Welcome to week 10.
For as long as At Quaquanantuck has been rattling on with community news and observations about life in Quogue—some 25 years in print for the Hampton Chronicle-News (now The Southampton Press) and now three-plus years as an independent, free online column—the advent of Memorial Day weekend has taken center stage (and yards of space) for two compelling reasons, unfortunately juxtaposed in an awkward competition for attention.
One is the weekend’s unofficial but de facto status as the beginning of the summer season, with all the attendant barbecues and revelry appertaining thereunto. The other is the titular occasion for the holiday: a day set aside from work and other ordinary routines in order to memorialize and honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who gave up their lives in the service of our country.
Time was, the buildup to the first of the big three holiday weekends of the summer—Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day—generated the kind of anticipatory buzzing energy typically associated with scholastic athletes getting ready for the Big Game.
The long weekend looming on the calendar as the drop deadline for contractors, landscapers, pool service businesses, and marina and boatyard operators. The reopening of seasonal shops, boutiques, and restaurants restoring healthy vital signs along East End Main Streets and connecting arteries. Restoring the utilities and clearing out cobwebs to open up summer rental properties and seasonal homes. The first signs of activity—not only on highways and byways, but also on creeks and bays and ocean waters—turning into traffic.
And the people, thousands of them, coming in smaller numbers for spring weekends at first and then in highway choking, supermarket bursting, beach jamming multitudes launched by the starter’s pistol of Memorial Day weekend.
Time was. Courtesy of the novel coronavirus, now it’s just one more weekend in quarantine. Welcome to week 10.
Enjoying all the best parts of the buildup to the first Big Holiday Weekend while being substantially protected from most of the worst has long been one of the great blessings of having a Quogue address. And there have been similar benefits for village residents in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic: what better haven could there be in which to shelter in place?
So far, there have been only mild annoyances and frustrations for us to complain about during New York Pause. As the normal rhythms we associate with the start of summer—going to the beach, playing sports, family reunions and vacations, barbecues and cocktail parties, stepping out for gala benefits—are disrupted or eliminated by the cautious pace of reopening, residents’ patience and forbearance are bound to be more severely tested. That’s understandable.
But it’s important to remember what luxury problems these are. However cheated we may feel, these impositions not only pale, they vanish when compared to the unimaginable nightmare experience of the millions of people struggling just to live, and the thousands upon thousands who have died, in the hardest hit areas to our west and around the nation and the world.
Deprived of the usual trappings, perhaps Memorial Day this year offers us a new opportunity to turn our attention to the real meaning of the holiday, tied up in gratitude and respect. Unable to join together for a brief service in front of the firehouse as in years past, each of us, and our families, can take some time this weekend to reflect, give thanks, and honor the sacrifice and the heroism of the men and women who died in the service of our nation and their fellow citizens.
And let’s remember, too, that there are other heroes fighting for us today: health care workers, first responders and others in the perilous front lines who are making whatever sacrifices are called for, however painful, even giving up their lives, in the fight against the horrific Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s take this weekend as another opportunity to give thanks for their heroic efforts, to salute them, and to step up to support them in whatever way we can.
And so it goes in the days of the novel coronavirus today.
As noted last week, At Quaquanantuck finds hope in seeing that beyond the pandemic particular pursuits we all seem to be engaging in, many village residents are continuing to do what they’ve always done, even if they’ve had to develop some adaptation so they can. Writers are writing. Teachers are teaching. Last week, the column considered the teacher turned writer Denise Roland. The subject of this week’s brief examination is bon vivant, raconteur, connoisseur, fussy eater and all around good egg (as Bob Hope once described himself) Roger Rosenblatt.
Roger Rosenblatt: Writing and Teaching as Healing Arts
With his 19th book, “The Story I Am: Mad about the Writing Life,” published by Turtle Point Press in April, and his 20th book, “Cold Moon” slated for an October pub date, Roger Rosenblatt has clearly been keeping busy, pandemic or no pandemic.
As a Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University, he has also kept up with his teaching assignments, even as the classroom experience has shifted to the virtual realm. Chatting with the author and poring through an advance copy of “Cold Moon” recently, At Quaquanantuck gained a new understanding of yet another of the busy Quogue resident’s activities.
The characteristically free flowing and lyrical prose of “Cold Moon” knits together experience and received wisdom around the author’s credo, presented just a couple of pages in: “I believe in life. I believe in love. I believe we are responsible for each other.”
The philosophy embedded in this credo seems to draw a straight line to Roger’s commitment over the past few years to volunteering in the children’s wing of Stony Brook University Hospital, spending time with kids undergoing chemotherapy or admitted to the hospital for sometimes lengthy stays. Hospital staffers guide him to patients who need some moral support or companionship and he talks to the kids.
“I talk about writing sometimes, and sometimes I serve as a recording secretary as they talk about their lives and the things that interest them,” Roger said this week. “Then I try to write up what they’ve told me in such a way that, when I give it back to them, they can see that their lives are stories.”
This spring, of course, everything changed, and Roger reached out to other writers to help him launch a new project.
“In the atmosphere of the pandemic, kids in a children’s hospital feel more isolated than ever,” Roger wrote in an email asking for help. “They feel isolated enough in normal times. But now, the hospital has to be very careful about visitors, including parents and family. Stony Brook has a number of kids stricken with Covid-19. Their parents must stay with them for the entire time they are hospitalized. Or, if parents need to work, the kids are alone.”
He had spoken to Sarah Schoepp, a specialist in the children’s hospital who has built a YouTube channel for the kids. Ms. Schoepp works with Joan Alpers, described by Roger as “the tireless and tirelessly imaginative head of the place.” The videos that had been posted to the YouTube channel already were geared to smaller children and featured grownups reading picture books and drawing lessons.
There were no videos on the channel though for older kids in the hospital, ages 13-17, who Roger thought might be attracted “to what we do,” he wrote to his fellow writers, “and best of all, be encouraged to create something themselves.”
He proposed that each of the writers who signed on make a video, no longer than 10 minutes each, “in which we talk about what goes into a good story, poem, novel, and personal essay … In each video, we would talk about the purpose, power, and beauty of the form we’re dealing with, and of writing in general.. Our videos would also be about why we do what we do, and about the pleasure of it. And we would encourage these older kids to join us and find out for themselves.”
“To help do this, we would give them a prompt at the end of each video and show the kids how to use a prompt, how to take inspiration from whatever is put before them. Sarah said the hospital can provide pencils and paper.”
The point, Roger wrote in wrapping up his plea, “is to relieve these young people of their isolation, to let them know that we’re on their side, that art is on their side. And whether or not they want to become writers themselves, that writing is a way for them to realize themselves—to feel alive, especially now, in a world full of death. In a way, though they probably won’t know it, they’ll be working in the genre of prison literature, and making their escapes from their cells by using imagination as the file in the cake.”
Writers Lindsay Adkins, Paul Harding, and Genevieve Sly Crane
The pitch proved irresistible for Quogue Whiting Award winner Genevieve Sly Crane, 2018 Poets & Writers Amy Award winner Lindsay Adkins, and Pulitzer Prize winner and Stony Brook Southampton faculty member Paul Harding. With the help of Stony Brook’s technical wizard, Frank Imperiale, all four writers are in the process of making their videos this week and should be uploaded to the children’s wing YouTube channel soon.
At Quaquanantuck applauds these writers for providing a model for all of us who would like to find ways, as Roger wrote, “to put what we do to good use in a needful time.”
The Mayor’s Corner: Back to the Beach; This and That
The biggest news out of Village Hall came out last week with the announcement that the Village would start accepting applications on Friday, May 15, for beach stickers (and lockers) for the Quogue Village Beach.
The announcement included instructions for applying for and picking up beach stickers and a list of the current restrictions and numerous rules in place for when the beach opens on Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. For complete details on all things Village Beach, click here or visit www.villageofquogueny.gov/polAnnouncements.cfm.
Meanwhile, the May 19 letter to Quogue Village residents from Mayor Peter Sartorius offered what Hizzoner called “Various Coronavirus Updates.” Included were: the status of NY Pause and associated restrictions; the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the village; an expansion in testing; changes in “essential business guidance”; New York State still hiring contact tracers; Southampton Town tax bills due at the end of this month; advice on collecting packages at the Post Office; an expression of dismay about trash on village streets; and yet another plea for pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
Remember, readers who’d like to receive Hizzoner’s email blasts can send an email to ABuhl@villageofquogueny.gov and ask to be put on the email list. The other way to see the most current, and all the Mayor’s letters, is to go to www.villageofquogueny.gov and click on Announcements (www.villageofquogueny.gov/polAnnouncements.cfm). While on the Village website, be sure to check out the home page for other news and Covid-19 updates.
Back to the Beginning: The Ogden Purchase
The Quogue Historical Society and QHS Curator and Southampton Town Historian Julie Greene continue to dig deep to keep us all up to date on the history of our village. Overloaded with material and pressed for time, At Quaquanantuck failed to pass along last week that May 12 was the 361st anniversary of the original Ogden Purchase.
As reported by the Historical Society, on May 12, 1659, “English settler John Ogden, a stonemason by trade, businessman, and North Sea landowner, purchased from Wyandanch, the Sachem of Paumonauk (Long Island), and his son Weoncombone a large tract of land that extended west from Canoe Place to Beaver Creek Dam in what is now Westhampton, for 400 pounds. It became known as the Quogue Purchase, the second most important purchase of Native American lands by the English settlers. The Quogue Purchase was eclipsed only by the original 1640 purchase of the first English colony, Southampton.”
“The land was bounded on the north by Great Peconic Bay and on the south by the bays and the ocean. Two areas of land were excluded from the purchase. One was a portion of beach previously granted to John Cooper for his whaling enterprise, the other, the meadows at Quaquanantuck (“the land that trembles under foot”), which had been leased to Thomas Halsey, one of the founders of the Southampton colony.
“The purchase also stipulated that the Native Americans retained certain rights: “… wee shall keep our priviledges of fishing, fowling, hunting or gathering of beryes or any other thing for our use and for the full and firme confirmation hereof we have both partyes set too our hands marke and seales interchangeably the date and yeare above written” (Southampton Town Records, Vol. 1, page 162).
“Legend has it that the signing of the deed of purchase took place under a large cedar tree northwest of today’s Penniman Point. After Sachem Wyandanch gave the deed to John Odgen, witnessed by Lion Gardiner and his son David, of Gardiner’s Island, the principals retired to a cottage nearby on what is now Quogue Street, and all enjoyed a glorious feast.
“In 1667, John Ogden sold the entire tract of land. A portion of it he sold to his fellow North Sea landowner, John Scott. The remaining was bought by the original Southampton proprietors, who realized the immense value of the broad natural salt hay meadows for grazing their cattle, oxen, swine, and sheep, as well as the ease of access to the beach in Quogue.”
At the end of her description of the Ogden Purchase, Ms. Greene apparently couldn’t resist putting a button on it: “And the rest is history,” she wrote, “Quogue real estate history.”
Readers are invited to tune in to next week’s column for a story about neighbors helping neighbors during the Flu Pandemic of 1918. And please remember that anyone with anecdotes about their relatives, photos, or more detailed information about the experiences of Quogue residents during the 1918 Flu Pandemic is encouraged to share with readers by emailing AtQuaq@gmail.com.
Coronavirus Pushes HTC’s “Sylvia” to Next Season
Due to the extension of Governor Cuomo’s Pause restrictions for Suffolk County, and out of consideration for the safety of audiences, volunteers, staff, and cast and crew, the Hampton Theatre Company has cancelled its production of A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” that had been tentatively scheduled to open in Quogue today, on Thursday, May 21.
With Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” already canceled to make room for a possible delayed run of “Sylvia,” now that “Sylvia” has been canceled the company has effectively lost the second half of its 2019-2020 season to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Undaunted and holding fast to the imperative that “the show must go on,” the HTC has already obtained the rights to produce both of these cancelled plays as bookends for the 2020-2021 season, with “Sylvia” slated to open in September and “A Doll’s House, Part 2” capping the season in May.
The 2020-2021 season will also feature four performances of a special holiday show on the weekend of December 11-13, 2020, and a three-week run of the David Lindsay-Abaire comedy, “Rip Cord,” in March of 2021.
At this time, all plans are tentative based on progress in containing the coronavirus and the potential requirement of extending social distancing protocols and safety considerations. Complete details on the 2020-2021 season are in development, and tickets and season subscriptions are expected to go on sale on August 15, 2020.
For more information, contact HTC General Manager Terry Brennan at 631-653-8955, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library Adopts More Efficient Registration for Virtual Programs
The Quogue Library has implemented a new procedure for patrons wishing to register for any one of the roster of virtual programs.
Patrons can now go to the library’s home page at www.Quoguelibrary.org; click on the flier image of the program for which they wish to register; fill in the requested information; scroll to the bottom of the page (remembering to check “I am not a Robot” if indeed that is not the case) and hit Register. A confirmation email with Zoom login information will be sent to all registered patrons.
Virtual programs scheduled this week include a “Recycled Bottle Fish Maracas” workshop for children on Sunday, May 24, at 3 p.m. led by environmental artist Tony Valderrama, on loan from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Materials needed include: a water bottle, markers, string and stick; either beads, pebbles, rice, or beans to put inside as a rattle; construction paper or recycled plastic pieces cut out with scissors as fins; and tape to hold the fins down. Duct tape apparently works best, but word is that other kinds of tape can work as well.
Virtual programs for adults this week include Yoga for All Levels at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 22, and again on Friday, May 29; and the charmingly titled “Ticks on Parade” with a representative of the Cornell Cooperative Extension on Wednesday, May 27, at 7 p.m.
The Nature Corner: Celebrate World Turtle Day Virtually
All are invited to join the Quogue Wildlife Refuge virtual celebration of World Turtle Day on Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. via Zoom.
The celebration is described by Refuge Associate Director Marisa Nelson as “a fun program with lots of info about local turtles, conservation, and how each of us can help them along.”There will opportunities to virtually “meet” a variety of live turtles and tortoises at this event for adults and families and participants will learn all about Long Island’s turtles and ways to help local species during and following a short PowerPoint presentation in the Nature Center.
Remember that although the Nature Center and facilities are closed, the trails at the QWR remain open, to counterclockwise single direction access only and with adequate social distancing and other protocols required.
Check back next week for more R-rated tales about the love lives of those randy gastropods, the brown lipped snails.
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.