OCEAN BAY PARK
By Barbara Placilla
When Fire Island becomes a vortex of violet you know that August has arrived. Whether you are walking down the street, pulling a wagon or riding a bicycle, you just can’t escape the endless sea of purple that greets you everywhere, and you know that the vitex are in full bloom. Aside from the beauty of it all, you realize that we are two thirds through the summer but not to worry, there’s still so much more fun to be had.
This summer Ocean Bay Park has been the place for “GJWHFW” aka Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekends. The group I met one morning was not your typical let’s party all night Bachelorettes looking to have one last fling before their big day. Rather, I met a group of 11 women, the Girls from the Hampton Bays Class of 1980, who have been friends since elementary school, and having an annual girls’ weekend since 1993. Each year they visit a different place and all wear a commemorative t-shirt accordingly. Lori, Paula, Susan, Ellen, Debbie, Peggy, Aletta, Sandy, Joanne, Barbara and Theresa traveled from New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut, New Mexico, Westchester County, Upstate New York, Boston, Hampton Bays and Virginia. This year, their 23rd group trip, they decided to come to OBP for a first ever visit to Fire Island. I really enjoyed chatting with them and acting as a FI Good Will Ambassador by offering tips and hints are where to go and what to do while in OBP. They were having such a good time; perhaps they’ll break the tradition and come back next year.
Lately, it seems like “OBP homecoming” week; Maybe, it’s because once you’ve lived and worked on Fire Island, even when you leave, get married, get a real job, and start a family, you still want to come back and show your kids what a great place this is. That’s what Louie Ramos did. Louie and his wife, Lisa, rented Niza Shor-Egan’s house on Cayuga and brought their boys Reid 11 and Andrew 9 over for the week while Niza was off to Seattle for a family wedding. Louie was once a local OBP bartender and was the one who convinced Steve and I to attend the Barefoot and Black Tie party at the FI Lighthouse for the first time 11 years ago. We met up with Louie and Lisa at Happy Hour the other evening and reminisced about how much fun, despite the mosquitoes and the unreliable water taxi service, that first BBT party was, how we couldn’t believe that it was so many years ago , and how much OBP has changed since then.
In Ernest Hemingway’s novella, “The Old Man and the Sea”, the protagonist, Santiago says “My big fish must be somewhere.” Chaz Kingsley, who lives on Huron, does not have to utter these words, at least not this summer. He won’t tell the time and place but he caught a whopping 43-inch striper in OBP. His pal Steven Jaffe had to help him carry it back to the house it was so heavy. But the fish tail/tale doesn’t end there. In true “six degrees of separation” fashion, the story took on a life of its own. Steven Jaffe was coming over on the ferry the other day and a complete stranger strikes up a conversation with him about fishing on Fire Island. The man takes out his phone and shows Steve a picture of a huge striped bass that someone had sent him. Steve asked where he got the picture. The man answered that his friend, a gym teacher, got it from a friend, who is a school principal in Armonk. The “friend” turned out to be the former principal of the school where Jaffe teaches. Steve had texted the picture to his principal and from there it apparently went viral.
Every August the “boys and men of summer” come out to remember two of our own, Doug Gurian and Doug Gardner, who tragically lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The two Dougs grew up on Fire Island and played ball on the Seaview ballfield. Each year since that tragic day, the Over/Under Softball game is played on Newman Field in their memory. This year’s game was played on August 6 and the “Unders” (under 50) ruled the day. The final score was so lopsided that I dare not mention how much the “Overs” (over 50) lost by. Suffice to say that everyone had a great time and we’ll leave it at that.
Another annual event took place later that afternoon when Fran Miller presented her Arts and Crafts Show at the Schooner Inn. Amid all the wonderful photographic art work and hand-crafted items and jewelry, the highlight of the show for me is always Fran’s streaming video of her photographs in and around Ocean Bay Park including all the “usual suspects”. It is always bittersweet to see photos of friends who are no longer with us, but still great fun to remember all the good times we had together. Plus it’s an excuse to have cocktails in the middle of the afternoon! Fran Miller is an extremely talented and creative photographer who is available for private bookings and functions and I highly recommend her.
SAVE THE DATE: August 20 – OBP Association Gourmet Fair – We need donations of home cooked food, goods/services for the silent auction and volunteers to work at the event. Please give me a call at 631-671-2981. This event is for OUR community, so please help and support it.
MILESTONES: Happy 25th Birthday to Shannon Maloney, who works at Flynn’s and is a delightful young woman. I hope you enjoyed your surprise birthday cake from Steve and me.
Happy Platinum Wedding Anniversary to Catherine and Tony Catanese who celebrate 20 years on August 10.
Happy Anniversary to Lisa and Steven Jaffe who have been together since 1993 and married for 14 years this month.
Let Barbara know all your Ocean Bay Park news and happenings, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.