Meyer Shapiro - The Luckiest Guy in Yaphank

Meyer Shapiro, the luckiest guy in Yaphank
In 1914, Meyer Shapiro a hay and feed dealer decided to make a career change. He agreed to exchange his three Woodhaven homes for a ten-acre farm in Yaphank. The Woodhaven homes represented a value of about $12,500, and so he exchanged the homes for the Yaphank farm of Edward Schultz. His friends told him that they thought he had lost his mind, and that the farm would not show a positive cash flow for a century.
Shapiro told his friends that he had always wanted a farm on Long Island and didn’t care if the farm made a profit. Shapiro moved his wife and four children to their new Yaphank home.
Meyer purchased 20 cows and went into the milk business. That business came to a quick end when he was informed by the State Dept. of Health as to the changes he would have to make to be in compliance with the sanitary laws. These changes would come with a considerable cost and Shapiro left the milk business. Meyer turned to potatoes and never realized the profit he expected. Especially since Shapiro claimed that many of the potatoes were stolen out of his field.
By 1916 Shapiro had serious misgivings about his purchase and was entertaining the thought of selling the farm and 15 room house for a “mere song”.
In 1917 the United States entered WWI and it was decided to build a training camp at Yaphank. It just so happened that Shapiro’s farm occupied the land on the opposite side of the Yaphank rail station. Every train would stop at this station and the passengers were given time to exit the train.
Meyer quickly lost all interest in potatoes and went into the leasing business. Suddenly businesses were bidding to put stores on his farm. The United Cigar Stores Company erected a two-story structure. The Army and navy equipment Company constructed a one-story building. Other spaces were taken up for hotels, bowling alley, billiard parlor, restaurants and quick lunch rooms. Shapiro’s farm began to look more like a western boom town.
Shapiro turned down a $100,000 cash offer for the farm. The first year of rents collected totaled $200,000. By 1921 Camp Upton was closed, and the boom faded away. It didn’t matter to Meyer who had by this time become a wealthy man.
Meyer is a perfect example of the slogan; I’d rather be lucky than good.
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