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Bay Shore Images of America book tells a story of diversity and endurance

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Bay Shore’s own history book through Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series hit store shelves this week.

Its authors say the book touches on two main themes that have run through Bay Shore’s history. The first is that Bay Shore has long being a religious, ethnic and racially diverse community, something that has been embraced and celebrated in the hamlet.

The second, is that this has been a community that’s had to reinvent itself several times over the centuries, moving from a place for farming and fishing, to a playground for the wealthy, to a working class town and a shopping mecca, to a depressed region, to, today, a busting hamlet with a trendy Main Street.

“We wanted to tell the story of our community and share it with the general public,” said historian Christopher Verga of Bay Shore, who teamed up on the book with fellow historian and Suffolk County Community College professor Neil Buffett, who lives in Brightwaters.

“We wanted to make sure everyone’s story was told in Bay Shore, and that’s key,” Verga said. “A lot that’s been written about Bay Shore has been about the rich families that inhabited the South Shore. But we wanted to tell the story about everyone else, the fisherman, the African-American community.”

Throughout the book, Verga and Buffett take readers through the colorful history of the Bay Shore hamlet in vintage photographs.

The Bay Shore Historical Society — keepers of the archives that supplied the majority of the book’s images — will receive 25 percent of the book’s profits.

The foreword was also written by Bay Shore Historical Society president Barry Dlouhy.

For his part, Buffett said his broad knowledge of Long Island history in general  helped him to tell Bay Shore’s story.

“I had to fit Bay Shore into that [wider context],” he said. “So the chapter intros are very wide open because this fits into a general change that was happening in Long Island communities from the 1970s and 1980s into the 1990s, when places started to come back.”

When speaking to people outside the area about Bay Shore, Buffett is quick to touch on the school district, as well as the diversity of people, businesses and recreational activities.

“My wife and I moved there because it’s such a diverse school district — and the marinas and the downtown area that’s on the rise again and has been for awhile,” he said.

Verga said he would like readers to walk away from the book with the idea that Bay Shore is a place that endures.

“Bay Shore has endured like no other place,” he said. “They’ve always found a way to remake their community, to survive, and thrive.”

Images of America – Bay Shore ($21.99) is available at the Barnes & Noble in Bay Shore (pictured), as well as nearby Costco stores. It can also be ordered online through the Images of America website.

Verga and Buffett are having a book signing at Willy Nilly Trading Company at 153 West Main Street in Bay Shore at 1 p.m. on April 22, where books will be made available.

Verga released his first Images of America book, Civil Rights on Long Island, in October.

He is also GreaterBayShore contributor.

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