By Barbara Gaby Placilla
When will we get some “real” beach weather seems to be on a lot of people’s minds these days. We are two thirds of the way through June and by the time this issue is published Summer Solstice will have passed. It’s been rainy, chilly, and occasionally hot but nothing consistently like summer. There are so many more important things to talk about these days, but it’s always politically correct to complain about the weather. “Weather” or not, in Ocean Bay Park, there’s always something to do, and when all else fails, we PARTY!
And party we did. The first big event of the season, a lobster fest to mark their 11th wedding anniversary, was held by Donall and Jennifer Winters at their home on Erie Street. Donall and Jenn bought the house two years ago from Bill and Rosa Koenig, and before that, in the “olden days,” the house was owned by Peter Richey. Donall and Jenn have transformed the property and the house, which at one time could not be seen from the road. There was a truly eclectic group of people and since the hosts are pet friendly, there were almost as many dogs as there were humans. Being an animal lover, I was in heaven and I made several new four-legged friends, among them Alice and Logan. Glenn Graham assisted Donall with the cooking and there was no end to the lobster, clams, chicken, pulled pork, corn et al. Glenn and Sue Graham, formerly of Oneida, are now Erie Street residents themselves, having purchased the Slobotkin house down the road. Glenn is an architect who has designed several of the new houses in OBP. Oona Sullivan was at the party and I remembered hearing that the host is her nephew. When I asked her, Oona clarified that they are “spiritually” related as Donall’s parents and Oona’s parents were best friends.
The Winter’s party was the perfect summer kick-off, and Lisa Black McNamee picked up the ball, and scored a touchdown, with a party to celebrate her husband Sean’s 60th birthday. The bash was held at the Schooner Inn and the red, black and white theme was designed by Lisa Jaffe, who never ceases to amaze with her creativity. Even some of the food, sliders and French fries, were in custom red, white and black bags! The 100 guests were a mix of friends and family from both Babylon and OBP. We all missed the Harris-Byrnes’ who could not attend. Not to fear, Robbie and Tom were at their own party, albeit in England, celebrating her sister Toni’s 80th birthday. Tony and Catherine Catanese also could not attend as they were celebrating daughter Melody Rose’s high school graduation at their off-island home in Sayville. Stephen Jaffe took son Harrison to the party to represent us Ocean Bay Boulevard/Ontario Street beach regulars. You will be able to recognize us on the beach with our Sean McNamee can cozies! I will be looking forward to seeing Pam “The Paparazzi” Birnbaum’s pictures on Face-
book. She can always be counted on for great shots. The party tag line was the Bob Dylan lyrics from his song “My Back Pages” – “I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.” Definitely not a bad mantra to live by and one that Sean and Lisa, who did not stop dancing, have embraced. In addition to turning 60, Sean was celebrating the birth of his new grandson Finley James McNamee, who was at the party (with his parents, of course). I don’t know who the oldest guest was, but I know that at the tender age of two weeks, Finley was the youngest! Sean and Lisa had rented the Pillittieri’s grey house on Champlain for many years and last year became homeowners when they bought on Ocean Bay Boulevard. Lisa is the new OBP Auxiliary vice president and both Sean and she are welcome additions to the community.
Another happy milestone to celebrate is retirement. Steve and I did it eight years ago and we have never looked back. That is what I said to Aggie McShea when she told me that she took the plunge and offi-
cially became a retiree. I was happy to see Aggie at Sean’s party and I must say it’s good to have her back in OBP. After a one-year hiatus from Fire Island (although she did show up as a guest rather frequently) Aggie’s back as a share in the Tennis House along with Adrienne Ratuszny, Fran Miller, Eileen Murray, and Janice McBride. A fellow animal lover, Aggie will be working as a volunteer at the Animal Care Center of NYC on the Upper East Side.
Since we are on the subject of birthdays, I want to congratulate my fellow Geminis. There are a lot of us in Ocean Bay Park, and I like to think that is one of the reasons why there is so much creativity and fun here. In no particular order, Happy Birthday to Mike Supple, Joan Rubenstein, Ellie Mal, Glenn Olson, Lori Kingsley, and a special Happy Birthday to my friend and fellow Flag Day baby, Rachelle King. An extra, extra special Happy Birthday to my beautiful grandson, Caleb Gaby, who is now 8 years old. I know there are more of you Geminis out there, and I hope you had a great day, too.
When you read this issue we will soon be celebrating the 241st birthday of our great country. I don’t yet have news of the upcoming July 4 weekend to report, but I know what I will be doing. When I watch the various fireworks displays I will be thinking of what my grandfather must have felt when he first set eyes on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. My grandfather came from what was then Austria-Hungry. He did not speak any English and he had the name of his brother, Isadore Koschitz, written on a piece of paper and pinned inside his coat. He somehow managed to get on the “El” subway to the Bronx and of course, became lost. He happened upon a kind stranger who, believe it or not, actually knew who his brother was and showed him where he lived. That is what America is to me – a wonderful, warm country where everyone is welcome. We are now and have always been GREAT and that is what I will celebrate on our nation’s birthday on July 4, 2017. Happy Birthday, America!
CORRECTION: There was an error in my prior column – John Galligan sold his house. He did not die, and is alive and well.