By Hugh O’Brien
Eclipse? Big deal. We had a Centennial. There’s a better eclipse in just seven years. But there’s only one Saltaire hundredth anniversary. Well, okay, actually there were maybe four or five, but only one marking our incorporation, and this was it. And a great day it was.
The proceedings kicked off with a talk by Saltaire’s most informed and qualified historian, Jim O’Hare, who spoke of the earliest origins of what would ultimately turn out to be Saltaire, a story that goes back to the 1600s. Fast-forwarding to 1878, then beyond, Jim’s history served as a reminder how fragile not only our island, but our future have always been. In a tour d’horizon across the community’s lifespan, Jim touched on how Saltaire came to be built, its first election (in the Yacht Club bar) and board meeting (aboard the Village’s ferry “Eladio” steaming back to Bay Shore: both of these probably illegal, but what the heck), and in general how for a century it’s navigated the hazards of hurricanes, highways and half-enforced laws.
Jim’s presentation was followed by a revival of the pie-eating contests of yore, forever to be commemorated by the blueberry stains left on Bay Prom, after which we had the ceremonial dedication of the time capsule at the Saltaire Market. Mario Posillico read part of a message to the future from Mayor John Zaccaro that’ll be placed inside one capsule, but actually the two canisters are still empty and won’t be filled and buried for a while yet, so there’s still time to submit an entry, to be placed in a waterproof Ziploc and unveiled when those Cannibal gangs roaming the post-Trumpian wasteland unearth them in 2050. I accidentally dropped a chicken taco into one of the capsules, so that’s the first item.
The main event was the evening concert by Rich Mahogany, to which properly screened and stamped Saltairians who were granted the coveted admittance to drink, listen, drink, dance, and drink. Making the concert all nice and legal-like required the board to temporarily suspend certain code provisions: Section 38-12, to permit residents to carry open containers of alcohol; Section 36-4, enabling Rich Mahogany to endanger people’s windows by eliminating the statutory maximum decibel level; and Section 5-5, feeding of deer, to let local wildlife assist in cleaning up the field after the concert.
And all the while an excellent exhibit of historic photos was on display throughout the day and into Sunday at the library. Of course, time and budget constraints rendered some suggested events impossible: the Ocean Promenade water slide, for example, which would have re-created the effects of the 1938 hurricane for lucky participants; or the proposal to have the day’s ferry captains drink as much as Al Skinner used to before piloting the boat across the bay, an idea that was properly scotched. Even so, there was plenty afoot.
Credit for this success must go first to the mayor, who spent hundreds of hours organizing the affair, sifting through thousands of photos and documents, arranging for movies, exhibits and the rest, and what a relief it must be to Anne to have all this stuff out of her living room at long last. Thanks also to Mario Posillico, Donna Lyudmer, Georgine Posillico, Nancy Henriksen, Pat Hennessey, Lilli Diller, Grace Corradino and the SCA, Vern Henriksen and the crew, Chief Bob Rittenhouse and his officers, the members of the SVFC who kept the ambulance on stand-by for anyone who became pie-faced or pie-eyed at some festivity, and many others. Let’s do it again next year! Oh, yeah, right….
This is the final column, so the usual round-up of sexy events to come:
One item I wish wasn’t on our list is the retirement of Larry Slack, effective Sept. 1. Larry has been part of the community so long that it’s impossible to imagine a water main break, flood or collapsing sluice without his being there. For over three decades, resident both in and out of Saltaire, and also a former fire chief, Larry’s been there for all of us, without complaint and with utter dedication to his work. We’ve been through a lot with Larry and will miss him terribly…almost. Larry will remain on call for the occasional crisis and will I’m sure drop in regularly, once the elation of not having to be here at 6 a.m. every day wears off. Thanks for everything, Larry.
To recap the Soccer Tournament, here’s Ralph Perlberger’s report, slightly edited: “The 19th Annual Perlberger Cup successfully concluded. All teams were strong, scores were close, semi-final decided in double overtime, final decided in double overtime plus shoot-out. Sportsmanship honors awarded to Dylan Sachs. Green team won, White team second place.”
Michele Joerg was also kind enough to send the Jogathon results but we just don’t have the space. Perhaps they could be put on the SCA website? Sorry, Michele!
Grace Corradino wrote a lovely message which will go out from the SCA, but I want to quote her opening line: “As we near summer’s end, I am reminded about the work volunteers do in this Village so that our Saltaire summers are safe and exceptional.”
Our experience this summer makes this truism even truer than is usually true. As Jim O’Hare said in his talk, Saltaire is people. We’re all stewards of the place for a time, then pass it on. Its history is really ours. To echo Jim, here’s hoping that those Saltairians present for the bicentennial in 2117, and those in the century looming between, carry on our traditions and make sure that, however the village may change physically, the essence of all that’s made Saltaire cherished and unique remains unaltered.
Have a good first year of those coming 100.