HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY FOR JEANNE SKINNER
by Jeanne Lieberman
It was a pure love fest at the Palace - no entrance fee - just donations at will for Mrs. Skinner's favorite cause, the Dune Fund, (Jeanne still swims daily in the ocean so she is intimately aware of the problems there - and I am sure that figures prominently to her longevity) as the many Grove residents/performers had the chance to demonstrate their affection for the Grove's original and still postmistress (and former gasperson).
Even though Mrs. Skinner's actual birthday was in January, she had a family birthday party August 5th to coincide with a biannual family reunion at which over 70 guests and 42 relatives came from all over the country.
But this was the community's chance to wish Jeanne a Happy 90th and contribute to The Dune Fund.
Jeanne entered to a standing ovation at the Palace August 18th.
The sat regally on a golden draped chair flanked by her diaughter
Grandkids Inez and Kerry
Members of the Grove 90 plus club, Miss Carmen and Glen Bones
and Dr. Whipple
Sal, who regarded Jeanne Skinner and his good luck charm, has had her in all of his ten shows. In 1986 she read her first lines. That year Rae De Stephano was in it also.
Rae sang a song acapello
In one show she received a standing ovation every night. Instead of being flattered she complained "they didn't applaud as much this time"
There is no such thing as confidentiality - when you send a postcard just start it with "Hello, Jeanne". Once, when a letter was marked: test results, personal and confidential,
the whole island was concerned with the recipient's health (it was a pregnancy test)..
Dominic DeSantis a.k.a. Mae Bush, recalled "the first time I met Jeanne she was delivering gas. She said " gays & straights can live together - we don't turn them gay.. I remember going to the post office to see if Jeanne had read all my magazines yet"
Elvis, a.k.a.Denise, sings, appropriately, "Return to Sender"
Cherry Grove Gay "Men's" Chorus: Linda, Barbara, Pat & Lynn in tight harmony
Ann Phetamine sexed it up for her "sister" Jeanne
In Sal's 3rd show Jeanne played the world's oldest convicted felon and she had to scrub the floor with a toothbrush.
Lynn Tunderman was the assistant warden. It was recalled how Jeanne would always be carrying 2 red suitcases. We later found out they were filled with soda cans for her church.
Donna Pirana sang "To Sir, With Love" then added "I am honored to perform for you"
Bruce-Michael sang "This Nearly Was Mine" (is that postal?)
Sal recalled that ther show "You Go, Girl" had Jeanne's most memorable number, the rapping grannie song from "Wedding Singer"
And, always the good sport, had her in a body stocking as Lady Godiva.
Paul Jablonski remembers that the Pines had a shorter season and work week but "Jeanne stays open 6 days a week".
Demi Tasse wowed'em with her number "Starting Here, Starting Now" .
Rose sang her signature "Rose of Washington Square"."acapulco".
Ruth & Susan Freedner: Lucky for Sal we were in most of his shows - in between all our costume changes it was our job to get Jeanne ready and on stage in a timely way (and not before)
A Simon & dead panned Garfunkel medley from Barbara & Linda
After singing "Red, Red Robin " (what else?) another legend, Bella reminisced "when I was a little girl I wondered about what was she doing here , now I know - you ARE Fire Island -it is a pleasure to be with you at all times, I wish you many more birthdays"
In "Some Like it Holy" Jeanne performed her greatest role, the hip-hop singing grannie from the Wedding Singer" and in another show, wore a body stocking as Lady Godiva.
Amelia, who played assistant to Jeanne's role as oldest living Shirley Temple impersonator, displayed her comic timing with anecdotes about how Jeanne corrected postcards if they were wrong
Porsche sang her heart out in 7 different versions of "All That Jazz" and remarked that Jeanne must be a strong woman to have been putting up with homosexuals as long as she has - "It's a wonder she didn't have a heart attack in the '60's".
Toni Bondi, with backups Donna Pirana & Ann Phetermine sang "Mr.Postman"
At the show's finale, after receiving a special citation for Fran, Jeanne Skinner said "So many people are living to 100 so I feel young"
Paul Jablonski summed it up best: 'She has a glint in her eye, a smile on her face and plenty of love in her heart".
Happy Birthday, Jeanne!