I was wondering around the library (I wonder what Hornblower books they have...I wonder what books they have on sailing...I wonder what books they have on the great sea battles of the Napoleonic wars - I'm halfway through the fourth book of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series) when I stumbled on a book called Huntington-Babylon Town History, published in 1937 (call no. 974.72 Hunt). What a great little book! I read through the settlement part of it - Dutch and English immigrants who wanted more space and so left "the city" of New Amsterdam, and later, of course, New York. Funny how after 400 years, people are still moving out here for the same reason.
So I read the beginning, skipped the middle, and then landed in the Babylon section. Pretty interesting reading: the land sections were divided, on the north and south shores, by the necks, as in Great and Little East and my own beloved Sumpwams; one of the first public buildings was a school that enrolled kids from West Islip and Babylon; and it seems like it'll be pretty easy to remember the history because all the street names come from these very settlers: Higbie, Cooper, Thompson, Litchfield, Ketcham, Eaton, Sammis, and so on. Later on I'll scan and upload the map that shows all the towns, the necks, and the LIRR lines.
And they have a section on the great Great South Bay and Beaches (I skipped the section on the establishment of the Life-Saving station on the Great South Beach):
"To estimate the value of the Great South Bay to the Town of Babylon is impossible. Safeguarded by the Great South Beach against the onset and force of the Atlantic's tides and gales, it yet furnished access to the sea for the boats which carried necessary freight and passenger traffic for the town in the days when railroads were not known on Long Island. And always it has been the playground of the people. In the late 1800s, when summer hotels and boarding houses flourished along its shores, their business was a source of income to the town; but the joy given by the multitudes of small boats, sail and motor, which traverse its waters each summer can not be reckoned in dollars...The Great South Beach, protecting the inner water ways, stretches from the west end of Long Island nearly to its end, broken at intervals along the way by inlets which are altered from time to time, by the action of winds and waters on its sands, as in 1862."