2009-07-24 / Community

From Rockaway To The USN To The FBI

Former Rockaway Resident Pens Interesting Memoir
A Wave Review By Howard Schwach

John Hauss at The Wave office two weeks ago. John Hauss at The Wave office two weeks ago. John Hauss and I have lots in common.

Hauss grew up in Rockaway, and so did I. In fact, he first came to Rockaway in 1939, the year I was born here in the old Rockaway Beach Hospital.

Hauss lived in Wavecrest Gardens on Beach 20 Street, and so did I.

Hauss spent several years in the U.S. Navy, and so did I.

Hauss is a graduate of the Navy's School of Justice, and so am I.

So, when I saw a press release for his book, "Taking the Conn and Nicking the Con," I figured that I should read it and do a review for all of our Wave readers.

I'm glad that I did.

Right off the bat, some will need an explanation of the title of Hauss' book.

"Taking the conn" refers to what happens when a naval officer of the deck takes charge of the ship while at sea.

Generally speaking, the officer of the deck tells the officer he or she is relieving, "I have the conn," and then the responsibility for the ship belongs to that officer.

"Nicking the con," refers to making an arrest, something that Hauss did often when he was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent in New York City and in other venues.

Hauss first came to Rockaway in 1939, when he was nine years old, as a summer visitor in the bungalows around Beach 104 Street, right in the heart of Irishtown.

His parents liked Rockaway so much, however, that they moved to Beach 80 Street when he was in the fourth grade.

In fact, his first job was selling custard and other fast foods at Playland.

Hauss' book tells some interesting and entertaining vignettes about growing up in Irishtown in the 40s and about summer life on the beach.

Unlike many of his Irish brethren, Hauss never became a lifeguard, the premier job for young men during that time, but not for lack of trying.

"I took the test and went to lifeguard school," he said. "For some reason, I just never wound up guarding the beach."

He says that after graduating from Villanova University in Philadelphia, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do and wound up in the Navy, serving on a series of attack transports in the Mediterranean Sea and the Far East during the cold war period.

If you are interested in life at sea during a period that was relatively peaceful, this is the book you should read.

Hauss does address a few cold war events, however, including the U.S. Liberty attack.

During his time in the Navy, Hauss became a legal officer and graduated from the School of Naval Justice in

Newport, Rhode Island, about ten years before I went there to learn to be a court reporter.

After the Navy, Hauss went to Fordham Law School and worked for a while in the insurance business before following the traditional path from Fordham to the FBI.

"It just seemed like the thing to do, because I didn't like doing worker's comp cases for the insurance company," he says.

He tells lots of stories about his FBI career, having been involved in the civil rights movement and in tracking down criminals.

From 1966 to 1979, he worked in the New York Field Office, handling such cases as the Hotel Pierre robbery and some kidnappings.

The book is published by Mountain State Publishing in Martinsburg, West Virginia and can be purchased on Amazon.com.

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