Montauk Community Notes, August 21


You know you’re coming to the end of the season when the Women’s Guild of Montauk Community Church holds its yearly half-price rummage sale. For the last two Saturdays in August, the 24th and 31st, from 9 a.m. to noon, all clothing is half price, also linens. We Montaukers are dedicated to recycling. Why throw something out if it still can be put to use by someone else?

This Thursday, August 22, is the grand finale of FamilyFest’s summer events at the Montauk Playhouse. At 7 p.m. the Harlem Hoopsters will perform their fancy dribbling and footwork routines. The program incorporates music and choreography by professional athletes who’ll demonstrate the “art of basketball.” Tickets, which are $15 per person, are available online at, by calling 668-1124, at Willow gift shop and at the door.

Those who know me well will be amused to read I learned to drive in the deserted parking lot of the Montauk Manor, back in 1974, when the manor was a derelict wreck. By the time I returned to Montauk in the early ’90s, the manor had been rehabilitated, but the Montauk Playhouse still looked like a haunted ruin. The playhouse has come a long way since then, for which Montauk is deservedly proud, but the work’s not yet complete.

I had an interesting conversation with Joy Hear at a celebratory gathering at the home of Dan and Gail Murphy on Saturday evening.

Because the playhouse summer gala takes place at about the same date as the anniversary of the day the Hears met, it’s their tradition to celebrate their special day at the gala. “How else could we have such a festive occasion with dining and dancing, and see all our friends too,” Joy asked, with a laugh.

Ms. Hear mentioned, however, that the main focus of fundraisers like the gala is to raise money for the playhouse pool and aquatics center, which is still on the drawing board. Several other guests expressed concern that at the rate things are going the pool won’t be completed in time for their own children’s use.

According to Joy, about $2.5 million has been raised for the aquatics center, only a little over half of what’s needed to bring the project to life. Montauk needs the help of generous benefactors because as everyone knows, learning to swim is important for Montauk kids, surrounded as we are by water.

Conversations at Montauk gatherings always drift toward the ever-increasing expense of living in this wonderful place we call home.

At this gathering celebrating Gail Murphy’s return to health and the burning of the Murphys’ mortgage, I spotted many folks who make life here in Montauk possible; teachers, librarians, EMT volunteers and firefighters, carpenters, store owners, clerks and lighthouse volunteers, a school bus driver, a social worker, Reverend Bill Hoffmann and wife Val; none of us in the position to act as “philanthropist.”

Mansions proliferate around Lake Montauk and the oceanfront; big places with five or more bedrooms and luxury cars in the drive, yet we still don’t have a public indoor swimming pool where year-round our kids can learn to swim and perhaps add swimming to their Montauk School curriculum.

Please help us build our aquatic center. Our kids need it.

In the meantime, children’s librarian Julie Anne Korpi plans to cool off the younger set with “Sidewalk Chalk Art and Snow Cone Ices” at the library, Monday, August 26, at 4 p.m. All ages and artistic abilities invited.

Monday library story times continue at 10 a.m. Children, along with their caregivers, can listen to stories, sing and make crafts. The crafts are designed for preschool-age children. Children’s programs at the library are free and you can sign up for the library’s email list for program reminders and updates.

I’ve had a great time attending many of the cultural programs at the Montauk Library this summer. Perhaps I’ve seen you there?

On Saturday I was entranced by the Long Island Mandolin Quartet, a group of lovely ladies strumming perfectly, both American folk songs like Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home (Swanee River)” and Italian classics with familiar melodies sung by soprano Lucille Bjornby. When not singing, Ms. Bjornby performed as second mandolinist. Victoria Gleicher on mandola and Roasalie Kuras, guitarist, also contributed to the quartet.

I enjoyed educational remarks by conductor and first mandolinist Antonina Narelli. Did you know professional guitarists covet picks made from genuine tortoise shell? The shells from which picks are made are from endangered tortoise species. These picks are rare and can cost up to $900, according to Ms. Narelli. Some musicians scour thrift stores and rummage sales for old tortoise shell jewelry, hair combs and boxes and from these carve their own picks.

On Sunday, there was standing room only for Montauk architect and resident Richard Sheckman’s talk and slide presentation on developer Carl Fisher. Born in 1874, Fisher originally made his fortune through developing gas headlights for very early cars. He then sold his patent for $90,000.

Present at the event were many longtime residents of Montauk, including retired Montauk School teacher Jean Ruggles who contributed much to the discussion.

According to Mr. Sheckman, Fisher opened Lake Montauk to Long Island Sound in around 1926 as a venue for boat racing. And Fairview Avenue where I live, along with South Fairview, was originally built for car races around the golf course, all part of his grand scheme for Montauk.

I hope to see you back at the library this evening, Wednesday, August 21, at 7:30 p.m. for “Ladies of the Silver Screen.” Jazz vocalist Linda Ciofalo, together with Jane Hastay on piano and Peter Martin Weiss on bass, perform songs from the movies made famous by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Rosemary Clooney, Bette Miller and Celine Dion.

Ms. Ciofalo’s repertoire ranges from blues to Rodgers and Hammerstein. The San Francisco Chronicle describes her style as “sassy, salty and sultry.” She studied classical vocal technique and musical theater at the Juilliard School and later switched her focus to jazz.

After graduating from Mills College, Ms. Hastay, who comes from Minnesota, immersed herself in the San Francisco music scene, toured Europe with Lilith Theater Company, performed with the Brazilian dance troupe Escola Nova de Samba, and had a long-standing engagement with her own trio at the Fairmont Hotel. Relocating to New York, she earned a master’s degree in jazz piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Hastay is currently the director of music and organist at St. Therese of Lisieux Church.

Mr. Weiss studied guitar and string bass as a teen, and later attended the Berklee School of Music. He received his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oneonta, and a master’s from Manhattan School of Music.

Mr. Weiss met Ms. Hastay in San Francisco while on tour and soon after, they were married. The couple produced a CD entitled “Never Never Land,” named after a song that encourages us to follow our dreams. The couple lives in East Hampton.

Laraine Creegan, director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, would like to thank the businesses who have contributed to this summer’s recycling program to keep Montauk clean and green.

It started this spring when the chamber initiated a recycling program for the downtown business district. The goal: provide bright, clean, accessible recycling bins to keep downtown ship-shape. The East Hampton Town Parks and Recreation Department pitched in too, providing liner bags which it monitors and empties. Businesses in Montauk sponsor the bins, with their names displayed on each of the 48 receptacles.

A big thank you to these sponsors: 668 The Gig Shack, Air and Speed Surf Shop, Atlantic Beach Realty Group, B&B Auto, Beach Plum Resort, Becker’s Home Center, Biondo & Hammer LLC, Catamaran Mon Tiki, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, Daunt’s Albatross Motel, Deborah Thompson Day Spa, East Deck Motel, East Hampton Physical Therapy, Fishbar on the Lake, Gosman’s Dock, Gurney’s Inn Resort and Spa, Hartman’s Briney Breezes, Herb’s Market, John B. Ward Plumbing & Heating, Kai Kai Sandals, Let’s Keep Montauk Green, Montauk Manor, Naturally Good Foods and Café, Pathfinder Country Day Camp, Sausage’s Pizza and Pastabilities, Snug Harbor Motel and Marina, Stonecrop Wines, The Montauk Beach House, Turtle Cove Café, Uihlein’s Boat Rental, Wavecrest Motel and the Westlake Marina.

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