John J. Floherty (known as “Captain Jack”) was a prolific author and Port Washington mainstay in the first half of the 20th century. He wrote more than 40 career-oriented books for young people, including such titles as Sons of the Hurricane, Youth and the Sea, Our FBI: An Inside Story, Get That Story, Sentries of the Sea, and Five Alarm: The Story of Fire Fighting. Floherty traveled widely and stayed with people he was researching. He spent time in lighthouses, and among FBI agents.
Floherty lived in Port Washington for over 50 years, at 9 Shoreview Road in Baxter Estates. He was a member of many local organizations including the Manhasset Bay Sportsmens Club, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, and the volunteer fire company. In 1917 he helped organize the Port Washington Home Guard, and in 1941 he was chairman of the Port Washington Committee for Community Mobilization and Defense.
Captain Jack was interviewed by Port’s Chief of Police James Salerno on March 6, 1964 for the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society . He died on December 3 of the same year. Following is the first in a series of audio clips taken from that interview. Here, Floherty and his extremely proud wife Margaret discuss his writing. Ubangi, for those who may be curious, is actually a group of 40 languages that are spoken in Central Africa.
“…as well as the usual languages one thinks of…” Click the arrow to listen. (1:12)
Many of John J. Floherty’s handwritten manuscripts may be viewed at the PWPL Local History Center.
Biographical information by Francesca Pitaro.
John J. Floherty portrait from the Stanley Gerard Mason Collection, PWPL Local History Center.
Fontaine Fox (1884-1964), the celebrated “Toonerville Trolley” cartoonist, lived in Port Washington from 1914 to the 1930’s. His “Terrible Tempered” Mr. Bangs, the “Powerful Katrinka,” Banker Grey, and Old Man Flint were small-town characters who earned Fox a syndication in over 200 newspapers.
In the interview excerpt below, long-time Port resident Bill Bohnel tells historian Elly Shodell about the local inspirations for these memorable characters, and about Port Washington’s history as a home for artists and writers.
“The whole town was a cartoon!” Click the arrow to listen. (3:49)
“Toonerville Trolley” (officially known as “Toonerville Folks”) ran from 1908 until 1955. It was adapted into cartoons, used in numerous advertisments, and inspired a number of short films starring Mickey Rooney.
To hear more of this interview, read transcripts, and view more photos, please visit the Port Washington Public Library Local History Center.“Toonerville” cut-outs are from the collection of the PWPL Local History Center.