The winners of Northport Historical Society's annual "Once Upon a Time in Northport" contest will be honored at a reception at Northport Village Hall Sunday at 2 pm.
Winners will receive autographed copies of library trustee Bob Little's new book, Snapshots in Time: Tales of Our Community, and Little will regale the audience with excerpts reflecting our village's colorful past.
The contest, which is in its third year, is open to third to eighth graders and is sponsored in cooperation with the Northport-East Northport School District.
American novelist Kurt Vonnegut once summed up history by saying, "History a merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again." With this statement in mind, students were asked to create essays and drawings based on their research into an aspect of local history that they found to be surprising, amazing, or interesting.
As a representative of the historical society, I had the pleasure of judging entries with Andrew Manzo, the district's social studies chairman. Eighty children participated, and to our delight, he and I learned new facts about local history.
Emily Serrao, who entered as a fifth grader at Norwood Avenue Elementary School, wrote about the importance of the Eaton's Neck Lighthouse. D.J. Myers, who attends Bellerose Avenue Elementary School in East Northport, wrote about the history of the Engeman Theater.
Gregory Dilimetin, who entered as a fifth grader at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School, was surprised to learn that the Long Island rail Road used to run past his backyard.
"The railroad bed was torn up in 1985, but the line of the spur still shows its historic path," Gregory wrote.
Taylor Pearl, who entered as a Northport Middle School eighth grader, astounded us with a detailed pencil drawing of the trolley which traveled down Main Street from 1902 to 1924.
Victoria Porter, a student at Northport Middle School, illustrated her essay about the history of Jones Drug Store.
The most surprising thing that she said that she learned was that "Jones Drug Store is one of the oldest businesses in continuous operation on Main Street."
Nick Medaglia, a student at East Northport Middle School, focused his attention on the Northport Public Library.
It was once known as the Northport Literary and Social Union and located in the basement of the Presbyterian Church on Main Street, he said.
"It once charged five cents per book loan fee until 1911 when the union was recognized by the state as a free public library," Nick wrote.
Sean O'Malley, who's a student at Fifth Ave. Elementary School, illustrated his comprehensive essay about the history of East Northport with photographs.
Elizabeth Carr, a seventh grader at Northport Middle School, wrote about the fact that Antoine de Saint Exupéry's beloved book, The Little Prince, was written in Eaton's Neck.
"It is very interesting to learn that one of the most famous children's books ever was written not too far from where I live," Elizabeth indicated.
Manzo said that he was very pleased with both the quantity and quality of this year's entries.
"It is important for students to connect with their own local history in addition to the world around them. We are very happy to partner with the Northport Historical Society," Manzo said, adding that, at some future date, the winners will be recognized at a Board of Education meeting.
Excerpts from the winning entries will be read at the reception. Northport Village Hall is located at 224 Main Street Northport Village. All are welcome to attend.