Pines People- Arden Catlin

Arden Catlin.


The former Arden Rosswaag was Manhattan born and educated. She had been coming out to Fire Island since 1930 when her family, through friends in Sayville starting renting a cottage from the Gerrodettes in Cherry Grove. The eastern most house in Cherry Grove was then known as “Maryland” then “Assemblage.”  There were trails through the dense thickets from the Grove with its then 25 homes to the half dozen homes in a area that would become the Pines. Married in 1937 to Charles Catlin she moved away from New York City. He was a metallurgical engineer whose work took them away to many parts of the country; but they always found their way back to the island for some part of the summer. Charles brother Barney and wife Charlotte would also become part of the Pines community. Original Pines settlers were: Ofterdingers, the Wocutts, Thorpes, Stecks, Mahlers, McLeods, and others. 

In 1947 the Catlin’s bought their first lot in the Pines. Five years earlier the Catlin’s were already ensconced bayside in a 16×16 army surplus pyramidal tent. Dealing with heat and mosquito’s they asked Home Guardian Company of NY who owned the land then called Lone Hill to trade their land in for a plot on the ocean. Prices were high at $50.00 a foot for bay and $80.00 for oceanfront. The Home Guardian were delighted to make the exchange as they were selling nothing at that time.

They lived in the tent for two seasons until it was blown away by heavy winds. Beginning her real estate journey they sold the oceanfront property and moved onto Neptune Walk. When Home Guardian finally took to develop the Pines in 1952, its manager Edward Olsen suggested that Arden become the property agent because of her familiarity with the terrain.  She would then buy with her commissions the surrounding plots for privacy. The Catlin homesite was originally owned by Les & Ceil McLeod proprietors of the then “Little Café” at the ferry terminal. Arden knew the community, and also the clientele of the nearby Cherry Grove, but Home Guardian had other ideas. They let people know them with a sign in the harbor announcing what they wanted.  Arden knew better, and in the end it is not what they a different kind of Family community…



Arden Catlin at former Coast Guard Station 1950s


She took the job and enthusiastically sold lots for them for five years. In 1957 Arden went into business for herself as a licensed broker. At the same time her friend Irene Gerrodette the lady postmaster of Cherry Grove encouraged  Arden to become the Pines first Postal official. She ran both the Post Office and Real Estate out of a tiny 5×7 shack on the harbor at the corner of the boulevard. Most business was transacted on the wooden walk in front of the building until 1961 when Arden built a larger cedar shingled house where she partnered with Florence (Cappy) Kaplan and Myra Kahan of Hanlans to open the Picketty Ruff Café.  

1965 Picketty Ruff Cafe


Postmistress, Arden R. Catlin, (Photo by Marvin Lichtner/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)











Her office became the hub of the Pines where residents came to ask for phone numbers, complain about noisy neighbors, and leaky toilets. The March 1962 hurricane did not even make this Fire Islander leave her beloved Pines. She stayed taking calls for a 48 hour span without a break from concerned homeowners worried if their homes would survive. The Coastguard came with a small boat as she told them she would take her chances and stay. The next day with helicopters buzzing overhead in a beautiful sun filled blue sky and peacefully quiet she wondered what happened. She soon found out. 13 houses lost.



She would write the local Column in Fire Island News with all the community news.








Having one of the first pools in the community. The pool 20×32 feet was built because of convenience and warmer water than the ocean. Also she was a former Women’s Swimming Asscn. competitor.  Arden’s five white poodles Maggie, Jiggs, Pippa, Jima and Katrinka were her children.


   In 1967 Arden and Charles would become the southernmost resident of the Pines with a winter move to Key West. Her Real Estate office building would eventually turn into the Sandpiper as she rented the property out to Gene Smith and Ron Malcolm with partners, still keeping her office on site. Modifications would happen to the building as the restaurant evolved into a disco.




Her niece Cindy Rosswaag  followed in her aunts footsteps becoming a Realtor in the 70’s.  Arden sold the Sandpiper building in 1979 to Count Charles de Rohan and partners who would go on to open the Pavilion in 1980.


Arden Catlin retired in 1982 after 50 years of selling Real Estate in the Pines.

We are looking for more information about the last years of Arden Catlin’s life. Please send any info to:



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