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Moriches historian: ‘I was hungry for stories’

Mary Field, 81, of Center Moriches, is a

Mary Field, 81, of Center Moriches, is a local historian and the acting vice president of The Ketcham Inn Foundation. (Sept. 18, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

Mary Field, 81, Center Moriches

Community association: local historian, acting vice president of The Ketcham Inn Foundation

Were you born here?
We moved here when I was 5 from Westhampton.
My father and his brother had a dairy farm there, but there were four of us kids, and he needed more money in the 30s, so his brother talked him into coming to Center Moriches, and they bought Sunrise Restaurant.
My father had it for 25 years, his brother eventually sold out and became a tailor.

What was it like as a kid?
I didn't travel around much. We were confined to certain areas because my parents were from the old country, and they were very strict.
Our backyard was all trees, and there were vines growing and we made a clearing for a playhouse. We could stay out in the rain and not get wet, that's how thick it was. We lived right next to the A&P, so we got boxes and crates and built furniture.
We would play baseball in the fields or volleyball. I had two older sisters and a younger brother. We would play hopscotch a lot or marbles.

Did you ever live anywhere else?
I went to college in Florida, and then I came back and we lived in East Moriches for a year. My husband grew up in East Moriches.

What is it about the community that made you want to stay?
I wouldn't want to go anywhere else.
I always wanted to know what was going on here. Anytime there was a change, I'd record it mentally.
My parents were big farmers from Switzerland, so they didn't know any of the background of this country. I was hungry for stories. I used to waitress at the restaurant, and I would talk to all the customers about their stories.

How have you seen it change?
A lot of losses is what I've seen. I remember having a theater in town and going there. When I was a kid, we had three movies a week.
We used to have parades for Memorial Day, and all the kids in school marched in the parade. Everybody in town was there to watch as we went past. It's not like that now.

Define the character of the community.
I think it's sort of a hometown. You make friends and you keep them for life, you don't lose contact even if someone moves away.

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