Ok. All bets are off. Obviously.
In the time between early Thursday morning, March 12, and Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m., the world had changed. Completely. And since then, at a rate of about once every four hours, the world has kept changing, again and again. Completely.
Between Wednesday and Friday of last week, one local plumber received requests from 17 second home owners to get their houses open and all utilities up and running by the weekend. And that’s just one local plumber. By Sunday, it seemed that most of the “seasonal” population had already descended on the East End, months ahead of time.
By now, everyone knows what happened, shamefully, to toilet paper supplies—everywhere—as well as staples and standard grocery items in the panic-driven rush that looked for all the world like the nightmare run on the banks after the crash of ‘29.
A cashier at Schmidt’s in Southampton on Saturday wondered aloud, “How big could these people’s refrigerators be?”
Asked the same day if he was keeping healthy, Sonny Mattera’s son Mike at Village Prime Meats in East Quogue replied, “I’m too busy to get sick.” When he heard about the Schmidt’s cashier’s commentary on refrigerator size, Mike said he knew of four people who had bought freezers on Thursday so they could store more provisions. One of his customers at the counter said he was taking his size large order straight in to the city and then coming back out to load up again for his house in EQ. He didn’t seem to be kidding.
There are thousands of such stories here, easily a hundred thousand in Suffolk County, millions in New York State, and billions around the world. No one has ever seen anything like this, and it must be said, despite all the modeling and prognosticating of all the scientists, medical professionals, economists, journalists, government officials and statisticians, no one can really say for sure how it’s going to play out.
All we can do for now is try to stay up to date without giving our much changed lives over completely to obsessive immersion in never ending coverage and speculation about the pandemic. And we can commit to acting responsibly by following to the best of our ability the guidelines and protocols for social distancing and sanitizing aimed at slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring that we do not overburden a health care system that is already stretching to the breaking point.
In addition, as part of the much needed commitment to community that is called for in these times—as we “come together by staying apart,” as one doctor put it—how wonderful would it be for those with the means to do so to offer additional support to the health care workers and all those most affected by this crisis.
And, rather than debate the merits of, or complain about the necessity for, unpalatable measures and procedures that strike some as “alarmist” or too extreme, At Quaquanantuck believes it would be better for all of us to take a step back, put our personal comfort and convenience to the side, and concentrate on the greater good. Because there are too many people for whom social distancing is not an option, those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to follow the protocols should double down on our commitment to all of the recommended best practices.
Look at it this way: If we can do our best—however awkward or inconvenient it may be—to make sure we don’t become infected ourselves, and thereby slow the spread, or “flatten the curve” of the virus, that would seem from this vantage point to give us the best chance to come through this thing with (it seems weird to suggest) the least possible disruption of life in this country and around the world.
The best case scenario is that we get to look back and say we overreacted and did way more than we needed to, and then we can argue about that into a ripe old age.
The worst possible outcome is that those who survive look back and say we didn’t start soon enough or do nearly enough to have an impact on this implacable foe.
Speaking of the spirit of community, a reader who wishes to remain anonymous is offering to help out with grocery or other essential shopping for local residents in their 80s or 90s who are fearful about venturing out to stores at this time. If you know of anyone in this category, email the name, a shopping list and the person’s address to email@example.com, and At Quaquanantuck will pass the information over to this good Samaritan.
And what of our local institutions? The big three responsible for most of the public gatherings in our village—the Quogue Library, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and the Hampton Theatre Company—are all taking appropriate measures to stay on the right side of caution and social distancing.
A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” Postponed Indefinitely
As of last Thursday, the Hampton Theatre Company—in line with Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, Guild Hall in East Hampton, and the Performing Arts Center in Westhampton Beach—was planning to go ahead with the production of “Sylvia” by A.R. Gurney, albeit with additional cleaning measures before and after shows and an offer to refund the full ticket price to any patrons who had already bought tickets but decided they didn’t want to risk attending.
By Thursday night, all theaters with more than 500 seats were ordered closed, with smaller theaters (at that time) still allowed to sell tickets for half the seats in the house, if there were any theatergoers left who still wanted to buy tickets during a pandemic. That same night, all professional sports shut down, along with theme parks and school sports across the nation. As mentioned above, the world as we had come to know it completely changed in a matter of hours.
At that point, the HTC board of directors realized that the only responsible course of action would be to postpone the show indefinitely. As of this writing, they are hopeful that “Sylvia” can be presented in the slot for the last show of the season, from May 21 to June 7, and “Doll’s House Part 2,” originally scheduled in that slot, can be put in to the 2020-2021 season.
Like the rest of the entertainment industry, the Hampton Theatre Company is adopting a “wait and see” position and will, it is hoped, be able to make a final decision on “Sylvia” by the end of April. Stay tuned.
Quogue Library Closed Until Further Notice
In response to the global health crisis and for the safety of staff, volunteers and community, Quogue Library Director of Operations Susan McKenna has announced that the library will be closed until further notice.
In the interim, Ms. McKenna has helpfully pointed out a number of resources that library patrons can access from home.
Via the downloadable Live-brary service of the Suffolk Cooperative Library Society (SCLS), patrons can obtain ebooks, audiobooks and magazines, all of which can be read or listened to on a computer or handheld device anywhere in the world.
All are asked to continue to check the Quogue Library website (quoguelibrary.org) and library social media sites for updates.
Any patrons who would like to borrow books or DVDs to pass the time are asked call 631-653-4224, ext. 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave name, phone number, and/or email address and the type of books or DVDs you are seeking and someone will get back to you to schedule a pickup time as soon as possible.
Library staff can be reached by phone (631-653-4224, ext. 101, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon; Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Anyone with holds that are ready for pickup will be called to arrange a pickup time. SCLS has stopped delivery service, so no future holds will be delivered to the Quogue Library until further notice.
Ms. McKenna and the library board of trustees are urging all residents to follow all social distancing protocols and to shelter in place as much as possible, in hopes that we will all take good care of ourselves and each other. Updates will be posted as they become available.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge Programs Cancelled; Trails Remain Open
Quogue Wildlife Refuge Executive Director Mike Nelson has alerted QWR members and friends that, in light of recent events, the Nature Center building will be closed and all public programming will be cancelled through at least the remainder of March.
Affected programs include: Weekly Yoga with Amy Hess; the Live Owls program slated for March 21; and the Seals of Long Island program scheduled on March 28. A determination about reopening the center and programming scheduled for April will be made as the situation develops, Mr. Nelson said.
Residents are reminded that all the Refuge trails, the outdoor wildlife complex, and outdoor restroom facilities will remain open daily, from sunrise to sunset. All are asked to make use of these facilities but to please respect social distancing protocols while visiting the Refuge, along with all hand cleaning and sanitizing procedures before and after your visit.
The Quogue Wildlife Refuge Facebook page will be updated regularly; for more information, call 631-653-4771 or email email@example.com.
Condolences to Family of Anne Wyman
At Quaquanantuck notes with sadness the passing of Anne Handly Joyce Wyman, 89, who died on March 12, 2020.
While she will be remembered for many things, not least among those will be her portrayals of Queen Elizabeth II and Daisy Werthan (of “Driving Miss Daisy”) in two separate editions of the Quogue Quips at the Quogue Field Club.
She is survived by her daughter, Anneke de Boer; son-in-law, Klaas; grandsons Nicholas and Alexander; her sister, Lucy Brennan; niece Joyce Brennan; and eight nieces and nephews in the Netherlands.
Interment was in the Quogue Cemetery on Saturday, March 14; a service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial donations be made to East End Hospice.
Your Comments Welcome
At Quaquanantuck is happy to provide a forum for civil discussion of village issues and initiatives and welcomes all comments. All are encouraged to share observations, ideas and opinions by writing to AtQuaq@gmail.com.
At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country—or the world. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.