———- UPDATE MARCH 21, 2020 ———-
Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
BRINDLEY AVIATION FIELD, Commack, 1918
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Brindley Aviation Field, Commack, 1918. On the northeast corner of Larkfield Road and Jericho Turnpike in Commack today stands the Home Depot shopping center. However, during World War I, from 1918 to 1919, the site was known as Brindley Field and was home to a squadron of the U.S. Army Air Service.
The airfield, named after Major Oscar Brindley who had died in an aircraft accident in Ohio, occupied nearly a hundred acres of land owned by local farmer William Randall. His home was turned into a headquarters, and the outer buildings were used for storage. Constructed on the property were the flying field, barracks, mess halls, and hangers.
In June of 1918 on a sunny afternoon in Commack, eight-year-old Henry Shea was playing outside by his house on the family farm when he heard the sound of … a dull rumbling roar, slowly growing louder as it approached from the west. Soon he could see a cloud of dust coming down Jericho Turnpike … and then an endless line of army trucks of all different types and sizes appeared … and the line of trucks seemed to go on for half the day right past his house and through the side gates of the Randall’s farm spreading out across the field. To see a car or truck in Commack was still rare at this time and here there was a complete army right across from Henry’s house. He and his mother walked over and, after talking with a few people, they learned that the army was going to build an airfield to train pilots to fight in France….
Join the Facebook group Commack in the 60s and 70s to read the rest of this Shea family farmer’s eyewitness account of Brindley Field:
The arrival of Brindley Field brought electricity to the area since the airfield needed power lines to operate. When Brindley was closed after World War I ended, the site was returned to its landowner and the military buildings were destroyed or removed.
UPDATED CLOSURE NOTICE: The Suffolk County Historical Society Museum will remain closed based on the closure order issued by NYS Governor Cuomo in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We are also suspending all upcoming events at this time, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The health and safety of our visitors, members, and staff remain the Suffolk County Historical Society’s priority. Every day brings new developments related to the virus, and we understand that uncertainty can be unsettling. Our thoughts are with the entire Suffolk County and Long Island communities and with all who have been impacted by COVID-19.
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