By Barbara Gaby Placilla
As Bob Marley sang, “Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet.” Summer is in full swing in Ocean Bay Park and it seems like everyone’s dancing to some beat – real or imagined. Despite the crippling heat wave we endured, for what seemed like an eternity, the parties kept coming and it was hard to keep up with all the activity.
Susan Abrahams moved the date of her annual birthday party up by a week several years ago so that it did not conflict with the OBP Auxiliary’s annual theme party, which is always scheduled for her birthday weekend – the third Saturday in July. The party would always morph into a true block party on Ocean Bay Boulevard. This year Susan moved the party from her house to the OBP Firehouse. Susan’s party is always great fun, with a very lively and interesting mix of guests from Ocean Beach, Seaview and OPB. The Hurricane’s Melissa Dodici performed her magic in the kitchen and Running Loose provided the music. The food kept coming, the cocktails kept flowing, and the guests kept dancing. Is there a better way to celebrate your birthday?
I don’t think there was a house in Ocean Bay Park that did not have guests, especially the last week of July when the annual Byrnes/Donohue invasion took place. Everywhere you looked there was a member of the clan and there are so many generations at this point, the only ones I recognized were my Ontario Street neighbors, Richie and Deidre Yevoli, and family patriarch, Tommy Byrnes. Everyone had guests. Flori Swinsky introduced me to her friend and winter neighbor in Acapulco, Michael.
We “hosted” Miss Goldie Irene Jacobs-Winters, my sister Alison Winter’s 5-pound Yorkie, for two weeks while she and her husband, Rob, went to Hawaii to celebrate his upcoming birthday. Steve and I have never had a dog, always having had cats for the past 25 or so years. Having recently lost our last “inside” cat, we were happy to hear the pitter patter of little feet, all four of them. We still have the community “outside cats” but we realize it’s not the same and know that eventually one of them will be coming into the house.
This brings me to the story of Mongo the “garbage cat” that was rescued by Tommy Esposito Jr. In case you didn’t know, Tommy’s the friendly face you see driving the Tony’s Barge truck for the company his family owns, which provides the sanitation services for Ocean Bay Park and Seaview. I will not recount the gory details, but earlier in the summer Tommy rescued a weeks old kitten from a garbage dumpster in Seaview. He took her to the vet for treatment, then home, and named her Mongo. Mongo is construction slang for anything of value that can be salvaged. Mongo, the kitten, is thriving and I know that karma will bless him for his good deed. He provides me with regular updates on Miss Mongo and I promise a picture in a future column.
Mike and Donna Hemberger made a surprise appearance at Happy Hour. They were not houseguests but had boated over for the day and we were all happy to see them back in OBP, if only for a few hours. For many years they rented on the bay and then on Oneida before they traded Fire Island for Hutchinson Island. Mike, retired from NYPD, loves golfing, even in the summer, and Donna commutes between Florida and Long Island. Also visiting from Florida and celebrating her birthday is Susan Abbott, Lisa Jaffe’s beautiful mother.
The Sunday of the heat wave, it was 90 degrees in the shade but that did not stop the intrepid kids of Ocean Bay Park and Seaview from playing baseball at Newman Field. After the game was over, and as the men were getting ready to play, I asked for details about the game and learned that Ocean Bay Boulevard’s Kai Lesser got a home run and teammate and neighbor, Sterling Sandow, knocked in the winning run to give their side the win. They explained to me that the teams don’t have official names and in the spirit of fairness that marks the kid’s baseball at Newman, everyone switches sides and the object of the game is to have fun and a good time. I commend the excellent coaches and the dedicated parents who braved the heat to cheer on their kids.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge OBP’s own baseball treasure/legend Joe “Tag” Taglairino’s recent birthday. I met Joe in the summer of 1996, or at least I think that was the year. My son, Christopher, had just returned from Japan, where he was stationed his first year as a marine, and was on leave for six weeks. Chris was surfing on the beach off Champlain and Joe asked me if I knew who that good surfer was. I introduced myself to him and then to Chris when he got out of the water. Chris and Joe became good friends and eventually shared the “Goat House” as well as the former “Selengut” house Chris Gurl, aka OBP baseball’s “Big Daddy” once owned with Sean Claffey and Jason Taragon. My son met his wife, Zoe Freireich, at their house. Both houses are gone now due to the FIMI project. Joe and Chris have remained fast friends since then. The three of us were all born in a year that ended in “9.” I’m 10 years older than Joe, and Joe is 10 years older than Chris. However, the common denominator is that Fire Island brought us all together and for that I say thank you and happy birthday, Joe Tag. So glad that fate and a surfboard brought us all together.
SAVE THE DATE: Ocean Bay Park Association Community Fair – Saturday, Aug. 10, at Schooner Inn, from noon-3 p.m. Volunteers are needed.
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