Smithtown Students Make History Conducting Video Interviews With Long Time Residents

350th Anniversary Celebration

Middle School Students Gain Historical Perspective - AMS students interview Tom Hancock, who was born and raised in Smithtown. His grandfather relocated here to live in a “Sportsmans Paradise.”

    Under the direction of social studies teacher Christy Ortiz, Accompsett Middle School students recently conducted video interviews with several longtime Smithtown residents as part of an oral history project held in conjunction with Hofstra University in recognition of Smithtown’s Sesquarcentennial.
    Prior to their interviews, the students researched the history of the town and learned about their subjects’ respective backgrounds.
    Lillian Munro and Barbara Ludder were two of the interviewees. Ludder’s family ran a large nursery business that once stood on the site of the current Uncle Giuseppe’s grocery store, while Munro’s husband was a descendent of the famous Whippoorwill family, who ran a farm in nearby Hauppauge. Both women attended the New York Avenue School together and wore their old school sweaters to the interview.
    “These students had some very good questions,” said Ludder. “They really did their homework.
    Tom Hancock, a longtime resident of the Village of the Branch who was born and raised in Smithtown, also attended the New York Ave School and still keeps in touch with many of his former classmates.
    “We were all one big happy family,” said Hancock. “We considered ourselves brothers and sisters.”
    Hancock said that grandfather, an immigrant from Italy, was a tile worker who learned about Smithtown from an advertisement he saw while working in a NYC subway. It read “Come to Smithtown: A Sportsmans Paradise.” As someone who grew up enjoying the Nissequogue River, Hancock could understand why his grandfather moved here.
    Other scheduled interviews included the daughter of the former Smithtown police chief, a Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital historian and a former Town Republican Committee member. All interviews were conducted and recorded in the AMS library media center.
    Since the beginning of the school year, Smithtown CSD teachers have been focused on presenting engaging, hands-on activities to teach students about Smithtown’s past and progression leading up to today. Many more activities are being planned to celebrate Smithtown’s 350th anniversary and educate students on the town’s rich history.