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HISTORY AS YOU LIKE IT

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“Traveler Watchman Sign” by Joel Reitman
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“Old Ink”

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As I turn the brass knob on the faded blue door, the smell of printer’s ink invades my senses, as it always did when I came here to write my stories. This building has been here a long time; no wonder the hinges scowl and the floor creaks as I walk a past the now idle press. It’s Tuesday, and we didn’t print the The Traveler-Watchman until the night before publication – a schedule followed since 1871, set by Llewellyn F. Terry, the Long Island Traveler’s first owner and editor. I walk upstairs, and yes, those still creak, even the small, bare writers’ room creaks as the wind howls through the siding. 
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Today, the place is empty, a shell of its former self. The old building stands even further faded away than I remember when Mr. Kontokosta invited me for the reporter’s job back in 2002. This paper printed a lot more than the four pages of the original Watchman, and it even included a magazine style insert each week proclaiming the wonders of the North Fork.
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As I walk around upstairs, there, on a rattan table lies a clue to the ancestry of The Traveler and The Watchman newspapers. It’s a copy of the 1889 edition of the Long Island Traveler, edited by Mr. J. N. Hallock, who was both Editor and Proprietor, as he proclaimed himself. He called the paper ‘A Newspaper for The Family’ and printed that on the masthead. It was only four pages in length as it had always been, even before Martin Van Dusen’s ownership as of July 8, 1875.
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But the Long Island Farmer was truly the first Southold newspaper even though it began in Hempstead. The Farmer was printed in 1824. It was followed by the Republican Watchman which appeared in 1826 and was printed by Samuel Phillip in Sag Harbor. On December 5, 1858 it was sold and moved to Greenport. It was rumored that the new editor/owner of the Watchman, a Henry A. Reeves, was arrested for his loyalties to the South. Somewhere along the way, in the late 1920s, the Watchman joined with the Mattituck Reporter under the ownership by several Wickhams and a James Rambo. In 1940 Fred C. Hawkins bought the two papers and hence the new name of Traveler-Watchman.
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Somewhere around the late 1990’s Mr. M. Kontokasta bought the paper that I used to write for. That paper has long since disappeared, existing only as a smidgen of ink in a small column of the South Shore Independent. But the newspaper tradition of Southold lives on in the Suffolk Times which was first printed in 1856 and is still being printed today.
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As I leave this old and well-worn building I look up and see the faded name of the building as it is still exists on a street of the same name. I can only hope it might be refurbished and live on in a new life.
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Written by Joel Reitman, who actually worked for the Traveler Watchman
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“Traveler Watchman Building” by Joel Reitman
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Want to catch up on past History as You Like It items? Click the button below!!
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VIRTUAL LECTURE SERIES

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Southold Historical Museum is pleased to offer a virtual presentation by local author Phil Carlucci titled “Looking Back on 130 Years of Long Island Golf”.
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The talk, which is part of the Museum’s “Fun and Games” Virtual Winter Lecture Series, will feature the evolution of Long Island golf, from its arrival on the East End in the 1890s through the modern era. Carlucci will focus on the development of golf courses across Long Island and also highlight the sport’s history on the North Fork, including the public and private courses that remain today and the short-lived courses that came and went.
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The free virtual lecture, hosted by Southold Historical Museum, is January 29, 2022 at 11am and will be held via Zoom. 
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January 29 at 11am
Virtual Winter Lecture Series – “Looking Back on 130 Years of Long Island Golf”
by Phil Carlucci, author of Long Island Golf
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February 19
SHM participation in Southold Town Winterfest
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March 2
Pot Luck Supper for members
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March 5 at 11am
Virtual Winter Lecture Series – “Baseball on the North Fork” 
by Tom Dyja, curator of recent exhibition at Oysterponds Historical Society on the same subject
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March 26 at 11am
Virtual Winter Lecture Series – “The Wondrous World of Toy and Model Trains” by Don Fisher
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Please note: this lecture is in collaboration with the Railroad Museum of Long Island,
Home of the Historic Lionel Layout
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SOUTHOLD HISTORICAL MUSEUM | www.southoldhistorical.org|631-765-5500 |info@southoldhistorical.org

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