I was at Governors Island today where two other volunteers and I conducted some oral histories. We spoke to a Coast Guard man who worked on the island in the mid 1990s as the island was preparing to shut down. Closing down Governors Island was no small feat and the process took several months. Several thousand Coast Guard service persons and their dependents lived on the island until 1996. The process was well along for them to transfer. Everyone was gone by the end of that year, but in 1997 a few dozen workers, including the man to whom we spoke today, lived for a few months in Staten Island, commuting on the ferry and crossing over to do the mop up work mothballing the island. It’s strange that the mid 90s are part of history, but such is life.
The other interviewee was a First Army musician in the mid 1960s. He was actually stationed at Fort Dix but once came to the island for a First Army talent contest, which he and his bandmate won. The level of talent in the various military bands, even today, is more impressive than the general public might know. People like John Coltrane had extensive military band experience, in Coltrane’s case in the Navy. It is always special to speak to the people who served on Governors Island. Equally special is to collaborate with the volunteers and rangers who care for the island today.