OCEAN BAY PARK
By Barbara Gaby Placilla
Everyone knows the signals that the end of summer is near. The proliferation of school supplies in the stores, the appearance of Christmas displays and merchandise in Costco… However, regardless of what’s happening in “America” aka the mainland, summer shows no signs of ending in Ocean Bay Park. The community continues to be a bee hive of activity as residents and visitors take advantage of the fantastic beach weather, attend parties and hope that it finally rains only after they are on the ferry and have left the island.
This summer there have been many visitors to Ocean Bay Park and I have met people from near and far. Steve and I go to Europe in the spring and this summer we’ve met Europeans who’ve come here. I’ve seen old familiar friends and made some new ones. People have told me what brought them to Fire Island and Ocean Bay Park, in particular, and why they keep coming back. The common thread is that this year’s visit brought them full circle. Case is point is the conversation I had with Ing-Marie West who is visiting Sharon Gerson and her husband, Bob Farley, on Huron Street. Ing-Marie is from Boras, Sweden and first came to OBP in 1979. That first visit to Fire Island was written about by Joyce Peters (Greenberger) who at that time wrote the OBP column for the Fire Island News. Ing-Marie told me that she loved FI and that ever since that first visit 39 years ago has kept up with the FI News and the OBP column, which she now reads online from her home in Sweden!
Claire O’Neill, visiting Pat and Mike Supple on Champlain Street, has just returned from several weeks in Tuscany, Italy. Claire has been coming to OBP for 45 years. She met her late husband, Declan, at Flynn’s in 1978 when she had a share in a house called Squeaky Springs and he had a share house on Cayuga. Over the years they lived in various group houses. They were married 40 years, and ever since Declan died two years ago, she has felt his loss deeply. Then something happened that brought a new meaning to her life. On December 10, 2015 she was passing a Citibank on 55th Street and 9th Avenue and came upon a man named Will who was having a massive heart attack. Claire, an RN, gave the man CPR and kept him alive until the ambulance arrived. The next day she stopped at the bank to inquire about him and the teller handed her a note with a doctor’s name and number. The doctor asked if she would like to meet the man whose life she had saved. Claire went to the hospital and when she met Will and his partner, Joseph, they thanked her and said she was now a member of their family. They invited her to Tuscany to celebrate Will’s new lease on life and to the meet her new extended family. It all came full circle as one door closed and another one opened.
The circle of life on Fire Island continued for me and Steve with the 10th annual 5K Run for Rose on Sunday, August 14. This annual event is a benefit for the Rose DiGangi Foundation. Many of you know Anthony and John DiGangi from the Schooner Inn. Anthony and John, along with their other siblings started the foundation when their mother, Rose, died of brain cancer. Steve worked with their uncle, Sal Sciametta for many years at Western Union. Sal and his wife Jenny, Rose’s sister, attended our wedding. It’s not just that six degrees of separation, however, that encourages us to volunteer each year, it’s the work that the foundation is doing and the tremendous sense of satisfaction that you’ve done something to help someone else. It was a hideously hot day, but all of the runners and walkers competed happily and I never heard one complaint.
I loved cheering on the “regulars” among them Champlain Street’s “A to Z”: Brian Aaronson, barefoot as always, and his wife Shannon who ran in memory of own mother who died of cancer last year, accompanied by their dog Zorro. I was stationed as a course marshall on A Street and the bay and knew the race was over when I saw Jessica and Brian Fraser keeping up their tradition of coming in last. This year they were accompanied by Brian’s niece, Michaela Fraser, aka the Crab Race Assistant. After the race, Joanne Brincat, who was stationed on B Street, and I went to Ocean Beach for some retail therapy at the Arts and Crafts Show, while Paul Brincat, who had been posted at B and Midway, went back to the Schooner for the celebration and some liquid therapy.
Thanks for the news tip Gary and Stephanie Silverman, who are expecting a baby next year, around Valentine’s Day. They invited their family and friends out for the “big reveal”. Gary and Stephanie wore t-shirts with X on the front and Y on the back, and at 7:45 J Haus would play a song based on the baby’s gender. It was double XXs when J Haus played “Let’s hear it for the Boy!”
It’s hard to believe that I only have one more column left and then it’s over until next year. Since I have lots of people and vendors to acknowledge and thank for their donations, dedication and hard work, I will provide a recap of this year’s annual Lilian Laikind Gourmet Fair in my next column. Until then, THANK YOU to everyone who braved the heat and humidity to give back to our community on August 20. You made me so proud to live here and your work got me through my first time as a co-chair of this event. To me, the Marine Corps motto sums up your collective effort: SEMPER FI.
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