Ocean Bay Park

By Barbara Gaby Placilla

There is always ] one issue that I call my “potpourri” column because it’s basically a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Usually it occurs in mid-summer, during the dog days when I’ve run out of news or have just been too busy or lazy to hunt it down. You know the feeling; we’ve all been there! Maybe it’s because summer just couldn’t make up its mind as to exactly when it was going to arrive. Then, after an unusually quiet and cool June, on the last weekend of the month, it was like summer on steroids. Just in time for Independence Day, suddenly we had no excuse NOT to be on the beach. It was hot and muggy and the old adage “be careful what you wish for” took on a whole new meaning as the temperature soared.

The start of summer 2018 brought the much anticipated and dreaded FIMI project to OBP. I think we all got so used to seeing the sad, unoccupied and boarded up houses that we convinced ourselves that this was the new normal and they really were not being taken down. For those who are not aware, Ocean Bay Park is the last phase of the beach replenishment project being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That all changed on Wednesday, June 27, with the arrival of the two construction trailers that somehow made it down Champlain to where they are now parked on the dune side of Traffic and Ocean Bay Boulevard. The demolition of the houses will most likely commence after the July 4 holiday and with them will go so much history. It will change the look of Ocean Bay Park as the first line of houses north of Traffic Avenue will now be oceanfront. If those houses could talk, what would they say? It makes you stop and think, do you know the history of your house? Do you know who lived there before you? If you are a relative newcomer, ask a neighbor who has been here for a long time, there are still some of them around. My experience is that the old timers love to pass on OBP history and we all need to record it while we can. I still regret not sitting down with the late Bertha Lindsey to get an oral history of OBP when she was alive and I had the opportunity. So ask and you may be surprised at what you learn.

We have new neighbors on Ontario Street. Carol Donohue’s daughter and Tom Byrnes’ niece, Deirdre Yevoli and her husband, Rich, just bought 18 Ontario. People know this house as the one that Craig and Ann Johnson lived in. Craig inherited it from Harris, for whom he was a caregiver in his later years. I wonder if the Yevolis know that at one time their new house belonged to Harris Jackson and his partner Earl Murphy. Harris and Earl had two residences, one was the “summer house” at 14 Ontario, now owned by the Cataneses, and the other was the “winter house” at 18. Harris and Earl split the year between the two houses. This was almost 50 years ago when Ontario was nicknamed “La Di La Lane” a reference to the significant number of gay couples who happily coexisted in OBP.

Fifty is a milestone number, especially when it comes to friendship. The other day I was on my bike riding east to join my husband for Happy Hour. While parking my bike, I saw a group of men of a certain age come through the marina gate. I struck up a conversation with one of them, Danny Costello, who told me that 10 of them have been getting together for a “boy’s weekend” on Fire Island for the past 20 years. They have been friends for more than 50 years, since some of them were 8 years old. They use the weekend getaway as a chance to relax, recharge and keep the friendship going. I dubbed them the “Golden Guys.”

Lisa Jaffe and Rachelle King – artists-in-residence.

If you saw two women painting over the telephone number at Neptune’s Nursery on the corner of Bayview and Ocean Bay Boulevard, they were not graffiti artists, rather they are Ocean Bay Park’s own “artists-in-residence,” Lisa Jaffe and Rachelle King, who were making changes to the telephone number for the nursery owner, Vinnie Fazio. By the time this goes to print, Rachelle will be on a Baltics cruise with her Dad to celebrate his birthday. Last I saw Lisa, she was paddleboarding in the ocean. I wonder if she was trying to catch that cruise ship!

Congratulations to Alicia and Justin “J Haus” on the birth of their son, Jude Dylan, who was born on Flag Day, June 14. With a name that combines both the Beatles and Bob Dylan, I bet he will be rocking that family music vibe along with his big sister, 2-year-old Violet, even before he can walk.

The swimming area at the bay beach has been roped off thanks to Lynn Van de Water and Tiger Barton. They took the time, on the hottest day thus far of the summer, to set up the floats. This is not as easy a task as you might think, so thank you both for making it safer for all those who bring their children (and dogs, too) to swim in the bay.

When you read this issue, we will have already celebrated 242 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed. I hope you all had a great holiday. Happy Birthday, America!

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