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Saltaire Summery
By Hugh O’Brien

Shark! Nope, copters saw off some poor sunfish. Alligator! Medium rare, with a side of fries at the Yacht Club. Snakes on a plane! At the local Cineplex. Hurling dock house! Been there, done that. Fist fights and assaults! All the rage. So what is there to be afraid of just now in the good ol’ VOS?? Why, that its’…it’s…

It’s……over! Good God. The summer that seemed hardly to have begun is now more than ready to end, officially only another 10 days after publication (that’s how some of us mark the seasons around here, by publication dates). Of course, there’ll be the usual quota of autumnal visitations, but one by one they’ll fall off too, and pretty soon it’ll be November and December and this will become an iced-up island for a spell, till the spring thaw and house openings and…well, the cycle of life of the community.

So, as this will be the last of the columns until Memorial Day, a quick nine months away, we embark on the usual recaps and updates to pack your in-season off and bring your off-season on.

First, my very favorite annual year-end postings: Post Office (Thursday, Sept. 7); Market (Sunday, Sept. 10); Mondays-only refuse collection (Tuesdays if a holiday), starting week of Sept. 11. Yes, no matter how many times we’ve updated that information through the decades, it just never grows old.

Camp finale, this Friday; Lighthouse trip, Saturday (inquire at the Village Office). Labor Day Show? Friday the 1st, assuming.

Herc hasn’t swum the English Channel yet. Damn. He’ll make it, but no news here till next May!

Some congratulations: to Heather Jones, just engaged to Derek Cleveland, the couple to wed sometime next year; and to Robert J. “Doctor Bob” Furey, on the occasion of his second 35th birthday celebration in as many years, attended by a smattering of his closet friends and, according to guest Ron Metzler, a well-seasoned roast of sorts by Bob’s fellow interns. Who gets invited to the next one in 2041?

On other long-term matters, a few notes from last Saturday’s Trustees meeting, at which a number of important topics were discussed. People on the east side of town, huzzah! The incinerator, suspected culprit in the reported rash of eye, ear, nose and throat irritations plaguing residents downwind, has been closed down through the week of Sept. 4 at least: that is, it will not resume operation until the week beginning Monday, Sept. 11, at the earliest, and maybe not till later (the Board will revisit and evaluate the situation at its next meeting, Sept. 2). The rising number of complaints, ranging from unpleasant odors to incipient medical problems, led the Board to this decision.  We heard you sneeze, we heard you wheeze, we’re here to help, we’re here to please. As the population falls sharply in the appropriately-named fall, the contraption may be restarted as it will only be operated one day a week (fewer people equals less refuse), with fewer still potentially bothered by any smoke. Still, this is but a prelude to major decisions regarding the future of the incin, which must be either substantially, and expensively, overhauled and rebuilt to conform to new EPA standards to remain in use, or else shut down permanently by Dec. 17…which in turn presents other problems: how to haul off our garbage (truck or barge), what equipment purchases or other infrastructural changes this may entail, and so on. Be advised, there is no easy or cheap solution, and each alternative has its drawbacks. Please attend the 9/2 meeting to learn more; and also because…

We hope at that time to have on hand for public perusal the various designs submitted by local architects for the new dock house to be erected on the new dock once it’s entirely new, which we trust will be sometime in the new year. Four or five very different proposals are up for consideration, but under no circumstances is the Board of Trustees—an institution not generally known in its 89 years for boldness—going to make the call without public input. Of course, even the chosen design may be tweaked a bit in its finalized form, but you’ll get substantially the basic idea of whichever plan is ultimately tapped. (Maybe there’s still time to submit that construction-site trailer idea….) The winning architect gets the magazine stand concession in the house for the first five years.

Meantime, on other fronts, the final report on the summer’s experiment with limited night bike riding will be presented, and judging by recent goings-on, the prospect of making this permanent starting next summer is jeopardy: “Night bike riding incidents for $200, Alex.” A substantial uptick in problems the past few weeks, according to Security Chief Joe Walter. Very little time left, advocates, to clean up your or others’ acts if you want this privilege renewed next year. As a reminder, this single-season exemption lasts through Sept. 15, at which point…um, well, regular night bike riding begins everywhere through next May. Oh, and on a related crisette (mini-crisis): the Village is moving toward providing bike rack relief at overcrowded areas by next summer. Just as building more roads relieved traffic problems back in the States, so building more racks…well, if you build it, they will come. Lastly…

911. You all know that number. As we hope was made clear at the Board session, that’s the number to call if you need the ambulance. DO NOT call Saltaire Security, or the Suffolk Police, the Village Office, or anyone else—dial 911. The 911 operator is not only the fastest way to have the ambulance called out; he/she will stay on the line with the caller, providing critical patient-care information while awaiting the “bus” and its contingent of trained personnel. Calling Security, as a lot of people tend to do, only delays response and removes a critical link in the chain of patient safety—the 911 operator. Same with other attempts to call the ambulance, including walking into the firehouse—this only delays things. And don’t use a pullbox for medical emergencies—for fires only. The EMS crew has to know the precise location in order to get there quickly, neither of which is obtained using a pullbox. 911 only, got it? This is a problem, and we don’t want any undue delays in care.

And while we’re reminiscing about some items from the BOT meeting, a plea for a bit of civility. It’s been a rough summer—lots of fights, some assaults, name-calling, hard feelings—not happy healthy Saltaire stuff. Last week one attendee called another a fascist for voicing his police-state views. Now, now, boys, let’s lower the rhetoric, Karl Rove hasn’t taken up residence in town yet. Kinder, gentler are the by-words. Bruised feelings are not readily undone. Ex-trustee Frank Markus, target of the “fascist” epithet, was so upset he bundled himself home, ate six Milano cookies, drank a Campari and soda and consoled himself with his DVD of “Tea With Mussolini”.

Well, back to Fire Dept. musings. The FD has taken in 8 new members (they had to be taken in in order to get them to join), and the other week elected its officers for the coming year: President Ted Weinrib, Chief David Kaufman, 1st, 2nd and 3rd asst. chiefs Angus Jameson, Kevin Gillespie and Josh Raeben, and Secretary Liv Hempel. The day before, all celebration broke loose as the company held its latest-ever 4th-of-July parade, featuring not just the one great band but a bagpipe corps and a guitarist for your post-march pleasure—everyone complimented the gang for the best parade yet, and—no cracked boardwalks. (That we noticed.) Thanks to Jim Wilde, Angus, Josh, all the rest, for their work in pulling this together, and particularly to committee chair Frank Markus, whose previously alluded-to leanings made him especially suited for organizing parades. The Pancake B. is coming up, Sunday, Sept. 3, 8-12, with the usual assortment of appurtenanced foodstuffs accompanying the flapped jacks.

A note here about a great loss for our community—Eddie Whitlatch, who died suddenly Aug. 12, a sweet and ever-generous man. He helped build and keep up a lot of homes in Saltaire and elsewhere on the island, but even more, he threw himself into any activity that could better the communities he served and the lives he touched. Communities: plural. He served as chief of the Fair Harbor FD, and served also in the East Islip FD, and though he had a house in East Islip he was essentially a year-rounder on Fire Island, and it was in Saltaire that he chose to make his home in recent years. Eddie was the kind of guy who’d go out of his way for you, do any little favor to help you out, whether it involved his considerable skills or meant simply doing something nice. A friend and neighbor in the truest sense of those words. In an era when increasing numbers of people are mainly out for themselves, Eddie shines as an exemplar of what we like to think is best about Saltaire. Characteristically, Eddie was on his way over to help out at the parade when he suffered his fatal heart attack at the Bay Shore dock. The hundreds who paid tribute to Eddie at his services are a testament to a wonderful husband, father, grandfather—a decent human being. We miss him.

Much SCAA matter to report. Still to come: the annual sandcastle contest, Saturday, Sept. 2; I understand there will be two sets of contestants this year, adults and non-adults, allowing for greater variety, equal competition and more winners. Details as to exact time, site and contest rules will be posted on the community bb’s. Down the road a fur piece, the Halloween party will be held as usual—I think this is its 25th year, actually—Saturday, Oct. 21 (not the weekend immediately preceding Real Halloween); again, watch for real posters on the boards and on line at the SCAA website. Or call the office, like 99% of people do. The Jogathon was run this past Sunday—notices went up so late I plum forgot about it for the last column [what is this sudden nod to rusticity: “fur piece”; “plum forgot”; must’ve had a hankerin’ fur to go there]—but we’ll mosey over to that subject a bit below. Did want to mention that the org still has novelty items for sale to all comers—beach umbrellas in three dual-color schemes (red & white, black & white, green & white), and official SCAA calendars, arranged so they start in September 2006 and end in August 2007 (a mini-calendar in back shows 2006, ’07 and ’08 in full). This, of course, makes it imperative that all $5,200 worth of them are sold before we get too far into September, since calendars tend to depreciate in value rapidly as the year moves on. The umbrellas, by contrast, don’t expire till 2010. $25 per umbrella; $20 per calendar, loaded with Jim Wikso’s excellent photographs and a unique and inescapable typo on the cover: you too can hold in your hands a “Saltarie” calendar. Hey, if you’ve ever seen how freight comes addressed to this place—Salt Air, Saltiare, Solitaire, Altair 4—this is nothing. Better than a purchase from the Franklin Mint.

While we’re on the subject of SCAA events, an expository note on my comments regarding the Art & Music Festival last issue. Some felt that I had somehow denigrated the hard work and great effort put in by the organizers of the event, particularly of Cheryl Valente, because of my stated dislike of many of the vendors present. I did not make, and certainly did not intend, any such offending comment; on the contrary, as a former SCAA chair, I, more than most, know, appreciate and applaud the enormous amount of work, time, and talent required to put this fest together every year, not to mention the headaches, harassments and various annoyances both great and petty that Cheryl and her aides have to endure.

And not only in summer: this event intrudes for six months or more in every year. It was my lapse not to point this out and pay deserved tribute to Cheryl and those involved in organizing the festival, and I sincerely regret such a misunderstanding. But, kids, I stand by my beliefs about the nature of the “art” portion—not the rest, as I made clear—of the A&MF. And from the feedback I’ve gotten, there are wide sections of the community who feel the same way.

Point: when the festival began years ago, it was intended to showcase talent; the works displayed were hand-crafted or otherwise produced by local artisans, and many were expressly not for sale, only for viewing. The principal intent was to exhibit. Unhappily, the end-all today is to sell. It used to be a show in which both artist and audience took pride in their crafts, in what they had accomplished. With few exceptions, can anyone honestly say the vendor portion of the day is in any way a source of pride? What of those few who still show the products of their own heart and hands, not items they bought someplace to resell?

The whole atmosphere cheapens and obscures the quality of their skills, their works. This was and should be an occasion to rejoice in talent, not make a buck. However poorly expressed, I think there is a respectable and responsible point to be made here, and it would be a shame if, like the honest artworks by genuinely gifted persons overshadowed at the festival, it were to be lost amid anger over feelings inadvertently but nonetheless most regrettably injured by me. I think everyone in this community, including the SCAA and especially Cheryl, who bears the brunt of running this thankless task and manages it with grace and energy, merits something more -- something truly worthy of the Saltaire we value.        

Sports, assorted. Mixed doubles tennis winners were the bro/sis team of Aaron & Jane Harnick, over finalists Matt Sirovich & Amy Lee. The last tournament of the season takes place this weekend, official results to be printed here 39 weekends hence. Softball finals, 8/27 (10:30, #6 @ #3, 5:15, #5 @ #4); then 9/3, 10:30 lowest winner @ #1, 5:15 highest winner @ #2; the championship is Sunday at 5:15 (with a home-run derby occupying the morning time slot). My week-old stats have the Bulkheads out front, followed by the Clippers, Excitables, Dragons, Fringe and Dogfish; Bulkheads also lead in home runs. As of the past week, Ron Rudzin (Fringe) had the most individual homers, 7, trailed barely by Matt Newman (Clippers) with 6 and Phil Abelson (Dogfish) at 5. These numbers have doubtless changed, so to see how it all pans out, visit your local ballfield during LDW, before the autumn floods wash it into Kismet. And as for Ralph’s 8th Annual Soccer Cup brouhaha, I defer to the founding father himself for his verbatim, researched and alphabetized recap:

“Here is this year’s report. A good time was had by all. The weather was perfect. Almost 50 players participated. There [were] several injuries, all fortunately curable. [Did they dial 911?] Parity in talent on all teams was such that, in Sunday’s single elimination rounds, 3 of the 4 games ended in ties, requiring the dreaded penalty-shoot-out in order to create a winner. [Most injuries were in fact severe instances of chronic dread.] Rookie of the tournament was Josh Sawyer. Samantha Whitney received Special Mention. Champions by a score of 2-1 on the Gray Team were Nick Balaban, Aisling Bier, Brian Bier, Adam Cox (joining the elite 3-time champion corps), Sasha Hirsh, Jack Houghton, Brian Kennedy, Nick Petschek, Josh Sawyer, Hannah Weisman. Runners-up on the Gold Team were Dan and Eli Cantor, Mike Evans, Jodi Lincoln, CC Medenica, Emily Rasmussen, Ginny Taft, Samantha Whitney, Chaz Wirene, John Zaccaro. Special thanks to Don Taffner, Keith Miller, Chuck Jones for making the 8th Annual another success. Ralph.” And thank you, Mr. Perlberger, for your visionary work in starting, nurturing, and sustaining the Saltaire Soccer Cup Games as a permanent part of our summers. Oh, any misspellings above are his fault.

Now to the Jogathon, report courtesy organizer Gordon Medenica. Some trivia: another record year, 184 entries (25 over 2005), covering both races and sexes. (Races and sexes? Who writes this stuff? “Fascist Frank”?) The 1-mile drew so many entrants that it was broken into two heats, for 12 & under and then the rest, a format they’ll probably follow in future. Okay, the winners, 1-mile, divided by age and sex as Nature intended, at least according to the Kansas School Board: Overall, Brandon Boldt, Bridget Dunn; 1st Saltairian, Ted Nagengast, Katya Stassen; 6 & under, Patrick Starkey, Kate Ackell; 7-8, Liam Goldfarb, Abigail Brown; 9-10, Brandon Bank, Ryan Ackell; 11-12, Jake Bank, Julia English; 13-14, David Mann, Kim Rieger; 15-19, David Gonzalez (no F); 20-29, (no M), Tessa Truex; 30-39, David Smith, Ellis Lesser; 40-49, David Sawyer, Georgine Posillico; 50-59, Jeff Waldhuter, Lynn Schlosser; Masters, Eddie Lipinsky, Keen Berger. And in the 3.5 mile (which one enterprising participant, armed, as it were, with a pedometer, measured at 3.86 miles—extra ribbons for all!): Overall, Josh Ackell, Bridget Dunn; 1st Saltairian, Jeff Murphy, Meredith English; 14 & under, Jack Harris, Michelle Posillico; 15-19, Jeremy Gleason, Meredith English; 20-29, Josh Raeben, Rachel Tulchin; 30-39, (no M), Niki Gibbs; 40-49, Andreas Delgado, Katherine Dillon; 50-59, Dan Gonzalez, Ann Kirschner; Masters, Harley Greenfield (no F). Gordon’s apologies to Niki Gibbs and Katherine Dillon, above, who were not publicly acknowledged for their victories owing to an honest error by Alex Lindsay and Ellis Lesser, who mistakenly missed a loop and realized their goof only after assessing their race.

Declared winners, both women immediately returned their trophies and offered abject apologies—Alex called me up and asked that I specifically mention what had happened and how bad she and Ellis felt about it—and Niki and Katherine received their prizes, out of the public glare but definitely in the limelight. As Gordon wrote, the true sportsmanship (or sportswomanship) of Saltaire came out in Alex’s and Ellis’s quick action to rectify matters. Quite right, Gordon; would everyone have acted so? We can hope. (Gordon still has the unpicked-up trophies of two winners, Rachel Tulchin and Tessa Truex: go to 101 Surf Walk or call 583-7403.)

Congratulations, not incidentally, to Sasha Fornario, who submitted the winning design for this year’s Jogathon T-shirt, and, quoting Gordon here, “Special thanks to all the volunteers -- Stanley, Bob, Steve, Clare, Ann, Bitsy, Karen, Jon, the camp counselors, Chief Walter, Chuck and Sandi, and everyone else who participated, but I’ve omitted”, adding, “(Any help here, Hugh?)” Well, first, I’d pay tribute to the volunteers’ readiness to have their last names expunged from the record so they don’t get shanghaied into this chore next summer. But I can think of one omitted volunteer, Frank Markus, who, to the admiration, if not downright consternation, of the assembled multitudes, strode up and down Broadway, sweeping away traffic, taking down names, crushing malcontents, dissenters and church-goers and in general establishing a new walk order for the great masses of the people. Besides, he remains unsurpassed in making the joggers run on time.

So I’ve run out of time, and space. That’s it for ’06. Watch the bulletin boards, emails, mailings and other tidings of the good cheer that still is Saltaire, with occasional pit- and pratfalls. Have a good, and above all healthy, winter. Thanks to my ed’s, vote Democratic, and see you in the funny papers, as LaGuardia used to say (no slight intended, Nicole!), on or about May 25, 2007.

Oh! Ali! Your socks are done. Thanks. I washed them according to Frank’s directive, something about cleansing.