‘Palace Vans’ Once Familiar Sight

Footnotes to Long Island History

‘Palace Vans’ Once Familiar Sight

Thomas R. Bayles



It was back in 1903 when Arthur W. Phillips moved to Patchogue from the family home in Yaphank, and  started in the furniture moving business.
 For 50 years he operated the "Palace Vans," which were a familiar sight on the highways of Long Island. For several years the moving vans were drawn by horses. Mr Phillips says he used to make two round trips a week to New York City. Leaving Patchogue around midnight he would reach Rockville Centre the following night, where he stopped at the home of Ross Tuthill, who operated a trucking business and formerly had a blacksmith shop in Patchogue on North Ocean Avenue. Mr. Phillips unhitched his horses and took a fresh team of Mr. Tuthill's and continued on to New York City , unloaded his furniture and returned to Rockville Centre, where he changed horses again and returned to Patchogue with his own team. He said he once made a trip with his horsedrawn van to Bridgeport, Conn, around by New York.
 He brought his first motor truck in 1912, and the horses were retired. After that the Palace Vans were motorized and continued to operate until Mr. Phillips retired in 1953.
 Before moving to Patchogue, Mr. Phillips lived on the family farm at Yaphank on the road to Middle Island, where he was born and grew up. The farm was a large one and consisted of about  300 acres with a large acreage of woodland. He cut thousands of cords of wood which was shipped by rail from the Yaphank station.
Most of it was oak corkwood and went to the brick yards at Greenport and up the Hudson River to Haverstraw where it was burned in curing bricks. The wood was cut during the Winter and allowed to season for a year before shipping, as only dry wood was used in the brick yards.
 The old homestead at Yaphank was built 100 years ago in 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, and was a large one with 11 rooms and a large attic. Mr. Phillips says his mother kept track of the cost of building the house and it came to about $1,000. Construction costs were different in those days from the present time. The family needed a large house, as there were seven boys and two girls.
 The carpenter who built the house walked out from Port Jefferson to Yaphank on Monday mornings and walked home again on Saturday night. His pay was $1.25 a day and his board.
 Mr. Phillips is the only one of his family left and he is 84 years of age. He lives at 52 Jennings Avenue, Patchogue, with his wife, but for the past few years has been poor in health and suffers from arthritis so badly it is difficult for him to get around. He enjoys reading and visiting with old friends. He can tell many a tale of life in th years gone by in the "horse and buggy" days.

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