Tuesday, February 10, 2009


ABOVE: 1911 postcard, Smithtown Main Street. (Image is in the public domain.)

I visited Smithtown, New York, today. Now that’s no great news story in itself, and neither is the fact that my wife’s Saab continues to languish in a Smithtown repair shop, awaiting a new fuel pump that today, having made the journey, we were told was on “national back-order.” By any stretch of the imagination that is a serious situation for owners of those cars that were “inspired by aircraft.” Now clearly grounded. No matter, a courtesy rental car was graciously provided.

But Smithtown? (Breathe deep) – Smithtown is a place in which to spend slow time. By that I don’t mean the Smith Haven Mall, or the strings of auto dealers, plazas and vacant lots to the east. Rather the old town itself, which despite the ravages of de-urbanization and recent recessions, impatient traffic, peeling paint and store buildings which appear to have hosted five businesses in as many years, still retains a great deal of old-small-town charm and interest. There’s a wealth of history packed into just a couple square miles, and I feel a definite urge to spend a day there, poking about with notebook and camera.

So a passing suggestion: Forget the ghastly corporate carbuncles that have sprawled along the Long Island Expressway. Head just a few miles north to Route 25, find the old towns, buy a coffee or two, breathe deep outside of restaurants and bakeries, eat well inside them, and have fun exploring!

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