Ocean Bay Park

By Barbara Gaby Placilla

Tanya Tesa, her brother Steve Kovach, and his son, Stephen, and daughter, Lucy.

June flew by, it’s now July and we have officially entered the dog days of summer. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “the phrase ‘Dog Days’ conjures up the hottest, most sultry days of summer.” The dog days are the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending Aug. 11, which coincide with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. So, the next time you watch “Jeopardy,” if this is the Final Jeopardy answer, you learned it here!
The string of parties that began in June, as a lead up to the ultimate birthday party on July 4, continued unabated. Jack Lyddy hosted a memorial at the Schooner Inn for his late partner, Joanne Uhle. It was a celebration of a life cut short by a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ed Travers played the music that Joanne loved. It was an opportunity to share stories of Joanne, who was a vibrant, charming and creative woman. Only Joanne would come to a disco party with an umbrella that was “raining men” as her costume. We all said, “why didn’t I think of that?” I still marvel at how Joanne could be the reason for the drought of St. Francis Chardonnay on a Celebrity Mediterranean cruise! Joanne introduced me to kayaking. I miss our afternoons in the Great South Bay trying to dodge the speedboats while paddling frantically to keep pace with Adrienne Ratuszny and Lynn Van de Water. Jack spoke of their life together, how Joanne introduced him to Fire Island and the magical month they spent in Malta just before she became ill. He then led the guests in a rousing rendition of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” her favorite karaoke tune. Joanne’s nephew, Chris Parkin, spoke lovingly of her. Tom Byrnes choked up as he tried to read the Irish Blessing, so Robbie, still wearing her very British “lady” hat, finished it for him. Whenever I see a yellow kayak, I will think of Joanne Uhle in her own “yellow submarine.”
Since it’s summer, everyone has visitors; some from near, others from far, some former Fire Islander’s, others first-timers. But the common thread is that everyone is having a great time and once you have a taste of Ocean Bay Park, you tend to keep coming back. We met Sue and Ted Caccia at the ferry the other day. They were coming from the city, where they did the “tourist” thing, the Circle Line, hop on hop off bus, Times Square, etc. with their daughter, Debbie, and their granddaughter, who are visiting from Florida. Ted told me that when they checked in at the Edison Hotel, their room was not yet ready, so they left their bags with the bellhop, Charlie. Charlie asked them where they were from and Ted told them Fire Island. Charlie said, “Oh I know a guy, a stage hand named Mickey, who lives on Fire Island.” Ted asked him if he meant Mike Supple and of course, it was! Seems the world is really getting smaller and that OBP “six degrees of separation” is alive and well. On the subject of Mike “aka Mickey” Supple, while he didn’t win the Triple Crown, he did win the 50-50 at the OBP FD Barbecue!
Tanya Tesa and her adorable dog, Ziggy Stardust, have a full house for the July 4 holiday on Michigan Street. Tanya’s brother, Steve Kovach, is here with his family including his son, Stephen, his daughter, Lucy, with her baby, 7-month-old Laila Rose, and his daughter, Katherine, and her husband, Rob Sadusky,
with their 5-month-old, Clara Anne. Since Ziggy’s used to being the “baby” I hope he isn’t jealous and if I see him on Ontario, it’s because he’s decided to come looking for Auntie Ellie.
Angelo Sakonas also had a house full of family for a very special event. Cory Hewitt, Angelo’s stepson, is here from California with his wife, Sarah Nolan, and their two children, Dylan and Lucia. They were joined by Cory’s sister, Kelly, her husband, Frank Borges, and their two children, Nicholas and Sophia. Kelly and her family are regulars in OBP and we watched Nick and Sophia grow up. Angelo’s niece, Catherine Vlasto, and her daughter, Marina, stayed in our guest cottage. The reason for the family reunion was to celebrate Nicholas’s high school graduation and his enlistment in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Nick will be doing his three-month basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, before starting school at Syracuse University. Catherine and I draped Angelo’s deck with bunting, USMC balloons and the USMC flag that we flew when my son, Christopher, was in the Corps. When you have a party on Fourth of July weekend what do you typically serve? Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn, watermelon? That’s what most people do and that was all available down the road at the annual firehouse barbecue. If you were born in Greece, as Angelo was, you celebrate by roasting a whole lamb! Angelo and my husband, Steve, constructed a firewall of cement board in his garden. They set up the motorized spit, lit about a gazillion pounds of charcoal and roasted the 30-pound lamb that Peter Stork had sent over on the ferry the day before. What a feast we had! Lisa Jaffe made almost as good a Greek salad as our dear late Roni did, her white and red sangrias were fantastic and Frank made hamburgers and hot dogs for the traditionalists. Sophia, Taylor and Marina decorated my cupcakes with USMC logos. Nick made a speech thanking “Papoo” Angelo and his parents for the party and their support.
As the mother of a former Marine, I told Kelly that she will not recognize her son when he returns from basic training. Nick is embarking on a journey where he will learn the true meaning of the Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis and will gain a lifelong identity as a member of one of the most elite brotherhoods you can belong to. To all Marines on this July 4, a big “ooh-rah” and heartfelt thank you for your service. To our great country, Happy Birthday, America!

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