spittel Post begin to honor the men of the community who were killed in action. The first to receive such honor was 2nd Lt. William L. Davis killed on August 7, 1945.

PFC Robert H. Spittel was honored Dec. 8th at 9:00 AM at the War Memorial on Bayville Ave., Bayville. Robert H. Spittel was born April 29, 1923 and killed in action Dec. 8, 1944 on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. The Post bears his name and his father Herman Spittel was its first Commander.

The other brave soldiers to be so honored will be:

Sgt. James A. Harrington – March 28, 1968

Cpl. Frederick E. Scheidt – April 1, 1945

Capt. John R. Minutoli – April 6, 1967

Specialist 4 William R. Sanzoverino – May 7, 1968

Capt. Thomas J. Jozefowski – June 25, 1972

Warrant Officer Donald L. Deliplane – June 28, 1971.

 

“O God, teach us to honor them by ever cherishing the ideals for which they fought. Keep us steadfast in the cause of human rights and liberties, of law and order and true Americanism.” – Part of the prayer offered at each of these ceremonies by Chaplain Richard Kita.

Source: Locust Valley Leader, Dec. 12, 2018 by Victoria Siegel.