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Long IslandTowns

Billy Baldwin’s Massapequa memories: From golf course slip-and-slides to giving back

Northport Cow Harbor United Soccer Club officials present

Northport Cow Harbor United Soccer Club officials present a check for the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund to actor Billy Baldwin and other members of the foundation's board at Northport Soccer Park on Nov. 2, 2013. Credit: Ursula Moore

When the sun went down on Massapequa’s Peninsula Golf Club, the nine-hole, 57-acre course became a playground for the famous Baldwin brothers.

It was the 1970s, and the now-famous Baldwin brothers — Alec, Daniel, Billy, and Stephen — were just boys being boys.

Their home was close to the fairway, and “everything happened on that golf course,” Billy Baldwin said Thursday during a phone interview, from his first pickup baseball and football games to his first snowball fight and his first cigarette.

Baldwin, now 51, recalled playing “Army” with his brothers in the dunes. They would split into two teams, create “bunkers” and fire off bottle rockets and Roman candles at one another.

As teens, they’d go there with about 30 friends — boys and girls — to saturate the golf course with water, strip down to their underwear and play on what Baldwin called “the most awesome slip-and-slide.”

“You ran as fast as you can, dove on the wet green and slid 150 feet downhill,” he said. “People would be laughing so hard they were crying.”

Baldwin now lives in California with his wife, singer Chynna Phillips, and their three children. But he said he still keeps in touch with some of his Massapequa friends, and not just to recall their high jinks. In 2001, they formed the Massapequa Community Fund as a way to give back.

Through fundraising events and individual donations — Baldwin said brother Alec has been a big contributor — MCF provides college scholarships to Massapequa High School students, financial support to local families who are struggling and grants to community groups, including the YES Community Counseling Center.

For the past five years, the fund has also provided $35,000 to the Massapequa School District to offset the costs of sending about a dozen teachers and administrators to Harvard University for a weeklong intensive education program called Project Zero.

Baldwin said Massapequa is one of only two public schools in the country that send educators to the course. The other one is in Montecito, California, where his children attend school and how he first learned about the program.

During one of the trips he makes to Long Island during the course of a year, Baldwin will usually arrange a meeting with the Massapequa teachers to hear their feedback about the program.

“The teachers rave about, it reinvigorates them,” he said. “They are rubbing elbows with the best and the brightest.”

Baldwin said he’s proud to be a product of public education — from Massapequa’s Unqua and McKenna elementary schools to Berner High School (now a middle school) and then SUNY Binghamton. His father, the late Alex Baldwin, also taught at Massapequa High School, and the school’s auditorium was later named after him when his children donated the money to renovate it in the late 1990s.

Growing up in Massapequa, Billy Baldwin also had fond memories of fast food from All-American Hamburger Drive-in and homemade ice cream from Krisch’s, both of which are still around today.

And his favorite watering hole was Fox’s, which sadly — like his childhood home — no longer exists.

“That house probably should have been torn down when we moved in,” he joked.

He added that he “had a blast” the six summers he worked as a lifeguard at Tobay Beach. Sometimes, he would even hitchhike there.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said of his Massapequa memories. “You can’t do that stuff anymore.”

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