May 22 2018 Exclusive: From the Lodgekeeper’s Family Archives-The Garden City Lodge

Greg O. has forwarded an email from the grandson of Motor Parkway lodge keepers Christian and Elizabeth Ernst. Gordon Bainbridge provided his Motor Parkway memories and this photo of the Garden City Lodge (circa 1931).


Howard Kroplick

Gordon Bainbridge:  My mother's parents operated and lived in the Motor Parkway's nearby Garden City toll house.  My mother met many of the early aviators, including Lindbergh and Earhart, and when I was growing up I heard many tales of those days.  Today I regret not having sat down with my mother and recorded her memories before she passed. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting the old airstrip before it was converted into a mall.  
My grandparents bought the toll house when the Parkway closed and lived in it until 1980, so that area was a major part of my life growing up.  This is an early 1930s photo of the toll house, with my grandfather's first new car, a Plymouth.

The house was moved from its original location and the last I heard, when my mother and sister visited about 15 years ago, is now the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Garden City.
 The Motor Parkway was huge in my early life.  In addition to spending much of my childhood at my grandparents', my mother and her brother around 1950 both bought houses next to the Motor Parkway in Bethpage.  I grew up bicycling on the old parkway, playing in the woods along it, and during the winter, riding my sleigh in the snow down the hill where the Stewart's Ave overpass used to be.  We lived there until moving to Saint James in Suffolk County in 1958.




Lodgekeeper Christian Ernst's first new automobile. It appears to be a 1931 Plymouth Model PA. Any thoughts?

The gate at the toll lodge.

Other Previously Published Images of the Ernst Family at the Garden City Lodge

Christian Ernst and his daughter Emma (circa 1929)

Elizabeth Ernst and her dog (circa 1930)

The Garden City Lodge Today

Current home of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce on Seventh Street. Garden City Historic Markers


May 23 2018 Brian D McCarthy 10:49 PM

Thanks for sharing Gordon’s memories of growing up near the LIMP, Greg. Very neat that he experienced the pkwy at different locales. Very nice photo of Mr. Ernst and daughter Emma. Is Emma your mom, Gordon?

May 24 2018 Dave Russo 1:42 PM

Gordon, I’ll ask you the sam question I asked Thomas that’s become sort of a personal infatuation smile

You say you spent the 50’s in a house in bethpage right next to the LIMP. The late 50’s is when construction on 135 began. I’m wondering if you know or if you have pictures that would be amazing, but can you tell us where, starting at Central Ave and heading north, where exactly the the LIMP run in relation to the newly constructed seafood/oyster bay?? We have to figure this out one day! I hope you can help. Thank you.

May 27 2018 Walt Gosden 7:03 AM

the car is indeed a 1931 Plymouth model PA. My first car purchased in 1963 was a similar car , with a rear mounted spare. 4 cylinder, juice brakes and all steel body. Very well built and fast for a 4 cylinder car.

May 27 2018 S. Berliner, III 2:25 PM

???  Walt, the Plymouth PA was a 1932 model first built on 01 May 1931 and introduced on 11 Jul 1931.  Sam, III

May 29 2018 Al Velocci 1:15 PM

When Gordon says he lived next to the Motor Parkway in Bethpage he didn’t mention that his house was practically next door the the Bethpage Lodge. His address wa 17 Motor Lane.

Jun 08 2018 Gordon Bainbridge 3:09 PM

Brian: Yes, Emma was my mother, though she actually used the name “Peggy”.  She passed away in 2007.

Dave: The only parts of the LIMP I knew as a kid were near my grandparents’ house and within about a mile of our house at 17 Motor Lane in Bethpage.  I lived there from age 6 to 14.  The part of the parkway that I spent most of my time on was where Albergo Ct is located now.  I don’t think I have any photos of the Parkway itself other than the field between it and Motor Lane, but when I get a chance, I’ll look through my mother’s old photos.  I don’t recall seeing any, but maybe I overlooked one. 

Al: It’s great to hear from you!  It’s been a while.

Jun 08 2018 S. Berliner, III 11:06 PM

Gordon, this may sound fatuous but I am so happy to hear from you.  As one who bicycled all over the central Nassau sections as a young adult, walked all of the LIMP, and snuck his narrow little 1954 Ford Anglia on wherever the barriers allowed me to squeeze through ca. 1960-70, I very much appreciate first-hand stories.  Thanks muchly. Sam, III

Jun 12 2018 Gordon Bainbridge 12:36 PM

Sam, thanks for the welcome!  My family moved from Bethpage to Saint James in Suffolk County in 1958, so the LIMP stopped being part of my life then except when I visited my grandparents and when I drove the Suffolk portion and imagined what might have been, but I kept a love for it. I moved to California in 1969 and was heartbroken in 2000 when I returned to visit Bethpage and discovered that the part of the LIMP where I spent so much of my childhood had been obliterated by Albergo Ct.

Jun 12 2018 frank femenias 9:43 PM

Al, I just realized Gordon may have lived by Motor Lane nearer to Stewart Ave (bridge) instead of the Bethpage Lodge. Gordon’s accounts remain truly inspiring.

Gordon, the details of your early childhood on the LIMP are much appreciated. It helps with unanswered questions about the LIMP. Thank you for responding, and always open to hear more of your experience with the Motor Parkway.     

Jun 13 2018 Gordon Bainbridge 6:45 PM

I’ve just found the following in my mother’s notes.  It’s an incident that I remember her telling me about, but that I didn’t remember well enough to describe it accurately. I didn’t realize until I read this that there had been a gas pump at the lodge, but it makes sense. 

My mother wrote: “One afternoon I was in my room (probably doing homework) and looked out when I heard a car stop near the gas pump, and saw a trailer attached to a big, black chauffeur-driven car! It was very late afternoon and just dark enough for the lights inside the “RV” to be on.  There was a table with a lamp and a lady sitting in a lovely chair.  This was unbelievable! - a table, lamp, chair, wow! Mr. Vanderbilt had stopped and was in the office talking with Dad - his wife was in the trailer.”

Jun 13 2018 S. Berliner, III 11:58 PM

I know it was a completely different car but can’t you all just see Chrysler’s Chrysler towing a house trailer with Della inside!  Thanks, Gordon; this is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.  Sam, III

Jun 14 2018 frank femenias 1:35 PM

Amazing how Peggy has locked this moment in time so vividly in her descriptive notes nearly a century later. I’d swear I was there.

Willie K and guest had just visited the manager’s office and dropped by the lodge. I doubt they were entering the hilly parkway with the trailer at dusk. Sounds more like a bigger trip elsewhere was planned, especially in the later years (‘30’s) where more roadways were being improved. I vote “not parkway.” 

Fantastic story Gordon, thank you!

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