More Memories of Beacon Hill Colony
By Barbara Kowalczyk Frome
In 1971, I moved with my family to California. As wonderful as our new home would be, we left behind what
was a slice of heaven, Beacon Hill Bungalow Colony, as it was know back then. I was just 11 but the
Colony was such an important part of my life, actually that of my entire family’s. Memories of my time there
are still held dear.
I’ve vacationed with friends and my new family at their many summer and winter homes. From Palm
Springs to Tahoe and Laguna and Newport Beaches (recently made infamous by television) to Hawaii, I’ve
enjoyed time at all of these places but none enjoyed the camaraderie that existed (and I hope still exists) at
I’m a true native of the colony. My mother went into labor with me while enjoying a warm August day - -
August 7th to be exact. Every birthday she would tell the story of how my father had to drive back to the
city house enroute to the hospital so that she could shave her legs. You see, colony living was still very
primitive in 1960 - - no hot water, outdoor showers, hot plate cooking to name a few of the standard non-
My grandparents, Barbara and William Rumple acquired #8 when my mother was a child. No one of that
generation is left to set the facts straight but I believe they owned their bungalow as far back as the 40’s.
During my time at the Colony, they were some of the old timers. Many bungalows were multigenerational,
passed down from family to family. There was very little turnover and when there was, most people sold to
friends or friends of friends keeping the community tight.
The “season” would commence just prior to Memorial Day when residents would make their way to Port
Wash to open up the bungalows and get them ready for the summer - - take off the storm windows, air out
the rooms, turn the mattresses, bring in supplies, etc.
The Association was a very active and social entity. There was always a kick-off party, 4th of July Party,
Mid-Summer’s Theme party - - I still remember the year my parents vacationed in Jamaica with the
Savaras, another colony couple and the party that year took on a Jamaican theme replete with the limbo -
- and the big blow out Labor Day party which included kids races, a channel swim and Chinese Auction
(does anyone remember this?) The parties were formulaic but still always fun. The Association would
supply hot dogs and hamburgers, kegs of beer and galvanized buckets brimming with ice and soda. The
beverages were always set-up behind Bungalow #6, at that time owned by the Church family, as it was a
shady alley. The party would go on all day long. The theme party was an evening event for which the
dance floor (made by some of the men) would be pulled out and globe lights would be strung high above
the party area. The children would help with the decorations - - I remember making paper flowers and
paper chains for a Hawaiian Luau. And, always a Champagne fountain added to the line-up of libations.
The children were welcomed for the first part of the party and then we were banned from the real
Our days always started the same. Breakfast in bathing suits and then a dash to the beach. We would
spend the whole day on the beach until our parents would call us home for dinner. One family summoned
their kids from high on the hill with a cow bell and another with an oversized triangle like the ones used by
a chuck wagon cook yelling “come ‘n get it!” I had the distinction of being notified with a foghorn in a can.
It made the loudest noise and we lived the closest! We’d finally change out of our suits just before dinner.
As soon as dinner was over and chores were complete back to the beach where we had spot lights that
illuminated hours more of play.
If we weren’t in the water we were hunting fiddler crabs at low tide, walking down towards Sands Point to
climb the 2 large “boulders” at the shoreline, going to the hill
that was made out of clay, digging it up and bringing it back home in buckets, finding the tree swing that
was tucked away at another beach, building sand castles, having a lunch picnic on the beach, tracking
down the Good Humor man or playing board games and cards. There was a whole group of girls around
the same age - - Kathy, Karen, Noreen, Maureen, Patty, and Robin. Few of us saw each other off-season
but when we reunited for the summer it was as if no time at all had passed.
In his later years my grandfather “Willie” worked at the beach “club” next door. We met some wonderful
families from Beacon Hill. Anyone who was a resident of BHBC would remember the Whitleys. They had
seven children - - many still in diapers - - and Mrs. Whitely who was 5ft tall and 90 pounds would schlep
them and all their required apparatus to the beach everyday. BHBC gave her a key to our gate so that
she could drive as close to the beach as possible relieving her of the many stairs that separated their
parking lot and beach. When my grandfather became ill they took me in for several weeks when my
grandmother and mother navigated the Dr. appointments and hospital visits.
Every once in awhile one of the parents would take us over to the Sand Pit where we would fill our buckets
with frogs to be brought home. I’m not sure, but I think we might have commingled them with the fiddler
Port Washington was still a sleepy little town back then. When Baskin Robbins opened it was big news.
Not only probably the first chain to make it’s was to town but it gave us a new outing. Every once in a
while, we would pile into the Bundy’s station wagon - - car seats and seat belts were not standard then - -
and head into town for an ice cream treat after dinner.
Rain meant creating a fort, going to a movie, always Disney, or just hanging out at someone’s bungalow.
Our little bungalow was among the more primitive. It consisted of just 2 rooms. A living room and dining
room/porch. Both which also doubled as sleeping areas. We also had a teensy, tiny kitchen which
sported a small refrigerator, toaster oven, electric frying pan and 2 electric burners. Most of our cooking
was done on the BBQ. We shared a bathroom with #9 - - it was almost an outhouse. It was plumbed and
the room was attached to both homes but you had to enter it from the outside. My father who hated
commuting all of his life would only come out on weekends and Wednesday evenings. We looked forward
to his time with us but I also cherished the special time with my mother. Number 8 was on the hill but
closest to the beachfront properties. We had a patio where my family would spend much of their evening
time and we always greeted people as they made their way to and from the beach. Everyone would stop
and say hi and get caught up on the news of the colony.
It’s hard to imagine that this all existed during the turbulent 60’s. As children our little world was so isolated
and just so perfect.
I understand that a fire raced through the colony in the late 70’s and that #8 was razed. When I look at the
BHBC website it looks so different but also much the same. I’ve been to New York many times since
moving west but have never ventured outside of Manhattan. Someday, hopefully soon, I plan to make a
pilgrimage to the old place and I’m sure that I’ll find much of the past even in new faces.