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Fair Harbor Lights
By Jacqueline Haberfeld and Laura Tichler

Welcome to the inaugural Fire Island News 2006 Fair Harbor column, All’s Fair, where, as they say, all the news that fits, we print.

Even this early in the season, we already have strong contenders for the Dedicated Fire Islanders Award for the Summer of 2006: Michael and Barbara Sloan (and Thor) of Holly Walk. On April 17th, Michael Sloan had open heart surgery. Three days before they opened Michael up, Michael and Barbara did all the necessary schlepping and opened up their house. In the middle of May, three weeks after the surgery, Michael, Barbara (and Thor) were sighted on the ferry. Thor, Michael and Barbara’s beloved 220 lb. Bernese Mountain Dog, deserves an honorable mention also, having survived a serious hemorrhage in April. Michael is feeling fine, if a little sore, and ready to be seen around town sporting his yellow industrial-sized poop-scooper. Thor is feeling good too, and more than willing to go on walks with Michael. Barbara seems to have survived all the drama with her usual panache.

Unfortunately, this winter marked the passing of many valued members of our community. Dr. Richard Troper Stern from Elm Walk passed away in December. Tony Cirelli and Jerry Reyman, both also from Elm Walk, passed away in February. Joanne Rhein passed away in March. Long-time resident Frank Ferraro passed away in April. Charlie Kurka of Birch Walk passed away in January and the Fair Harbor and Saltaire communities lost Jean Leitner. We welcome friends or family of lost members of the Fair Harbor community to email us with words about their loved ones to include in subsequent columns.

John Leitner sent along the following about his mother. Jean Leitner died January 17 at age 78 at home of breast cancer. Jean was a resident of Fair Harbor and its suburbs since 1959. She met her husband, Jerome, through a mutual Fair Harbor friend in 1958. She was active and effective in the fight against Robert Moses Road by uncovering a damaging quote by journalist Elmer Davis that stated, “Moses will save Fire Island like Hitler saved the Sundtenland.” Moses stormed out of a public hearing when the quote was read. Jean was the Former American Director of Public Relations for the French Railroads and worked for a Parisian refugee relief organization from 1951-1953. Above all, Jean was a devoted wife to Jerome; mother to sons Joshua and John; and grandmother to Gabriel, Sophia, Kaya and Julia.

Elaine Kurka has sent along the following. Charlie (Charles) Kurka died this past January 19, 2006, at age 60, after a three-year struggle with cancer. His parents bought property on Birch and Cranberry in the early 40s. They built the first house on Cranberry in the early 60s, which is when Charlie and Elaine first started dating. They had many work dates before the house was completed, as he helped his family build the house. Since Elaine was only 15 years old, her skills were mainly sweeping saw dust and painting. Before becoming an electrician, Charlie spent many summers clamming for a living and working for Elaine’s father at his bowling alley in Islip. They married at 19 and 20, and spent many years at the beach with their children, Dave, now 39, and Jeff, 36. Around 1975, they started building the house on Birch with Charlie’s parents, Rose and Fred. “ Fair Harbor is one of the best places to be with your family, and Charlie felt there was nothing better than family. Now our children are enjoying it with their children,” said Elaine.

March of the Goose

And now for some literary news: Long time Fair Harbor renter Tad Hills published his new children’s book this year to much publicity and high acclaim from children’s book professionals, as well as regular children and their parents alike. It has a surprise ending, but you won’t find any spoilers here. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

Howard and Carol Tichler welcomed their fourth grandchild, Paul, into the world. Pauly, as they call him, has already been seen teething on pretzel sticks in front of the Pioneer. Ellen Aronson also welcomed grandchild #4, Sadie Rain, and Louis and Becky Brickmeier welcomed their second child, Natalie.

More Winter Travel News

Pat and Neal Rudikoff, who went on a marvelous two-week journey through Australia and ended with three days in Tahiti in April. They saw thousands of cockatoos in the wild, along with hundreds of other glorious birds, kangaroos, wallabys and other assorted wildlife. Pat also reports that on March 11 their beautiful Moluccan Cockatoo female, Phoebe, died suddenly. In late April they adopted a female Moluccan, Peaches, so when they arrive on the ferry, there will still be four beautiful feathered friends with them.

We have been asked to communicate this very important safety news from the FH Fire Department: All residents should have a plan in the event of storm evacuation (and it should be a better plan than one that relies on wading across the Great South Bay). Suffolk County and the Town of Islip have instructed Chief Scott Cherveny to get a formal evacuation plan into effect, and he is currently working on that. Please note that in the event of a storm, ferries will stop running if winds reach in excess of 40 knots, and and the state police will close bridges with winds of 50 knots or greater. With notification of a pending storm there will be plenty of time to make plans to get off island. The FHFD, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, hopes that all residents behave intelligently about this. In the event of a serious storm forecast, please do not delay your evacuation from the island.

Additionally, the FHFD asks that you please make sure to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, and make sure fire extinguishers are fully charged. If there is any question as to whether your equipment is in working order, replace it.

Tom Wilson, of the Ocean Equipment Laboratory of Stonybrook University’s Marine Sciences Department, spoke at the Annual FHCA meeting Sunday May 20. Tom mentioned the possible installation of a Beachcam, which would be mounted on a beachfront house. The Beachcam would take three separate shots every 15 minutes and would provide a 160 degree panoramic view of the beach via the web. Tom is interested in partnering on this project by handling the technical and imaging storage aspects of the photo documentation to aid in SUNY’s research of the ocean. Tom currently manages other locations, and our site would add to the LI Shore educational and research efforts to provide better climatic and storm information. This work can be viewed at www.lishore.org. Work is underway to determine a location, and funding for the project is hoped to be in place by mid-summer. Contact Jeff at [email protected] for more info. Other items on the community meeting agenda were creating a Bay Recreation District and a proposal for re-building the Old Firehouse for FHFD and FHCA usage.

Hey! Don’t forget to mark these dates on your calendar:

May 28 The First FHFD pancake breakfast at the fire house.

June 22 Bingo Night at 7 p.m.

July 1 The 34th annual Pine Walk Fair will take place from 11-6. In addition to all the usual goodies, this year’s fair will include a HUGE BOOK SALE. Books are new and will be sold at huge discounts: 50% off for most books, 40% for signed books and coffee table treasures.

In the interest of trying to write a fascinating column, we have a hankering for all news that relates even tangentially to Fair Harbor. In addition, we welcome notification of all births, deaths, marriages, bar mitzvahs, ordinations, changes of mind or other fascinating tidbits you may care to provide. We can be contacted at: [email protected] (Jackie) and [email protected] (Laura). Please send us your news, or we will have to start making it up. We’ll start with the people we know.