Roxanne Dozier remembers watching the deadly Hurricane of 1938 wreak havoc on Southampton through her classroom windows.
“I was in fifth grade,” said Dozier, now 83. “I sat near the window and I could see slate coming off the roof of the high school. There was a young woman walking, and the wind was blowing so horrifically. I was so frightened for her.”
Dozier’s hero during the storm that killed more than 50 people on the East End turned out to be her school bus driver, Scrubby Foster, who drove her and her younger sisters to their Bridgehampton home in his own car.
Foster took the girls, one at a time, under his arm, crawling to reach the house amid the 120 mph winds.
“He was so good to us,” said Dozier, who recalls crying and shaking while she waited in the car for her turn.
Stories likes these from the 1930s and 1940s were among those shared recently by Dozier and her two longtime friends, Pat Rishel and Sarah Thomas, during a talking history presentation at the Southampton Historical Museum.
Attending Southampton High School in the 1940s, the trio recall eating lunch together each day chatting about life and gossiping about boys.
And today, the three women still meet for lunch. But now, it’s once a month and the women go to restaurants such as Fellingham’s or Barrister’s, where they enjoy $5 “recession hamburgers” on Wednesdays.
The friendship, which has spanned decades, has great meaning to all three Southampton women. They have lived through World War II, segregation and the Great Depression. And through it all, have found strength in their friendship.
“Just being together all these years and having all these wonderful memories is a very special part of our lives. It’s a wonderful continuance,” said Rishel, 81. “These friends make me feel safe and blessed.”
During the walk down memory lane, stories turned to long-gone Southampton barbershops and penny candy stores. The days when a yard of 25-cent fabric meant new school clothes. Smokehouses, hand-sewn dresses, darned socks and beach plum jam.
“It was a wonderful time to grow up,” said Thomas, 81.
Penelope Wright, programming director for the Rogers Memorial Library, said oral history helps history come alive.
“It's details of the everyday lives of ‘ordinary people’ that the next generation probably won't be able to find in textbooks or official records,” Wright said.
Daniel Goodale, Rishel’s 26-year-old grandson, said hearing his grandmother’s stories gives him “a good perspective on how the world and the community has changed.”
Pictured above: Roxanne Dozier, left, Pat Rishel and Sarah Thomas, all of Southampton, shared stories from the 1930s and 1940s during a talking history presentation at the Southampton Historical Museum. (March 3, 2011)