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Saltaire Summery
Volume 49, Issue 5
By Hugh O’Brien

July 4, 1826: the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the work, primarily, of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. At his home in Monticello, Va., that morning, Jefferson opened his eyes and asked “Is it the Fourth?”. Told that it was, he nodded slightly, and then, about midday, passed away peacefully. Around 6 o'clock that evening, several hundred miles to the north, in Quincy, Mass., as celebrations of this special day continued to roll across the country, Adams, realizing his own time had come, uttered, with aconfidence untroubled by the slowness of early 19th century communications, “Jefferson still survives” before he, too, slipped the bonds of earth. And when, after many days, news of the passing of these two men, the progenitors of our independence, on the same day, and that date exactly 50 years after their Declaration came into being, crept across the land, people great and small took it as a sign that Divine

Providence held the United States in singular regard, that this was no mere coincidence, and that what Adams and Jefferson had brought forth would endure, prosper, and herald a new and brighter chapter in the history of mankind.

July 4, 2005: at the Saltaire Yacht Club (SYC), a crowd watched as ESPN broadcast the World's Hot Dog Eating Championship from Nathan's in Coney Island. Divine Providence looked on, presumably without comment, as the reigning champ downed 49 franks in 12 minutes, off his own record but enough to grab the title a fifth time. At the SYC, the groans of revulsion at the contest (with one or two uncharitable comments likening the sight to occasional scenes at the Friday night barbecue) echoed out onto Bay Prom. Thus, in part, do we of the 21st century mark the gift bequeathed us by our forefathers.

Independence! Still, among the frivolity of the weekend, a very welcome someone dropped by and served to remind us of the real meaning of this holiday and what it stands for. Pat McElhone, First Lieutenant, USMC, came home for an all-too-brief visit before returning to the pleasant summer climes of Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he's involved in training men and women for further duties overseas in the months ahead. Pat, who's already had a tour in Iraq, will, he says, be going back to that theatre of war/conflict/police action/operations at some point later this year, either Iraq or Afghanistan (remember that place, and that guy Osama?), for further missions. Pat looks and sounds great: the same thoughtful, dedicated, unpretentious guy he's always been, doing a job he wanted to do long before Bush and Dick “the insurgency's on its last legs” Cheney opted to prove their manhood using somebody else's hood; a man of honor and conscienciousness, and of conscience, justly proud of the work he and his fellows are doing in a dangerous and largely thankless task (the ostentatious display by stateside civilians of flags and ribbons on their gas-guzzlers notwithstanding). Pat's confident without bravado or boastfulness, a thoroughgoing professional without airs or feelings of superiority over those of us left behind, respectful and nuanced whatever one's views of the war, its policies, or whether some have served while others have not. A good, decent, brave and kind man, someone not only his parents can take pride in, but in whom all of us who know and like and esteem him so much can repose our fullest trust and support. I've never been wary of shirtsleeve patriotism, flags and bunting and all the symbols, as if these were the mark of those who love and, more importantly, really understand their country. But Patrick is a patriot in the cleanest sense of the word. He keeps himself and the events around him in perspective, views life and his tasks with equanimity and faith, and demonstrates as much as anyone what it is that's truly greatest about America: the character, intelligence, and simple human decency of its people. Where do we find such men and women? Godspeed, Pat, and carry with you our thoughts, prayers and best wishes for the future, and a safe return soon. And besides, he loved the hot-dog-eating contest too. Thought it was yucky. Remember, this is a guy who actually eats in someplac called a mess.

Well, much of the celebratory chowing for the holiday took place at the Club, the usually heavily attended FriNiBBQ outmatched by the (apparently oversubscribed) 4th-of dinner Sunday, a traditional American repast of lobster, chicken, harvested potatoes and corn still on its cob. Piping hot from the kitchen, a bit cooler by table-time.

(Speaking of piping, it was indeed chicken, not plovers, on your platters, local jesters aside.) With a live DJ and, from the sounds heard briefly yet unmistakably wailing over the loudspeakers, at least one impromptu proto-karaoke effort, of which the less said, the more digestible the meal became. An actual karaoke night is slated for July 15, right after the barbecue, evidently an effort by management to give the staff more time to clean the place by emptying it out quicker, so that should be fun. Some other clubular upcomings...this weekend, 9/10, the Mixed-Up Mixed Doubles tennis tournament [I am thoroughly mixed up], and next weekend, the Sailing Extravaganza, Sat. 7/16, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., featuring the picnic on the sandbar, a venue made safe by Tom Field's intimate knowledge of tides, ferry boat routes, and use of spearguns. Sailing regattas have begun, by the way, as have sailing lessons, and the tennis round-robin is on on Tuesdays, through Aug. 16. A message from -- well, I'm not sure how they want to be designated, so let's say a couple of interested people in a position to take action: make sure your beached boat is properly i.d.'ed (names are nice), or it may end up as someone else's confiscated property. Need I remind you of a late Supreme Court decision? The village may forcibly condemn and remove untraceable boats on the marina beachfront to make way for a combination fish & bait shop and porno center. Really, though, be sure any craft you keep beached in front of the club and accesorial area is properly identified by owner, or it may indeed be deemed abandoned, and removed.

Guess what? The SYC is now officially open Wednesdays after all. Just drinks, no dinners, but it's a start. Okay, there are goldfish, and all the limes and cherries you can lift from the storage case on the bar without being caught by the stewards. We're getting there. Meanwhile, John Trentacoste runs the Tuesday night kids' movies with a full menu of purchase-able foodstuffs, like patriotic popcorn and Nathan's uncontested hot dogs, and with, according to his posters, death for treason if you try to sneak in your own meal, even a humble Slim-Jim or chicken-fried steak. On the other hand, our Thursday night movies neither offer any such amenities nor threaten any sort of sanctions for the importation of a personal snack, which explains why John's rich and

I'm poor. We do, however, get a cut on any dinner business by movie attendees. 8 p.m., both.

 

Bridge Camp!

Our final club business. Connie Lawler is arranging the thing again this year, July 26-27-28, for those away from their calendars and iPods, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. 2:00 - 5:00 at the club each day, thereby both servicing the bridge needs of the participants while giving the ocean lifeguards a well-deserved rest.

“Three days of lessons and play designed to improve your bridge skills!” the posters proclaim, with “your” italicized. Well, I should hope so. I'm not spending this kind of money to improve someone else's bridge skills. I mean, the point is to beat them, right? Speaking of which, at one place the poster says, “Cost?”, and instead of replying, “Cost?! You bet there's a cost!”, gives the simple details: [club]members $100, houseguests $135, with a curious coda in parentheses: “Non refundable; however, you can get replacements.” Huh? Replacement what? Replacement players? Replacement friends? East screws up and costs him and his partner the rubber, you slug him over the head in the men's room and replace him with an emotionless double? Tommy's got a supply of pods out back? Never realized how dangerous this game is. Anyway, space is limited -- understandably -- so to enroll call Connie very rapidly at 583-7694, or 212-517-8207, no later than this Sunday, July 10. (Connie's signs also remind that Monday night is bridge night every week from 7/11-8/29: jumpstart beginner bridge lessons 6-8 p.m., call Connie for info; then duplicate from 8-10 p.m., members and houseguests only; sign up by the tennis courts for both lessons and duplicates. All right. Enough. That's it. You were warned. I'm telling you. “Duplicates.” Doesn't say, “ Duplicate Bridge”. Just “Duplicates.” Duplicates for what, Connie? Couldn't be for all those “replacements”, could it, Connie? Another of your mad schemes to take over the village, is it, Connie? Well, I'm not going near the joint that week. Just going to run around outside yelling “They're here already! You're next!” until they drag me over to Furey's.)

 

Doc-By-The-Dock

About whom, everyone's favorite sawbones, Dr. Bob “Robert J.” Furey, has put his shingle on the office door and, having treated the shingles, is open for business on the usual summer sked, daily 10-11 and 5-6, except no p.m. hours Wed. and Sun., but always on call in an emergency, like the place being taken over by pod people. Consult your new blue village Information placard, or the corresponding blue-inked pages in the new SCAA directories, for contact information. Bob's already had a few tests of skill since his Doc-By-The-Dock office went full-time on the first. Handled it all with his customary ability, know-how and genuine patient concern. You'd never even guess he was a Scientologist, except for all those referrals to aliens. By the way, if you want to call the ambulance, best method is to dial 911 and give your name, address and nature of the emergency to that dispatcher; it's quicker than going through our own Security or by some other route, and help will arrive that much faster. Bob usually comes too, and the North Shore paramedic if one's on duty at the time.

Camp's begun, registration still a little under last year, but getting there. Field games on the Fourth got a lot of participation and attendnace, though, so maybe we're finally getting into the swing of summer, and about time! But the Library programs (so-called “pre-camp”) are almost over-subscribed, a tribute to their quality and Kim Lincoln's perserverance; places are limited, so enroll soon if your child wants a spot. (At the Village Office, weekdays.) Incidentally, Ted Nagengast says there will be a bicycle safety talk at the camp shortly. Kids seem actually to be pretty good at following the rules. It's when they become adults that caution goes overboard and they/we start behaving like normal human beings. But we had two bike accidents, almost identical in nature and the injuries inflicted, last Saturday, so bike safety, around here, is no joke. Thanks to Ted and Chuck for their ongoing (and typical) interest in the safety of the community, and the community's children in particular.

The Saltaire Fire Co.'s first [annual? -- maybe!] 4th-of-July afternoon tea* [*Tea: wine and beer, with hors d'oeuvres] turned out to be a fairly spectacular success, semi-amazingly. In spite of its novelty and short notice, a couple hundred souls came by and seemed to enjoy the pickings. Cynics, of course, allowed as to how any usage of the word “Free” on any sign in Saltaire, particularly if followed by the word “Food” or “Drink”, guarantees success, or at least a crowd. Put out both food and drink, and you have the makings of a coup d'etat. Yeah, but nonetheless, it went exceptionally well, our thanks to everyone who dropped in, and this experience will allow for an even better soiree in '06, we hope. Hors d's courtesy of Tamara Pakes, who labored over a hot stove and wet floor at the firehouse for about 12 hours Friday and Saturday single-handedly preparing the offerings. (Tom Field did the chicken wings; Tamara did the elegant stuff.) Thanks also to various SVFC personnel who helped throw the affair together on hasty notice, including Jim Wilde, Bill James, Chuck Jones, Jim McDonald & Linda Cassano, Elizabeth Kelly, John Merchant, Josh Raeben, Joan Cox, Ted Weinrib, Angus Jameson, our Chief Dave Kaufman and whomever I'm neglecting and's going to hit me for it. Sandi Jones, although not a technical firefighter, made the rounds and got thirteen new recruits to enlist as members. (All woke up next morning and exclaimed, “I signed the WHAT?!”) Mickey-finned and shanghaied: now that's what we call a membership drive. The department's Fourth-of-July parade, to answer repeated queries, will be held promptly on schedule, Saturday, July 23,more or less at 11 or so. Details to come. Free Food & Drink! (Meanwhile, we heard Saturday's same-hour Anchor Walk block party went swimmingly; was you guys' food as good as ours? Maybe. But you didn't have police tape around yours, did you?)

 

Kismet

Incidentally, we were pleased as always to participate in the Kismet Fire Dept.'s annual parade last Sunday, and they serve the best food, including, pardon the reference, hot dogs. (By the way, my hamburger had two bottom roll parts, so if anyone got a burger served with two tops, both seeded, we can exchange notes.) Ann Littlejohn's brother, standing alongside the parade route, called us as “the best-dressed group” in the bunch (he stated it more elegantly than that), a very nice compliment, but we were less than thrilled a few moments later when someone called out, “Yay, Saltaire!” then added, in an apparent differently-spirited observation as to the uniforms, “Gestapo!” Whoa. Okay, we undertand that this does not represent the feelings of the vaunted “vast majority” of our neighbors, but really now—Gestapo? We heard it correctly—it wasn't “gazpacho” or something. Just to let you know, it's all right, we saw you, next time you need an ambulance we'll be happy to bring along Drs. Heydrich and Mengele for a consultation. You can never tell. One woman of our acquaintance, a Saltairian, once wrote to say she loves the sight of uniformed men. Well, actually, it might have been uninformed men. Either way.

Correction and clarification: through dumb fault of my own, I mistakenly referred to our late friend Jean Veronese's father as having once owned the Saltaire Market, two issues back. I knew better, just wasn't paying attention; it was Jean's grandfather, Tonges Lange, who owned the store; Jean's father, William, was a doctor. Dino Veronese called my attention to the error. Dino also told me that the present Leigh house was the original Lange home, and that “one summer”, as Dino put it, Tonges put his four sons to work building what is now the DiCostanzo house on the bay -- apparently to keep the boys out of mischief that long-ago season. (Our own Tom Keegan also worked for Tonges at the market.) Bill V. added later that his house, one up from the Leigh, ex-Lange, house on West, was a float-over from West Island, in 1941, post-hurricane but pre-war. About $1000, plus $500 for barging. And they say there are no bargains anymore. Important parts of Saltaire history, a lot of fascinating tidbits on every street. Speaking of the Leigh vicinity, Kismet Inners and Outers who prefer the scenic “bay route” while stumbling to and from K late-night -- or anytime -- will be glad to learn that the historic stairs down the bulkhead have been rebuilt and replaced and are once again available for your climbing needs. With the blessings and permission of FINS, who owns the land. Sue them.

 

Sublime to Bazaar

From the sublime to the bizarre, or a bit of both—the Grand & Glorious Saltaire Bazaar! Soon now, Saturday July 16. This year, Brown, Cook & Co. have devised a treasure hunt for bazaar-goers; instead of going to the firehouse and poring over boring old tables of items, participants are encouraged to run, bike or scooter about town looking for all the places the ladies and their cohorts have stashed this year's donations. Okay, fine, no, it's really at the firehouse, from 1-3, the usual combat rules apply, but it is true that the organizers have been compelled to be especially resourceful this time, as the non-waterproof tent allotted for their storage has burst its puddled seams to the point where its zipper no longer zips and the deck on which it sits seems saggier than permitted by the building code. Every spare space, and a few that weren't spare until stuff was tossed out to make them spare, is being commandeered and jammed with receivables (most of these, apparently, throw pillows). And still the donations flood in, a dire crisis in this unwatertight situation. Somehow it all works out, in the end. By magic, effortlessly. Like governing Saltaire. (Take the work seriously, never yourselves.) Oh, Jennifer and Joy are ever on the lookout for “big, strong” men to help them relocate donated goods, so if you're in the vicinity of lower (i.e., upper) Broadway, and imagine you fit that description, be afraid, very afraid. I know! Pay Connie $135 and she'll send them your duplicate.