Saltaire Summery

By Hugh O’Brien

In the wake of the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, I suppose it was only a matter of time before somebody mentioned Man O’ War. Yeah, okay, that’s obscure even for me, but these days you can Google stuff, so go for it. The first scare of the summer is of course the sudden appearance of giant jellyfish in the ocean abutting our southern strands. (Which reminds me: what is the plural of “Portuguese Man of War” anyway? Portuguese Men of War? Portuguese Man of Wars? Hmm.) Anyway, dusting off the yellowing pages of our as-yet-unmicrofilmed ancient-most records, we’ve learned that these rejects from a Jello mold contest haven’t been seen in these waters since … 1914! Oh, wait, make that 2014. And … pretty much every year before that, dating back to the first coelenteratean records in 1789, when George Washington was stung while taking a hung-over post-inaugural dip in the East River and ordered Benjamin Franklin to begin compiling a list of fellow victims.

Not that there’s anything fun about being stung by a PMOW, and in rare cases someone with an allergy can develop very severe symptoms, but before we turn this into a medical ad run during the evening news it should be noted that while unpleasant, these things are common occurrences every summer and this isn’t the coast of North Carolina (not yet, anyway). Just check for notices from the lifeguards, remain alert to the jellies while swimming, move away if you see one, don’t touch any that wash up on shore alert the guards. If someone is stung you can use salt water (not fresh water) to relieve the effects, and seek medical attention.

But don’t get panicky. These guys show up every year and very few people ever get zapped, and anyway, our medics have all attended a screening of the episode of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” where Admiral Nelson defeats the giant jellyfish that swallowed the Seaview. (The sub, not the place.) Nothing new here, other than that the good folks at channel 7 wanted to grab a paid day at the beach and drummed up a blight where there’s nary a fright. Of course, when the Great Whites finally show up from Ocracoke channel 4 has dibs on the ferry over.

So, before you’re stung, eaten or forced to read the Tide, please note the following …

This Saturday, the SVFC’s annual parade will launch more or less precisely at approximately 11 a.m., give or take, to be followed by the usual hot dogs, if you consider the sight of hundreds of hot dogs following a parade “usual.” Other diversions as well: great music from the North Babylon Fire Department, large red trucks with lots of flashing lights and loud sirens, all testing the stability of our new FEMA-bought-and-paid-for boardwalks. Mostly we’re looking forward to rolling down the temporary Broadway ramp just north of the firehouse, which should give all the vehicles a nice boost of speed headed toward the bay. There’ll also be T-shirts, mugs and other company paraphernalia for sale alongside the free wieners, so please show your support for the band that protects you against the ravages of fire, injury, pestilence and the occasional jellyfish. And if you think of it, think of volunteering. We have applications!

The succeeding Saturday – July 25 – the SCAA’s House & Garden Tour will start house-and-gardening, beginning at 10 a.m. When they have to segregate the attending multitudes by speed of travel – fast, moseying and trudge – so that everyone can see everything at his own pace, you know this is a busy event. As previously advised, reservations are required; tickets can be purchased from new SCAA chair Grace Corradino (207 Anchor) or former chair Pat Hennessey (104 Marine) for $20 until Saturday the 18; but once the clock ticks past midnight Sunday the 19, the hike’s price gets a price hike to $30. Indecision has its costs. Rain date: Sunday, July 26. Next up for the SCAA is the Music & Art Festival on Aug. 2. And that will be the last mention of the unwished-for month of August in this column. Promise. No more references to August – the end month we don’t yet want to think about. No more August for the nonce.

Speaking of august occasions (nah-ah-ah!), the SVFC’s Ice Cream Social was a great if slightly messy success last weekend, and the kids had a fine time, clambering over the trucks as they wolfed down ice cream. With the Junior Firefighter Program in full gear, as it were, this is a great time to get an introduction to some of the people who will one day help keep the community safe.

Meanwhile, the last half of July unfolds according to plan: the Club’s dinners, TGIBBQF (Thank Geoff It’s Barbecue Friday), movies, tennis tourneys, combat bridge, sailing races and lessons move smoothly, all on the heels of a happy sandbar picnic, fortuitously convened at low tide amid high expectations, with the echoes of Karaoke Night still ringing in the rigging. Softball grows more intense, soccer practice heats up in anticipation of the Perlberger Cup, the Camp’s 4th of July races were a terrific success and the program itself runs expertly under Ted and Jen, all with the cooperation of the weather. (Well, mostly.) What more can we ask of a Saltaire summer?

And just as I wrote those words, other words arrived of an exploding beach in Rhode Island. O-kayyy. That’s one we haven’t gotten yet. The sand exploded. No bomb. Just a big hole in the beach. Blew a woman clear out of her chair. Right.
So, sharks to the south of us, exploding sand to the north, Men of War in the middle. Like I said, what more could you ask of a Saltaire summer?

Well, the New Horizons space probe has discovered life on Pluto … Jellyfish!

Saltaire news for Hugh O’Brien can be emailed to saltaire@fireisland-news.com.

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