The two mat-framed six by eight inch photographs show a six-man Sag Harbor basketball team Howard joined in 1913. One featured their playing uniforms with three seated and three standing behind. Howard, easily recognized from other family pictures is in a wicker arm chair, arms folded, as is the team’s other tall man setting to his far right. Between them, the team captain holds a basketball with “13”painted on it to record their season. Jerseys all sport three letters, a very large “Y” framed by a smaller “M” and “C”. Forming a row in another picture, Howard is second tallest of the six with the sturdiest build. Wearing heavy three-button sweaters with two front pockets, the three letters stacked over their hearts, they played the 1913 season for the Young Men’s Club.
The Sag Harbor Express frequently reported team game results. Despite Howard joining, the season started slow and they didn’t record their first win until early March defeating Northport 60-35. A few weeks later they defeated the West Hampton All Stars in an exciting game coming out on top 46 – 40. They were improving with experience. He was enjoying Sag Harbor, met the woman he planned to marry and settled into a new and promising life for a strong, good looking young man. But in a few months his teammates would mourn his loss.
Can a mother or fiancée read “…left leg torn off…” or “…neck and arms broken…” and “…killed instantly…” , see the accident portrayed as Howard’s fault and not be crushed with pain and anger? Some City daily papers and, to a lesser degree, the Sag Harbor Express reported the accident based on statements of the big touring car’s chauffer, Arthur Flynn, of East Hampton. Flynn, driving well known New York City lawyer John W. Herbert’s son and Alfred Stanley said Howard was speeding45 milesper hour when they collided on a sharp turn near Dr. Johnson’s cottage in North Haven. Flynn declared he was only going15 milesper hour at the time. Held initially, Riverhead coroner R. G. Cornwell exonerated Flynn, but Banister’s family investigated further.
Under the pen name “Justice”, a close friend or family member wrote an extensive letter to the editor of the Sag Harbor Express and East Hampton Star making a compelling case that the accident had not been Howard’s fault. Justice also refuted stories that lawyer Herbert had paid all expenses associated with the accident, statements especially upsetting to Howard’s mother, Lucy. But by then only the papers’ readers were able to render verdict and only in their own minds. Both letters described a bright, upright young man of steadfast integrity who was admired by many and emulated by few.
Captain Raynor, the officers and crew of the Sag Harbor – New London steamer Wyandotte where Howard was serving as oiler, gathered at the home of his fiancée’s father where his body lay, to honor him. Members of the Young Mens Club also paid respects at Otis Edwards’ home and representatives accompanied his body to the St. Luke’s funeral in East Hampton and burial in Cedar Lawn.
These 99 years later when I look at that simple half-round stone, I imagine young Mary Edwards, hoping to have married Howard the next fall, kneeling by his gravesite. I see her placing a small hand on his name through a veil of tears torturing herself with what might have been? Tracing each letter of her lover to be… now just a name carved in the first stone.
Pages: 1 2