I was glad when I got word midweek last week that Teds Fishing Station was about to reopen.
Ted’s is an interesting place where people of all generations can share a summers day (or evening) and do different things, even together. While there, at any given time, you see people get in and out of boats, enjoy lunch, kids play in the sand, dogs share lunch dropped in the sand, people partake of a beer at the bar.. something for everyone.
We all know how hard Superstorm Sandy really hurt everybody on the bay here in Point Lookout. Maybe no one more than Owner Ted Wondsel, his long face, and his destroyed dream, Ted’s Fishing Station in the background, in this iconic picture from right after the storm (click here for photo), amongst others picked up by CBS news and The Chicago Trubune.
Well they’re back and better than ever, but I found out, it might not have been so.
In the early days after the storm Sue Wondsel tells me, “We didn’t think we were going to open, at all: the devastation was that bad.”
“My nephew Sean came down from Toronto after the storm. He was heartbroken and my husband was really heartbroken, too.
This isnt our livelihood, this is Teds dream come true. He started at Scottys (Fishing Station a few doors down) as a dock boy when he was a kid”.
When Ed’s fishing station came available, adding big red “T”‘s to the front on “Ed’s” boats was a no brainer and Ted took the leap.
“this is his baby … So it was heartbreaking to see him go through this, not knowing if he was going to come back…. That was the worst.”
Pretty much everything – all the docks, all the boats, all the structures, all the motors; everything had been inundated and either washed away, destroyed or left behind in ruins.
“Who knew?” Sue asked, “My grandma and great grandma lived here and went through the 1938 storm and never in a million years did they ever experience anything like that. ”
“The sad thing is insurance doesn’t cover anything – really next to nothing. You can spend your whole day fighting with these people..”
Determined to do what he could, “Sean went back to Toronto and figured out how to set up the fundraising website (indie go go). ”
Needless to say, when he saw that, Ted was touched nearly to tears.
Word spread about the needs Ted’s and many others faced.
Help started to come in surprising ways. A Point Lookout resident picked up the freshly salt-water inundated motors in his own truck and dropped them in his pool to soak the salt water out, which saved a number of them.
Sue recalls the turning point: “then the outpouring from people in this town was incredible. Without that we couldn’t have done it. The people in this town stepped up. Everybody helped each other, even customers were showing up here asking us ‘so what can I do'”
“That’s when we knew that we would be able to come back.”
Next to her is retired teacher and resident bartender Karen, Sue says “she has been here almost every day helping us since”.
Hope floats… And I sure hope you didn’t own anything in it’s path!
The big red bar is a 12 x 12 piling from the 60s. For years it’s been a landmark there. The kids love sitting there – perfect kid height. Like everything else, even though incredibly heavy, it was lifted and floated away during Sandy’s storm surge.
Sue says over the winter “I went over to K&K Outboard (across from Texas Car Wash in Island Park) to buy parts and motors”. She casually talked to them about their big red bar, joking maybe they could find it on google earth.
The next day she received a call from them. They told her they “didn’t want to say anything while you were here, because our dock builder claimed it, but it’s here for you!
“He couldn’t believe they actually had it – it had to go through the bridges and over the marshes to get there. A friend of ours who’s a mover took their truck and brought it back for us”.
The Big Red Bar is back in its original location now.
A woman from out of town even returned a Ted’s life jacket which was found at Jones Beach.
It’s become tradition at Teds Clam Bar for patrons to have their own shell, where their money resides at the bar. Some are just plain, some are ornate, some are huge, clam, oyster,whelk, … lobster claw; some are not even shells. All were numbered. All are gone.
Sue and Ted told everybody to start work on their own shells a few months ago. “We’ve started collecting shells ourselves. Karen says new shells are in the works.”
Since my visit there Karen did post on Ted’s Facebook page that some shells are in. .
My highly personalized shell is in the works. Too bad – the shell that went down from last year was really something special, thanks to my wife!
Thankfully, they have been able to spend the off season on a full fledged rebuild. Many generations of family members and friends came down to help clean up, reorganize and rebuild. The decks and docks are (most) all back on and in the water. The new bait shop looks like an inviting seaside curio shop, one that also sells lots of funky decorations for fish hooks. I hear the fish just flip for them (ba-dum-Bum-cha).
Al who works there and lives just a few doors away on the water, dealt with all the flooding, clean up and rebuilding at his house too, and has also lent a hand on the rebuild.
“I like the way it looks. It’s so much more open and inviting than it was before”. The layout he explains is easier for him to get goods in and out. I think he’s also saying it looks a little more “non-fisherman” friendly.
“Its a lot nicer than it was. I don’t even have tile in my home” Sue jokes.
Sue also points out to me that Teds prize shark adorns the wall now for the first time from their own house.
“I want to say to people from town, the love and support (they showed) us… was just incredible.” They’ve put a sign out front to say Thank you (im not posting it-just go see it!)
“If it wasnt financially for people helping out, and just coming down to help us…” She drifts off, but we all know what she means….
The boats are back in the water and Sue says the fishing has been good, as pictures up on the front door attest.
The clam bar is open once again, saw many of you there on opening night. Did I ever tell you I had the best shrimp cocktail of my life there last summer….?
Welcome back, just in time for Memorial Day weekend… why not come on down, see the sign, the new place and say hi.
Click Here to find Ted’s Fishing Station on Facebook