Sag Harbor Community Notes, June 5


Revived last year after a hiatus of a half century, the Sag Harbor Soap Box Derby returns on Sunday, June 8, for its second annual run since its reincarnation. The fun starts with a 1 p.m. parade on Main Street on Sunday, after which the race will be staged from the whithering heights of High Street.A total of 42 Girl, Boy and Cub Scout teams are registered for the event compared to 34 last year. Safety inspections and registration take place on Saturday at the elementary school.

The race is dedicated this year to Katy Stewart, whose brother is a member of Troop 455. There will be two divisions, the Mustang division, for which car and driver can weigh no more than 150 pounds; and the Thunder Road division for older kids, with a weight limit of 225 pounds.

I’ve lived in the Sag Harbor area for close to 40 years and worked nearby for just as many. I remember taking some event photos at Cormaria for The Southampton Press back in the 1980s, when I edited that paper and did whatever needed to be done to cover the bases.

But I never quite knew just what Cormaria was, other than a retreat of some kind. These days, all you have to do to educate yourself is do a little Googling to get the facts.

Prompted by news that Cormaria will be holding its annual Strawberry Tea next Thursday, June 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the waterfront retreat house just east of the village on Bay Street, I looked up its home page.

First, here are the details on the Strawberry Tea. Besides strawberries, cream, cookies and tea sandwiches, it will feature a floral demonstration by Michael Grim of The Bridgehampton Florist and a children’s fashion show by Tutto Bene in Sag Harbor and C&W Mercantile in Bridgehampton. No reservations are required and admission is $20.

If you have any questions about this fundraiser, call Cormaria at (631) 725-4206.

Okay, here’s the backstory: Cormaria, the name of which, of course, is derived from the Latin for heart of Mary, is a Catholic retreat on 18 acres operated by the order known as the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Its house, grounds and garden are a haven for prayer and rest for those seeking “direction and a closer connection to their spiritual lives.” The house was built in 1904 for California real estate tycoon Frank Havens, a lawyer with deep family roots in the North Haven-Sag Harbor-Shelter Island area.

In 1943, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary started a finishing school at the house, which still contains its original Tiffany windows and hardwood interior trim (and once contained an opium bed, according to another website, if it can be believed). It was converted to a retreat center for women in 1949 and expanded in 1960. After Vatican II, it was made available to men as well. It now offers accommodations for up to 72 people.

For more information, call Cormaria at (631) 725-4206 or email

More than 50 vendors will be in Marine Park over Father’s Day weekend, June 14 and 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., when the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce will hold the first of three arts and crafts fairs planned for the summer season.

Next up for the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt’s monthly “Sundays at Two” presentation will be artists Deneen Tromba-B.-Rich and Jan Porinchak, who will give a program titled “The Quintessence of Long Island” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 22 at the Greenbelt Nature Center at 1061 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton.

At Canio’s Bookstore, Sag Harbor novelist Robert Boris Riskin will read from his latest Jake Wanderman thriller, “Deadly Secrets,” this Saturday, June 7, at 5 p.m. In this tale, the Shakespeare-quoting detective must travel to London and Paris to track down a Hamptons murderer.

Riskin’s previous novels include “Scrambled Eggs,” which introduces Jake Wanderman, and “Deadly Bones,” a satirical look at the art world. Mr. Riskin, whose work has appeared in literary magazines including The New Yorker, lives in Sag Harbor.

Later this month, Canio’s Cultural Cafe will offer a three-session summer seminar titled “Princesses, Ladies and Wives: An International Literary Perspective.”

Women’s literature professor Ellen Silber of Bridgehampton will lead a discussion of women in literature from around the world, including fairy tales, an early French novel and a book by Senegalese writer Mariama Bâ. The program will meet on Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, beginning June 24 and continuing July 1 and 8. The fee is $150 including books. Registration is required. Call 725-4926.

Even if you’re a Sag Harbor resident who lives west of the East Hampton-Southampton Town line and can’t get East Hampton’s Channel 22 through your Cablevision service, you can submit questions for LTV’s “Village Green” to be broadcast live from Studio 3 on Industrial Road in Wainscott tomorrow, Friday, June 6 at 6 p.m.

“We are offering our local community the opportunity to come together to ask a broad panel of leaders about issues that matter to them most, to candidly discuss hot topics,” said host Robert Strada, LTV board president.

LTV asks that you submit your questions in advance by email at or by calling 537-2777, extension 122 and recording a message.

Joining Mr. Strada will be State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, a Sag Harbor native; local Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, whose office is here in the Harbor; East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell; East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach; East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and East Hampton Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc.

East Hampton Historical Society Executive Director Richard Barons will open the evening with a collection of rare historical East Hampton postcards. The evening will be broadcast live on LTV Channel 22.

Have you read former Sag Harborite Mac Griswold’s “The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island,” a history of Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island? It was selected “Best Book 2014” by Long Island Reads, a committee of Nassau and Suffolk library professionals, according to LTV.

Max Scott, an LTV producer, recently recorded Griswold speaking at the Manor to 200 Long Island librarians who voted her book “the one that all Long Islanders should read this year.” Highlights of her talk will be available on LTV’s features Channel 20—which, unfortunately, can be seen only by residents who live on the East Hampton side of town.

Coming up at the John Jermain Library’s temporary digs across from the post office on West Water Street:

The weekly needlework group meets next at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 9, when knitters will offer help with challenges of all kinds. Yarn donations are always appreciated. For information, call the library at (631) 725-0049.

At 8 p.m. the same day, a senior advocate will be at the library from the Suffolk County Department of Aging to give advice about the new Affordable Health Care Act, Medicare, Social Security, prescription drug plans, home care, the Home Energy Assistance and Residential Repair programs and other senior programs. Sessions are one-on-one, on a first-come, first-served basis.

And on Wednesday, June 11, at 5:30 p.m., insurance specialist Peter M. Feder will be on hand to discuss long-term care insurance. Preregistration required, with a limit of 18. Call the library at (631) 725-0049.

Then on Thursday, June 12, at 7 p.m., architect Bill Chaleff and blogger Virginia Gerardi will discuss “co-housing communities,” an old-fashioned and yet innovative answer to today’s environmental and social problems. Preregistration is suggested.

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