Nov 21 2014

An Amazing Evening: “A Tribute to Henry Austin Clark, Jr. and the Long Island Automotive Museum”

It was truly an unforgettable evening last night with 118 people paying tribute to automotive icon Henry Austin Clark, Jr. and his Long Island Automotive Museum at Bethpage Public Library.

The audience included Clark's friends, former employees, current owners of his automobiles, Long Island driving icon Marty Himes and members of the Long Island Motor Parkway Presevation Society and various car clubs.Walt McCarthy and Walt Gosden discussed the life and times of this Long Island automobile icon based on their own personal experiences, photos and films.

Andy Hartwell has posted a summary of the event with photos on his website.

Andy Hartwell: This album is from a special remembrance tribute to Clark given at the Bethpage Public Library auditorium on Thursday, November 20, 2014. Noted historian Howard Kroplick , representing the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society, presented a slide show about Clark and several people who knew Clark well were on hand to share stories and provide some of the 'color' for the evening. Among them were Walt McCarthy and Walt Gosden, two people who were close friends with, and worked with, Clark. The presentation was well attended with over 100 people on hand, many of them also sharing their own memories of the much beloved Clark.

A model diorama of the original museum grounds was on display and drew a lot of attention. Alongside the diorama were posters announcing the museum as well as the actual 'uniform' Clark wore when working on his collection. Kroplick is the proud owner of that historic garment today and he was quite pleased to be able to display it for all to enjoy.

This tribute was truly a time for old friends to reminisce about a man they all admired. Clark passed away in 1991 but his friends have never forgotten him.

Thanks so much to Walt McCarthy, Walt Gosden, Al Velocci, the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society and the Bethpage Public Library for making this tribute such a success!


Howard Kroplick


The display of Long Island Automotive Museum memorabilia. Courtesy of Andrew Hartwell.

Artist John Cuocco and his museum diorama. Courtesy of Andrew Hartwell.

Howard Kroplick provided a brief review of projects associated with the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society.

Al Velocci and Howard Kroplick moderated the tribute.

Henry Austin Clark, Jr. and Waleta (Wally) Hunter on their wedding day in November 1944. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Opening day of the Long Island Automotive Museum in August 1948. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Southampton fun in 1948. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Driver Montague Roberts, Henry Austin Clark, Jr., Wally and their daughter Ann in 1948 in the 1908 Thomas that won the New York-Paris Race. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Clark's work smock shown in the above photo was on display. Courtesy of Andrew Hartwell.

Courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum.

Henry Austin Clark, Jr. washing "car parts". Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Actor Gary Cooper and Clark in 1965. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Henry Austin Clark, Jr. driving  the world champion New York Islanders at the parade near the Nassau Coliseum in 1980. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Can anyone identify the three Islanders?

Henry Austin Clark, Jr. back at the museum after it closed in 1980. Courtesy of Walter McCarthy.

Members of the audience share their Henry Austin Clark Jr. stories and experiences. The evening could easily gone a full day!

Amazingly, the owner of the 1926 Ford Model T Acrobatic, featured in Mystery Foto #93,  was in the audience.

Late last night, the current owner sent me this photo. The "Acrobatic" can still be seen every year in the Southampton Fourth of July parade.

From left to right: Walt Gosden, Al Velocci, Howard Kroplick and Walt McCarthy.


Nov 19 2014 Ted 2:19 AM

Looking forward to this one. See you there.

Nov 19 2014 gene martin 5:06 PM

I wish I could make the tribute,as i was the first employe of the museum,me and norris hopping moved most of the cars into the museum from barns austie had in and austie raced the mercer 1911 in bridgehampton and were in the 1951 bridge program.the car just sold for 2.3 mil,we got the car to 87mph.austie had a good eye for relic autos.the moon was a good racer too.
                                          thank you
                                          gene martin

Nov 21 2014 Ted 5:56 PM

Certainly was a memorable night for some of people, who knew him and worked with him. I was very surprised that so many knew him as they were growing up. Really learned a lot about him that wasn’t known, it even amazed you Howard. Be back later on tonight.

Nov 21 2014 Howard Kroplick 10:09 PM

From Andy Hartwell:

Last night’s presentation was wonderful! I really enjoyed learning so much about a man whose name I connected with ‘The Bridge’ since I was a teen.  It was heartwarming to hear so many tell their stories about Clark.  Looking at some of the slides of the invites and the auction announcements it sure seems his sense of humor would have endeared me to him had I ever been fortunate enough to meet him!

Anyway, just wanted to say I really enjoyed the night. Your presentation, as always, was spot on. I would have to characterize the entire night as ‘professionally casual”, and that is meant as a compliment. You deftly combined static slides with expert commentary and encouraged those in attendance to flesh out the content with their own remembrances. Excellent job!  Extremely enjoyable night!

I posted my pics here
If you have a need for any of them, help yourself. If you want a higher res version, shoot me an email and I will send it to you.

Again, great evening! Thanks again!

Nov 21 2014 Howard Kroplick 10:22 PM

From Gary H.

“Just wanted to restate the obvious - it was a great meeting last night, and both Claudia & I enjoyed ourselves!”

Nov 21 2014 Howard Kroplick 10:27 PM

From Paul E:
” Was at the Bethpage Library yesterday with a friend. Great presentation, very enjoyable evening.  You bring back enjoyable memories!  I think most of the people that were there were there because they wanted to remember the past, and have an enjoyable evening. I had the liberty of having a job that allowed me weekdays off.  I would drive out to the Museum, and it being a weekday, almost always got a ride in an old car or truck!  They had to run them to maintain them.

I noticed Marty Himes was there.  He has a very interesting museum.  I was surprised you did not point him out.  Didn’t we all go to Freeport and Islip to watch the stock cars, and the modifides?  The figure 8 races were invented at Islip! As was the demolition derby! 
    You obviously enjoy what you are doing! Is there anything better then getting paid to do something You enjoy.  You know You are dealing with living history, several were there last evening!  Question, what happened to the Peirce Silver Arrow? How is Your Shelby? I have been to several of Your presentations and always learn something and have an enjoyable time. 
    Thank You for making people feel good!  Is there anything better then that?  My one owner Mustang will be 50 next Nov 17, about a year away.
          PLEASE, Stay Well, so You can do this more often!  I am on your email list.

Nov 21 2014 Walt Gosden 11:20 PM

My sincere thanks to all who attended . Special thanks to Al and Howard for inviting us to attend and talk about our great friend Austin Clark. It was very nice to see so many people from the Southampton Fire Dept. there, Craig, Amy, and also Lance Aldrich who with his late Dad, Eddie were a fixture at the L.I. A. M.
I appreciate my friends in the Long Island Buick Club who promoted the event on their web site as well, and to Dave, Joanne, Marty, Frank, Marc, Debbie, Theresa, and Dennis for being there that night. Continue to support the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society by telling your friends about it, and invite them to the next meeting.  Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Nov 22 2014 Ted 1:40 AM

Getting back to what I was saying earlier. It was good to see familiar people, never expected to see Marty Himes and MR. Jaffee. That just goes to show how many go on your website and are interested in what you do for a good cause to keep the history of long island and the motor parkway moving.

Nov 22 2014 Joseph DeBono 6:01 PM

Howard and Al, It was wonderful tribute Henry Austin Clark Jr. A person who was very knowledgeable about cars and one of the first people to research The Motor Parkway His good friend Lester Cutting would of thought it great. There should be something written about Mr Cutting. Because years ago he also was a collector and research The Motor Parkway like Mr Clark. Keep up the good work

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