Throwback Thursday – Leading The Way

Mary Gosman, Grand Marshal, 1982 | Color photograph, Montauk Friends of Erin

How serendipitous that the Montauk Friends of Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade steps off in March, a month also dedicated to women’s history. This photo from the Montauk Friends of Erin celebrates Mary Gosman, who in 1982 was the parade’s first female grand marshal.

Peg Joyce followed in 1993, Ann Duffy in 1999, Suzanne Koch Gosman in 2006, Fran Ecker in 2009, Joan Lycke in 2011, Terry Watson in 2015, and Kathy Keller in 2018. On March 27 of this year, yet another woman – Marilyn Behan – will lead the line of March.

The Friends of Erin choose each year’s Grand Marshal by considering their contributions to the local community, and historically Montauk women have not been slackers. From the perspective of the Montauk Library alone, Suzanne Koch Gosman was extremely instrumental in making sure one existed, and Joan Lycke, the current president of the library’s board of trustees, plays a critical role in making sure that it continues to thrive.

For her part, Mary Gosman planted the seeds for her family’s now-iconic, sprawling restaurant with a humble little shack on Montauk Harbor; generations of Montauk locals have since worked at Gosman’s under Mary or her descendants. “There was nothing there but a few screaming sea gulls and the bell buoy,” she said in an oral history interview with the Montauk Historical Society, recalling a dining area consisting of “four old barrels with a sheet of plywood on top.”

Would you like to know the secret to her clam chowder recipe? She reveals it in the oral history, which can be heard at THIS LINK or — even better – by visiting the Montauk Library’s Local History Exhibit Center and scanning a QR code accompanying a photograph of Mary. Visitors will also find a QR code for an interview with former Grand Marshal Fran Ecker as well as a slideshow of Grand Marshals past, both male and female, and a display devoted to the history of the Montauk Friends of Erin.

Meanwhile, a tip of the hat to Marilyn Behan and the best of wishes for Sunday’s parade! And as Women’s History Month ends, let’s also salute all the women who lead, or have led, the Montauk community as a whole.

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