By Cathy Shisler
Davis Park is such a beautiful and majestic place, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that many couples live here, often their love story began here as well. Here are four such love stories:
Bob and Carol Gruber: Back in the summer of 1978, Carol, the mother of two teenagers, Peter and Julie, had been widowed for two years. Bob was a member of a singles/share Fire Island house for many years, first at Bayberry Dunes and now at Ocean Ridge, where Carol was a homeowner. Bob had known Carol for four or five years, having been introduced to the family by Anita Kopff, a member of Bob’s group house and a colleague of Carol’s late husband, Ed Meizels, at CBS.
After Ed’s death, Bob and the entire Davis Park community were extremely supportive of Carol and her family. One night at the Casino, at one of Carol’s first forays back into the social scene, Bob asked Carol to dance. Then he offered to get her a drink, which took about 20 minutes at the crowded bar. He returned with the drink and Carol, the proper Bostonian, had waited, rather than dancing off with another guy. Bob was impressed with her commitment.
As that summer went on, Bob spent more time with Carol and her family. On the beach the consensus was that he was trying to be a father figure to Carol’s son Peter with whom he played softball at the sandspit. Little did they realize that Bob and Carol were falling in love. Not long after, Bob told Carol that he wanted to whisk her away to a romantic weekend on Monhegan Island in Maine. The following summer they were married and almost 36 years later they remain very much in love.
Joel and Ann Silverman met on the Kiki boat on Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, 1987. It did not go well at first. It was the first summer at Davis Park for both of them. Ann had taken a break from Fire Island, having spent four summers in Ocean Bay Park. The year before, Joel had spent a horrible summer in the Hamptons.
Ann was traveling that night with Cathy Turck. Ann had taken a share in “Sunset House,” and Cathy in “No Retreat, No Surrender.” Little did they realize that they would meet their future husbands that very summer.
Cathy and Ann slid onto a downstairs bench, next to this serious looking man. After Cathy left to sit on the upper deck, Ann said some words of greeting that he barely acknowledged. Ann quickly concluded that he must be a homeowner and annoyed by the arrival of all the renters. There was no further exchange. They passed each other once on the boards, smiled and said hello. It was at the Casino that night where they had their first conversation. Ann was standing with her friend Barbara Weiser when Joel walked over. He had finally decided he wanted to speak with Ann. Ann seems to recall spending most of the weekend talking with him. At the Casino, on the beach, at Casablanca’s sunset party, at Red Light’s late night one, and on the train back to NYC. Fortunately he was a good conversationalist. Two years later they were engaged and they married in November of 1989.
Kathy and Steve Rose met in 1987. Steve had decided to look for a summer share house in Fire Island. Kathy had been in other Fire Island communities, but in that year two friends suggested Davis Park and she liked the idea. Kathy and Steve both found a good group in “Sunset House” and met each other early in the season. During the summer they became friends, and then started dating in the fall after Labor Day. By the summer of ’88, they came back to “Sunset House” as a couple.
In the city, their first commitment was a theater subscription to see the Public Theater perform all 36 of Shakespeare’s plays over a six-year period. The second commitment was real estate. In the spring of 1990, they purchased a co-op apartment in Park Slope. Shortly after they went to contract, Steve proposed. They were married in NYC in the fall of 1990, with friends from “Sunset House” in attendance.
After adopting their daughter, Julia, in 1996, they skipped two summers at the beach, but then were fortunate to find a family share house and came back to Davis Park. They have been coming every summer since and are currently renting on Donella Walk. This means that every time they come out to Davis Park they pass by “Sunset House” where they first met!
Linnea and Richard Rhodes: Richard Rhodes, a chemical engineer at Esso in New Jersey, rented at Fire Island for many years and came to Davis Park in 1967. Richard built a 32-foot catamaran, which he kept in the marina on weekends. Linnea Weis, an artist living in the city, was recently graduated from college and rented at Davis Park in 1967. They found each other in 1968, when they rented group houses across the walk from each other on Pepperidge Walk. There was a very active singles scene in Davis Park at the time — many group houses with shares, volleyball games up and down the beach, the nude beach just west of 5th Walk and the famous Sixish on Saturday, where everyone brought a drink and met to enjoy the sunset from the marina sandspit.
Despite their divergent backgrounds, the attraction between Richard and Linnea was very strong and they decided to get married that December. In 1969, they purchased their first house at 22 Center Walk. Two other properties followed (one on Spindrift Walk and one on 4th Walk). Two sons and now a daughter-in-law and grandchild followed. Richard and Linnea are still living in their original family home in New Jersey. They are both retired and enjoy traveling, family, and the rare time at the beach when their properties are not rented.
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