Photo of the Week
—– December 3, 2022 —–
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
Lee’s Service Station & Supply Co, Riverhead
Lee’s Service Station & Supply Co. Truck, Riverhead, NY. Also shown are Leone Corwin (left) and Orville Brown of Riverhead. (Image from the Postcard Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives.)
by Terry Brown, Guest Contributor
Lee’s Service Station & Supply was founded by Leone Corwin (my uncle) and was operated out of an office / warehouse just north of the railroad tracks, on the west side of Griffing Avenue in Riverhead. The building was located on the alleyway that ran along the side of Hubert Corwin’s home (my grandfather). Uncle “Lee” lived on Lincoln Street, in the home of my great grandfather, Henry Harrison Corwin, which is now known as the “Corwin House.”
My guess is that the business was started in 1945 or shortly thereafter. Orville Brown (my father), who had just returned from serving in the U.S. Navy Sea Bees, was the first route salesman at Lee’s Service Station. He worked out of the truck you see in the postcard image. I believe Leone’s wife Clarrisa did the bookkeeping for the business, assisted at times by his sister Cornelia Corwin (my aunt) and Muriel Corwin Brown (my mother). The business was a distributor for Gulf Oil Company products and serviced gas stations all over Suffolk County with tires, batteries, and all the assorted small items that gas stations required.
My brother and I would ride with Dad in the truck during the summers. It was always a thrill riding with the doors open and sitting on the engine cover. As the company grew, additional warehouse space was needed, so the old Corwin & Vail Lumberyard warehouses were utilized; these were located on the right side of the old railroad turntable (which my brother and I would sometimes climb in to explore). I can still remember the smell of the many stacks of tires there.
James Nicholson (my cousin and nephew of Leone) worked at the business for a while as well, before becoming a policeman in Hampton Bays. When my uncle decided to retire in the 1960s, my dad purchased the truck and went into business for himself, but on a smaller scale. The business was called “Brownie’s” at this time. Dad finally retired in the early 1970s.
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