By Barbara Gaby Placilla
Welcome back to all my old friends and the new ones I hope to make. It’s a new season, a new column and over the course of the summer we’ll all get to know Ocean Bay Park and each other better.
We ended the 2014 season with our annual Trick or Treat parade, led by Association President Steven Jaffe, and Pot Luck Dinner, hosted by my husband and me at the firehouse. Steve took the kids door to door despite the wind and rain, and the smile never left his face. I think he enjoys it more than the kids. A Halloween party at the firehouse followed the trick-or-treat-ing. The costumes were great, the food was plentiful, Lisa Jaffe provided great music, and the kids enjoyed the candy! In the weeks that followed, fewer and fewer people got off the ferry and we knew that the “season” was finally over and that winter was coming. It’s a bittersweet time in Ocean Bay Park as our friends and neighbors leave.
It was a winter that most of us would just as soon forget. While the lucky/ smart ones took off for warmer climates, the 20 or so of us who live in OBP year-round hunkered down and did our best to keep the town going. We had so much snow; we just shoveled paths on our deck. The Town of Brookhaven Highway Department and FEMA worked on repairing the roads when conditions allowed and it wasn’t snowing. Due to the severe winter, it was a work in progress.
A new “men’s coffee club” was formed at So Tastee, which stayed open for most of the winter. It provided a respite for the crews working on the roads as well as the contractors who are still repairing damage caused by Super Storm Sandy. Believe me, when you live on Fire Island in the off season, you really appreciate one of Dino’s freshly baked bagels. We joked that So Tastee should be renamed The Firehouse Café, since each morning Lanny and Jeff Vannoni, Steve Rubenstein and Steve Placilla, all OBP FD members, were in attendance. Speaking of the Fire Department, we were fortunate that there were no local fi res. The OBP FD provided mutual aid to fight several serious fires in The Pines and Cherry Grove, where multiple buildings were lost.
Just when I was sick and tired of trudging through the snow to feed cats and trying to avoid flying off my bike on the icy roads, there was a glimmer of hope that spring might eventually arrive. It came in the form of a phone call that went like this: “Barb, its Jeanne, come down to the bay to watch the sun set and have a glass of wine.” I assumed we would sit on the deck or go into the firehouse, if it was too cold. When I got to the Bay Beach, I found Jeanne Lynch Vogel, sitting on an ice floe, resplendent in the waning sunlight. Jeanne had thought of everything. There were chairs, an umbrella, a picnic basket and emergency apparatus — a paddle, in the event we did a Gilligan’s Island and floated back to Bay Shore. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. What a great time we had. There we were, two old friends sitting on an ice floe, drinking white wine, eating Brie on baguettes just as if we were sitting on a beach in the Caribbean. This was Fire Island living at its best and a just reward for putting up with such a miserable winter!
Easter Sunday, we finally got a taste of spring and staged an egg hunt at the Seaview playground. Since we are OBP’ers, the adults sipped champagne as we hid 170 candy filled eggs in the sand. It was 39 degrees the next day, which did not deter Harrison Jaffe, Melody Rose and Anthony Catanese, who suited up in heavy duty wetsuits, to hit the beach and the waves. The beach had survived the winter and the next OBP generation was already enjoying our beautiful ocean.
Ocean Bay Park continues to evolve. This past winter we lost two long time OBP residents, Anna Oakley, who was a charter member of the OBP FD Auxiliary and then past Auxiliary president, Helen Driscoll who so enjoyed tennis. On a joyful note, Avery Ann Mohring was born on March 12, 2015. Avery and her brother, Andrew, represent the third generation Schooner “dynasty” along with parents Meghan Curry and Paul Mohring and grandparents, Dennis and Ann Curry.
In mid-April, Steve and I left for a long overdue vacation. We spent six days in Peru visiting Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Then we got on a ship in Lima and cruised through South and Central America for 16 days before docking in New York. We made new friends, Helen and Peter Fox, and now have an “excuse” to visit Australia. My bucket list got a little bit shorter, but I was happy to be home in OBP, where everything was green and blooming and the town a lot livelier. We got back just in time for the annual OBP FD Spaghetti Dinner, which was literally standing room only! It was good to see old, familiar faces and exciting to see so many new ones. The next day the chant “shells for sale” wafted on the breeze as a group of children offered Mother’s Day gifts from their wagons. Outside the Island Pantry, new dad Paul Mohring celebrated Mother’s Day with Meghan, Andrew and Avery Ann.
The summer season is upon us so please remember to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If your house is missing these, please install them as they save lives and property.
I will be providing details of upcoming events in future columns and if you have any info you’d like to share, please contact me. We all are Ocean Bay Park and I aim to make my column as inclusive as possible. Thanks for reading and welcome Summer 2015!
Email Barbara with your Ocean Bay Park news at oceanbaypark@fi reisland-news.com.