Saltaire Summery

By Hugh O’Brien

Hi there! By the time you see this it’ll  be June 23 at the earliest, most likely a little later than that, so you know what that means – the days are getting shorter.

Ah, yes, the annual paradox of Saltaire vs. the Solar System: just as everyone gets revved up for summer, suddenly the sun starts is southerly sojourn, making its slow slide from the right side of the Captree Bridge all the way over till it ends up sinking into the ocean by November. The western sky of the Great South Bay may be one of the best places on the planet to track the course of our star’s journey between the seasons, but it does have its melancholy side, a reminder that summer is fleeting and needs to be used to the fullest. Of course, the literal reverse is true: come Dec. 22, the sun begins snailing north-
ward as the days get longer with the onset of winter. Trouble is, not a lot of people are on the island to note it, though the local ritual of celebrating the winter solstice by setting one of the Club’s Sunfish on fire and launching it onto the Atlantic as a sacrifice to the corn god is not to be missed, but, you know, don’t tell them you read about that here.

Anyway, June 21 may be behind us, but the fun still lies ahead. Start with civic fun: the SCA’s Annual Meeting will be held this Saturday, June 24, at 11 a.m. at the firehouse meeting room. One of the main topics will be discussing the use of the courtesy cart, basically meaning, just how courteous do we want this service to be? As Commissioner of Public Safety (formerly Security, formerly some Village Superintendent riding around town with a shotgun, and no, I’m not kidding), people’s preferred policy for use of the cart will be crucial in formulating the cans and cannots of permissible rides. There will be otherthings discussed too, so members, please come.

On the Club front, the joint’s “soft” opening is about to become hard (I guess) as things get into full swing. Tennis Camp actually began June 20 but continues over the ensuing two weeks, the sail-
ing program ups anchor shortly after (Sunday racing included), Classic Movie Night hosted by yours truly starts June 22 and kids’ movie night July 11, and the always-popular and wallet-cleansing Texas Hold ‘Em night chips on July 7; all this as dinners and Friday night barbe-
cues cook away.

Meantime the Fire Company’s fourth annual Ice Cream Social will be Saturday, July 1, starting at 2 p.m. (for those awaiting the parade, it’ll be Sunday, July 16, beginning at 11 a.m.), and the Junior Firefighter program starts July 7 and repeats each Friday thereafter, from 3-5 p.m. The Village chimes in with its first off-Broadway beach bonfire, Sunday evening, July 2, along about dusk (see first paragraph). Most important, the new Camp program starts Monday, July 3, with a busy schedule (available on theVillage’s website) of varied events for kids of all ages. And remember the Fourth of July field games for the whole family, held this year on, well, July 4, beginning at 10 a.m. at the field. All the kinds of stuff that’s marked Saltaire’s hundred-plus years, conformed to the times but as popular today as during the administration of Woodrow Wilson. Of course, that was in the Progressive era. Now we have Donald Trump. More progress.

Lastly, as our summer commences, it’s time to remember friends and neighbors, from both the recent and more distant pasts, who have passed over the past year, leaving that all-too-familiar void that particularly bedevils a small village where most people know most other people.

Joyce Magid was a thoughtful, engaging and caring wife, mother and friend deeply concerned about the well being of village residents. Sheryl London was an accomplished artist and career partner to her late husband, Mel, and worked to preserve Saltaire’s best traditions. Fran Keegan had a successful career in publishing, a devoted family and exercised her love of the community through her interest in beautification and nature. Virginia O’Brien was a former First Lady of Saltaire as well as the Yacht Club’s first female commodore. Peter Patterson made his mark as a unique force in service of his faith, his family, the taxpayer and his yacht club, making friends wherever he went. Harold Stone served the people of this village as a skilled and hard-working trustee from 1972-1980, and Charles Mederrick was a well-liked and well thought-of neighbor and family man.

Some former Saltairians have passed as well. Best known to most was probably Joyce Vollbracht Cole, whose family owned the Saltaire Market in the 1960s before Joyce married Larry Cole and helped run the Kismet Inn for the past 40 years. Jean Jessop, a lifelong resident until several years ago, devoted much of her life to Saltaire, with special attention to helping coming generations of the village move into places of leadership and responsibility. Gabrielle Thorpe effectively left Saltaire many years ago but is well remembered by her neighbors. And in a position all his own, our dear friend Bobby Chinkel, a Fair Harbor resident but a steadying presence for almost three decades as a maintenance worker in Saltaire, was admired and relied on by everyone, a strong and loving rock to his adoring wife and family.

This is little enough to say for such a varied and complex group of people, and nothing startlingly original, but perhaps this is in part because they all had in common a devotion to this community and a love for everything good in it. As we mark our centennial without these people here to celebrate with us, it’s reassuring to know that the best we can be was also embodied by the best that they were. Sorely missed and long remembered.

Neither fog nor a dearth of beachgoers keeps Saltaire’s lifeguards from their dedication to their duties. (Photo by Catherine O’Brien)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *