It all began at an informal meeting held at Toby Mosiello’s garage in the spring of 1951.
It all began at an informal meeting held at Toby Mosiello’s garage in the spring of 1951.
A handful of men who wanted to be able to enjoy boating on the Hudson River – Joe Reis, Dominick Cerbone, Andrew Nemeth, Mike Kooney and Toby Mosiello – invited friends sharing their interest to attend. About twenty-five men showed up and all agreed that they would like to form a boat club.
At this initial meeting Dominick Cerbone was elected Commodore; Toby Mosiello, Vice Commodore; Andrew Nemeth, Treasurer and Mike Galgano, Secretary.
The initiation fee was $5.00. Dues were set at fifty cents a month – eight months of the year. The only available site along the Hudson was a basin adjacent to and directly south of the Tarrytown Boat Club. This basin had been used by the Village of Tarrytown to dump refuse during the annual spring and fall cleanups – not a promising location.
However, the members pitched in and proceeded to make the area more attractive. In the basin each boat had a stake to which it could be tied and “row boats” were used to get to the members’ boats – all runabouts with outboard motors.
Club membership grew rapidly and at the close of the first season WIBC had fifty active members, most of whom owned a boat. In the fall of 1951, the next election of officers took place. Toby Mosiello was named Commodore; Joe Reis, Vice Commodore; Andy Nemeth, Treasurer and Mike Galgano, Secretary.
Club members continued to improve this basin until Dec. 15, 1955 when the Tappan Zee Bridge spanning the Hudson was officially opened for traffic. Merritt, Chapman & Scott, Inc., builders of the bridge had erected a Quonset hut on the last available piece of Tarrytown river frontage to serve as headquarters during construction of the bridge. Adjacent to and west of the hut a 40’ x 40’ concrete slab had been poured on which the bridge builders carried on the necessary welding of parts. In addition, five docks had been constructed alongside the south shore line.
At the time, the bridge builders had a written agreement with the Village of Tarrytown stating that the builders would dismantle and remove the Quonset hut, tear up and cart away the concrete slab and remove the docks. Seeing the possibilities of these improvements WIBC officers Mosiello, Nemeth, Reis and Leone arranged to meet with the Tarrytown Waterfront Commission. Acting as spokesman, Joe Reis pointed out to the commission that, with seventy-five members WIBC was now a financially responsible organization in a logical position to take over the hut, slab and docks. Each member, he added, was pledged to put in twenty hours of work per season. This would improve the appearance of the grounds and assure residents of Tarrytown a boat club, consisting of runabouts, for all to enjoy.
The Waterfront Commission agreed to permit WIBC to lease the plot of ground and notified Merritt, Chapman & Scott to leave the hut the slab and the docks. Now at last the club had a suitable basin in which to moor boats together with a club house in which to meet. All boats were moved from the northern basin to that adjoining the docks. The village trustees granted the club a one-year lease, based upon a maximum membership of 125, and renewable the following Year provided the grounds were cleaned up and boating affairs conducted in a gentlemanly manner.
At this time the Quonset hut had no heat, electricity or running water. A “pot-belly” stove was installed and necessary piping was installed for running water and toilets. A roof was erected over the concrete slab, providing an ideal place for members and their families to visit socially. A gasoline-operated generator provided electricity for the first year but later on, in 1961, Jack Schenck secured permission from the Chief Engineer of the New York Central railroad to run electric feeder lines over the tracks and into our clubhouse thereby solving our electricity problem.
Next, wood sheeting, and asbestos shingles were installed on the outside of the hut to weatherproof it. Later, sheet rock plus insulation and a dropped ceiling helped to make the interior more comfortable and attractive. Indirect heating was installed, plus a small kitchen so that members and guests could buy beer, soft drinks, hamburgers and hot dogs.
It was apparent, however that the boat basin urgently needed a breakwater to provide protection from storms. At a cost of some $17,000 a 300’ bulkhead was installed on the west and south side of the basin Financing was handled by having each member purchase a $100 bond hearing 3% interest, payable in five years, all of which were paid off within the five year period. Within a few weeks after completion of the bulkhead, Hurricane Donna struck the area. The bulkhead sustained serious damage, but held and no boats were destroyed, so that it has proved to be an excellent investment.
Members were still mooring boats to poles and using “row boats” for access. In 1963 a series of floats and finger floats were constructed and installed so that each boat could be moored either to the bulkhead or the finger floats. Over the years, the five docks were reinforced with concrete donated by Cooney Bros., Inc. An overlay of asphalt was placed over the launching ramp and much of the area alongside the docks. Meanwhile Pat Galgano and several other members planted a lawn and flower borders around the buildings to beautify the area and a chain-link fence was erected for security.
Incorporated in 1956 as a non-profit corporation, the Washington Irving Boat Club stands today as a monument to the foresight of its officers and members. Literally thousands of hours of personal work time were put in by members each according to his own skill. Now, some fifteen years after the club was founded, we have an attractive clubhouse with a roofed outdoor pavilion for the use and pleasure of members, guests and their families. Opening Day at their club, together with the annual Clam Bake are the outstanding social events sponsored by WIBC. Mike Kooney has always been chairman of these events and each year does a wonderful job.
In recent years the Predicted Time Log Race, chairmaned by Donald Acker, has become an increasingly popular event for many members.
Every member can be justly proud of WIBC, which today represents an investment in monies and labor of over $200,000. Keystone of its success lies in the fact that the club has always been served by capable officers and that its members have willingly labored long and hard in building and maintaining its facilities. Well worth noting is that Andy Nemeth, one of the original founders, has been treasurer each year except during 1961and 1962 – always seeing to it that the club had “money in the bank” – no mean achievement. Andy now serves as Commodore. From the beginning to the present each of the club’s Commodores, namely Cerbone, Mosiello, Suter, Fiala and Nemeth together with their officers and Board of Directors have unselfishly devoted countless hours for the betterment of the club.
FROM JOHN O SPEIGHT JR., PAST COMMODORE (This is a brief synopsis of some of the club’s history during the 1980’s. Thoughts are not in order of there happenings.)
In the early sixties, to have a boat moored on the bulkhead, you had to be a member for 5 years. At the time of the change there were only 5 boats on the bulkhead. The B Membership was born on a trial basis and five Members will be taken in. The 5 year bylaw was rescinded for A members. The Board of Governors Meetings was held in the room which you now call your tool room. In about 1970 a house trailer was purchased and was used as an office and Board of Gov. meeting room. In those days at was common to have regular meetings go for three hours, all expenditures had to be read and voted on, one at a time. In the early 1970’s , the Club was run with an iron hand by the old guard, younger members were coming in and getting involved. I ran for Commodore in 1975 and re-elected in 1976.
At the first Annual Dinner Dance, which was held at the Log Cabin, Emil DeMicco had a conversation with the Commodore of Seaweed Yacht Club about the Clubs joining forces, like the Clubs had done up river (Mohawk Assoc.). I thought it was a good idea so we called a meeting at the Club and the rest is history.
To set the record straight, Emil was the key. The Club should also be aware that the emblem of the Hudson River Assoc. was designed by Mike Smacchia. Rod Suter was elected as the first President of the Assoc. For many years, Ralph Zimmerman was our Representative.
During my Tenure 1980 thru 1989, the Membership took on projects that I believe the Membership could not do today. Jim McStay and his crew built every main float, jumper float, finger float and gas dock. Mike Smacchia and Henry Crepeault designed dock number 1, Jim’s crew built it. There wasn’t any dock 3 so Mike and Henry designed one and Jim did it again. Big Ben Scappaticci got all the Greenheart Piles for the dock and loads of flat steel at no cost to the Club. The finger floats on the bulkhead came about the same way.
Electricity was added to the bulkhead, as was water. On 6/16/85 it passed electrical inspection. We also added water and electricity on Dock 3. The cable going out to the bulkhead was researched and purchased by Bill Petrovich. These projects could never have been done without the cooperation of the majority of the Membership (take note not full).
At the same time, looking at purchasing a schoolhouse from the Tarrytown School Board. We agreed that we would make an offer of $1500 and agree to disconnect all services and redo the grounds. We attended the School Board meeting. At this meeting, the Fire Dept. was also there looking to make a bid. They didn’t, as they thought I said $15,000 instead of $1500. On April 13, 1979, we attempted to move the three separate sections that we separated, we failed. The next weekend, after developing another plan, we manually jacked up the sections one at a time, slid the trailer under and then lowered it down. The trailer was loaned to us and so was the truck, which was driven by its owner, Billy Dellasorte (non-member).
At the time of the schoolhouse in 1979, I was Rod Suter’s Vice Commodore and was made Chairman of the New Building Committee, with Dan Mastropietro and Mike Smacchia Co-Chair People. Mike designed the building and Danny was in charge of building it. Now, where do we get the money, we ran tag sales, run by members and their lady friends, about $3000 was taken in. Non-interest bonds were sold to the Membership.
The foundation of cement block was laid in 102 degree heat. The cement mason was Danny’s brother and the laborers were Members, all volunteers. That day, Members including myself, violated a Club rule, we jumped in and swam in the Basin. No one reported us, I wonder why. Danny was responsible for getting us the trailer and truck for moving the sections. From the beginning to the day we officially opened the building, over 6000 man hours were put in, all hours were volunteered, no hours worked were work detail hours. Mike Smacchia made all the tables, room dividers, flower boxes and overhead lights. Steve McStay chaired the Plumbing Committee and Billy Petrovich chaired the Electrical Committee. The Grand Opening of the Club was July 4, 1981.
During all this, we decided to purchase a Travel lift. Many hours were spent traveling to different sites. We finally agreed to purchase a 15 Ton lift from Willow Cove Marina for $20,000. We had to dismantle it, John Puff transported it to the Club, and the Membership re-assembled it. Bill Reilly negotiated with Kirk and White on the design and price of the pit. Bill Degioia ordered the German made rails. John Puff laid the concrete blocks in place with Members doing the labor work and later on dug out the pit. The block laying started early Saturday and didn’t get done until after 11.00pm (all volunteers). The money for the travel lift was borrowed from the bank, Cliff Barrett, Bill Reilly and I put our houses up for collateral.