THE PIRATE THEME

The first need for a school theme arose in finding a name for the school paper. It was thought that the theme of "The Indian" would be used, but is was found that Sewanhaka had pre-empted that. Then it was suggested the paper be called The Beavers, in honor of local beavers in neighboring Bunker's Pond. Other ideas were solicited in December, 1935 and the first paper was called "Birch Chips."

The pirate theme was adopted when the new building was opened in September 1937, and the first issue of The Buccaneer was published October 14, 1937, with Virginia Zacher as editor.

You may ask why Wellington C. Mepham High School has adopted the theme of Pirates? Local tradition of pirates on Long Island dictated the choice.

Although there is also a grave of an unknown buccaneer in Massapequa, most of the stories of pirates on Long Island center around a Scottish pirate, Captain William Kidd. His cruel, reckless deeds have been the subject of many romantic tales, including Edgar Allan Poe's The Gold Bug and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Kidd served as an officer in the British navy and in 1695 he received the king's commission to arrest all pirates. After fitting out his ship, the "Adventure," he went off and joined the pirates.

In 1699 he returned to Long Island in the sloop "Antonia", loaded with treasure, and landed on Gardiner's Island. John Gardiner, Lord of the Manor, agreed to safeguard a chest of gold until the pirates should return, and the treasure was buried in the swamp of Cherry Harbor near the Manor House. In 1699 colonial authorities found some of the treasure on Gardiners's Island, but attempts to find more have continued ever since.

Captain Kidd was arrested in Boston in 1699, returned to England, tried for murder, and hanged.

Captain Kidd's Treasure

It was decided in the first years of Mepham High School to capture the lively spirit of the buccaneers on Long Island with the policy that all publications, songs and cheers, social activities, and athletic teams would bear the stamp of pirates.

Pirate HeadThe first sense of pirates appears when entering the high school building. Here one sees floor mats with the head of a pirate.

The "Jolly Roger" flag of pirate ships was adopted by the first Mepham dance band, in the days of swing and big bands. The Jolly Roger, which was generally a skull and cross bones flag (but sometimes had a skeleton or hourglass) was originally a signal that quarter would be offered, and later came to be the general flag of a pirate ship. Jolly Roger

Skull and BonesThe dramatic society adopted the name "Skull and Bones" after the usual symbol on the Jolly Roger.

On November 2, 1938 the first graduating class voted to publish a yearbook entitled The Treasure Chest, and decided that they would have to raise $1,000 as the cost of publication. The editor was Frances Kotlarz. Treasure Chest