Naming Dan’s Papers, a Local Origin Story

Have you ever wondered how Dan’s papers to his name?

Interestingly, it was not originally named for a newspaper. It was the name given to the place where a series of newspapers were published.

I’ll explain.

I published the first edition of my journal in Montauk on July 1, 1960. I was a student and my father owned White’s Drug Store in Montauk. The previous summer, I had worked for my father. Now I thought, coming home for the summer, it would be a good idea to put out a free summer newspaper in this town. I had worked on my college newspaper. Montauk didn’t have a newspaper. I would give one to the city. I would be out in the sun instead of locked in the store.

The paper, called The Montauk Pioneer, was a great success from the start. For the next five years, I lived with my parents, used my bedroom as an office, and published an increasingly successful book. Pioneer in Montauk every summer. During this time, I finished my college and higher education.

Now was the time to be an adult. As the Pioneer was successful, but not enough to live on, I thought of opening a separate summer newspaper in East Hampton. I would call him The East Hampton summer sun.

I would also move to East Hampton. For an office, I rented the front half of a 19th century carriage house on Gay Road facing the Montauk Highway, just beyond the triangle of grass called Sheep Fold. (The post office is now on Gay Road. The shed has been moved and is now attached to the back of the Amaden Gay Real Estate office as an addition.) And I bought a little house south of the highway to East Hampton (for $9,500) and left my parents’ house. It was a big move for me. And my parents gave me their blessing.

I sold all the ads myself. I wrote all the stories in both newspapers myself. And delivered the paper myself in the back of a red van I bought for this purpose.

The first idea that there were issues was the issue of how to get the red van to say “Montauk Pioneer” on its side when it was in Montauk and “East Hampton Summer Sun” on its side when I was delivering to East Hampton . I solved this problem by painting two wooden panels that could each be affixed to the opposite side windows of the van. One side of each sign pointed to Montauk Pioneer and the other side to the East Hampton summer sun. The panels were removable and flip up so I could stop and change the name depending on where I was.

But to service both cities, I also had to have a small staff in that East Hampton carriage house. Ron Ziel, a railroad enthusiast who lived in Bridgehampton, became the book’s late editor. Southampton’s Cecil Hoge became a writer and producer. And Rameshwar Das from Amagansett became our photographer.

We also had a secretary named Marge Miller. She sat at a desk near the front door. And she answered the phone when it rang. Very quickly, she saw a problem.

“How am I supposed to answer the phone?” ” she asked. “Montauk Pioneer or East Hampton Summer Sun?”

I had no answer to this question. Everyone stopped working to listen to the answer.

I turned around to ask everyone. “Any ideas ?”

No one had an answer.

So I rephrased the question. “What we need here,” I said, “is a general name for the two newspapers. Like we have Cheerios, but there’s a company name for people who make Cheerios and other food products. Like Kraft Foods. Or General Foods. The food itself doesn’t have that name.

Still nobody spoke.

I continued. “How about ‘Summer Paper Publications?’ What do you think?”

“I would say that?” said Miller.

“Yes, that sounds good. Summer-Paper-Public-Cations.

“That’s so stupid,” someone said.

“It’s like ‘Peter Piper picked a slice of pickled peppers,'” I said. “It would be fun to hear Marge answer the phone with that.”

“Idiot,” Ziel said.

“Here’s another idea,” I said. “Call it ‘Ink Inc.’ We would be in. It would work.

“Like ‘Oink Oink?’ Like the pig?

“Someone help me here,” I said giving up.

It was Ziel who found the correct answer.

“Call it ‘Dan’s Papers,'” he said. It’s like going to Coney Island and buying Nathan’s Hots. Like Dan’s Hots. But these are the newspapers.

The first van Dan’s Papers

That’s what we called it. Accompanying this article is a photograph of the small sign I made and stuck in the ground in front of the carriage house facing the street. He was reading “Dan’s Papers”.

Well, over the next few years we got calls from people who thought we were selling stationery. Or wallpaper. We would straighten them out.

Pretty soon, everyone liked the name. In tiny print, below the large letters that read “Montauk Pioneer” or “East Hampton Summer Sun”, there was the slogan “One of Dan’s Papers”.

Over the next several years, we began publishing year-round and expanded to include the Southampton Summer Day, The Sag Harbor Pilot, The Hampton Beach (west of the canal) and The North Fork Free Enterprise. All of these newspapers had their own editorial pages as well as stories common to all cities. It worked well. Until I noticed something strange. Everyone called all these newspapers “Dan’s Papers”.

For a moment I thought that was good too. Where was it? One day, Labor Day weekend in 1975, I held up a copy of The East Hampton summer sunwith the name in giant letters at the top of the first page and I asked a friend who was standing in front of me to tell me what the name of the newspaper was.

“Dan’s papers,” he said.

And so the next week I changed everything to say Dan’s papers. And it’s been like that ever since.

It’s like at breakfast, you ask someone to pass the Kellogg’s rather than the Rice Krispies.

Well, it could happen.

About Myra R.

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