Long Island Traditions

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Nancy Solomon
  • Folklorist Nancy Solomon has documented the maritime culture of Long Island through these interviews spanning the years 1987 – 2016. The collection includes baymen, fishermen, boat builders and other maritime tradition bearers.   

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Don Bevelander Long Island Traditions

Don Bevelander, a seasoned bayman from Long Island, has a long history of working in the Great South Bay. He began his career at a young age, around twelve, learning the trade of clamming alongside his father and brother. By the time he was fifteen, he had become a tonger, working long hours on the boat with his father. They would embark from Bay Shore early in the morning and often work until 8:00 PM, spending their entire week on the boat. Don would take on the role of the cook during these trips.

Steve Warrick Sayville, NY Long Island Traditions
Lenny Nilson Long Island Traditions

Lenny Nilson, born in Bay Shore in 1947, is a seasoned fisherman who spent his formative years on West Island, West Fire Island, where his father ran a live shrimp and killie business. Lenny comes from a long line of fishermen, with his family having emigrated from Sweden in 1929, bringing with them centuries of commercial fishing heritage. At the age of 16, Lenny started working on the bay, assisting his father in the fishing endeavors. Lenny earned a degree in Marine Biology from Suffolk Community College after serving in Vietnam.

Steve Warrick Islip, NY Long Island Traditions
Cory Weyant Long Island Traditions

Cory Weyant is a seasoned bayman and dragger fisherman with over forty-five years of experience in the industry. He has witnessed significant changes in his line of work, particularly in the Freeport area where he has lived since he was two years old. Weyant's career has spanned several decades, during which he has seen a decline in the number of small trawlers in his area and a dramatic decrease in the abundance of fish. He attributes these changes to overfishing and the advancement of fishing technology. Despite the challenges, Weyant has managed to adapt to the changing circumstances.

Nancy Solomon Freeport, NY Long Island Traditions
Charles Brower Long Island Traditions

Charles Brower is a seasoned fisherman and bayman, hailing from a long line of individuals who have made their living off the waters. Born and raised in Baldwin Harbor, he began his fishing journey at the young age of 15 under the tutelage of his father, who taught him the art of cod fishing. Brower Avenue itself is named after his great-grandfather, showcasing the family's deep connection to the fishing industry. Throughout his career, Charles Brower primarily engaged in net fishing, specifically using a gillnet.

Nancy Solomon Baldwin, NY Long Island Traditions
Lowell Ockers Long Island Traditions

Edward (Lowell) Ockers is a lifelong resident of West Sayville. Lowell was born and raised in the area and started working on the bay after returning from the Navy in 1957. He began his career by catching eels using traps purchased from his father, a bayman. In addition to his fishing endeavors, Lowell engaged in other activities to support himself. During the winter, he found work bulkheading, cutting ice, and digging clams to earn some grocery money. He also participated in scalloping, crabbing, and even sailing on the ice when the bay froze over.

Steve Warrick, Nancy Solomon , West Sayville, NY Long Island Traditions
Tony Sougstad Long Island Traditions

Tony Sougstad is a seasoned fisherman and the captain of the boat E.T. He is also the owner, chief cook, and bottle washer of the boat. His fishing activities are strictly ocean-based and vary by the seasons. He mainly fishes for whiting and fluke. Sougstad is also skilled in making nets and other necessary fishing gear. He is a dedicated worker, emphasizing the importance of perseverance even during tough times. Sougstad is also involved in the marketing side of his business, selling his catch to various markets, including the New York Fulton Fish Market.

Nancy Solomon , Freeport, NY Long Island Traditions
Jerry Collins Long Island Traditions

Jerry Collins, a lifelong resident of the Sayville area in Bay Shore, was born there and spent most of his life in the region, except for his military service. His father worked as a fisherman, clammer, and oysterman, instilling in Jerry a deep connection to the maritime activities of the area. Growing up, Jerry often accompanied his father into the bay, although he admits that he probably got in his way more often than not. In 1946, Jerry began his full-time involvement in clamming, primarily as a tonger. He has primarily worked in Islip town but has also worked in surrounding towns.

Steve Warrick West Sayville, NY Long Island Traditions
Bill Reed Long Island Traditions

In this interview fisherman Bill Reed of Hampton Bays, Long Island, talks about warning signs of hurricanes and storms, close calls on the water, and how his life as a fisherman has changed over time.  Topics include regulations, occupational culture and Superstorm Sandy.

Nancy Solomon Hampton Bays, NY Long Island Traditions
Joe Scavone Long Island Traditions

Interview with Joe Scavone

Nancy Solomon Freeport, NY Long Island Traditions
George Combs, Jr. Long Island Traditions

Mr. Combs comes from a long line of baymen. He speaks about being a captain, shipbuilding, and other experiences in the fishing industry.

Nancy Solomon Amityville, NY Long Island Traditions