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Saltaire Summery
By Hugh O’Brien

Temps in the triple digits? “Heat index” in quadruple digits? Thank God all those unused SCWA water bottles are still kicking around. Now for a test of LIPA’s generating capacity.

With such a week in prospect, you need lots of diversions, and if you already miss the frivolity of the annual bazaar, there’s always the fun of a Board of Trustees session; as a reminder, this Sat., 9 a.m. at the firehouse meeting room. Three local laws are up for consideration, two to amend our Zoning code concerning fences and private docks, and a new proposed chapter to replace Security with a department with peace officer status, probably a constabulary. This last one, and also fences, seem the most problematic of the proposals and your opinions are critical. Don’t expect passage of either this weekend, but we need to start discussing these things somewhere. Saltaire’s favorite pastime: discussing.

Same day, two hours later, there’s the annual Fire Island Association summer meeting, so called because summer is considered an annual event in this hemisphere. In this second and final plug for your attendance at the Ocean Beach meeting house (quaintly Quaker-ish), Community House I guess, it’d be an extremely good idea for as many people to come as possible. Especially in an age when the problems of hurricanes, storm damage, extra-agency interference with local decision-making, the establishment of erosion control taxing districts, FINS’s General Management Plan, the Army Corps’s Reformulation Project, global warming, global cooling, rising sea levels, a new ice age, and relocating everyone on Fire Island to lovely little substitute housing plots on the mainland while The Nature Conservancy plows up the island’s infrastructural nuances like buildings and sidewalks (that last one isn’t entirely a joke, at least not an intentional one), there’s a lot to concern everybody who lives on and loves this barrier beach. If you don’t go and voice your concerns, make your opinions known, ask pertinent questions and generally GET INVOLVED. Well, it’s your home, your family, your money—that should grab you—your island, which will be lost. And lost is exactly the right word.

Luckily, Fire Island Ferries makes it easy for those of us in their operating sector to reach the meeting, providing free ferry service from the communities it serves to O.B. From Saltaire, the ferry departs at 10:35 a.m. (the meeting’s at 11), and leaves about 10 or 15 minutes after the meeting ends. Some important and informed people will be on hand to report and answer questions on these and other issues confronting all islanders. Please send a delegate from your household. An owner, preferably, not the au pair, whom we suggested last week you dispatch to the Board meeting.

And as a further final recap of this Saturday’s action-packed agenda, there’s the second presentation by the TRNC in its animal series: this one is Wild Long Island, 10:30 at the gazebo; and the Sunken Forest trip, with reservations still open as of the beginning of the week. You’ll depart from the village dock at 9:30 in search of an unknown fate, as there’s still no word as to whether the tour will indeed be guided or unguided, and, hence, your safe return cannot be guaranteed in case of attack by deer, bush babies, escapees from Wild Long Island or land-mad realtors. But that’s the fun of it. Please check in at the Village Office to secure your spot on the cruiser. Hey, that paddle-wheel thing might be available for rent. Up for grabs is which is the bigger gamble, shoving coins in their slot machines or boarding the boat in the first place.

Gee. What’ll we all do on Sunday?

The SCAA set up its stand last Saturday, as advertised, to vend tickets for its House & Garden tour the following weekend, Sat. 7/29 (Sun. 7/30 rain date; if it rains both days you get a map and address book and are on your own). Any remaining tix will be sold at the jumping-off point of the tour, next to the Catholic Church, on the big day. Understand there’s been a bit of a brouhaha among some of the tour vets regarding the fearsome bounce in the event’s asking (and receiving) price, double previous years’. Wow. We’ll keep you posted on this latest clash of philosophies [cat fight], but it bears out what someone said years ago about doing home inspections for the Fire Dept.: it’s like getting the House & Garden tour, for free. Better, actually.

Ted, Dave, Henry—new fund-raising idea!

Same time, same last stand, the SCAA also had flashlights and flashlight-bike-holder things on offer for members picking up their directory supplements (which I heard contain at least one zip code erratum), which is as good excuse as any to get into the field of night bike riding (NBR), now completing its third experimental week. Good news (well, “good” in a back-handed sort of way, you know, like it’s good that fewer people died on the Titanic than on the General Slocum): there are a few fewer reported incidents of various forms of illegal NBR as of week #2. Bad news: there’s still a lot of illegal NBR going on. As many have said, it’ll be the proponents of this who’ll do it in. You want it made permanent? Obey the law and make sure others do, too. You want to scuttle it once and for all? Pay some kids to ride around the village at top speed and without lights. Several circuits. Making lots of noise, too. Have them burn a flag while they’re at it. Maybe carry an undocumented alien on their handlebars. With signs advocating stem-cell research. And same-sex marriage. And scalping tickets for the H&G tour. That’ll kill NBR for another century at least. Which century, I don’t know.

No signs are up as yet, yet it is yet known that the Art & Music Festival will unfold on Sat., August 5. We have yet to get the details, but as soon as they come out you’ll see them here first, provided you don’t read the bulletin boards, SCAA website or your mail before then. But the usual day-long festivities, culminating in the bayside picnic around twilight time. Keep posted. Yet.

Incidentally, questions pop up from time to time as to where, or on what, the SCAA spends the funds it takes in from its various civic activities. Well, providentially, SCAA Treasurer Geri DiCostanzo telephoned with some info on this very point at this very point, and I’m happy to pass along the details. Just in the last couple of months, SCAA has laid out, according to Geri’s meticulous figures (she wasn’t a business success for nothing) a total of $19,455.18 on community deeds—$5,000 as a contribution for the reconstitution of the ball field, $10,838 for the new 6-passenger courtesy cart (it’s on order! it’s on order!), $887 for a tent under which to shove bazaar donations, and $2730 on medical supplies requested by Dr. Bob. And that doesn’t include expenditures such as the afore-referred-to directory supplements, for instance. So the org isn’t simply accruing dough for wild parties and such, although that’s an idea too, and these expenditures for the general welfare have, as you might have guessed, put a decided crimp in their financial health. But all in a good cause, or causes. Anyway, we thought you deserved to know.

Mind you, Geri conspicuously failed to give me an accounting as to where that 18 cents went. I’ll get the DA on that one, if he’s not otherwise occupied.

On a non-SCAA activity, there’s the annual lighthouse tour coming August 26… $45 per person, departing 6:30 p.m., hors d’oeurves, etc… reservations are available for the limited number of spaces, at the Village Office, but it’s way early to worry about the end of summer quite yet. Isn’t it? But in the meantime you can make sure you’re in shape to sprint up all them stairs at the ’house by attending the yoga and pilates classes, ongoing and starting next month, held at the Village Hall. Monday afternoon yoga ( 5 p.m.) is already underway and lasts all summer. Weekly pilates classes start Aug. 1 and run through the 29th, 9 a.m. each Tuesday only. But a Saturday morning yoga/pilates combo class will be held three Saturdays in a row (Aug. 12, 19, 26) at 8:30: again, all these at the Village Hall (library), instructed and conducted by Ellen McCabe and Mary Rose Dowling. Class fee, $7 for Saltaire residents, $10 for auslander. “Open to all – no experience necessary,” say the signs. Sounds like everything else in this burg. Also, “Bring a mat if you have it. We have a limited number of mats to lend.” Of course, no experience, presumably no mat. They get a big enough response, winter vacation classes may be contemplated, Pilates of the Caribbean. All right, I don’t want to start any more false rumors. Consider that a punctured pilate.

Congratulations to Saltaire’s exceptional lifeguard staff, who took and passed the grueling ocean safety tests last week. Chief Rich Wilde, and guards Tyson Pfaffe, Heather Jones and Courtney Jones, took the test last Tuesday at Ocean Beach, while the remaining guards endured it and triumphed last Saturday in home waters: David Carswell, Annie Cunningham, Nicole Young, Suzanne Mills, Patrick Mills, Daniel Hunter, Catherine Jameson and Chris Basile. For a real kick(board), though, some aging vets of the ’70s and ’80s staffs also took this, shall we say, refresher trial, and each one of them passed, despite years removed from such duty – Jim Sconzo, Tom Sconzo, and Dan Mindich. Fantastic news for a lot of us, giving hope, encouragement, impressing the girls, you know, all that stuff. Enough pride and satisfaction even to overlook the well-intended compliment from one of the current staff, “Those old guys really did great!” Really. Well, you know, with great age comes great wisdom, and so we’re able to overlook such unfortunate phraseology and see the tribute that lay behind. Plus if they ever say that again, we know our guys are still strong enough to deck ’em.

Well, if that wasn’t bizarre enough, we’ll wrap with news of the Grand and Glorious Saltaire Bazaar, and when we say wrap we mean wrap, I trust, not that that’s any kind of rap against the affair. Not much to wrap, as opposed to put in the Wrap can, though. The ladies involved in organizing and running the show, Joy Brown, Jenifer Cook and Eugenie Meluso (Edie Watts having perspicaciously high-tailed it to Canada for the week and so missing the festivities) put in an ungodly amount of labor in putting the thing on, assisted by a few still-dedicated and still–spirited souls, and the goods collected and sold were about as you’d expected and experienced. But those damn bicycles! Except for one, at best two, individual vehicles, those “donations” were basically just scrap metal with wheels–sometimes wheels–which the donors seemed primarily concerned with fobbing off on someone else for disposal. I mean, come on. Think of the charity involved.

Now, it’s true the event seemed a bit less of a draw than in previous years, but that’s sort of in keeping with the low-key summer generally, and although no dollar count had been completed by publication time, the civic uses to which the proceeds will be put will certainly be beneficial and, um, really civic. Exceptional gratitude to Alex Chefetz, Roy Kievit, Liv Hempel and Andrew Hoffman for their invaluable post-baz help. Anyway, Mayor Rosenblum encapsulated the enjoyment and thanks of most Saltairians for the event when he strode down the firehouse ramp, clapped chairwoman Joy on the shoulder and extended his hand: “Heckuva job, Brownie.” Husband Michael, all sartorial splendor, beamed.

Dearly Missed

Two other longtime Saltairians passed away last week, Jim Dunseith and Bernice Yazbek, both on Monday, July 10, after long illnesses. Jim was a retired NYPD cop, former Navy man, before embarking on a successful business career, and, as someone who came here with his family beginning in 1950, one of the few remaining mid-century veterans of the very different village Saltaire was then. A fine gentleman, good neighbor, with a large and wonderful family, a man not too many people new to Saltaire (“new” meaning maybe post-1970) knew, to their unrealized loss: the sort of man, and resident, this community could use more of. Bernice was a world-traveler, first-class cook, erudite, sweet and smiling to all… another instance of someone leaving an unfillable void, in our village and our memories. The good may not die young, but they always leave too soon, and Bernice and Jim, having led long, fulfilling lives that touched so many, nonetheless surely left us too soon. But they bequeath a legacy of kindness, generosity and love for their families, friends, and communities, and that’s all anyone can reasonably ask of this life.