Scary Times

While the near contemporaneous arrival of Halloween and Election Day has always struck At Quaquanantuck as more than a little ironic, it’s hard to say whether it’s simply a matter of getting older or our nation’s clearly troubled recent history that has made the trick or treat of Election Day the scarier of the two. 

Big swell; north wind. —A. Botsford Photo

In the two years since the last presidential election, the stakes have only gotten higher for elections at every level, from village and town up to county, state and national posts. Meanwhile, inflammatory algorithms, disinformation, and media misdirection continue to widen the chasm separating voters’ differing views of America, to the point where it is beginning to look unbridgeable. 

It seems to At Quaquanantuck, though, that this year’s Election Day offers an opportunity for U.S. citizens to take a simple and logical first step in building a bridge across the abyss. If there is any candidate on the ballot who voted not to certify the results of the last presidential election after the breaching of the Capitol, or any candidate who has endorsed or promoted the idea that the election was “stolen,” consider them disqualified and withhold your vote for that candidate, whatever post they are running for. 

What’s the logic? Consider the fact that close to half of all U.S. voters recently polled said that they didn’t consider the last presidential election to be legitimate, based solely on the endlessly repeated misrepresentation of an election “stolen” through voter fraud and  “irregularities” without a single shred of evidence to support the claim, and despite this accusation being refuted in every judicial and state legislature arena where it was tested.

Having thus undermined Americans’ faith in the electoral process, and turned their backs on one of our democracy’s most important foundational principles supporting the peaceful transfer of power, the current slate of “stolen election” candidates are now asking voters to have faith in the process that they have so vociferously trashed and to come out and cast a vote for them. Of course, should they win, then elections would have to be considered fair and the results should be accepted unequivocally, right? If they lose, though, then what else could anyone expect except a claim that the election was “rigged” and “stolen” and the results are therefore illegitimate? 

Logically, by doing their best to poison the well after the last election, they have categorically disqualified themselves from consideration in this one. 

Autumn light. —A. Botsford Photo

It’s possible that some readers—specifically those who formerly applauded At Quaquanantuck for not taking sides and championing instead the greater good—will be offended by this idea and dismiss it as just more party politics. To them I would say that my position is not so much political as philosophical. It’s not my intention to promote one side over the other; rather, I’d like to call out any elements that seek to undermine our democracy and the democratic process of free and fair elections. And to champion faith in our elections, whatever the outcome, and the peaceful transfer of power. 

Our system of government depends on the integrity of those who serve as our representatives, whether in the judicial, legislative or executive branches. Any office holder, or candidate for office, who willfully misrepresents the facts for political gain, or to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, is doing a huge disservice to our democracy and should not be allowed to represent us, no matter how much their views on other issues might align with ours. 

Anyone seeking a model of how it’s supposed to work needn’t look far. In 2000, when the Supreme Court essentially decided the issue and the “loser” had a host of legitimate reasons to contest the election, to the dismay of his millions of supporters, Al Gore opted instead to concede, selflessly opting to ensure the peaceful transfer of power while also including a call for unity at the same time: “Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College,” he said in his concession, adding, “I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president.” 

Two decades later, algorithms engineered to garner the maximum number of hits (and profits), along with many politicians, feed on, and also fuel, self-interest, greed and grievance. But the only way to take on the biggest issues facing us today, it seems, is for all sides to work together based on a shared sense of gratitude for our immeasurable good fortune to be living in this great nation, and a commitment, based on that gratitude, to look beyond simple self-interest and focus on the greater good for all Americans. 

Just as no one party is responsible for a crippling worldwide pandemic, or a devastating and globally disruptive war in Ukraine, or the associated painful economic fallout of these, neither can one party, by itself, wave a magic wand and make everything better. As in the past, the biggest challenges we are facing—global warming and the worldwide refugee and migrant crisis, to name only two—should, and must, unite us if we are to have any hope of gaining ground against them. 

Those whose path to power is based on obstruction rather than working together on solutions can only allow problems to fester or make them worse. And those who would rise by baselessly casting doubt on the democratic process that made this nation the greatest in the world cannot be countenanced. 

Agree or disagree, please be sure to exercise your right to vote, on this and every other Election Day. 

Shining sea. — A. Botsford Photo

Firefighters Snuff Smoky Dune Road Structure Blaze
Just as At Quaquanantuck was preparing to set up a photo and caption about the Quogue Fire Department conducting joint exercises with volunteers from the Westhampton Beach Fire Department, Quogue Chief Mike Nelson sent the following report on a fire that closed Dune Road in both directions for a time on Wednesday, October 26: 

“The Quogue Fire Department was paged out for a structure fire on Dune Road shortly after noon on Wednesday, October 26. The Westhampton Beach Fire Department also responded as part of an automatic mutual aid plan.

“The fire was called in by a passerby and was verified shortly thereafter by Quogue Village Police Department officers and by Ted Jankowski, the chief of the East Quogue Fire Department, who happened to be in the vicinity.

Volunteers battle thick smoke as they work to douse the blaze. — John Neely Photo

“Quogue Second Assistant Chief Dave Schaffauer and Westhampton Beach Second Assistant Chief Larry Saccente arrived on scene simultaneously. They reported heavy black smoke coming from a garage attached to a pool house near the front of the oceanside property. A Westhampton Beach engine arrived a few minutes after the chiefs, followed shortly by a Quogue engine and Quogue Chief Mike Nelson, who assumed command. 

“Firefighters were able to force open the garage doors and commenced pouring water on the fire, which was contained to the garage area. The volunteers were hampered by the dense smoke and by numerous pieces of outdoor furniture, a barbecue grill, and other items that were being stored in the garage for the winter. The fire was quickly extinguished, but the firefighters had to spend the next hour and a half doing overhaul, which entailed tearing out sheetrock and wood roof shingles in search of residual pockets of fire.

“The Westhampton Beach Fire Department responded with three chiefs, an engine, and fire police. Quogue responded with three engines, four chiefs, and two fire police vehicles. The East Quogue Fire Department sent one engine and two chiefs. The Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance, the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Company, the Quogue Village Police Department, and the Westhampton Village Police Department were also on scene, as were the Southampton Town Fire Marshal and a Suffolk County Fire and Rescue coordinator.

“Dune Road was closed in both directions for the duration of the incident. There were no reported injuries. The cause of the fire is under investigation.”

Firefighters work to get the blaze under control. —John Neeley Photo

Many thanks to Chief Nelson for filing this detailed report, to John Neely for the fabulous photos, and to all men and women of the various departments for their preparedness, their professionalism, and their willingness to serve. For this kind of response, and for so many other kinds of community support they offer, we are eternally in their debt. 

Volunteers from the Quogue and Westhampton Beach fire departments participated in a joint drill at the Suffolk County Fire Academy on Monday, October 24. Known as a taxpayer drill, the exercise simulated a fire in some strip mall stores with apartments above. The two departments frequently call on each other for mutual aid during fires and other emergencies and this exercise gave both departments valuable training in hose handling, search and rescue, and communications skills. (John Neely photo courtesy Westhampton Beach Fire Department)

Wildlife Refuge Hosts the Brighter Side of Halloween
Courtesy of the fine folks at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, children age 2 to 7 accompanied by an adult are invited to register for the third session of guided walks on the Enchanted Forest Trail on Saturday, October 29, from noon to 2 p.m.

Participants will follow their guides on the trail to meet whimsical, fun, and educational characters. All are invited to wear Halloween costumes while learning about animals and nature. Activities, crafts, and games will be available in the main staging area for before and after walks on the trail. 

Reservations are required; call 631-653-4771 to register. 

QWR Program Director Cara Fernandes portrays a luna moth on the Enchanted Trail. —Dennis Maroulas Photo

Fire Department Ghost Parade Slated for Halloween
The Quogue Fire Department Halloween Ghost Parade and Party will be held on Monday, October 31, starting at 4 p.m., the appointed hour for children and families to gather at the south end of Jessup Avenue. 

As in years past, parade participants will follow a fire truck up Jessup Avenue from Quogue Street to the Firehouse, where food will be served for the kids. Along the parade route, Quogue Village Police officers will be handing out safety information, and a few firefighter families and other residents will be handing out candy. 

As always, children and families are encouraged to participate in costume. 

Theatre Company Opens Postponed Fall Production This Week
Costumes of a different sort (by the talented Teresa Lebrun) will be worn by performers in the Hampton Theatre Company production of Joe DiPietro’s “Over the River and Through the Woods,” opening tonight, Thursday, October 27, at the Quogue Community Hall following a one-week  postponement due to Covid exposure among the cast. 

The raucous, warm-hearted comedy from Tony Award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro (“Memphis,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) is the first production of the Hampton Theatre Company’s 2022-2023 season, now running through November 13. 

George Loizides, Catherine Maloney, Meg Hrinkevich, Patrick Osborne, Amelia Chiaramonte, and Carl DiModugno in a scene from “Over the River and Through the Woods.” —Tom Kochie Photo

Set inside a suburban house in the not-too-distant past, “Over the River and Through the Woods” puts to the test the concept of “tengo familia” – an Italian phrase connoting the importance of “keeping family first” – through the eyes and opinions of two sets of doting Italian-American grandparents and their beloved, if restless, 29-year-old grandson. 

Nick Cristano may be living the life of a single young professional in NYC, but his four grandparents – Frank and Aida Gianelli, and Nunzio and Emma Cristano – never let him forget where he belongs: in New Jersey with them, in the bosom of a tenacious, tender-hearted, loud, and well-fed family. The comfy status quo is upended when Nick announces that he has been offered a big promotion … in Seattle. This bombshell revelation leads his grandparents to hatch a code-red plan to map out an irresistible alternate future designed to keep Nick close to home. At the center of this scheme is Caitlin, a surprise dinner guest who might just turn the tables in the elders’ favor. 

A boisterously funny and touching story about intergenerational relationships, deep familial love, and the inevitable little heartbreaks that occur as time passes and children grow, “Over the River and Through the Woods” played 800 performances at the John Houseman Theatre in New York from 1998-2000. The play was lauded by BackStage as “a hilarious family comedy that is even funnier than [DiPietro’s] ‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.’” The Star-Ledger wrote that the play is “loaded with laughs every step of the way,” with calling it “a crowd-pleasing night of theater.” 

Patrick Osborne and George Loizides. —Tom Kochie Photo

The HTC production of “Over the River and Through the Woods” features a spirited ensemble cast of six, including three HTC veterans: George A. Loizides (“On Golden Pond,” “Alarms & Excursions”) as Nunzio; Catherine Maloney (“Sylvia,” “A Comedy of Tenors”) as Emma; and Patrick Osborne (“The Foreigner”) as Nick. Newcomers to the HTC include Amelia Chiaramonte as Aida, Carl DiModugno as Frank, and Meg Hrinkevich as Caitlin. 

In addition to acting in the play, George Loizides (“A Doll’s House, Part 2,” “Native Gardens,” “Private Lives”) directs, with Roger Moley co-directing. Set design is by Mr. Loizides; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; sound by Seamus Naughton; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun. 

“Over the River and Through the Woods” will now be performed from October 27 through November 13 on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the second weekend of the production, on Saturday, November 5, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening. A talkback with the cast will be offered to ticketholders immediately following the Friday, November 4, evening performance. 

Tickets are $36, $31 for seniors, and $20 for students 25 and under, and are available at the Hampton Theatre Company website at or by calling 631-653-8955. A discounted season-subscription offer, applied to all three HTC productions in 2022-2023 at a savings of up to 20 percent, is also available through the theatre website or phone number.

Register Now for the 2022 Hudsy Run on November 5
This year’s Hudsy 5K Run/Walk funding heart-healthy activities at the Quogue School will be held on Saturday, November 5, starting at 9 a.m., rain or shine, in front of the school on Edgewood Road. The traditional Kids Fun Run will follow the 5K finish. 

Long sleeve t-shirts will be given to the first 150 registered race participants. For more information or to register or make a donation, visit

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