Throwback Thursday – One Woman’s History

Above is Teresa Harrington Sarno | From an album of photographs taken by Maria-Louise Sidoroff, documenting the staff and kitchen during a 12-hour shift from dawn to dusk at Gosman’s Seafood Restaurant in Montauk, New York, on Labor Day Weekend, c. 1975, Montauk Library Archives

Teresa Harrington Sarno at Gosman’s. | Teresa Harrington Sarno Photo Collection, Montauk Library Archives

Teresa Harrington Sarno in 1953 on the Shel-Lew, which her husband, Jim Sarno, ran. | Teresa Harrington Sarno Photograph Collection, Montauk Library Archives


It’s Women’s History Month — as good a time as any to shine a light on Teresa Harrington Sarno.

Teresa was 26 in 1949 when she moved from Ireland to the United States, joining her sister Mary Gosman in Amagansett and eventually moving out to Montauk. Mary and her husband, Robert Gosman, owned a shack on Montauk Harbor that served breakfast and clam chowder to captains and crew who docked there. Over time the restaurant grew into a restaurant and shopping complex known as Gosman’s Dock, where, for 53 years, Teresa worked, opening clams and preparing salads, before retiring at the age of 86. She died in 2021 when she was 97.

“Montauk was so beautiful” in the 1950s and ‘60s, “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful country,” Teresa recalled in a videotaped oral history interview with Suzanne Gosman, who married one of Teresa’s nephews, Bill Gosman (and who was another remarkable woman, having co-founded the Montauk Library and having been named Grand Marshal of the Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick’s Day Parade, among other achievements).

In the interview, Teresa described a wild landscape before land was bulldozed for vacation homes and oceanfront motels. She recalled picking beach plums and wild grapes, being terrified of snakes that lived in sand dunes, making coffee for fishermen tying up their boats during Hurricane Carol, and having delicious meals at Shagwong Tavern and Pilbro’s. About half a dozen open boats docked at Gosman’s, serving customers who took the Fisherman’s Special out to Montauk. Whatever action there was in Montauk basically ended after Labor Day.

“You could shoot a cannon on Main Street and not hit a sea gull,” Teresa said.

Teresa married Jim Sarno, who worked as a captain on private yachts during the heyday of Montauk’s sportfishing industry, including for the Akin family, who took important clients out to pursue big game. Celebrities – female as well as male – visited Montauk in search of tuna, swordfish, marlin, and the like, and in winter Jim and Teresa would head down to the Bahamas and Florida, where the fishing action continued.

Teresa enjoyed it: “I spent 27 years of my life on a boat,” she said in the interview, “and never learned to swim.”

Back in Montauk, she remembered great times at the Cruise Bar at the Yacht Club, where some of the best anglers of the day would gather, as well as end-of-season parties on the Deep Sea Club lawn, where the Akins provided huge tubs of hot buttered rum as well as lobsters and chowder.

“Everybody had fun in those days,” Teresa said, smiling at the memories. “And now everybody’s so busy nobody even has time to say hello.”


One Comment

  • User Avatar
    Lorraine Harrington Reply

    Teresa Harrington was my great aunt. My grandfather Thomas Harrington was her brother. I would love to have copies of these photos and a copy of the article.

    Kind regards.

Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.