Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
Suffolk County’s First County Executive, H. Lee Dennison
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
County Executive H. Lee Dennison (right) and Henry Modell at the Opening of Modell Shopper’s World in Commack, April 26, 1966. (From the H. Lee Dennison Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Suffolk County’s first county executive, H. Lee Dennison, took office in 1960 and served for twelve years during a time of major development in the county. His election was said to break the stronghold long maintained by Republicans over Long Island politics and led the way for other Long Island Democrats to win county and town offices as well as congressional seats. When he left office, Dennison was considered an effective county executive. He had expanded county parks, brought greater professionalism to the county police, and eliminated hundreds of patronage jobs. He had also fought for a county-wide tax map and uniform assessment policies.
In this 1966 photograph from our collection, we see H. Lee Dennison attending the grand opening of Modell Shopper’s World in Commack. According to Newsday, many thousands of people showed up for the opening of Suffolk’s retail center. The store featured one-floor, one-stop shopping, including housewares, clothing, a live pet section, music, hardware, jewelry, a luncheonette, donut shops at the two entrances, and even a full-service supermarket with an automobile delivery service that permitted easy pickup in a covered section adjacent to the parking lot. Your grocery bags were sent outside on a conveyor belt; you’d drive to the pickup area, hand over your ticket, and Modell’s employees would place your grocery bags in your car.
The photograph’s inscription from Henry Modell reads:
To Hon. Lee Dennison,
Suffolk County Executive,
With best wishes for a long and successful
administration in the most fabulous and
fastest growing County.
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