Throwback Thursday – Fish & Ships

“Father, Two Children on Ban-Gee,” undated. Photograph by Dave Edwardes.| Dave Edwardes Collection, Montauk Library Archives

The children don’t look very happy but the boat sure is beautiful. Also, the Blessing of the Fleet is on Sunday, June 11, and Father’s Day is a week after that, so the photograph seems timely.

The 42-foot Ban-Gee was custom-built in 1956 by Rybovich Boats of West Palm Beach. A Rybovich sportfishing boat was a status symbol – so much so that Al Capone’s hit man “Tough Tuna Tony Accardo” was the proud owner of another one, a 1949, 37-footer named Clari-Jo.

Ban-Gee was commissioned by Gene W. Goble, and her name is a combination of letters in family members’ first names: B for Barbara, AN for Anne, Diane, and JoAnn, and GEE for Gene Sr. and Jr.  Goble was the owner of Goble Aircraft Specialties, which purchased the former torpedo testing range on Fort Pond Bay after the Navy – which had evicted residents of the old fishing village in the early 1940s — stopped using it at the end of the war.

Goble was also the owner of Fishangri-la, a fisherman’s paradise on the bay with a hotel and cottages, restaurant and cocktail lounge, tackle shop, and the honor of hosting the Atlantic Tuna Tournament. Fishangri-la had an L-shaped dock that could accommodate 65 party and charter boats whose patrons often arrived on nearby trains. Among the party boats was the Pelican, which capsized off Montauk Point on September 1, 1951, extinguishing the lives of 45 of the 64 people on board.

Eventually, the development of sportfishing docks to the east on Lake Montauk contributed to the “decline and eventual death” of Fishangri-la, as it was put in the East Hampton Star. The site was used for packaging and shipping during the Korean War, then for warehousing, and beginning in the late 1960s for the New York State Ocean Science Laboratory, which went on to close in the early 1980s. By 1961 Goble Aircraft had sold the property to Republic Aviation, a tenant for many years.

None of which explains whether the people seated on the Ban-Gee are Gobles or not. We do know that the photographer, Dave Edwardes, became immersed in Montauk culture right after World War II, just as sportfishing was taking off as a recreational pursuit. “Some of the best-loved and most well-known photographs from this ‘golden age’ of sportfishing were taken by Dave Edwardes,” says a biographical note on the New York Digital Heritage website, where more than 300 of his mostly black-and-white photos – many of trophy fish, but also of a number of other subjects – can be seen. Check them out!

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