Erin Geismar caught up with Norman Wamback on Monday at Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society & Museums, which are currently closed for restoration. She then sat down with him at his home in Mattituck to discuss his upbringing there and how the community has changed.
Curator, Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society & Museums; trustee, Mattituck-Laurel Library
How long have you lived here?
I was born here. My parents bought my house the year before I was born.
What did you do for work before retiring?
I did financials for a pharmaceutical firm in New York City.
Did you commute from Mattituck?
No, I lived in the city for a large part of my life while I was working. When I retired, I owned a place in Brooklyn at that point and my mother was still living here. Right before she died, I started coming out more often on the weekends to take care of things with her aides and I also started doing some things with the historical society. So when she died, I had two choices: I could sell this place and live in the apartment, or I could sell the apartment and live out here. I decided to sell the apartment because I thought, if I don’t like living here, I could always move back to the city … That was in 2004.
So what made you stay here?
Because of my involvement with the historical society. Then the Suffolk Times also asked me to write some articles. But it was mostly because of the Mattituck Historical Society. I was the unofficial Mattituck historian, which is what they still call me. I’m also a trustee of the Mattituck library.
How has the community changed?
We used to take our bicycles to school. In the winter when we couldn’t get out because of so much snow, we walked in it. Today the children all ride the bus and that’s a big difference. Also, back in the '50s, there was nothing to do out here. For an occupation, you worked at a gasoline station or on a farm. That’s why I got out.
Do you think a lot of people stay in Mattituck for life, or leave and come back to the same house, as you did?
I know a lot of people that I knew when I was growing up here, but it’s not that common. There was a time when everyone was buying and selling their homes. There’s a lot more people here now that I don’t know.
How would you define the character of Mattituck?
Rural. Quiet. Laid back.