This week in Riverhead history: Home Depot opens, Rockefeller visits, rat attacks baby

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Home Depot in the days before it opened in Riverhead.

10 years ago

Home Depot era begins in Riverhead

Six years after it was first proposed, Home Depot opened its Riverhead store May 16, 2002, Tim Gannon reported in that day’s Riverhead News-Review.

The store opened while legal battles over the Riverhead Centre shopping center continued to play out in court, we wrote.

The 395,000 square-foot project had originally included plans for a movie theater, but that was later swapped out for the additional retail at the site today.

Tears of joy: First league title, Mack sets 200 record

It was a moment, an embrace, that will never be forgotten.

Shana Mack, the heart and soul of the Riverhead girls track and field team, had just won the 200 meters in a school record time of 25.5 seconds May 14, 2002, wrote sports writer Chuck Adams in that week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

The Waves also clinched their first ever league title that day with a 125-25 home win over Centereach.

“I was so happy for everybody,” Mack, a senior, said afterward. “But I was also a little upset because this was our last home meet. This is the best team we ever had.”

Postscript: The current girls 200 meter mark at Riverhead is 25.09 seconds, set in 2007 by Angela Smith, who also holds the school’s 100 meter record and a share of two relay standards.

15 years ago

West Main Street motel reborn

As town officials prepare to crack down on illegal rentals and “welfare motels” allegedly being used as permanent residences, one Riverhead motel owner says she’s turned her motel around in just one year, we wrote in the May 15, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Diann Scott purchased the Swiss Motel on West Main Street in May 1996 with the hopes of turning it into a family-friendly tourist destination, we wrote.

“I won’t say what used to be here,” she told us. “Let’s just say we now charge nightly rates, not hourly rates.”

Postscript: Ms. Scott no longer owns the Swiss Motel.

Shoreham-Wading River’s no-hit wonders

Perhaps the nickname of the Shoreham-Wading River baseball and softball teams should be changed to the no-hitters, we wrote in the May 15, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

That’s because softball pitcher Kim Hespos and baseball pitcher Chip Pidgeon had combined to throw two no-hitters a piece over a one-week stretch. As of May 15 of that year, the duo had combined to throw seven on the season, with Hespos having thrown five of them.

Postscript: Pidgeon would go on to play two seasons in the Mets farm system. Hespos played college ball at Susquehanna University.

50 years ago

Governor to visit Riverhead

Nelson Rockefeller visited Riverhead for the first time as governor on May 18, 1962, we wrote in that week’s News-Review.

The highlight of the 2 1/2 hour visit was a speech by Governor Rockefeller at a luncheon hosted by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce at the Perkins Inn. About 400 people attended the luncheon.

Postscript: At the time of his first visit, Mr. Rockefeller, who later served as vice president to Gerald Ford, had already been in office as governor for more than three years.

75 years ago

Way too many people flocking to beautiful downtown Riverhead

The following letter was written by Riverhead police chief Thomas J. Walker and published in the May 14, 1937 issue of the Riverhead News: “As a courtesy to the many shoppers who are coming to Riverhead these days, let me urge the merchants, and Riverhead people generally, to carefully observe the two-hour parking rule and park their cars in the unrestricted areas. It will be helpful all around.”

100 years ago

Big rat attacks baby

John, the 3 1/2-year old son of Mr. and Mrs. John Flynn, was severely bitten on one thumb by an immense rat on May 8, 1912, we wrote in the following week’s issue of The Riverhead News.

Mrs. Flynn found her baby’s night clothes covered with blood moments after hearing him scream loudly, we wrote. It was later found that his thumb had been bitten in three places.

The boy’s father then spent the next half-hour attempting to find the rat, a rifle in his hands, we wrote.

“I’ll get you yet,” declared Mr. Flynn. “If I have to burn the house down.”

Instead, he put poison in a bowl of cornmeal and left it out overnight, we reported. The next morning he found the rat dead alongside the bowl.

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