by Hugh O’Brien
this seems to be the penultimate wind-up ultimately penned for the late summer
and early post-summer of 2014, a year which if nothing else has given new
meaning to the term “rollercoaster”. Even as Saltaire embarks upon a massive
construction project rivaling the building of the Suez Canal, only without the
prospective income, in other areas of village life, for most people all the
turbulence has labored to produce…nothing much different, so far.
major changes are underway. The field has been filled, the store struck, and
Broadway buckled under the weight of construction vehicles busily hauling the
debris from the ongoing renovation of lower Saltaire. (Or is it upper?)
De-construction of Ye Olde Shoppe irretrievably commenced after a few bumps,
once the asbestos was safely barged off in its open containers and the place
deemed safe to destroy. Although as of this writing entrance to lower/upper
Broadway has been rendered physically impossible due to the presence of an
impenetrable strand of yellow police tape, the debris formerly known as the
Saltaire Market had long since been rendered harmless thanks to the diligence
of the asbestos abatement people way back in September, who, suited up with
enough protective gear to stage a cinema verite version of “On the
Beach”, carefully hacked off the layers of asbestos that had accumulated during
the first 99 years of the building’s existence as a food emporium. Following
standard decontamination procedures, as they exited the place the guys tossed
off their spacesuits as quickly as humanly feasible and happily proceeded to
unload open bucketsful of raw asbestos into uncovered dumpsters along
Broadway. Safety first!
we’ll leave discourse about this multimillion-dollar undertaking to more
appropriate forums and a later date. For now, the old place that served as the
focal point of much of village life for nearly a century has passed beyond the
pale of garnering a last look and is already only a dim memory, though a passel
of old Saltairians did hold out hope that some hidden treasure or missing
person might have surfaced when the walls came rumbling down. And that’s
another thing: granted the joint had become a noble wreck – thanks to years of
neglect before being finished off by Sandy -- and needed to be torn down to
make way for the new Mahal, it’s too bad the place survived the exigencies of
sun, wind, rain, and snow for 99 summers and winters, the Hurricane of 1938,
the advent of Costco and a lack of attention, all to fall just months short of
marking its centennial. It was a matter of symmetry.
follow months of digging, scraping, plumbing, erecting, excavating, hammering,
yammering, raising money all so that by the spring of 2015…voila – a
brand new market and a brand new Village Hall stand above a brand-new cesspool,
replete with lots of attractions to bring in customers from far and wide
(mostly far) and add to the bottom line of whoever’s hired to run the thing.
Oh, did I say “whoever”? Well, you know, like we said…the more things change
the more they stayed the same.
and yeah, that business about being open about being open for business in
2015? There’s a vicious rumor that that immutable, drop-dead target date may
be a mite off. Hey, a year here, a year there, who’s to know?
let’s talk about what’s coming up before we get into what’s going down, and the
first thing that’s coming up is the field, which is in the process of being
torn up preparatory to being raised closer to boardwalk level so that future
flood waters from the Cove will cover it only to a depth of six inches instead
of twelve. That collection of 700 big white sacks deposited around the
bayfront all September – the things that looked like the tooth fairy’s
collection of dinosaur teeth – actually contained the soil with which the
nascent re-field will be resurfaced once the old stuff is, in the most literal
sense, turfed out. However, a heightened field is a happier field, and once
the work is done – promised sometime in October – and it recovers from its
traumas of our gentle winter, the new field will indeed be a more softball-,
soccer-, camp- and helicopter-evacuation-friendly arena that will serve the
community swimmingly for many years to come, floods or no floods, although
flooding would probably be useful for swimming.
sad note amidst all the figurative dynamiting around Broadway is that, on
account of said construction work, this year’s SCAA Halloween Party has been
canceled. Canceled! The thing’s been going since 1981. Nothing, no calamity,
has forced its suspension in even one season until now, not even the zombie
apocalypse of ’98. Oh, wait, that was that mass exodus of trick-or-treaters.
But since the area surrounding the Village Hall has been turned into a
hazardous landscape, it was decided not to risk having a real graveyard in
place of a fake one, so a classic piece of autumnal mirth has been put on ice
this year and will, we’re assured, be thawed out in time for next October.
Which will be a treat if it turns out not to be a trick.
and we’re supposed to be getting new dunes, maybe, on our portion of western Fire
Island this winter. Not the entire promised project, as the full project
cannot be completed before piping plover season commences April 1. God forbid
the plovers don’t have a place to pipe in perpetuity, and as if on cue the Audubon
Society, equipped with faulty science and disinformation, has filed suit to
stop the restoration of dunes at Smith Point on what used to be eastern Fire
Island, before Sandy became the latest storm to reduce the length of FI by
cutting a new passage through it. While this suit does not directly target
what, with the inadvertent creation of Fire Island Lite to the east, we may
call the Real Fire Island, some people with no dog in this fight could easily
throw a monkey wrench into our pet project and, thanks to the bird brains who
have unleashed their fancy to take flight in tandem with their intelligence,
pretty much foul things up for the rest of us. Stay tuned.
SYC has dialed down its season, shut and left to sit undisturbed, mostly, until
the spring scrubbing 31 weeks from now. Hose off any lingering asbestos dust,
that sort of thing.
of the SYC, its certificate of incorporation – another century-old landmark –
may soon need to be revised to take account of its new name, the Meluso Yacht
Club. Good Commodore Geoffrey has just been reelected for an unprecedented
fourth one-year stint as Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the House, a
deserved reward – at least the rest of us tell Geoff it’s a reward – for a man
who’s been faced with unprecedented circumstances during the past three years.
The tradition is two years then don’t let the swinging door hit you on the way
out, but when Geoff’s time does come that door will hit him ever more gently
for all he’s had to cope with. The rest of the Board of Governors of the MYC,
most returning to their last stands, are officers Vice Commodore Pia Notaro
(who must feel like Hosni Mubarak’s Vice President), Roseanne Trentacoste (Rear
Commodore), Cindy Anderson (Secretary), Steve Kunreuther (Treasurer), Carole
Sirovich (Tennis Captain), Patrick McElhone (Fleet Captain), and governors
Richard Hochman, Jim Sconzo, Bernard McElhone, Cheryl Valente, Ralph
Perlberger, Juan Pablo Pallordet and Dylan Patterson. Welcome aboard again,
sand castle contest was held August 31st, allowing a throng, or it
may have been a horde, of builders to demonstrate that they can compete with
the best market architects and conjure some amazing sculptures out of our
so-far-unreplenished sand. Castles were judged in various categories according
to their creators. Here are the details, and the proud winners, courtesy of
event organizer Cheryl Valente:
Prizes were awarded in the following categories: Age under 6;
6-12; 12-18; adult; family; originality; presentation. Twelve trophies were
awarded with numerous honorable mentions for the awesome works of art!
1. Matrix. 4 yrs. "Turtle and Castle"
2. Samantha, Jordan, Ava. 7-10 yrs. "Noah's Ark"
3. George, Nate, Spencer, Felix. 7-9 yrs. "Octopus Eating
4. Olivia, Jack, Luke, James, Will 11-14 "Alligator"
5. Tierney, Haley, CarrieAnn 12-18 "Cookie Monster"
6. Adrian and Mom. "Saltaire Surf"
7. Carla and Dad "Swimming Fish"
8. Brandon and Tyson-SOR. "Bacon and Egg" (in honor
of National Bacon
9. Kathy. Adult. "Elephant in the Room"
10. Chaplin Family. "Spiral Castle"
11. Grant and family. "Castle"
12. Kiley. 13. "Fish on a Hook"
Best in Show: Fuller Family. "Baconater" This was a
grand Sea Snake with bacon strips for tongue and eyebrows.
Thank you, Cheryl. If the FIMI project really materializes this
winter, we’re promised an even higher quality of grain size and versatility for
even greater entries at the next sand castle contest on Saturday, Sept. 5,
on the subject of proud winners, that old Saltaire softball saw, “The few, the
Proud, the Dogfish” received renewed resonance Labor Day weekend, when the
‘fish topped their already hard-to-top season by excising the Excitables from
the scoreboard…well, almost. A solid 7-3 win, if the scoreboard is to be
trusted. I see no one among the ‘fish is in a hurry to erase it before the
would be remiss if we failed to note that our old friend, Kevin Gillespie, late
of the Saltaire Fire Company and the Saltaire Security force, has
finally decided that, effective the end of Octoberr, he’ll stop clutching his
longtime job as chief of automotive maintenance at the Woodhull School in
Corneille Estates and retire. Now, Kevin has been an integral part of Fire
Island life for, like, the past 75 years, and looking remarkably healthy for
all that. He’s survived overwashes that threatened to scoop up his school bus
and send it drifting to a new school in Portugal, flooding from Sandy that saw
him literally running north through central Ocean Beach to escape the modest
tidal surge inundating the town, pummeling by a sudden gusher from an abruptly
opened fire hydrant, and driving unsteady villagers through driving rain to the
safety of the waiting ferry. Water, you will note, has played an integral part
in Kevin’s life out here, more than appropriate for a former surfer who grew up
on this island. Though Sandy destroyed his home and exiled him to the
forbidden mainland to live, Kevin has continued to work on Fire Island daily
and remains such a fixture that when, two or so years from now, he and Daphne
finally move to their home-in-progress in a non-watery area upstate, those of
us who remain will be faced with a void which, like a Fire Island pool in
winter, can never be filled. Kevin will be honored by an invite-only affair
on November 7, at which many of his nearest and dearest will be in attendance
to thank him right and proper for everything he’s done and, even more
importantly, for the present of his friendship. And try as he might, he won’t
be going anywhere soon, so you’ll still catch a glimpse of him every so often.
Probably near water.
draw to a close on a sadder-than-usual note, the sudden passing on September 1
of our friend and member of a beloved Saltaire family, Daniel Mindich. Danny
died of an apparent heart attack in the waters off the island of Oahu
while participating in the annual Ironman swim. Danny, who made his home in Hawaii,
was just 49 years old and leaves behind his wife and three children as well as
his parents, Margot and Len, and brother Jeremy, and their extended families.
We hope that the Mindich family knows they carry with them always the love and
support of the Saltaire community in this time of such profound grief.
we must also note the passing of two other Saltairians late this summer, our
good friends David Jordan and Richard Low, both of whom, as it happened, lived
back-to-back between Marine and Atlantic along Harbor. Both David and Dick
were great and kind gentlemen, thoroughly dedicated to their families and our
village, the best of neighbors and true friends. Good people, and yet more
losses this community can ill afford.
so, mercifully perhaps, we come to the end of the fourth year of the second
century of the Saltaire era. What ever does the future hold for us? Whatever
it is, odds are it’ll be expensive. But, what the hey. (Or, given the absence
of Halloween this year, Where the hay?) Like the saying says, a hundred years
from now, who’ll remember? Just like the market. Ninety-nine years, sure, but
a hundred? Forgotten already. In addition to his posted warnings about the
approaching deadline for the return of the seasonals, Harry Baker has begun his
countdown to global warming. Visit his window on East Bay Prom while it – I
mean Bay Prom, or actually, the island – lasts.
wait! Just found out we may have one more column this fall. Early November,
by rumor. So if we have anything left to report, rest assured, it’ll still be
left to report by the time we get to it. But if not, for now we’ll just say:
you next summer…well, maybe,.someplace. On line and off the record, or as
Kevin Gillespie calls it, the wave of the future. Bye now.”
if we do rematerialize, we’ll just repeat that last paragraph, except probably
for the quotation marks, the beauty of this being it’ll still be just as valid
when we really shut down for the year, while saving us some additional typing.
by the way, they’re tearing down Marine Walk this winter too. Forgot to
mention that one. Seems to be the year for this kind of thing. But residents
of Marine, never fear. With Broadway gone, Security will detour you over to
Neptune, where Chief Foley will hand you a pair of binoculars so you can get a
gander at your inaccessible house two blocks away…assuming, of course, the
Audubon Society doesn’t come after you for mistreating ganders.