Fort Slocum, New York was where I woke up to the fact that I was ME. Weird experience for a four year-old, to suddenly look at one’s hands and arms and body and realise that one existed as a separate entity. I lived on the island from the ages of four to six – started school there, nursery school, and then kindergarten and first grade at George Washington Elementary School in New Rochelle. Had to catch the ferry to the mainland, then a bus trip to the school.
We lived on the west side of the island, overlooking the beach… the house we lived in was old and full of history, like the island itself. Fort Slocum started out as a fort, named for Major General Henry Slocum, A Union corps commander in the American Civil War. Military use of the island dates back to at least 1862 when De Camp General Hospital was located on David’s Island, housing as many as 2,538 occupants in 22 buildings. A prison camp was established on adjacent Hart Island in 1856.
My father is second from the right, in the greeting committee of His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman,at that time Archbishop of New York City and Apostolic Vicar to the US Armed Forces.
(ABOVE) Where we caught the ferry that took us out to the island.
(BELOW) Entrance way of our house at Fort Slocum (circa 2000)
Views of Fort Slocum
This is a picture postcard of “Officers’ Row”. We lived in one of the duplexes facing the Parade Ground, maybe three or four houses from the left (below). I first rode a bicycle on the sidewalks that went around and across the Parade Ground.the second duplex from the left, the porch closest to the camera was ours. The two upstairs windows were my bedroom, on left, and the bathroom, on right (photo circa 1945)
Family Photos from From Slocum
(ABOVE) My sixth birthday party at Fort Slocum (31 August 1953)
(RIGHT) Me – Christmas 1952. Taken in front of the fire place in the dining room of our house.
Me (on right) and a friend (name not known) at nursery school, Fort Slocum 1952
Below: the playground and beach at back of house
MAP OF FORT SLOCUM (DAVID’S ISLAND) NY
TO ACCESS THE FORT SLOCUM COOKBOOK, compiled by the wives of men serving at Fort Slocum back in the 1950s and 1960s click here —> http://www.gicco.com/Slocum/IslandFare.pdf