Rebirth Everywhere

At Quaquanantuck was heartened last week by readers’ warm response to the first column that’s been posted since November. Gratified, too, to note that visitors to last week’s post included four from Mexico, two from Finland, and one each from Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Antigua & Barbuda, Italy, France, and Vietnam. 

On the chance that not all of them are residents of our village who are off globe trotting, it’s so intriguing to speculate on what these international visitors’ interest in Quogue might be.

Surf sentinels. —A. Botsford Photo

Meanwhile, the season continues to spring forward, with early grackle scouts joining red-winged blackbirds at the feeder and tom turkeys rakishly fanning out their proud displays to woo prospective mates. It is indeed the season of rebirth, and while it’s not clear at this time when the next column might be posted, At Quaquanantuck would like to once again ask readers to contribute their own observations on the different signs and signals that spring is picking up momentum.

Please send your thoughts (and photographs, in Large size) to AtQuaq@gmail.com so they can be shared in this space with other village residents as well as devoted readers from Finland to Antugua & Barbuda, and beyond.  

Matched pair. —A. Botsford Photo

As road work continues on Jessup Avenue so that there can be a rebirth of that storied thoroughfare, there is another significant resurrection underway in the business district, one that has mouths watering and chefs of every stripe already contemplating the many ways they will soon be able to enhance and bring new life to all their recipes. I refer, of course, to the upcoming opening of the new Schmidt’s Country Market in the very same complex that—many, many years ago—housed side by side both Pat & Howard’s and the Quogue Market.  

Similar on the outside but very different inside. —A. Botsford Photo

Schmidt’s Country Market Poised to Open March 31
Interviewed this week, Dan Schmidt, who could best be described as ebullient, told At Quaquanantuck that after undergoing one final inspection tomorrow, Friday, March 24, his staff will be stocking the shelves and preparing food starting on Monday in order to be ready to open doors to the public on Friday, March 31.  

Hours at the start will be 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dan said, possibly shifting to 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. depending on the community’s needs. In order to emulate the well oiled efficiency of his family’s Southampton operation, the store will be manned by a staff of 12, plus Dan and members of his family. 

Dan Schmidt in front of bins awaiting fresh produce. —A. Botsford Photo

Anyone familiar with the legendary Southampton operation might be excused for a sense of deja vu in the new store when it opens. As Dan said, Quogue will have everything that Schmidt’s in Southampton had, plus a little more. There will be lots of every kind of the freshest produce, a complete selection of fine cheeses, salad bar, a full selection of beverages and market items, homemade soups, and a comprehensive deli section serving breakfast and lunch, including hot food, along with prepared foods and salads. 

In line with the family feel of the operation, Dan uses first names only when speaking about employees. Staffers coming from Southampton—who will be familiar to patrons of that establishment—include Schmidt’s longtime chief cashier, the smiling and charming Fareen; maestro Anthony will be heading up the kitchen team; the sure hand of Sylvia will at the tiller of the deli operation; and the magical Martina will once again be demonstrating how to put together the East End’s best salad bar. 

New to the staff will be Chef Mike, who will oversee an expansion of the catering operation. Whereas in the past catering was limited to making up trays of food and delivering same to parties, the Quogue Schmidt’s will offer full service catering, including staff, setup, food preparation and service.

There is a new counter inside the front window, where diners can sit and look out at goings on on Jessup Avenue and the Village Green. And there will once again be a few tables outside as the weather warms.  

As has been reported elsewhere, so far Dan has been “knocked out” by the support and encouragement of the Quogue community as well as longtime customers of Schmidt’s in Southampton, many of whom have pledged to make the trip to Quogue. Time will tell if his happiness in being here can possibly match the immeasurable happiness of many village residents to have him and his wonderful market here.  

At Quaquanantuck salutes both Dan and Mayor Bob Treuhold, whose foresight and timely outreach are responsible for the new Schmidt’s coming to our village. Bravo!  

“The Lifespan of a Fact” Earning Rave Reviews
The Hampton Theatre Company production of “The Lifespan of a Fact,” the riveting three-character play that combines biting humor with timely arguments about the collision of print journalism with poetic license, earned rave reviews, standing ovations, and, on Sunday, thunderous applause demanding the actors return to the stage for another set of bows. 

As theatergoer Debora Jacques commented this week: “Just saw ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ at HTC. Had seen this play on Broadway with Daniel Radcliffe and I thought the HTC actors did a better job. They were amazing. They got a standing ovation and deserved it!”

The second show of the HTC’s 2022-2023 season continues this week, with performances running through April 2 at the Quogue Community Hall. A talkback with the cast will be offered to ticketholders immediately following the Friday, March 24, evening performance.

Jamie Baio and Matthew Conlon. —Dane DuPuis Photo

Based on a nonfiction 2012 book of the same name by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal—which in turn was inspired by an essay written by D’Agata about a teenager’s 2002 suicide in Las Vegas—“The Lifespan of a Fact” was adapted for the stage in 2018 by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Ferrell. The play tells the story of how Fingal, an idealistic, fresh-out-of-Harvard intern, was tasked by the editor of a prestigious yet troubled New York magazine to fact-check a groundbreaking piece written by celebrated author D’Agata—with a strict deadline only a weekend away.

Excited by the opportunity to prove himself on such a prestigious piece, Jim’s mood quickly changes to alarm when he discovers a disturbing pattern of unsubstantiated claims and creative liberties taken by D’Agata throughout the otherwise brilliant 15-page essay. The play climaxes with an 11th-hour faceoff between author, editor and fact-checker—with none willing to give ground as the hours grind by and a deadline decision looms.

The HTC production of “The Lifespan of a Fact” features Laurie Atlas (“Ripcord”) as Emily, Jamie Baio (“Lost in Yonkers”) as Jim, and Matt Conlon (“Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” “Man of La Mancha”) as John.

George Loizides (“Over the River and Through the Woods,” “A Doll’s House, Part 2”) directs. Set design is by Mr. Loizides; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; sound by Seamus Naughton; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

Performances of “The Lifespan of a Fact” through April 2 are on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, April 1, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.

Tickets are $36, $31 for seniors, and $20 for students 25 and under, and are available at the Hampton Theatre Company website at hamptontheatre.org or by calling 631-653-8955. 

Shoreline physics: the lowest tide, the most beach. —A. Botsford Photo

Mayor Treuhold Carries the Torch
Quogue Village Mayor Bob Treuhold released another of his reasonably regular newsletters this week, and At Quaquanantuck joins many village residents in their gratitude not only for announcements and updates related to village government and public works but also his mentions of cultural and educational opportunities and highlights. 

Readers are encouraged to check out the most recent, and all of Hizzoner’s missives, at villageofquogueny.gov. A few highlights below: 

Special School Vote March 29
The Quogue School District has scheduled a “Special Proposition Vote” on March 29 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Quogue School.  Voter approval is sought to authorize the use of funds from the school’s “Facility Preservation and Upgrade Capital Reserve,” established in 2017, for the purpose of performing a complete renovation of the existing, deteriorating, and outdated playground structures.

Lest anyone become overwrought, it’s important to note that this vote is only related to renovating the playground structures at the school, a project that is sorely needed for both the students at the school and children in the Quogue community who do not attend the Quogue School but who are free to use the playground.   

Seals on Long Island Shores
A lecture at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, will provide an introduction to the different species of seals found in New York waters. Visitors will have an opportunity to learn about the New York Marine Rescue Center and its programs aimed at helping these animals when needed. This is especially timely, the mayor noted, given the sighting of a very large gray seal this week on the beach in Quogue. https://longisland.news12.com/amp/ny-marine-rescue-center-to-monitor-grey-seal-on-quogue-beach

Easter Egg Hunts
On Saturday, April 8, the Wildlife Refuge will host two sessions of an egg hunt for toddlers age 2 to 4; one at 9 a.m. and the second at 10. Register at www.quoguewildliferefuge.org

Meanwhile, the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department will host its traditional Egg Hunt on the lawn in front of the firehouse at 11 a.m. sharp on Saturday, April 8. 

Spring Leaf Pickup
The Village Highway Department will begin picking up leaves on April 1, with the usual rules in effect. Leaves must be on the shoulder of the street by April 30 in order to be picked up. Leaves must not be piled around fire hydrants or utility equipment, and cannot be placed in plastic bags or they will not be picked up.

For complete details, visit villageofquogueny.gov

The marsh is still brown; the great egret still pure white. —A. Botsford Photo

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