May 27 2015 Exclusive:Thomas J. Zinzi- The First Long Island Motor Parkway Police Officer

Sixteen years after it opened, the Long Island Motor Parkway, Inc. determined that motorcycle patrols were needed to improve  the safety of the road. The first Motor Parkway police officer hired in 1924 was Thomas Zinzi, previously assistant Parkway repair foreman and the husband of Josephine Zinzi,  the Massapequa Lodge gatekeeper.

In another exclusive, Arthur Mauriello, the grandson of Thomas and Josephine Zinzi, has provided thes rare family photos.


Howard Kroplick


First some background information on the Zinzis as published in the April 26, 1964 issue of the New York Herald Tribune (Courtesy of Gary Hammond)

“Old Toll House A Family Home.

April 26, 1964

New York Herald Tribune

A toll house on the Long Island Motor Parkway was the honeymoon cottage of Thomas and Josephine Zinzi.   They still live there, 27 years after the Parkway went out of business.

“Every now and then, some of the people who used to take the old Parkway will drop in on us,: said Mr. Zinzi, who was a motorcycle cop on the road built by William K. Vanderbilt jr.   “We talk about the old days, when the road was 18 feet wide and the speed limit was 40 miles an hour.”

“We moved here in July, 1926,” Mrs. Zinzi said.   “I was the gate-keeper, and we brought up our three children in this toll-house.”   The Zinzi house, known as the Massapequa Lodge in Parkway days, is at 301 Hicksville Road, in Bethpage.   Other Parkway lodges still standing include those at Garden City and Farmingdale [Old Bethpage].

Mr. Vanderbilt began building the Parkway in 1906, intending to use it for the Vanderbilt Cup auto races.   When the races ended in 1910, the Parkway lived on as a toll-road, charging $1 for the trip from Springfield Gardens, Queens, to Lake Ronkonkoma.

“Charles Lindbergh used to stop here in 1931, when he was giving his wife flying lessons at the Hicksville Flying Filed [Aviation Country Club],” Mr. Zinzi said.   “General Jimmy Doolittle was another who stopped here.”

The Motor Parkway passed through Bethpage on the former right-of-way of A.T. Stewart’s Central Railroad.   For the last 25 years, the same right-of-way, widened by the purchase of additional land, has carried the high-tensioned towers and lines of the Long Island Lighting Co.

“One man’s car broke down here,” Mrs. Zinzi recalled “and he borrowed the garageman’s old jalopy to get something to eat at the Beau Sejour Restaurant while his own auto was being fixed.   They took one look at the car and refused to let him in—but it was all straightened out a little later."

Thomas Zinzi on his Motor Parkway motorcycle with one of his daughters. Note: The huge siren in front. The photo was taken in front of  the Zinzi's Massapequa Lodge home.

Thomas Zinzi's badge worn on his above cap.

Zinzi's wallet badge.

Zinzi wrote this 1928 traffic accident report at the "Mayan Ruins" bridge in Garden City.

Zinzi took this photo of the accident scene. Look closely to rhe right

It's his motorcycle!

After the Motor Parkway closed, Thomas Zinzi continued to worked for William K. Vanderbilt Jr as his personal security guard.

The Zinzis purchased purchased the Massapequa Lodge and its property in 1938. They raised three children in this home...including Arthur Mauriello.

Today, I met Arthur at the home of his grandparents and where he lived as a child.

In an upcoming post, Arthur and I will reveal new Motor Parkway discoveries!


May 28 2015 Ron Ridolph 2:44 AM

Hi Howard:

    You have certainly made my day with this one !!!!!

            Cheers and Best !!!    Ron

May 28 2015 frank femenias 2:57 AM

What a find!!  That was Zinzi at the Mayan accident?!? This is too much. This is great!

May 28 2015 Tim Ivers 9:08 PM

I recall being fascinated with the house in 1963 when I began at the 8th Precinct.  The house was at the station house exit driveway.  We had a Patrolman Lou Mauriello at the time (from Bethpage).  Any relation?  He was also related to the fighter, Tami Mauriello, who fought Joe Louis.

May 29 2015 Mitch Kaften 9:43 AM

Good one, Howard. Thanks!

May 30 2015 Andy Turano 11:52 PM

    Great pictures and stories Howard. I used to live in East Meadow and never knew the history of that area.
  Thanks again for bringing your Black Beast to Riverhead for the Cruise to Orient Point.

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