Jul 24 2012

Octane Magazine “Report on the 2012 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance” & An Off-Topic Newsday Article

Octane Magazine has posted a report on the 2012 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance. Also, check out today's Newsday's article on my Town Historian adventures concerning an abandoned cemetery in East Hills.


Howard Kroplick

Report: 2012 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance

Some amazing cars topped this year's Greenwich Concours d'Elegance…
By Lars Anders 13th July 2012

Dubbed 'the ultimate barn find' at this year's Greenwich Concours d'Elegance, was a 1937 Chrysler Imperial limousine that Walter P Chrysler had built by LeBaron, in aluminum, for his wife, Della. At 19ft 7in long, with an open chauffeur's compartment, it was - and was meant to be - an impressive motor car.

Unfortunately, Della died the following year.

Time passed, the car changed hands, was stored in various places, and was finally discovered by collector Howard Kroplick, not in a barn, but in the garage of the former William K Vanderbilt Jr. mansion on Long Island. After 75 years it came out, blinked at the sunlight, and took its place - just as found - on the show field.

Another unusual entry was a 1917 Renault 'Whippet,' which is likely a first for any concours, anywhere, for it is a working, running, restored two-man French Army tank from WW1. It was described in the Concours programme as the vintage vehicle that a collector could safely drive on the streets of New York without fear of getting a fender crunched by a cabbie, or towed by the cops for overtime parking.

Also on the show field - not far from Joseph and Margie Cassini's stunning 1938 Horch 853 Special Roadster that took Best of Show in Sunday's Greenwich Concours International - was a fully restored and functional, Russian Tupolev cosmonaut-retrieval craft, designed to travel at 80 mph over Siberian tundra, marsh, or lakes to pick up cosmonauts at the end of space missions.

One of the many ways that the Greenwich Concours is unique is that it's a two-day event, with American cars and motorcycles shown on Saturday, and European and Asian vehicles displayed on Sunday, approximately 120 each day. Saturday's Best of Show was a 1954 Packard Panther, a Packard prototype owned by Ralph Marano Junior and Senior. It's the first time in the 17 years of the Greenwich Concours that a post-WW-II car has won Best of Show for American cars.

The Greenwich Concours is also unique in its location, a peninsula at the head of Greenwich Harbour, with entrants treated to hourly harbor tours on a sight-seeing boat, and match races between former America's-Cup 12-Metre class yachts. The Concours' schedule of events also includes a major auction by London-based Bonhams, and the Greenwich Grand Tour on Friday, all reasons that the Greenwich Concours is one of the three concours included in the North American edition of 1000 Places To See Before You Die.

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 Newsday: Mending A Patch of History

Originally published: July 24, 2012 7:38 PM
Updated: July 24, 2012 9:47 PM
By NATHANIEL HERZ  [email protected]

The Townsends are among Long Island's most prominent historical lineages. But you'd never know it by looking at their cemetery in East Hills.

Just to get inside, visitors have to clamber over a rusted chain-link fence, then wade through poison ivy and several snarls of brambles to get a look at the burial sites. Large chunks are missing from many headstones; others are obscured by undergrowth. Empty beer cans are scattered in a corner.

The forgotten plots, which date to the 18th century, have suffered from years of neglect. But after a recent rediscovery, and an exhaustive review of their origins by North Hempstead Town's historian, Howard Kroplick, the Townsend cemetery might soon be cleaned up.

"It's the right thing to do," Kroplick said. "They're maybe one of the oldest families on Long Island, and this should not be a debris field."

About six months ago, East Hills Village Mayor Michael Koblenz got a complaint about an overgrown, derelict cemetery.

"I said, 'What cemetery?' " Koblenz recalls.

He asked Kroplick, an East Hills resident, to do some research. The historian quickly discovered that the cemetery had a story to tell.

The Townsend family's history on Long Island starts in the 1600s, when brothers John, Henry and Richard moved to Oyster Bay from what is now Flushing, according to Allison Putala, director of the Townsend Society of North America in Oyster Bay.

The 33 people buried in East Hills include a great-great-grandson of John Townsend, Putala said, plus 12 other Townsends, a prominent family of merchants with strong involvement in local government.

Records uncovered by Kroplick, 63, show the cemetery was active from 1790 to 1894.

When East Hills annexed the site as part of a 16-acre acquisition in 1961, press clippings show it had fallen into disrepair.

Officials cleared the cemetery, but it wasn't maintained by the village, Kroplick said. The surrounding area had been converted from farmland to an estate, and later to a subdivision.

"The one thing that was constant was the cemetery," he said.

A state Division of Cemeteries investigator told Kroplick when private cemeteries are abandoned, upkeep reverts to the town.

Since the plot is split between North Hempstead and Oyster Bay, the two towns are planning an agreement that will outline responsibilities for preservation and maintenance.

"We take the obligation pretty seriously, as does the town of Oyster Bay," North Hempstead supervisor Jon Kaiman said.

The state has transferred responsibility for 166 abandoned public and nonprofit cemeteries to towns since 1970, according to Division of Cemeteries spokesman Edison Alban. Statistics for private plots, like the one in East Hills, are not tracked, Alban said, but they make up roughly two-thirds of all cemeteries in the state. Kaiman estimates his town cares for about a half-dozen.

But the qualities of the Townsend Cemetery seem to captivate anyone who sees it. There's the setting, tucked between suburban houses and shaded by maples.

There are the stately tombstones, like the monument for the Horsfield family that's adorned not only with a sculpted vine, but also with a real green tendril.

And there's the way the cemetery, and its surroundings, encapsulate the history of the area -- a relic from the agrarian past mixed in with cul-de-sacs and a chain-link fence.

"It's just really extraordinary to kind of come across this patch of history," Kaiman said.

Townsend Cemetery statistics

Number of burials: 34 (17 women, 16 men, and one of unknown gender)

Average age at death: 43 years, 1 month

Earliest burial: Nov. 24, 1790 (Timothy Townsend)

Last Burial: Nov. 12, 1894 (Ethalinda Townsend)

Burial ground area: 86 feet by 476 feet

Source: Howard Kroplick, North Hempstead town historian

Timeline of the Townsend Cemetery

1645: Land (250 acres) purchased from American Indians by the Willis family.

1852: One acre set aside for use as a burying ground.

1900s: Land becomes part of Alfred I. DuPont estate.

1920s: Land becomes part of the estate of Frederick E. Guest and Amy T. Phipps Guest.

1954: 110 acres sold to developers Kalman Klein and David Teicholz.

1961: Area annexed by Village of East Hills, from Brookville.

2012: North Hempstead and Oyster Bay plan to refurbish cemetery.

Source: Howard Kroplick, North Hempstead Town historian

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