Throwback Thursday – Pomp and Circumstance

Duryea Family Collection | Montauk Library Archives


Duryea Family Collection | Montauk Library Archives

Chromebooks would have been the stuff of science fiction in 1934, when inkpots were still being used. We notice, too, that the Montauk School had only nine graduates.

How adorable that there was a class prophecy, a class will, a class history, and a class poem. Note that the valedictorian was Perry B. Duryea Jr., who went on to become speaker of the New York State Assembly, and that his father, Perry B. Duryea Sr., was president of the school board at the time of Perry Jr.’s graduation. The senior Mr. Duryea was also a state senator and the owner of a lobster business; the younger Mr. Duryea said in an oral history interview that he started his own political career by serving on the Montauk School Board.

Also serving as a school district official in 1934 was E. Virgil Conway, a Montauk School graduate who went on to head the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Another official was George Sears, who owned a butcher shop and grocery on Fort Pond Bay, then opened a market – later called Herb’s Market – on Montauk’s Main Street.

The school’s principal as well as one of its four teachers, Carleton Farrell was a strict but good disciplinarian, Frances Ecker recalled in an oral history in 1996. Four years after the 1934 commencement, it would be Mr. Farrell and other teachers who helped make sure Montauk’’s schoolchildren were safe during the 1938 hurricane.

One teacher, Frances Parsons, lived in a house on Montauk Highway near its intersection with South Delphi Road; her husband, Frank, owned Parsons Garage. Jack Perna, the present principal and superintendent at the Montauk School, said the area used to be known as Parsons Corner.

Asked what else – aside from an inkwell on the program cover – had changed since 1934, Mr. Perna said 8 p.m. was a relatively late start for school-related events. “”Most of our things start at 6 or 7,” he said. “Six is our graduation start time.”

This year there will be 41 graduates, Mr. Perna said. Congratulations to the Class of 2022!

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