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Leaving Bayville with epic ‘Exit’ sign story
It’s hard to believe that my week in Bayville is drawing to a close.
From speed boating to “rock scrambling,” seal sightings and oyster farming, it’s truly been an exciting week. I have to thank the people of Bayville for giving me such a warm reception and taking me on some unique adventures.
Speaking of adventure, I started off my last morning in Bayville by speaking with D.R. Finley, whose family owns Bayville Adventure Park, also known as Bayville Scream Park around Halloween time. Driving down Bayville Avenue, you can’t miss the 30-foot-high tree-top rope course rising out of the amusement park, the “gorilla” perched above its large waterfall or the gang of pirates hanging usually out in the parking lot.
The park’s website uses some creative license when describing the history of Bayville, stating that “Bayville was named for flamboyant carnival entrepreneur Balthazar Bloodworth Bay.” But it says very little about the park’s history in Bayville. Finley filled me in on how he created his amusement park after bulldozing the dilapidated one that once stood there, and what inspired some of its attractions.
I also made sure to enjoy the views of Oyster Bay Harbor and the Long Island Sound one final time by visiting the Centre Island beaches. A tunnel located underneath Bayville Avenue allows beachgoers to easily access both bodies of water.
One person who doesn’t take those views for granted is Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling. After having lunch with the comedian, radio personality and a 37-year Bayville resident, he took me on a tour of his home. Martling’s waterfront home has more windows than walls, offering panoramic views of the Long Island Sound.
Martling also showed me the rest of his homestead, which he calls “Jokeland,” including his garage, which he converted into a studio. Then, I asked him about the large, blue-and-white sign hanging on his front porch, which read “EXIT.”
Few people know this story, he said, but the wooden sign was actually a piece of Bayville history. It once hung on Bayville Avenue outside Steve’s Pier I, a popular waterfront restaurant on the Long Island Sound that suddenly closed and was torn down in March 2009. Martling said he had been driving past the site of the demolished restaurant and noticed the sign was all that remained of the landmark, so he took it home to have as a souvenir.
As I drove down that same road leaving Bayville Friday night, I laughed as I spotted the wooden post, where that sign had been hanging. The two chains that once held it still dangling.