By Joey Macellaro
Embedded in the lore of our village is a woman by the name of Margaretta Irwin, daughter of the founder of the Protestant church. Called Birdie by all who knew her, she committed herself wholeheartedly to the community, serving on the church board from the 1920s through the 1980s. She was known to greet visiting ministers on the dock each Sunday and escort them to the church.
“You must be the reverend,” she said one such morning as she approached an inconspicuously dressed gentleman on the dock.
“How did you know?” asked the surprised minister.
“You’re the only one wearing shoes,” replied Birdie with a smile.
Knowing this story told by Miss Irwin’s friend Ted Caccia, I felt some form as déjà vu as I met a visiting minister at the dock before church last Sunday, and was asked if I was the greeting party. He, too, was wearing shoes.
Patty and Chris Brahe, who are among the parents that make up the board of the Ocean Beach Youth Group (OBYG), also have observed continuity between the old and the new.
“It’s so typically Fire Island when one of my sons’ counselors is the child of one of my husband’s counselors,” said Patty. Chris was a camper in the OBYG as a child, while Patty spent her childhood summers on the beach in New Jersey.
“I really wish there had been an OBYG where my parents had a beach house,” added Patty. “I’m truly jealous of the lifelong friendships Chris has out here from camp.”
A ceremony was held by the Ocean Beach Community Fund (OBCF) on the morning of July 1, to mark the official return of the camp to its bayside home at Windswept. The OBCF was instrumental in raising funds to rehabilitate the structure after Hurricane Sandy.
“We are beyond excited to be back in Windswept,” said Patty. Magic classes were offered by magician and mentalist Mike Patrick at the OBYG for the first time this year, culminating in a show planned for this Friday, July 6. Camp counselors will be participating in the first-ever all-staff square dance at the Community House this season, and the tradition of playing sports against other towns is returning with competitions with Saltaire on July 9 and Aug. 9. Registration continues throughout the season at www.obyg.org.
The Ocean Beach Association (OBA) hosted its summer meeting in the Community House on Saturday, June 23. OBA members were given copies of this year’s directory, a new rules and regulations poster, and a refrigerator magnet, which will indicate their home address, provided by the fire department. The meeting was attended by about 100 members and moderated by OBA President Maria Silsdorf. A moment of remembrance was held for longtime residents Jerry Heilweil and Mary Jane Lardner. Silsdorf welcomed new Village Trustee-Elect Dawn Hargraves, and thanked Tim Mooney and Luke Kaufman of Fire Island Ferries for answering residents’ questions.
Holly Etlin spoke on behalf of the Ocean Beach Community Fund and reviewed the organization’s calendar of events for the season, which is available in the village office. The Ocean Beach Quality of Life Committee was represented by Sally Shapiro, who noted that the Committee would be submitting a letter to the village requesting a smoking ban on village beaches.
David Lieber of the Village of Ocean Beach Environmental Commission announced two new members: Judy Steinman and Greg Pace. The Commission will be sponsoring two key initiatives this summer: International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 9 and Environmental Awareness Day on Sept. 15. Patty Brahe spoke on behalf of the OBYG, and Village Trustees Chris Norris and Brian Power reviewed the objectives of the village’s new Downtown Revitalization Committee. Chiefs Nick Stertz of the Ocean Beach lifeguards, George Hesse of the police department, and Ian Levine of the fire department all spoke on the preparations of their departments for the season. Levine welcomed new members Max Sherman and Jimmy Sozamenu to the firehouse, and Hesse discussed his department’s efforts to curb rental violations. Mayor James Mallott closed the meeting. Many thanks to Maria Silsdorf for her assistance in compiling this information.
As previously noted, the Ocean Beach Community Fund will be presenting the film “Chef” on the ball field this Friday, July 6, at 8:30 p.m. In addition, the Fund will be hosting the Fire Island Kids Art Show on July 21, with applications available in the village office.
The Ocean Beach Historical Society will be opening its second exhibit of the season, titled “Thru the Lens,” with a wine and cheese reception at the Community House on Saturday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m. The photography work of Joel Silverberg, Jack Stertz, and Jo Ann Wanamaker will be featured. Also being held on July 14 is the Free Union Church’s annual book sale, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the corner of Ocean Breeze and Midway.
CORRECTION: I misspoke a few weeks ago about the newly revamped Big Al’s Sip ’n Surf: Owner Jamie Ragusa tells us they certainly do still serve pizza! In the spot formerly operated as Michael’s Ristorante, Ragusa and partners J. J. Grossman and Jay Barje now offer patrons “something different, a cross-section of ethnic foods,” with pizza available to go. Ragusa and Barje previously bartended at the Island Mermaid for 27 and 14 years, respectively, with the restaurant (Big Al’s Sip ’n Surf) renamed after Ragusa’s father.
I experienced déjà vu once again a couple of weeks ago when my ferry pulled away from the south side of the ferry basin and docked briefly at the new ferry terminal so staff could size up the new mooring location. A wayward traveler approached the captain with a ticket and asked if he could board. As per Tim Mooney, I witnessed the first paying customer to board through the new ferry terminal, which is on the site of the one we lost six years ago.
What’s old is new again — in a new kind of way.