Season of Change

Right at the top this week, lest any readers miss it, At Quaquanantuck is announcing a change in publication schedule, shifting to once a month from now until at least March of 2021. After this week’s post—barring any cataclysmic turn of events—the next column will be posted on October 22. 

September morning surf. —A. Botsford Photo

Working first as co-author and editor, and ultimately sole author, this writer has borne major responsibility for the weekly Quogue community column for 30 years, or approximately 1,500 columns. For 26 of those years, the column was published by The Southampton Press Western Edition (formerly the Hampton Chronicle-News). Ever since that paper’s publisher decided to cancel all the community columns at the end of 2016 (save one or two personal favorites in the Eastern Edition), with the encouragement and support of faithful readers I have been writing and posting the column online weekly since January 2017. 

Although transitioning to the world of digital media involved (and continues to involve) an array of challenges for a longtime print journalist, I have been happy to take these on to keep the column going. My motivation has always been to describe, support and celebrate the unique and very special community that makes Quogue so much more than just another Hampton. If that motivation was boosted a bit by my interest in spiting the publisher, so be it; no apologies. 

For the first two and a half years of publishing the column myself—believing then as I do now that the column should always be free to all and there must never be a paywall—I posted the column without any remuneration. In May of 2019,  I asked readers with sufficient wherewithal to consider making voluntary contributions to partially cover time and expenses, suggesting that a $60 donation, or voluntary subscription, would break down to $5 a month, or a little more than $1 a column for one year. 

Windshield watchers. —A. Botsford Photo

Before the coronavirus changed everything, my plan was to make another appeal for voluntary annual subscriptions (donations) a year later, in May of 2020. But the combination of the new pandemic reality and a large influx of new readers thanks to a recommendation from Mayor Peter Sartorius made the timing of a request for new “subscriptions” and “renewals” of contributions seem problematic.

 I am recounting this history only to provide the context for my decision to change the publishing schedule to once a month, and to reassure readers that it is not based on financial considerations. I have never expected or planned for the column to provide meaningful income, and I remain very grateful to all those who have made contributions to help me offset costs, and to all those who have offered support and encouragement in other ways.

The simple fact is that gathering and compiling the information, taking photographs, writing, editing, processing contributors’ photos, setting up the column and photos on the website, managing the email address list, and sending out the eblasts as each column is posted has begun to take up all my time, at the expense of other writing projects that have fallen by the wayside. 

My commitment to reflecting the best parts of our community back to itself remains firm, and I hope that will be evident in this column and the monthly columns to come. See what you think. Next spring I’ll make another assessment on scheduling, but in all cases I am committing now to continuing the column until at least the beginning of next summer. 

North Fork sunrise. —Ginny Rosenblatt Photo

In the meantime, if the column continues to have value for you and you’d like to support keeping it a free resource for the community, please consider taking out or renewing a voluntary subscription (i.e. contribution) of $60 … or more … or less. No amount is too large or too small. 

Contributions may be made using PayPal by clicking here; with Venmo to user name Andrew-Botsford-1; or by check mailed to PO Box 1524, Quogue, NY 11959. 

And now, on to the news. 

Library Sponsors Quogue Census Awareness Day
Today’s the day: Thursday, September 24, is Quogue Census Awareness Day!

And what is Census Awareness Day, you may ask? Well, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today Census Educators arriving at the corner of Jessup Avenue and Village Lane in the Suffolk County Library System’s outreach van, the SLED, will join Quogue Library staffers to answer questions and help residents complete the census form. 

That’s right: you can fill out the Census on site today, with Suffolk Libraries Empowering Discovery (SLED) crews on hand to answer any questions and help you navigate the form. As multiple news accounts have made very clear, it is extremely important for the future of village residents and all Americans that we have the most accurate census possible. 

If you haven’t filled out the form online or on paper, or you know others who haven’t been counted yet, please be sure that you and/or they get over to Jessup Avenue today and fill out the form. We’re all counting on you. 

‘Tis the season … —Elizabeth Caputo Photo

Michael Nelson Awarded Quogue Bowl
As many residents are no doubt aware, the Quogue Association periodically presents the Quogue Bowl to persons deemed to have made extraordinary contributions to the civic life of the village.

And so it was that at the Association’s annual meeting on Saturday, September 12, just such an individual was recognized in the person of Michael Nelson, the Executive Director of the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. 

 Mr. Nelson has served two three-year terms as a member of the Quogue Association’s board of directors and has been involved in a number of QA beautification projects throughout the village. Currently holding the position of 1st Assistant Chief of the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department, he has served for 18 years as a first responder with the Department. 

His involvement with the Quogue Wildlife Refuge dates back some 30 years to the time when he began volunteering there in 1991, working his way up in relatively short order to the position of Executive Director he has held since 2000. 

Congratulations to Michael and thanks to the Quogue Association for recognizing another exceptional individual in our village. 

Quogue Bowl honoree Michael Nelson. —Photo courtesy of the Quogue Association

Quogue Authors Beha and Rosenblatt Are On Fire
Terrific news to share in this space about two supremely gifted members of Quogue’s pride of literary lions: Christopher Beha and Roger Rosenblatt

Harper’s Magazine Editor Christopher Beha, the first writer featured in this summer’s Conversations with the Author series sponsored by the Quogue Library, was named to the Longlist of 10 contenders for this year’s National Book Award for Fiction for his novel, “The Index of Self-Destructive Acts.” The finalists in all five National Book Award categories will be named on October 6. 

Christopher Beha —Ira Lipke Photo

The National Book Award recognition is in line with the tremendous critical response garnered by the novel, which was shared in earlier At Quaquanantuck posts this summer. The National Book Foundation announcement of the Longlist describes “The Index of Self-Destructive Acts” as one of two novels on the list that “interrogate interpersonal relationships and self-concept.” 

The announcement provides this synopsis of the book: “statistics whiz Sam Waxworth arrives in New York City to write a monthly column for a venerable magazine and soon finds himself entangled in a crumbling family empire,” before going on to declare that “Beha’s novel meticulously explores the relationship between the old guard and new meritocracy as Waxworth unpacks his complicated relationship to his analytics career.”

Meanwhile, long considered a very hot number by his legions of fans, legendary raconteur and fussy eater Roger Rosenblatt may actually ignite on Wednesday, October 7, at 7 p.m. when he will be the subject of “a good old-fashioned roast” live on CrowdCast. The roast is being virtually hosted by the independent Book Revue bookstore in Huntington. 

Roger Rosenblatt—Chester Higgins, Jr. Photo

Organized in honor of his 80th birthday (Gasp! Say it ain’t so, slugger!) and the upcoming release of his new book, “Cold Moon” (Turtle Point Press; October 27, 2020; available for pre-order now), the event, which is free and open to the public (register by clicking here), will feature such incandescent celebrity roasters as Alan Alda, former poet laureate Billy Collins, the wonderful author Meg Wolitzer, PBS Newshour host Judy Woodruff, cartoonist and master satirist Gary Trudeau, lyricist and songwriter Alan Bergman, and Quogue’s own Whiting Award-winning author Genevieve Sly Crane

With a complete title of “Cold Moon: On Life, Love, and Responsibility,” the new book is “about the simplest things—what matters most in life,” according to the Book Revue description, “and yet Rosenblatt writes about them with an elegance that reflects his deep wisdom and intelligence. This is a book for now, when we’ve all been thinking about what is truly important, and it is also a message for always.”

As many area residents know, Roger Rosenblatt is the author of five New York Times Notable Books of the Year, four national bestsellers, and seven Off-Broadway plays. His essays for Time magazine and the PBS NewsHour have won two George Polk Awards, the Peabody, and an Emmy, among others. In 2015, he won the Kenyon Review Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. He held the Briggs-Copeland appointment in the teaching of writing at Harvard, and he is now Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at SUNY Stony Brook/Southampton.

Everyone is encouraged to tune in to the roast, but note that registration is required. To register, go to or click on www.crowdcast.io/e/roger-rosenblatt-roast/register. To pre-order “Cold Moon,” click on or go to www.bookrevue.com/book/9781885983886. This event is BYO virtual marshmallows. 

Nature and wildlife photographer Florrie Morrisey captured this marvelous image of a whimbrel, an uncommon shorebird and the first she has ever seen, on the morning of September 8. —Florrie Morrisey Photo

Toward a Quieter Quogue
There is a new movement afoot in the village to lower the decibel level of lawn and landscape maintenance and thereby enhance the cherished serenity and tranquil quality of life that so many residents hold dear. 

Chief organizer of the new movement is Steven Wilson, who has already rallied a number of like-minded souls and circulated a couple of emails in a bid to enlist more support. In his first email, Mr. Wilson outlines his objectives this way: 

“In an effort to lessen noise pollution in our village and help Quogue reduce its carbon footprint, improve health, safety, and quality of life, we are proposing the enactment of a village ordinance that would: 

“1. Require the phased-in adoption of battery-based or electric lawn maintenance machinery for those lawn contractors doing business in Quogue. These machines are significantly quieter than the gas-powered machines in current use, not to mention far more eco-friendly. They’re comparable in cost, if not less expensive to purchase and operate. 

“2. Ban or significantly restrict the use of leaf blowers. Leaf blowers are incredibly noisy and are a health hazard, as they kick up pollutants and allergens, while providing dubious added value. Some municipalities have banned them altogether, and many, many others have limited their use to autumn or particular days.”

The group needs help in several areas as the members work to develop a “bullet-proof” presentation to Mayor Peter Sartorius and the Village Board of Trustees. Anyone sharing the same goals and interested in helping out is encouraged to email Mr. Wilson at stevenwilson@swcreative.com.

Big break outside. —A. Botsford Photo

Lessons of ’38 Hurricane Still Powerful 82 Years Later
Many thanks to the Quogue Historical Society and QHS Curator Julie Greene for sharing earlier this summer a concise account and stunning photos of the Hurricane of 1938, which roared across Long Island 82 years ago on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 21. 

One of the most iconic local images from the 1938 hurricane shows the Beach Lane Smedburg house and next to it a Quogue police cruiser in Ogden’s Pond. The Quogue Coast Guard Station in the background withstood the storm, but all its windows were blown out.

The closest we have come to experiencing a hurricane so far this year was when Isaias worked its way up the coast and inland. As Ms. Greene so aptly pointed out, as the storm weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm, its every nuance was reported in real time, as is the way in the age of the Weather Channel. On the day when winds from Isaias approached Quogue, a warning went out at 2:15 p.m. that a tornado was just eight miles south of Southampton and moving at 65 miles per hour. Even casual weather watchers could easily and precisely calculate its arrival time, and take cover if necessary.

The odds on being properly prepared were much lower 82 years ago. As Ms. Greene wrote: 

“When the Great Hurricane of 1938 struck here on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 21, few people had received any warning at all that a violent storm was brewing. The U.S. Weather Bureau had issued storm warnings midmorning, but with no indication the storm was likely to be especially dangerous. A little after noon, ‘whole gale’ warnings were issued, meaning a severe storm with high winds. It was not yet called a hurricane. Moreover, the warning was poorly handled by broadcast companies: the storm was barely mentioned.

The Beach Lane bridge, above, was destroyed, and the Ocean Avenue bridge badly damaged. The Post Lane bridge was built in 1941, a middle compromise that rendered the other two street names meaningless, as neither led to an ocean or a beach any longer.

“By 1 p.m., with conditions deteriorating rapidly, the U.S. Weather Bureau’s upgraded warning was too late for Long Island. By 2 p.m. the first trees began to fall. Warnings were sent out to the schools. By 3 p.m., the storm center had reached Westhampton Beach. The 1938 Hurricane was one of the fastest-moving storms on record, dubbed in headlines ‘the Long Island Express.’

“The day after the hurricane, a veritable army of Works Progress Administration (WPA) men began arriving at the Westhampton Beach train station, and the New York State WPA director began organizing his forces, about 900 men.

“Their work was to look for survivors and the missing, remove refuse, salvage items, and clear roads. Later they worked on the beach, putting in pilings, wire, and pine trees to build up the dunes that had been flattened. They were paid just 50 cents an hour, and yet this hurricane cleanup was instrumental in lifting the East End of Long Island out of the Depression ahead of the rest of the country.

Surging water in Quantuck Bay wiped out the Quogue-Quiogue Causeway.

“The loss of life was high on the East End: 29 people died in Westhampton Beach, 2 in Quogue, along with many, many others as the hurricane rolled north through New England.”

Ms. Greene pointed out that the recent storm Isaias, which had weakened to a tropical storm by the time its edge clipped eastern Long Island, “left crews removing felled trees, fixing downed power lines, and assessing the severe beach erosion. More than 300,000 households on Long Island were without power for several days.”

Debris littered Dune Road. In just a matter of minutes, 153 of the 179 summer homes from Quogue Village to the Moriches Inlet were destroyed. The 26 houses remaining were mere battered shells, a dozen of which were never habitable again. —All photos courtesy of the Quogue Historical Society

The highly detailed forecasting of today notwithstanding, no amount of preparation can deflect the almost unimaginable devastation that would be wrought by a direct hit, storm surge, and lingering presence of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane on our shores. The best we could hope for would be to reduce the loss of life.

Small village; big sky. —A. Botsford Photo

Quogue Library Keeping the Virtual Calendar Lively
As always, there’s a wide array of programming coming up at the Quogue Library over the next few weeks. 

In addition to yoga classes with Jillian and exercise programs with Leisa DeCarlo, a few standouts worth mentioning would be: “The Golden Age of Television” on Friday, September 25, at 7 p.m.; “Marketing Yourself in a Tight Job Market” on Tuesday, September 29, at 6:30 p.m.; the Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions Discussion Series on “The Philippines and the U.S.” on Saturday, October 3, at 5 p.m.; the Anti-Racist Book Club discussion of “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent” by Isabel Wilkerson on Tuesday, October 6, at 7:30 p.m.; and this year’s Quogue Library Scarecrow Decorating Event (Not a Contest!) starting with pickup of scarecrow frames on Monday, October 2. 

For complete details on these and many other stimulating and engaging programs, and to register, check the library website, www.quoguelibrary.org. Remember that new programs are added regularly, so check the website often so you don’t miss out. 

Grey tree frog. —Elizabeth Caputo Photo

Outdoor Education for Youngsters at Refuge
The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is introducing two new education programs for children this fall: the “Wildlife Wednesdays After School Program” for children in grades K through three and grades four through seven meeting in separate groups from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays from September 30 to November 11; and “Tree Time Toddlers” for children age 2 to 4 accompanied by an adult on Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. starting October 1. 

Complete details and registration at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge website, www.quoguewildliferefuge.org

The QWR calendar also features, along with Earth Yoga Outside on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.: a Full Moon Night Hike on Thursday, October 1, at 6:30 p.m.; “Autumn Reflections on Nature” social distance readings of poems and prose for the entire family on Saturday, October 3, at 3 p.m.; socially distanced “Fall Foliage Paddles” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 17; and a “Help Save Sea Turtles!” virtual program, also on Saturday, October 17, at 2 p.m. 

Get all the details and register at www.quoguewildliferefuge.org

Prepare to Vote
Before signing off until October 22, At Quaquanantuck urges all Quogue residents and all Americans to respect and honor one of the greatest gifts of our democracy, the right to vote. Please make every effort to steer clear of the toxicity of social media, examine the facts, check the moral compass and conscience, and make your choice. 

Quogue seems a reasonably safe place to vote in person, but if you want to consider voting early, information is available at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/BOE/Early-Voting-Sites-11-3-2020.

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.  

News Items and Photos
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.

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