Ocean Bay Park

By Barbara Gaby Placilla

August, the last month of summer, really crept up on us. It seems like Memorial Day was only yesterday and here we are entering the “home stretch.” August is the month that harkens the last chance for summer guests, the annual rush to get the kids ready for school and the anticipation by the “locals” that soon they get “their” beach back!

Lorelai and Ember LaPenna.

July came and went and I became a GDIT or Grande Dame in Training. It is rather bittersweet becoming the GDIT. My mom will turn 90 in November and I fully expect her to hold onto her title for many years to come. However, since I am “next in line” it was time to start training on relatives other than my grandchildren who are away at summer camp. So, this past weekend, the one of the heat wave, Steve and I had weekend guests of a very young age when we welcomed an Ocean Bay Park third generational visit from my niece Christine Healey, her husband, Michael Paul, and their two children, Christian, age 4, and Julia, age 2. Christine and her sister, Michelle, spent many summers in OBP on Champlain Street with their mother, my sister, Patti; they lived in one of the dune houses that are now destined for demolition. Christine and Michelle “wagoned” with John Lindsey’s children, Michael and Crystal. I remember one weekend when Michelle and Michael actually made $60, which was a good take in the 1990s. In addition to wagoning, they would collect the empty bottles and cans and bring them to Wes Little at Seaview Market. Wes had an old metal washtub where they were instructed to rinse them out before collecting the deposit. Today, you hardly ever see children down at the ferry offering to haul your luggage, food, et al.

Christian and Julia had a great time on their first visit. What a wonderful feeling it is to be able to pass on the joy of Fire Island to another generation. And it is particularly rewarding to be able to watch another generation play with toys that have been saved from one’s own grandchildren. My husband is always telling me to get rid of all that junk. But where else do you come to borrow a pack and play, a pram (yes, I actually have an Italian pram in my attic) or a highchair but to Ontario Street?

I feel very strongly that the more welcome we make the succeeding generations feel in OBP, the stronger we will remain as a community. So I was delighted when I ran into Maile LaPenna who told me that her 5-year-old twins, Lorelei and Ember, were planning to sell lemonade and cookies because I had just the thing for them in my GDIT stash – a real lemonade stand! My dear friend, the late Jackie Streicher, who believe me had more stuff than me, brought the stand over one summer. My grandchildren, Nicklas and Samantha, would set up shop with Jackie’s granddaughter Gianna outside the Schooner on weekends. That lemonade stand and little red chairs actually survived Superstorm Sandy so I knew it still had a lot of life left in it. Lorelei and Ember put their own spin on it by offering lemonade and a serenade – check out the picture of them with their ukuleles. I know that whoever stopped by that lemonade stand for a cold drink was totally charmed by these two cuties.

After many years of “dueling parties,” the OBP FD Auxiliary changed the date of their annual theme party so that it did not coincide with Susan Abrahams’ birthday/block party on Ocean Bay Boulevard. In years past, it was very difficult to choose between the two events. Susan, it seems, now has full custody of the third Saturday in July. This year’s event was a follow up to last year’s when she celebrated a “big” birthday. I won’t say which since it is not polite to reveal a lady’s age. The rain held off until the party was ending so everyone was able to munch on Melissa’s fantastic food and chill out to Tristan and his band, which just keeps getting better. Their cover of the Eagles’ “Desperado” is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

An extended family event was taking place up the road from us on Ontario and all over OBP with the annual Donohue/Byrnes invasion. When this clan arrives, they bring enough people to populate a small town. Although the weather was not the greatest, they know how to have a good time come rain or come shine.

It seemed like everyone had guests from out of town the past two weeks. Patti Loesch was visited by former “Stumblin Inn” housemates, Carol and Sharon Keane, who now live in Florida. I met up with them a Happy Hour to listen to JHaus and Bobby Digital play. Justin’s (JHaus) daughter Violet definitely has music in her blood. That toddler was rocking to the music and dancing through a sea of bubbles. Bernie Weil’s daughter, Amanda, and her husband, Jim Whitney, came up from John’s Island, South Carolina, where they have purchased a beautiful home complete with horse barn that they may turn into an event venue.

The week after Susan’s party, the Auxiliary had their annual cocktail party/fundraiser. The theme, The Greatest Show in OBP, was an homage to the circus. We were off island at a birthday party and couldn’t attend. I swear I could hear “It’s Raining Men” playing in the firehouse all the way over in Greenlawn. Take your pick as to who led the dancing: Fran Miller, the Irish Girls, Robbie Harris, DD.

Nancy Starr celebrated her birthday with husband Milt along with good friends, Lynn and Todd Luttenberger, Joe Vaughn, Glen Olson and Bruce Mayer. Gone are the days of the lingerie parties at the old Hollywood house. But then, that’s definitely a story for another column, I promise!

SAVE THE DATE: The Ocean Bay Park Community Fair is Saturday, Aug. 19, from noon-3 p.m., at Schooner Inn.

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