Liberty Island — dwelling to the Statue of Liberty — may not be the primary place most dad and mom take their new child proper after being discharged from the hospital. However that was the place Hal Clancy spent his first day trip on this planet, in 1955.
This wasn’t a sightseeing journey, nonetheless. The toddler was assembly his grandparents, who lived in one of many six residences then situated on the 14.717-acre island that sits in the midst of New York Harbor.
Hal’s maternal grandfather, N.H. Foster, was the superintendent answerable for the New York Metropolis area’s Nationwide Parks from the mid-1940s by the mid-’60s and was stationed on the island. And Hal’s father, Captain George Clancy, drove the ferry that took guests from decrease Manhattan to Liberty.
“I spent a number of time there rising up,” Hal instructed The Put up. “It appeared completely regular and it nonetheless does. I really feel very at dwelling on Liberty Island.”
Hal is featured in “Liberty: Mom of Exiles” — a brand new documentary, premiering on HBO Thursday — concerning the constructing, advertising and marketing and historical past of Girl Liberty and the development of the Statue of Liberty museum that opened in June. The movie additionally profiles of us, resembling Hal, with shut ties to the statue, together with the third-generation gift-shop operator and a person who labored on the reconstruction of the torch within the 1980s.
Whereas administrators Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato initially supposed to doc the museum’s delivery, they shortly realized there have been “keepers of the statue.”
“It grew to become clear very early on that the Statue of Liberty is the individuals’s statue — whether or not it was individuals who lived on the island or the individuals who participated within the renovation of the torch,” stated Barbato. “We found the tales of the statue.”
And Hal definitely has his justifiable share of tales. When the vacationers left the island on the finish of the day, it grew to become his private playground.
He and his grandfather would climb the steps contained in the statue, with the older man stopping midway up whereas Hal ascended to Girl Liberty’s crown — the place the 2 would talk by the intercom system. He as soon as modified a 1,000-watt mild bulb (“greater than a softball, smaller than a basketball,” Hal stated) within the torch.
At evening, he’d go to sleep at his grandparents’ home to the “toot toot” of tugboats within the harbor.
“I’ve a deep connection to Liberty Island and am very sentimental,” Hal stated. “And the ferryboats are like a second dwelling to me.”
In reality, these ferryboats are why he exists.
His mom, Helene Foster, was a pupil at Columbia College when her father, N.H., first moved the household to Liberty Island. Each morning she would take the ferry to Manhattan island and again dwelling at evening. She caught the attention of a ship captain by the title of George Clancy, and so they struck up a friendship.
When she had a date, George typically discovered a strategy to block the suitor from escorting Helene dwelling.
“He would [stop the other man at the Manhattan dock and] say, ‘Sorry. Towards the foundations. Solely island residents from this level ahead,’ ” Hal defined. “So he might at all times be the one to take her dwelling.”
It labored. George and Helene wed and took an residence within the West Village earlier than transferring to Bergen County, NJ. Hal’s babysitters had been his grandparents, which meant frequent stays on the island.
“It was a very long time in the past, however these recollections vividly stand out. There have been different children who lived on the island as nicely,” he recalled of the kids of a handful of Parks Service workers. “We might play within the nonpublic portion behind the Statue of Liberty. We might experience our bikes across the island.”
When Hal was 10 years outdated, his grandfather retired and moved together with his spouse again to Maine, however Hal saved near his roots by using the ferry together with his father. As a teen he labored the snack bar on one of many boats, promoting sodas and sizzling canines.
He took a quick break from maritime life to attend Stevens Institute in Hoboken, NJ, incomes an engineering diploma earlier than working in development. However the North Arlington, NJ, resident couldn’t resist his household’s previous.
“I at all times needed to get my captain’s license, and determined to return and do it . . . in honor of my father,” stated Hal.
The identical firm that had employed his father employed him as their port captain in 1992 — making him the third era working in service to the statue.
“The hot button is, I’ve a great deal of institutionalized data, and I’ve an amazing relationship with the individuals on the Nationwide Parks Service,” stated Hal.
He’s even the voice of the safety-instruction announcement that performs on all eight ferries within the line of Statue Cruises, the one firm licensed to move guests to the island.
Within the fleet stays Miss Liberty, a ship his father as soon as piloted. Hal himself doesn’t pilot the boats regularly anymore, as he’s now the director of amenities at Statue Cruises, which transports nearly 4.5 million vacationers a 12 months to see Girl Liberty.
However nobody lives on the island anymore. Residents had been evacuated for Hurricane Sandy, which flooded and badly broken the properties. These buildings had been finally torn down, making room for the museum. Its immersive theater stands on what was the footprint of Hal’s grandfather’s home.
“I’ve derived some satisfaction trying on the plans for the museum and realizing his home is, in a manner, inside it,” stated Hal, who’s single.
N.H. handed in 1983, 15 years after his spouse. Hal’s father, George, died in 1982, and he misplaced Helene in 2017.
“I took her out to go to the Statue of Liberty one final time just a few weeks earlier than her demise,” Hal recalled. “She suffered from extreme dementia, but, as I took her across the facet of Liberty Island going through Manhattan in a wheelchair, she spontaneously stated she remembered going to highschool from there. It introduced tears to my eyes.”