New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. and the Southampton Town Board both presented proclamations to Bridgehampton resident Richard Hendrickson on Tuesday to recognize his life of service and 100th birthday.
Hendrickson bought 2 acres on Lumber Lane for $500 in 1935 and ran a poultry farm, which hatched 2,000 chicks every spring. He sold the farm a number of years ago and built his current home on an adjacent property. But besides being a retired poultry farmer, Hendrickson is known around the East End for his decades as a cooperative weather observer.
From his home weather station, Hendrickson has recorded the weather twice a day for the National Weather Service since 1930.
Thiele acknowledged that Hendrickson actually turned 100 on Sept. 2, but he kidded that presenting him with the proclamation more than three months later is pretty good for government work, especially considering the setbacks that Superstorm Sandy caused.
Local and national news sources have turned to Hendrickson for his expert insight before and after big weather events for many years. After a severe snowstorm in December 2010 buried the East End, Patch turned to Hendrickson. He said that based on his observations of wind speeds and snow accumulation, the storm fell short of being accurately labeled a blizzard. And before Tropical Storm Irene struck Bridgehampton, a Wall Street Journal website shot a video with Hendrickson in his weather station and got his predictions.
Thiele recalled growing up in Sag Harbor and reading Hendrickson’s weather observations in The Sag Harbor Express. “I feel like I've known him all my life,” the assemblyman said.
In his 25 years being an elected official, Thiele said, “Of all the proclamations and citations and resolutions I’ve presented, I’ve presented more to Richard Hendrickson than any other person on the East End of Long Island.” He added that they were well-deserved.
Hendrickson's remarks in the Town Board room Tuesday came down to two major points: The way of life he knew on the East End as a young man is drying up, and — based on more than 80 years of observations — he can say with certainty that global warming is real.
Of farming, he said, “There’s nothing better than working seven days a week with livestock.” But, he added, “It is a way of life that is leaving us.”
Besides development, he said that global warming is a threat the East End farming because climate change will affect what can be grown.
He counted himelf fortunate to live on Long Island: “It's overcrowded in some spots, but there’s no place like it in the world.”