SUFFOLK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

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MEMBERSHIP DRIVE

If you’ve been enjoying our Photo of the Week, please consider becoming a member of SCHS. The Suffolk County Historical Society, founded in 1886, collects and preserves the rich history of Suffolk County and beyond. We offer a history museum, art galleries, a research library and archives, and a multitude of exhibits, programs, and educational lectures and workshops year-round. Our unique collections reflect more than three centuries of Long Island history.

Click here to learn about Member Benefits!

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From the Civil War to civil rights, revolutions to restorations, spies to Suffragettes, boatbuilders to bootleggers, and whalers to wineries, Long Island’s history comes alive at the Suffolk County Historical Society! 

Interested in seeing more historical photos from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society? Spend an afternoon at our Local History Library perusing our extensive archival photography collectionsWe’re open Weds. – Sat., 12:30 – 4:30 PM. 

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Photo of the Week

———- UPDATE MARCH 21, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

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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:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/119050260396/permalink/10162946368350397/

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. 

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE MARCH 14, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 

The Mulford House, East Hampton 

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 

The Mulford House in East Hampton. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

The Mulford house, built by John Henry Mulford in 1680, when East Hampton was a well-established village, remains largely unchanged since 1750. In addition to its architectural significance, the home has remained in Mulford hands for the majority of its existence. The house has much to tell us about the origins of colonial New England society, and it gives historians the opportunity to trace the Mulford family, their use of the land, and the creation of the surrounding environment. 

One ancestor of the Mulfords, Samuel Mulford (1644-1725), was a whaleman and a political reformer who fought successfully against taxation without representation as a member of the Colonial Assembly. He journeyed to London in 1704 and 1725 to protest what he argued was an unfair tax on eastern Long Island whalemen. He was given a hearing and the reforms were enacted.

The entire Mulford Farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered one of the country’s most significant, intact English colonial farmsteads.

Suggested Reading: Three Centuries in East Hampton, by Jeannette Edwards Rattray, 1937. 

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here.  

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Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE MARCH 7, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 

The Parry Sisters

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian  

The Parry Sisters (wearing hats, neckerchiefs, gauntlet gloves, armbands, and velvet costumes). (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

Sisters Etheyle and Jaunita Parry, daughters of Amy Rothermel Parry and veterinarian Archer E. Parry, were born in Riverhead in 1890 and 1891, respectively. They spent most of their early years in Riverhead, but by the early twentieth-century they would become two of the greatest circus and rodeo stunt horseback riders in the United States.

William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was a personal friend of the family, and in 1907, when the younger Juanita reached age 16, the sisters left Riverhead to join Cody’s Wild West show just before it started on a South American tour. Etheyle and Juanita became known as the Cossack Girls because they performed daring feats of horsemanship attributed to the Russian Cossack cavalry. The sisters fascinated audiences at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows from New York to London. They also appeared in Miller Bros. shows and in the Barnum & Bailey Circus. One of the Parry Sisters’ roping and riding routines involved a runaway stagecoach: Etheyle would leap off a vehicle onto a horse running alongside the stage, and Juanita would rope a fixed object from the driver’s seat of the stage to bring the team of horses to an abrupt stop.

The Parry Sisters’ act lasted from 1907 to 1918, when, sadly, Juanita died after falling off her horse and breaking her neck at a Barnum & Bailey show. Etheyle married William Cody Bradford, a nephew of Buffalo Bill.

Don’t miss our Women’s History Month Exhibit: The Parry Sisters, Suffolk County in the Wild West. From our permanent collection, assorted costumes, beads, photographs, and other items showcase the story of circus performers Etheyle and Juanita Parry of Riverhead, two of the greatest stunt horseback riders in the country at the turn of the 20th century. In our History in the Hall display cases beginning March 11, 2020. 

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here.  

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Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE FEBRUARY 29, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 

HELEN KELLER

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian   

Riverhead Woman’s Club Treasurer’s Account Book Record, February 13, 1933: “Proceeds from Helen Keller Benefit…$307.46.” (From the Collection of the Suffolk CountyHistorical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © SuffolkCounty Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

In February 1933, due to the good work of the Woman’s Club of Riverhead, the people were privileged to see and hear Hellen Keller, the famous blind and deaf woman, in the Riverhead High School Auditorium. Miss Keller came to deliver some of her inspirational lectures. No admission was charged, but contributions were accepted. Mrs. George E. Pugsley, president of the Woman’s Club, noted in the Treasurer’s Account Book that $307.46 was collected in cash, checks, and pledges. In addition to Miss Keller’s address, the program featured violin solos by Miss Bessie Wells and vocal selections by Alton Medager, baratone.

“It is said of Miss Keller that she is a brilliant example of what may be accomplished in spite of physical handicaps–she has demonstrated how even physical infirmities add no barrier to a life of happiness and accomplishment” (The Riverhead News, February 10, 1933).

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE FEBRUARY 22, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 

Gabriel Mills of Riverhead Records the Birth of a Slave Boy and Girl, 1814. (From the Collection of the Suffolk CountyHistorical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © SuffolkCounty Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

The document reads:
A nigner Boy Silas was born September 5 1814.
A nigger girl Lil was born November 22 1814.
Gabriel Mills

Slavery was officially abolished in New York State in 1827, less than 200 years ago. In 1698, some 1,100 slaves called “bondsman” resided on Long Island; 10 percent of the population of Southampton was enslaved at this time. In 1749, some 3,400 slaves resided on Long Island; and in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution, there were 5,000 slaves.

Manumissions (the freeing of slaves) increased during and after the Revolution. In 1788, a manumission law was enacted that provided for freeing slaves but protected those who were elderly or ill from being freed without adequate provisions for their care. New York declared that all children born of slaves after July 4, 1799, were free, though the owners could retain the male child’s service until age 28 and the female’s until age 25. However, the slaveowner could also elect to abandon his claim to the child’s service and pass the responsibility for supporting the child to the state.

A state law enacted in 1817 provided that by 1827 all slaves in New York would be considered free. 

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE FEBRUARY 14, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

TO MY VALENTINE

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 

“To My Valentine” Postcard, Riverhead, 1910. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

This postcard from our collection was sent anonymously on the morning of Valentine’s Day 1910, from the Rivehead Post Office, to Miss Allamay Hallock of Sound Avenue in Riverhead. 

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and the United States. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” Howland made elaborate creations with lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Ready-made cards became an easy way for people to express their emotions at a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates and the one-cent postcard era at the turn of the twentieth century also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings. 

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE FEBRUARY 8, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

CENTER MORICHES HIGH SCHOOL, EARLY 1900s

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian  

Center Moriches High School Students at Games and Exercises, early 1900s. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

According to a 1911 Center Moriches High School pamphlet in our library collection, the Center Moriches School was, prior to 1897, an ungraded school employing two teachers. A new school building was constructed and occupied by 1898, and at that time the number of teachers was increased to four. Three other teachers were added between 1903 and 1909, after which the school was raised to the grade of high school.

The new Center Moriches High School building was located on three acres on the north side of Main Street. The school grounds featured a well-kept lawn, a large playground, space for school gardens, and ample room for games and sports for the students to participate in. The school library, which contained 1,200 volumes, was open two days a week to all students and district residents.

Here is the 1911-1912 Center Moriches High School Calendar:

Photo of the Week 

———- UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2020 ———-

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

ICE SKATING, BELMONT LAKE STATE PARK

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 

Winter Ice Skating, Probably Belmont Lake State Park  (undated photo). (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

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Established in 1926 on land that was formerly part of a thoroughbred horse farm owned by August Belmont, namesake of the Belmont Stakes, Belmont Lake State Park occupies over 400 acres in North Babylon. In 1935, the park was selected by Robert Moses, as the regional headquarters for all state parks on Long Island. It has also served as the headquarters for the Long Island State Park Commission and Long Island State Parkway Police from the 1940s to about 1980. The park now serves as the headquarters of the Long Island region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Although this photograph came to us alongside several other Belmont Lake State Park images, we are not 100 percent certain it depicts Belmont Lake. Comments and corrections are encouraged. 

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week / January 25, 2020

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

DAR Application Papers

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian

 

Daughters of the Revolution Application Papers. (From the  Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

The National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution (known as the “D of R”) was organized in 1891 after a difference of opinion within the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) arose over membership qualifications. The D of R was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York as an organization national in its work and purpose. The objectives of the society were stated in its constitution as follows: “To perpetuate the patriotic spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence; to commemorate prominent events connected with the War of the Revolution; to collect, publish, and preserve the rolls, records, and historic documents relating to that period; to encourage the study of the country’s history; and to promote sentiments of friendship and common interest among the members of the Society.”

A woman was eligible for D of R membership if she was above the age of eighteen and was descended from an ancestor who “assisted in establishing American Independence during the War of the Revolution, as a military or naval officer, a soldier or a sailor, an official in the service of any of the thirteen original Colonies or of the United Colonies or States or of Vermont; a member of a committee of Correspondence or of Public Safety, or a recognized patriot who rendered material service in the cause of American Independence.”

When the National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution disbanded in 1983, the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives became the official repository of its national membership records and other materials. An online index to our D of R application papers is available for searching on the website of the German Genealogy Group. These records, which contain a wealth of genealogical information, are available for viewing in our library archives during operating hours (Weds. – Sat., 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm). Come take a look! You never know what historic surprises you might find!

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week / January 18, 2020

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

POSTMARKS, SUFFOLK COUNTY, 1910 – 1913

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 

Westhampton, Eastport, Good Ground, Huntington, Cutchogue, Riverhead, Sayville, Laurel, Islip, and Calverton are among the postmarks, or postal cancellations, in this image from our Postal Service Collection. Some other interesting items within this historic collection include inventories from the 1800s of the postmasters of Riverhead (1887-1892), a list of money orders issued by the Flanders Post Office (1908-1928), and published lists of post offices in operation in the mid-1800s and the names of their postmasters.

The collection also includes documents related to an old post office known as “Success.” It existed in the Northville section of Riverhead town from 1838 to 1880. When the residents of Northville sought a post office in 1838, they were informed that a Northville post office already existed in upstate New York, so they chose the name Success instead. Postmasters at the time were presidential political appointees and usually changed along with the administration in Washington, DC. The postmasters of the Success Post Office included a woman (Melinda Corwin) and a civil war veteran (Elisha Wells):

1838 – Benjamin E. Warner
1840 – John Luce
1854 – Jabez Corwin
1861 – Melinda Corwin
1870 – James H. Corwin
1870 – Elisha Wells
1871 – James H. Wells

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week / January 11, 2020

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

 

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

 

THIRD HOUSE, MONTAUK

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 

 

Third House, Montauk, 1897. (From the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

[To view Fullerton photograph, please visit www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org]

Located near Montauk Point and the Montauk Lighthouse, the original Third House was built in 1797 in Montauk, and then was rebuilt in circa 1806. It was one of three early houses in Montauk that were occupied by town-appointed overseers of livestock herds on Indian Field. The keepers of the herds were appointed annually by East Hampton Town trustees, and the arduous service was considered an honor. In the early 1800s, about six thousand sheep and cattle were grazing on Montauk pastures each summer.

By the summer of 1898, however, the land at Indian Field was dotted not with cattle but with the white tents of the U.S. Army during the Spanish American War. Third House became the headquarters for Col. Theodore Roosevelt, and nearly 30,000 soldiers were quarantined in camps sited on the hills and plains of Montauk to recuperate from wounds and disease. It was on the porch of Third House that Roosevelt learned of his nomination for the governorship of New York.

Third House still stands today and is currently the site of a nature center located at 1929 Montauk Highway, within the Theodore Roosevelt County Park.

Suggested Reading: East Hampton: A History and Guide, by Jason Epstein and Elizabeth Barlow (Wainscott, NY: Medway Press, 1975).

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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Photo of the Week / January 3, 2020

FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES

 

“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck

 

The Famous Long Island Potato

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian

The Famous Long Island Potato (on a Long Island Railroad Train).  (From the Riverhead Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

 

Long Island–site of the nation’s oldest potato-growing industry–has a history with potatoes dating back to at least the 1800s. According to Suffolk County historian Morton Pennypacker, however, the cultivation of the potato may date back to 1637, when Lion Gardiner reportedly planted the first white potatoes on Gardiner’s Island.

Potato production on Long Island peaked in the late 1940s with over 70,000 acres grown by many hundreds of Long Island potato farmers. By the 1950s, Suffolk County ranked third among counties nationwide in potato production, and by 1963, the Potato Association of America was holding its 50th Anniversary celebration at Riverhead’s Perkins Hotel. 

Long Island horticulturalist Edith Loring Fullerton explained in How to Make a Vegetable Garden (Doubleday, 1905) that the best potato crop is obtained by planting sections of the potato that have three eyes. Favorite potato varieties on Long Island at the turn of the twentieth century were Green Mountain, Rural New Yorker, Early Rose, and Gold Coin.

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Visit: www.suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org

To View 2014 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2015 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2016 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

To View 2017 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2018 Photo of the Week pages click here.

To View 2019 Photo of the Week pages click here. 

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AAQ Resource: Riverhead Bay Motors

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