|Updated April 5, 2005|
|Mackay Stories, p.1|
|This purpose of this page is to share personal stories, reader's comments and photos
(if you have 'em) related to anything on this site.
If you have a remembrance that you are willing to share, please send it to me, I will add your item here and give you full credit as the contributor.
|July 4, 2002 (Based upon a telephone conversation we had on this date)
I was born at Harbor Hill in 1914. My father (Charles H. Hechler) and mother were originally from Missouri. My father was teaching animal husbandry at the University of Missouri in 1907. Clarence Mackay recruited him to be his estate superintendent. My father was an expert horseman and cattleman. We were provided a big 18 room house on the estate near Glen Cove Road. I lived on the estate until I graduated from Roslyn High School in 1931. It was a wonderful place to grow up! My father organized Boy Scout Troop #1 in Roslyn. Mr. Pietsch, the estate head electrician, was the scout master. Every 4th of July, Mr. Mackay would invite all the scouts up to Harbor Hill. The Marine Band played and there was always a grand fire works display afterward.
There is not much written or known today about what Clarence Mackay was really like. He appeared quite fit. He was a fast walker. We clocked him once with a car walking at 14 mph. He had a rather high pitched voice. Those who didn't know him tended to be afraid of him. First hand memories of Mr. Mackay are gone with my parents. They always maintained a very high degree of privacy regarding the Mackays. When the Bryant Library sought the Hechler-Mackay papers before my mother's death, her reaction was, "Absolutely not." [These papers have now been presented to the Bryant Library and are available for research]
The mansion made a big impression on me. When you entered the main house, it was like entering a large European museum. There was armor, battle flags, tapestries and a great deal of other art work. The view from the roof was spectacular. The house stood on the highest point in Nassau County (391'). See topo map. I remember being invited up onto the roof to watch a total eclipse of the sun. You could see the shadow coming across the south shore beaches, crossing the island, then going north across the Long Island Sound and finally into the hills of Connecticut.
The carriage house and stables were almost as impressive as the house. It also had a museum-like quality. It was filled with beautifully cared for carriages and automobiles. The tennis court and pool building was also unique. Tennis was different then from what it is today. The court had a concrete floor and the game was played with a hard rubber ball. Mr. Mackay was an exceptionally good player. He even brought his own tennis pro over from England and added him to his estate staff.
I grew up with the Letson kids [children of the head dairyman]. Edward Letson, Sarah's younger brother, was my best friend. [Sarah Letson Marshall was a neighbor of ours in Roslyn Heights, NY during the 1950s]
I do remember the big party given for the Prince of Wales and 1200 guests in 1924. The Prince reportedly disappeared for some time on a motorcycle during the party with a maid from the main house. Quite a story.
Ken Hechler, West Virginia
|NOTE: Ken Hechler has gone on to a very, very interesting career of his own after graduation from Roslyn High in 1931. He became a college professor with his Ph.D from Columbia prior to the end of the 1930s. During WW II he served as a military historian and wrote The Bridge at Remagen which later became a movie. He served as a speech writer in the Truman Administration. Subsequently, he has served as a nine term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from West Virginia and most recently as the Secretary of State for West Virginia for 16 years (1985-2001). Today he remains an active professor and still plays a mean game of tennis.|
|Ken remembers Harbor Hill.
"It was a great place to grow up."
|January 10, 2003
I think it is terrific that you are researching Clarence Mackay. It's too bad you didn't get into this when my mother was alive. She had tons of info on him and lots of tales of the estate. I remember camping on the ruins of the mansion, running around the garden track and being shown around the interior of the swimming pool building before the Mackays destroyed it (to lower their property taxes, I think).
Eddo Curran, California
(an old friend from Roslyn)
|September 25, 2004
I grew up in "Country Estates", the old Mackay property at Harbor Hill. A few buildings still survive---most notable is the Dairy Cottage at the Glen Cove Road/Elm Drive entrance---also the water tower and the two Horse Rider statues, one at the entrance to Roslyn High School and the other on private property in Country Estates. Click here for the story of the Mackay Horses of Marly.
I lived in Roslyn from 1955 to about 1962 and again 1966-1972. I still drive thru Country Estates and have a copy of a hand drawn "The Mackay Estate" map (original by Donaldson at the Bryant Library) and have overlayed existing roads---very interesting. I once went for a hike with my father through the woods of the old estate, about 1957-58? I was 9, or so, and we observed a woman drying clothes at the gate house---which still stands as the front of a country club...
JDB, New York
|NOTE: JDB provided several very useful links that are found on the top of the Links page. Does anybody know who might have lived in the gate house or gate lodge about 1957-58?|
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