Boardwalk Memorial- Albert ( Blue) Flettrich
by Stuart Lee
Originally back in the early ’60’s there were a small group of people going out to the Pines and Grove who got tired of the homophobic slurs being shouted at the passing ferries outbound to the beach from the Sayville docks.
They chartered a bus and called themselves, the bus-along.
It was totally amateur time.
Blue Flettrich who was by then going out to Fire Island took a look at this amateur operation.
He decided he could make it work better. He took over the operation and created an “airline on the ground”.
He hand-picked crew from good-looking volunteers who were offered free trips, a certain percentage from the money made on their bus, and tips made.
He created a schedule, offering busses from and to various locations in Manhattan–and for a while, even into Brooklyn.
He created an ideal 4-person crew for each bus: A captain, who would officiate, collect fares, make reservations, and balance out the fare and expense sheet, a bartender who would work in the front well of the bus, using specially-made cabinets where drink and bar supplies were kept. (Blue supervised the design and the construction of these unique structures which would be securely fastened to the bus.)
Two often multi-lingual crew who would wait on and serve the passengers who were themselves from countries in Europe and South America and were used to competent service. These two would take drink orders, two-by-two, offer peanuts and other snacks and present the bartender with the orders. It was a fast, smooth, extremely competent operation.
In those days when smoking was still in vogue, the first few rows would be set aside for the smokers.
Unlike the LIRR, pets were welcomed! Approaching the Sayville docks, any announcements for the passengers going to the Pines or the Grove would be made.
The crew of course would unload the luggage stowed below in the luggage bays of the bus.
After disembarking, the bar cabinets would be stored in “Ciel’s Little Cafe” where they were restocked and readied for the return voyages.
What Blue created would be written about in all the major media.
This operation would be copied over and over–including the Hampton Jitney. Blue made it uber-fashionable to be an Islanders’ Club member. One had to be a member or a guest of a member. Important celebrities, people in fashion, entertainment, media were constant passengers. As a result of this importance, club owners, Broadway producers, and restaurants created special nights for The Islanders’ often the night before the official Opening Night. Blue also created the “Gay Cruise”. He started the whole thing. The first cruise was on the Paquet Lines, “Renaissance”. It was covered by the New York Times and by many other important publications.
First you make history, then you become part of it…