There was something for everyone in Cherry Grove Archive Collection’s annual summer exhibit that took place on the weekend of July 20 and 21, at the Community House and Theatre. Curated by Lee Sharmat, there were photo albums to flip through, film clips and slideshows, house signs, and memorabilia of all sorts – a crazy quilt of the many textures and layers that comprise the community of Cherry Grove.
Greeted by a rainbow of vintage T-shirts from happenings way back when and local businesses from bygone eras, on clothesline at the Theatre entrance, signaled that something special was going on inside. Upon entering, a birthday celebration was happening for a longtime resident named Dominic DeSantis, who had turned 90 years old. On a table was the biggest sheet cake being served that I ever saw in my life. In the Theatre a film about Dominic was being viewed by his friends and loved ones, which was produced by the legendary Parker Sargent. Someone offered me a slice of that amazing sheet cake, and it looked good, but I hesitated eating sweets during that day’s stifling heat, and accepted the San Pellegrino water instead.
The tables were smartly organized in circular fashion for people who like to wander. One corner was dedicated to the Cherry Grove post office, which still stands in the heart of Cherry Grove today. A banner reading “Ms. Monster 1977-1978” peaked the viewer’s curiosity to learn more. Clever house signs made of driftwood bore names like “Inn Heat,” “Fancy from Delancey,” and “Grandma’s House.” Personal photo albums and Theatre performance stills were displayed side by side – and yes there were copies of Fire Island News peppered about – some from decades ago, others as recently as last year, there to remind us what’s old is new again.
Then there was Brian Clark’s masterfully assembled slide show, which was a wealth of visual information. Stark winter scenes with dates like 1911, enlarged postcards scribbled with busy handwriting, dramatic images from the Lone Hill Lifesaving Station that once existed a little bit east, glamorous parties of beautiful people, and stoic faces standing beside hurricane ravaged homes. This writer was in a trance watching it, until someone stopped by and kindly offered a glass of chilled Prosecco – tempting, but then again, that damned heat!
And of course there was fundraising, because the weekend exhibit is only the tip of the iceberg of what Cherry Grove Archives Collection really does – the display is to remind us, but to save, document and preserve makes sure this history does not slip away. Susan Kravitz was holding a silent auction of her recent – and highly limited edition – art book, entitled “An Enduring Spirit: 1980’s Cherry Grove.” The few copies in existence are already in several university rare book collections. The one in the auction fetched and good price, with all proceeds going to benefit Cherry Grove Archives Collection.
Lorraine Michels’ books were also on display, both still available for sale, but also produced in a small quantity, and when they are gone, they’re gone. Yet the history here in this room will live on, thanks to these dedicated guardians who will make it their purpose to assure it will endure.
Follow Cherry Grove Archives Collection on Facebook, and visit their website at www.cherrygrovearchivescollection. com to learn more about all they do.
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