Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
Old Oyster Packing House & Dock, New Suffolk
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Old Oyster Packing House and Dock, New Suffolk. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
The oyster packing house burned down in 1980, but before that time it was home to the Standard Oyster Company at New Suffolk, a subsidiary of the Andrew Radel Oyster Company, planters and wholesale shippers of Robbins Island Oysters.
According to an informational brochure published by the company in 1935 (also within our collection), in just a few hours a crew of fourteen men on a steamboat was capable of catching and unloading 3,000 bushels of oysters a day from the Great Peconic Bay. The oysters were harvested with a dredge or mesh basket dropped overboard and dragged over the oyster beds for 100 yards to catch the oysters. After the dredge was emptied onto the boat, it would be lowered for another haul into the deep salty oyster beds of the bay. The oysters were then taken to the packing house, cleaned, assorted for size, and packed into barrels for same-day shipping. “That’s one reason they taste so good!”
Suggested Reading: Robbins Island Oysters, New Suffolk, Long Island, by Standard Oyster Company, Sole Producers of Robbins Island Oysters, 1935.
UPCOMING EXHIBIT: In our Staas Gallery beginning June 11, 2021. Before the 1800s, art was largely reserved for the wealthy, but with the invention of lithography in 1796 – and particularly color lithography in 1837 – printers were able to mass-produce beautiful color prints that were cheap enough for anyone to buy. Suddenly, art was available to all from such notable printers as Louis Prang, Napoleon Sarony, and Currier and Ives. Featuring themes of nineteenth-century life in landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, Civil War battle scenes, and rare examples of “lithographic Long Island,” this exhibit captures the evolution of an American art form.