Walter Downs Bench and Sailboat Racing Series
Walter Down (1907-1987) first came to Bayside as a young child. In fact, his father and his paternal grandparents, Bangor-area Methodists, attended camp meetings here in the 19th century, first tenting and later renting rooms. In 1947, Walter and his wife Emmie bought the family’s first cottage (the “Acorn” cottage on upper Broadway). Both teachers, they were able to spend their entire summers here with their children Suzanne (Molnar) and Ernie.
Walter taught himself to sail and then bought a little sloop. He was active in the newly formed yacht club, serving once as commodore and several times as fleet captain. He raced, and he also organized several cruises each summer, cruising mainly on Penobscot Bay but also going with his family as far as Grand Manan.
After retiring from teaching, Walter created Bayside’s first community sailing program. Assisted financially by Snell Robinson and logistically by Al Keith, he led the NYC in buying several Turnabouts (small catboats). Teenagers were trained to captain the boats and coach beginning sailors while Walter directed the program and supervised from a powered skiff.
Indulging a lifelong fascination with steam engines, Walter had one more adventure on the Bay late in life: He had a small, wood-fired steamboat built, complete with steam whistle. He entertained himself and all comers by taking passengers out for joy rides.
Walter’s importance for the NYC’s sailing program is memorialized in the annual Walter Downs Sailboat Racing Series for young sailors.
Written by Walter’s daughter, Suzanne Molnar
In memory of Heloise Kennedy Leonard (1898-1978) and Robert Winslow Leonard (1928-1987)
Heloise was a dear friend of my mom. She lived in the house now owned by the Handwergers. Her son Robert was a pilot, I believe with the Navy. Occasionally he would buzz Bayside on the way, I guess to some military airport. I was very young at this time but I remember the pride Heloise, Mrs. Leonard to me, had when this happened. It was also the talk in Bayside for a week afterwards. I remember when we were hit with a hurricane back in the mid-fifties (Carol, August 1954) and walking down past Parker’s Store with my mom and Mrs Leonard. The wind was blowing like hell and she turns to mom and says it’s a bit breezy today. The largest cabin cruiser in the anchorage at that time was the Clements Folly which had just washed up on the rocks just south of the wharf. During those years I was just getting interested in cars. Mrs. Leonard had a 57 Chevrolet blue and white. For young car buffs like me this was and still is considered a classic model year. Her car had roll up windows not power windows which was an anomaly with a car that otherwise was fully loaded. I asked her why one day and she said if I have an accident and go into the water I want to be able to roll the windows down to escape, with power windows they might not work when the electric system gets wet.
Written by Don Webster October 2023. This memorial bench was given by Don’s mother, Adeline Rogers Webster (1908-1996). Peter Freeman and Fred Lincoln also shared the story of Bob Leonard buzzing Bayside.
Savitz Family Bench
The Savitz Bench sits at the top of Bay View Park. As the family notes: “Bayside thrives on young families and children. Best of times!”