Editor’s note: All week long, Brittany Wait is profiling people around Sea Cliff, from community leaders to residents she bumps into around town.
Priscilla Waltz, 90, of Sea Cliff, shares village historian responsibilities with another longtime village resident, Jean Davis. Due to poor health, she is unable to get out as much as she once did, but still recalls almost every memory or detail of her hometown, all from the comfort of her living room. Waltz also used to work as a dietitian in New York City.
How long have you lived in Sea Cliff?
I’ve lived here since my family moved to Sea Cliff in 1925. I came here when I was 3 years old and lived in a Victorian house at 277 Glen Ave., and it’s still standing. Now I’m 90. I’ve lived in this house [on Highland Avenue] for 61 years. I have three sons and a daughter. My husband Raymond passed away 16 years ago.
If you looked out this window of your home, what would you have seen when you were younger?
This was originally a large estate. We used to sneak through here as a kid to go ice skating. When I moved to this house, the builders who laid out the foundation of the home, found horse bones, so they assumed that my backyard was once used as a horse pasture. On the main street, I remember having a shoemaker, bakery, department store, gift shops, two barbers and two butchers. There was everything you needed. We didn’t have refrigerators until I entered the third grade, so people would shop once a day.
What is it that you love most about Sea Cliff?
The water, the sunset, the rocks and the sailing. It has just the friendliest of neighborhoods. Oh, and I love what they’re doing now, bringing in the bands to Memorial Park, and there are art shows at the libraries. Of course, it’s such a beautiful spot and has a safe harbor.
How did you spend your days as a child?
I remember sailing with my family and racing in our sailboats with my brother Thomas. We belonged to the Sea Cliff Yacht Club. We’d spend the day at the beach in the summer. Kids would bring their lunches to the beach. We used to walk up and down the hill, sometimes racing up the steps. We walked everywhere.
As a historian, what’s the most interesting aspect of Sea Cliff’s history?
Littleworth Lane used to be part of an Indian trail, which would go out to Oyster Bay. During the revival period in the late 1800s, people lived closely together in tents. By the mid-1900s, hotels and resorts were built and later summer cottages, larger dwellings and single-family housing. Churches and schools were built before the 1920s.
What challenges do you think the community faces?
There’s an awful lot of houses for sale. It’s the bad economy. Our greatest challenge is to keep the community going and tighten our belts and not spend frivolously.