By Barbara Gaby Placilla
It was culture shock! When we left for Cuba to celebrate my husband Steve’s big 7-0, everything on Fire Island was one-dimensional black and white (if an island could be that color). I felt like Dorothy when the house landed on the witch after the tornado and she stepped out into Oz. Everything was in technicolor. We returned just in time for Memorial Day and the island was suddenly lush and green – just like our own Emerald City and just as vibrant as it was in Cuba. The best part, however, was we were back home.
Since we had been gone two weeks, I needed to find out what had happened in the interim. I asked my young neighbor, Patryck for an update on our “mermaid seal,” and he reassured me that after spending several more days on the beach in OBP, she had returned to the sea. I have since been advised that seals are not to be confused with mermaids; rather they are often called the mermaid’s dogs. Whatever! I want to believe that the story had a happy ending and she swam away to find her mermaid mistress. Unfortunately, the week of our return, a whale washed ashore on the beach in Point O’ Woods just east of the OBP cut, but it could not be saved as it was already dead.
The OBPFD Spaghetti Dinner is traditionally held on Mother’s Day weekend, and it is the first opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbors you haven’t seen since the fall. It was its usual success. Despite the cold, rainy weather, all the intrepid gardeners came out in full force the following week to mark another successful Auxiliary plant sale. The plant sale was followed by the spring meeting of the Ocean Bay Park Association. Here is a brief recap of the report from the board. The Brookhaven Highway Department has replaced all four staircases that were damaged during the March storms. The storm debris that was scattered all over the beach has been removed. Thanks go to Seaview Association President Tom Ruskin; Seaview Manager Larry Mattiasen and his crew, who did the work; and Seaview/OBP Garbage District and Tommy Esposito of Tony’s Barge Service that provided the dumpsters. As OBP Association Treasurer Bud Kroll wrote in his report, “This took a village and it looks great!” After driving back from the airport, I can attest to the fact that our beach, which has already started to build back up, is one of the cleanest on the island. In anticipation of Memorial Day, all the streets were swept, and replacement snow fencing along the south side of the dune should be completed in the coming weeks. Frequent rain is always an issue in certain areas and the necessary drain clearing/cleaning has begun. There is a plan to replace 600 feet of trap bags that were exposed and destroyed over the winter. This project is a work in progress due to Town of Brookhaven procurement requirements. I would like to commend and congratulate Bud Kroll for the work he has done on the Association’s newly updated website.
We missed the Preakness race, but I am happy to report that Mike Supple is back to his winning ways and took the pool with his Justify draw. I hope that his return to the winners circle means that we will have a Triple Crown winner this year when the Belmont Stakes is run on June 9.
Another Memorial Day tradition in Ocean Bay Park is brunch at The Far Side, the Wolling home on Oneida. Jim and his late wife Maryanne always put out a brunch to rival any high-end hotel. Jim continued the tradition alone until Pepe and the late Helen Driscoll did some matchmaking and introduced him to Gale O’Donnell. They have been a couple ever since and I am happy to report that they were recently engaged, went to Ireland to celebrate and have matching Claddagh rings to prove that “love is lovelier the second time around.” The heavy rains did not deter or dampen the brunch as the tradition continued despite the weather. We all wish Gale and Jim many happy years together.
How could I start the season without a report of the “six degrees of Ocean Bay Park”? Every year there are at least several situations where things just happen to come full circle in OBP and it proves the old “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” is not a phenomenon but a reality. Our friends and fellow Cuba travelers, Joanne and Paul Brincat, were our guests for the weekend. Their house on Cayuga was being used by Joanne’s friend Iveliz Santiago for a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend Vincent Bianco. Joanne was talking with one of the guests, Kelly Forster, and asked if she had ever been on Fire Island before. Kelly answered that her grandfather, Frank, used to be a partner in a house on Oneida with a woman named Patty. Joanne tells me this as we are having coffee in my kitchen. I jump up and call Patty Loesch and ask her if she knew Kelly. She says, “Frank’s granddaughter? I haven’t seen her since she was a little girl.” Kelly’s grandfather was the late Frank Caraher, Patty’s former partner in Stumblin Inn, her house on Oneida. And the circle of life continues in Ocean Bay Park! Until next time, thanks for reading.
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