Long Island History Chronicled by Bill Bleyer

By Rebecca HoeyPulitzer Prize winning Bill Bleyer, former staff writer for Newsday, college professor, inductee into the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame, has become a prolific in recent years with four in-print titles published since 2015, with another due for release later this year*. He has also kept active in the delivery of presentations to libraries and historical institutions throughout Long Island, and made the transition to virtual platforms during the pandemic, which has broadened access to his informative discussions to a wider audience.“Maritime Smuggling on Long Island: From Pirates to Rumrunners,” was the lecture this writer tuned into, hosted by Bethpage Library at the end of last month, is based on two chapters from his most recent title, “Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History.” (The History Press, 2019) Without giving too much of this lecture away, we will say that whether you’re a Long Island history buff, or someone who simply enjoys listening to a good story, you will come away enriched.The hour-long presentation touched on subjects such as Scottish sailor turned pirate Captain Kidd; William McCoy the rumrunner; and real-life hidden treasures including a circa 1920’s hidden trapdoor that still remains today in one of Long Island’s most well known restaurants!Fire Island has its own place in this fact and lore, as does sister Long Island coastal communities like Freeport to our west, and Greenport on the North Fork, as Bleyer deftly illustrates that the Long Island shoreline was the greatest in the country for illegal spirits to be brought in during prohibition. The stakes were high, and Long Island’s place in this infamous history is not only fact, but also a true adventure story.Bill Bleyer’s upcoming book “George Washington’s Long Island Spy Ring: A History and Tour Guide,” is scheduled for release on May 10, 2021. Future historical lectures and presentations can be found on our Community Calendar as they are announced.