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INTERVIEW: Ellen Zimmerman On East Marion Community Association And Oysterponds Historical Society's The East Marion Stories Project

T.J. Clemente

The East Marion Stories Project will document the history of the hamlet. (Photo: Courtesy of Oysterponds Historical Society)

The East Marion Community Association (EMCA) and Oysterponds Historical Society (OHS) recently partnered to launch the East Marion Stories Project, with the goal of engaging the East Marion, Long Island community and - with its help - record audio interviews to document the history of the hamlet, including current and past residents and families, occupations, events, and artifacts before these invaluable memories fade and are lost forever. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ellen Zimmerman about the vital efforts.

After many years of providing consulting services for Fortune 500 companies, the East Marion resident was asked to combine the skills she had acquired with her love of the North Fork of Long Island - along with her second career as a real estate salesperson for Daniel Gayle Sotheby's International Realty to gather the audio interviews.

Zimmerman's journey to the East End was one of being born in St Louis, eventually working in Manhattan, and first renting a home with others off North Sea Road in Southampton. Then, her group rented on the North Fork, but when some family money came her way, she purchased her present home in East Marion. Her love for the area has grown over the years. "It's so beautiful, so historical and so unspoiled," she noted. But there are some pleasing new developments she doesn't mind. "There weren't any real restaurants out here when I first started coming out, but now we have some very high quality ones," she explained. Although she still maintains an apartment in NYC, Zimmerman is retired and considers herself a full-time North Fork resident.

About the purpose of the East Marion Stories Project, Zimmerman stated, "It is to collect as many stories from people who live in East Marion as we can - about their families, their houses, their lives, what East Marion means to them. We sent cards via the mail to all the residents."

"How this came about was a fusion of a couple of things. One was the Oysterponds Historical Society, as part of its strategic plan, wanted to get members from East Marion and more involvement from members in East Marion," she noted about the audio project.

Since Zimmerman was a longtime Society supporter, she was asked to assist organize the efforts. "I was on the board at the time and they asked me and another board member to see what we could do. It turns out that before I was ever on the board of the Oysterponds Historical Society, I was a board member of the East Marion Association," she said. "This other board member and I were very interested in the history of the area and I was the head of the history committees, this was about ten years ago." Therefore, it was a logical choice to select Zimmerman.

Zimmerman explained that even though during the Zoom-like interviews, the interviewer and the interviewee can see each other, but only the audio is recorded and preserved. The interviews will be accessible to the public through the East Marion Stories Community, in the StoryCorps Archive (storycorps.org/), one of the largest digital collections of human voices, comprised of recorded conversations and interviews from across the U.S. and around the world. The full collection is housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

"Even if you don't live in East Marion, but still have some wonderful family stories of the area, know some unique history of the area, or know stories told to you by others, we want to hear from you!" Zimmerman stressed.

For more information, visit oysterpondshistoricalsociety.org.

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