By Hugh O’Brien
Dr. Bob told me an Independence Day story the other week, and it makes for a good (if now belated) holiday quiz. Bob informed me that every July 4, Father Richard – we’re very chummy in this town, no last names or anything – hoists the flags of the five nations (or their successor states: the Kingdom of Naples hasn’t much troubled the world these past 200 years or so) that were allied with America during the War of Independence, and asked if I knew which countries they were. Well, uh … France … and, um, Burgundistania … and, oh, Grand Fenwick … okay, you get the idea. And not just me, no one seems to know the right answers, and after all, this is our country, you’d figure someone would be up on this stuff. (Oh, right, I’m forgetting – the American educational system.) I didn’t even bother asking my wife, who though currently masquerading as an American citizen is in heart and origin a Brit, brought up to refer to the Revolution as the Rebellion or the War of Treason, resentful of all that money they still owe us for bailing them out of two world wars, and part of a covert vanguard of descendants of our former colonial masters that for years was infiltrated Stateside with the aim of subverting our democracy, stifling dissent, and placing us once more under the cruel domination of local lackeys doing the bidding of a foreign tyranny. Of course, the whole project collapsed once Trump beat them to it, but still…
Anyway, it’s a good question, so see if you can come up with the countries, and no cheating until after I cheat by getting the answers from Father Richard. All this is yet another reminder of how truly fortunate we are to have a person as singular as Father Richard serving our community. I’ve often thought that if the rest of us were half as smart, half as erudite, half as loquacious, half as kind, half as gracious, half as compassionate, half as self-deprecating, and half as small-c catholic in our interests as Father Viladesau, this world wouldn’t be half as bad.
Ah, a pleasant refuge from our doleful reality: the pompadoured certitudes of the gentlemanly international order of 1776. However, we have our own little refuge right here, so how ‘bout a few upcoming events in the forthcoming weeks for all you fellow refugees.
Two big SCAA events are on the way. Final alert! On Saturday, July 21, the House & Garden Tour toddles about town starting at 9:45 a.m. from Our Lady Star of the Sea. (You know, Fr. Richard must acknowledge that if the British had won the Revolution, first, the only flag he’d be flying would be the Union Jack, and second, he’d be minister of an Anglican church with a shorter name, like St. Baldrick’s or St. Peregrin’s or Kirk of the Moors or something.) Followed by an optional lunch at the SYC. Even at this late date tickets are for sale on line (saltairecitizens. org) or at the homesteads of Pat Hennessey (104 Marine) and Grace Corradino (207 Anchor). On Saturday, Aug. 4, Arts & Music flourish o’er downtown as the annual festival takes wing. Kids under 18 are invited to set up wagons selling homemade crafts or food along Broadway for free, while adults can get dibs on some space by applying at the above website, adding/exhibit reservations form to the basic address. It’s not on the posters, but naturally the bayfront picnic remains the day’s linchpin, closing with Grucci’s attendant pyrotechnics, which hopefully this year won’t blow into the community and set it on fire.
In between, those with a hankerin’ for ice cream can attend the aptly- monikered Ice Cream Social, the SVFC’s annual cone-and-drip-a-thon hosted by Saltaire’s answer to Dolly Madison, Christine Schiff; scooping starts at 2 p.m. on July 28. Think of it as belated dessert after the Seventh of July Parade’s hot dogs, hamburgers and bratwurst (in honor, no doubt, of George III’s Prussian allies in the late war).
Speaking of ice cream, Keeper of the Saltaire Flame Jim O’Hare vacationed in Alaska recently, and after being alerted by yours truly of the existence of a familiar- sounding but alternate universe in the frozen north, Jim took a ferry out of Anchorage for a visit to Fire Island – one memorialized in the photo that I trust made it onto this page. We’re cutting things short this week to squeeze in some extra pix. One picture is worth a thousand words, they say, but let them try counting this text every issue.