Montauk community notes

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Though this is not a political column, it would be difficult to write it at this time without first mentioning the hope and excitement of many here on the East End, who were looking forward to our country’s historic inauguration day with its accompanying festivities. Yesterday saw many potluck parties for those whose invitations to Washington somehow got lost in the mail. On that note, our friend Jerry Pluenneke expressed great pleasure that finally there were fireworks in the nation’s capital to celebrate her birthday yesterday!

Take note! The Montauk PTA will host a pasta dinner fund-raiser at the Montauk firehouse to benefit the Robert Fischer Scholarship Fund. It will be on Saturday, January 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets at the door will be $15 for adults and $12 for kids age 12 and under.

A group trip to Broadway to see “Hedda Gabler” at the American Airlines Theater on March 11 has been organized by Carolyn Balducci, the library’s program director. The group will have have lunch at Sardi’s before the show. The price, including transportation by the Hampton Luxury Liner, will be is $140. This is short notice because checks must be received at the library by this Friday, January 23. Call the library (668-3377) for more information.

A Montauk mystery of an unusual kind has come up for us. The New York Times reported early in December that historic Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn is building a collection of art by notable artists who “have taken up permanent residence,” as the article so adroitly put it. The president of Green-Wood, Richard Morlan, is quoted as saying that “the works of art these people created in their lifetimes gives them a kind of immortality.”

What caught this writer’s attention was the last paragraph. The cemetery’s historian, Jeffrey I. Richman, talked about finding works by painter Mary McComb, the daughter of an architect of City Hall, John McComb Jr. The article quoted Mr. Richman as saying, “She painted a well-known image of the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which her father also designed.” It was Richman who discovered that Mary is in the McComb burial plot at Green-Wood.

We spoke with library archivist Robin Strong, who had never heard of Mary. She only knew of Isaac McComb, brother of John, who did a watercolor of the lighthouse. We sent a copy of the article to Lighthouse Museum board member Dick White, who didn’t know of Mary or her painting.

Robin suggested we ask Patricia Wood, the site manager of the museum. She knew of no painting other than the watercolor by Isaac McComb, a copy of which is owned by the museum. After coming into a blind alley, it occurred to us to speak with Joseph and Adrienne Bresnan, who are part-time residents here and very connected to Green-Wood because Joseph used to be executive director of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Adrienne promised that she and Joseph will look into the mystery of Mary McComb and her painting. We’ll keep interested readers posted.

A lovely, interesting friend of ours was widowed a number of months ago, and realizing what an active person she is, we invited her for a swim and lunch at Gurney’s spa. It was just the right gift for the right person in the bleakness of an impending snowstorm. Can’t say we didn’t enjoy it either. We saw lots of Montaukers working out in the pool.

For a different physical activity, how about a 2-mile hike this morning at 10 a.m. at Shadmoor State Park? It’s short, but spectacular, and includes a newly cut “woodsy” trail with awesome views along the Montauk bluffs. Wearing the right foot gear, meet Ed Porco (668-2093) at the Shadmoor parking lot on the south side of Montauk Highway, a mile past Montauk center.

Saturday’s hikers will show up for a beautiful hike of 3 1/2 miles labeled, “Heaven and Back.” Meet leader Jim Zajac at the scenic overlook on Montauk Highway in the Hither Hills area of Montauk, near the spot where the highway splits at Old Montauk Highway. For more information, call Jim at 324-2425.

For further enjoyment, we segue to the free film tomorrow night at the library. Part of the winter series, it will be shown at 7 p.m. “Tea With Mussolini” is a semi-biographical story of Franco Zeffirelli’s early life as an illegitimate son of an Italian industrialist. The cast is superb and includes Dame Judy Dench, Cher, Lady Joan Plowright, Lily Tomlin and Maggie Smith. Smith won a BAFTA award as best supporting actress.

The Library Book Club, which is open to all, will meet this Sunday, January 25 at 12:30. The book is “The Echo Maker” by Richard Powers. The library has copies.

Jaki Jackson is one of our favorite residents of Springs. She is a devoted and extraordinary yoga teacher, a hiker and Trails Society member, and also a children’s book author. We are all so lucky to know that she will be visiting our library this Sunday, January 25 at 2:30 p.m. to read her charming story, ”Groundhog Day: A Mid-Winter Tale,” which this multi-talented woman also illustrated. She will discuss the process of writing the book and how a book is illustrated. We suggest you bring your children so that you all can enjoy this very special program. So it seems there are several winter activities available to us in our little hamlet. One activity of our choice is to read a good library book by the fireplace of a winter’s night. How about you?

In a Montauk Moorings column last September, we included a “convoluted” story from a reader, Arthur Vibert, which had been submitted by e-mail through the paper’s web site, then sent to our editor, Peter Boody, who then passed it on to this writer. Mr. Vibert had read about Rav Freidel’s 13th hike in the Grand Canyon and was eager to get in touch with his old friend and colleague. With Rav’s permission, we forwarded the e-mail to him.

Admittedly we were curious about the next chapter in this small saga, and were rewarded this New Year’s with a lovely greeting and note from Arthur Vibert. He wrote, “I just wanted to thank you for putting me back in touch with Rav. We had a wonderful conversation just before Christmas and caught up. It was great to talk to him. He’s a really good person.”

Rav filled us in a bit more, explaining that they used to work together, “many moons ago. Even though we lost touch, we didn’t lose our friendship. Arthur is one of the most talented people I know … It was a pleasure to reconnect with him … so thanks for your beneficial intervention.”

We thought about what a satisfying experience that was for all involved, and for sharing with our readers.

The Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina is on a hunt for historical photos and memorabilia related to its historic property, which marks its 80th anniversary in 2009. Submissions will be considered for a permanent exhibit at The Montauk Yacht Club’s Cohi Bar. Once known as the cigar barroom, it is an octagon-shaped room on the ground floor of the property’s own historic lighthouse. Built in the 1920s by Carl Fisher, who then envisioned Montauk as the “Miami of the North,” it is in the image of the larger Montauk Lighthouse at the Point, commissioned by George Washington in 1796. The exhibit will be open in April 2009 when the Yacht Club re-opens after a multi-million-dollar transformation

They are looking for photos, newspaper clips and memorabilia related to the club, according to Keith Battaglia, director of sales and marketing.

Those wishing to donate photographs and/or articles should contact Debbie Tuma, who is undertaking archival research, at (631) 338-5421 or at dstuma@yahoo.com; or contact the club directly at (631) 668-3100 or at huntforhistory@montaukyachtclub.com. Submissions will be accepted through March. High-resolution scans are appreciated for those not wishing to part with originals.

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