Goroskop Maia 2012
Returning to Davids Island in 2007

In September 2007 Nancy Brighton of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, and Barbara Davis, New Rochelle’s City Historian and Community Relations Coordinator for the New Rochelle Public Library, led a group of former Fort Slocum residents, servicemen and civilians on a tour of the island. This was the first time any of the group had returned to former Fort Slocum since leaving Davids Island decades ago. A group oral history interview at the New Rochelle Library followed the island visit.

Group tour of Davids Island posing near the Commanding Officer's Quarters (Building 1), September 2007. At left are Nancy Brighton (with camera) and Barbara Davis. The group includes: Harold Crocker, George Willhite, Susan Edwards, Bill Carlson, and Pat Skelly (left-right, front); John Pardon, Joel Simons, and Bill Waterhouse (left-right, back)


Pat Skelly was a child at the post in the 1940s. He recalled the routines of the post from a small boy’s perspective. He also had vivid memories of December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese navy attacked U.S. military installations at Pearl Harbor.

The rest of the group served, worked or lived at Fort Slocum in the early 1960s. For all of them Fort Slocum evoked pleasant memories of an island that was both home and duty station. Susan Edwards explained that her wedding occurred in the post chapel. Bill Carlson remembered the post in the 1960s as seeming like a college campus with ivy-covered brick buildings and tree-lined walks. George Willhite recalled that at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis the soldier-journalists in the Army Information School joked they had only their typewriters to use in defense of the beaches of Davids Island.

John Pardon spent only two months at Fort Slocum in the fall of 1962, but had “good memories” of the island. Returning for the first time in more than 40 years was bittersweet. The landscape of the post had changed profoundly, and time had obscured the places he remembered. “Trees grow. Shrubbery grows. Buildings get grown over, and buildings fall down,” he said after his visit.