Scott Robbins, the Development Associate of the Oysterponds Historical Society (OHS), was enthusiastic when we spoke with him about the ongoing OHS Secret Postcard Project that was created to help raise funds because the normal fundraising events had to be scrapped due to the Coronavirus. Through the Project, OHS invited the community to create a piece of art on a 5″ x 7″ postcard, which would be auctioned off in support of the Society. He revealed, "The response has been overwhelming, not only in numbers [just over 150 original postcards], but also in the creative manner the participants made them."
Robbins continued, "I would say I have been blown away by a bunch [of the postcards]. What I didn't expect was that there would be so many different mediums used; there are photographs, there are actual 3-D pieces, there are some that are weaved, there are ones that are collages, wood block prints - to me that was amazing. The vast majority [of entries are] local, certainly tri-state, there are some from further afield, people who have been to Orient, or have a family background here, but the vast majority are from New York, especially the East End."
Although the submission of the postcards ended on Sunday, August 30, the bidding process has just started. The Online Auction Bidding started Monday, August 31 at 6:00 a.m. and ends Sunday, September 6 at 12:00 p.m. The opening bid for each piece will be $50 with incremental bids of $25 thereafter. Oysterponds Historical Society will present an Orient Walkabout from Monday, August 31 through Saturday, September 5. Each night, from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., postcards and familiar community faces will be projected at four locations along Village Lane, including Webb House, Methodist Church, Old Point Schoolhouse, and Oysterponds Yacht Club. Additionally, the Society will host a "Postcard Art Show," designed to enable an in-person look at the multitude of submissions before the bidding ends, in Poquatuck Park on Saturday, September 5. The Postcard Viewing Event will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (weather permitting) and adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
There is no dollar number the OHS is trying to achieve because as Robbins said, "This is a first time project. It really is a byproduct of trying to recreate the fundraising event wheel in the midst of the pandemic. We are hoping it is successful so we can add it to our normal fundraising efforts. We usually have three outdoor main fundraising events during the summer and we haven't been able to have any of them this summer."
Robbins said the OHS has created some new vehicles for raising funds, such as the Griffin Giving Circle and have been floored by the response.
The OHS was created by zealous locals back in 1944. As stated on OHS's website, the founders "wanted to preserve the historical significance of Orient and East Marion, communities that was still largely populated by direct descendants of the European settlers three centuries before. OHS founding members Mrs. Henry F.J. Knobloch, Mrs. Alma Knox, and Mr. George R. Latham were concerned about the gradual disappearance of Native American artifacts, documents, family records, tools, art, textiles, leathers and other surviving evidence of the maritime, agricultural, cultural, and religious life of the early residents of this area."
Robbins, who was raised in Greenwich Village, actually attended the same high school as music icon John Sebastian. His family has been vacationing on Shelter Island for decades and Robbins now lives on "the rock," a term Shelter Island locals use. He admits a few years back when he took the job, he knew very little about the awesome history of the tip of the North Fork. He noted at first he was overwhelmed with both the volume and quality of the artifacts, documents, letters, photos, diaries and other items in the OHS collection. Now, he is proud to help raise the funds to protect, preserve and present them to all at the campus of the OHS (155 Village Lane, Orient, NY 11957) that is open to a welcomed public.
To view the postcards, or place a bid, visit www.postcard.givesmart.com. For more information about the Oysterponds Historical Society, visit oysterpondshistoricalsociety.org.