Articles by

Phyllis Lombardi

04/21/12 11:00am

Believe me, I’m not thinking about leaving the North Fork. For a couple of very good reasons. One is simply that I love the place.

The second reason has to do with something I read in The Suffolk Times a short while back. Now I consider this newspaper pretty objective, certainly not out to create panic. But panicky is how I felt when I read one lady’s suggestions about what I’d have to do if I wanted to sell my house. The lady’s a respected North Fork realtor so her six recommendations could not be taken lightly.

First, the realtor wrote, I’d have to clean my home, clean it thoroughly. Well, my bathrooms and kitchen are really clean but she said I’d have to replace old shades and blinds. You know what? I don’t even have shades or blinds. I do have curtains on the bottoms of my windows. And I do wash those curtains. But sometime it takes a few weeks to get them back up on the windows.

Then I’d have to “spruce up the landscaping.” I guess I could blame most outdoor problems on my husband, but that wouldn’t be fair. It’s my fault there are old, discolored wooden clothespins clipped forlornly to the clothesline. And I’m responsible for the cracked clay flowerpots I left on the deck all winter.

Next, the realtor advised that I “de-clutter” the inside of my home. I’m gonna blame this problem on one of my children. He lives upstate near a pottery shop and he’s always giving me a cup or some unusual-looking piece he thinks I’ll like. Like them? Yes, but where to put them? Oh, and I have a cousin who causes a clutter problem, too. She lives in New Jersey and sends me big floral arrangements. They’re dried flowers and really quite lovely, but they do take up space. When the UPS guy comes to the door with Diana’s flowers, my first thought is, Where am I going to put them? I wonder if the realtor lady would like some for her office.

And listen to this: The realtor said I must try to “de-personalize” my home. Get rid of most of the family pictures because they are a distraction for buyers. I suppose that’s true. But wouldn’t that depend on who those family members were? Imagine if Vince Lombardi were indeed a relative (you can’t know how often I’m asked that) and I had his photo on a wall in my home. And right below the photo, a table supporting a great big trophy. Wow! Folks would be clamoring to buy my North Fork house.

Here’s more advice from the realtor. Use neutral colors when painting inside or out. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more neutral. But I remember earlier times in another home when I painted the kitchen something the color chart called “apricot.” Somehow that house was sold. Also, the realtor’s advice is if you’ve got wallpaper on your walls, remove it. I did that years ago. I struggled to remove a wallpaper border. Even that small effort was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I’ll never remove wallpaper again. Never.

Finally, a suggestion I can comply with. Take pets out of the house when buyers tour the place. That’s easy. I don’t have a pet. Poor cat Toby died a few years ago. His little grave marker is in our garden. And I just won’t remove that.
I have to admit the realtor seems extremely helpful, but one thing she didn’t cover. What should you do with a husband when potential buyers are at the front door? Send him to King Kullen for a box of cookies? Have him putter in the garage and promise to say no more than hello and goodbye? Hoist him up on the roof, where he can pretend to be installing great new neutral-color shingles? Husbands can say things, do things, that may scare off a prospect. Like explaining the dog next door never barks at night. Just all day. Or that your hilly driveway ices up in winter and getting to the mailbox is hazardous. A really helpful realtor has gotta address the husband problem. Until then, I think most North Forkers will never consider selling their homes.

There you have it. The second reason I’ll never sell my house. It will never be thoroughly clean, de-cluttered, picture-free, painted gray inside and out and, I pray fervently, without my husband to mess things up. That’s a North Fork way of life.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

02/04/12 12:00pm

Let’s see. Flowers would be good. Perhaps a few red roses. Or perfume. Lots of women enjoy sweet fragrance. Maybe even a piece of jewelry. Although that could be expensive.

The upcoming Valentine’s Day can certainly prove difficult for guys looking to delight a lady. Even clever, sensitive North Fork men may need a little help when it comes to selecting a small gift of love for the women in their lives. You know — moms, wives, daughters, sisters and so on.

If a guy is thinking candy, I have a few suggestions. First off, if choosing candy from a supermarket shelf, our man must be aware of the candy’s name. No matter how good the candy tastes, for a Valentine gift its name has gotta be romantic.

For example, a gift of Snickers or Jelly Belly hardly seems appropriate for a loving wife. And just think, guys, of the distress if your beloved were to open up a gift of Gummi Worms, Sour Patch or Jawbreakers. Milk Duds, Rocky Road or Mounds. Where’s the romance in a box of Airheads or a bag of Nerds? Men, you can’t be too careful.

So if it’s off the shelf, stick with candy bearing a Valentine name. Like Hershey’s Hugs or Kisses. But for something unique, travel the North Fork for candy shops. There are quite a few. Visit them as I did. My goal, of course, was to help you make a winning Valentine gift choice. Obviously I sampled several selections — in this case an occupational hazard.

My first sweet stop was at The Confectionery Corner in Southold. Just open the door and you’ve got romance on the menu. I saw chocolate-covered Heart Peeps, Cupid Candy (pink and red candy corn), chocolate heart lollipops, chocolate-covered cherry hearts. Somehow the chocolate nonpareils, sprinkled red and white for Valentine’s Day, appealed to me. After all, is there any woman who wouldn’t respond when told she is without equal?

Tending store for owner Dawn Powers was Dawn’s mother. From Orient, Mom (and that’s how she wants to be identified) told me Dawn is awaiting the end-of-February birth of her second child. Lucky kids. They’ve a loving, helpful grandma and a mama who owns a candy store. Ah, it’s a tough life on the North Fork!

Now say hello to Fran Liburt, who lives in Orient and travels to Greenport each day to her job at Sweet Indulgences. Fran was happy to show me so many special Valentine candy treats. And so important — these treats had romantic names, names bound to please.

We started off with Conversation Hearts, little candies imprinted with romantic sayings like “I Love You” or “Kiss Me.” If you prefer to do your own talking, the Love and Kisses Lollipops might be just the thing. Or try the Milk Chocolate Presents, little candies each individually gift-wrapped. Now that’s a labor of love. And it’s a labor that won’t be lost on your sweetheart.

There must be something romantic in the air at Love Lane Sweet Shoppe in Mattituck. But more about that in a minute.

Meantime I discovered a number of appropriate candy names at this candy heaven. There were Heartfelts, Strawberry Delights and Wings of Love. And some sweet edibles called Razzles. It’s possible that years ago I had some razzle, maybe even a little dazzle. No more. So a gift of that to a grandmotherly woman might be well received.

Now about what’s in the air. At the Sweet Shoppe I met Ashley Wilsberg, whose mom, Jackie Wilsberg, owns the store. Ashley, a Mattituck High School graduate, has been working at the store for three years.
When I heard that, I asked how she remained so slim with such delightful temptations in front of her each day. “Oh, that’s easy,” Ashley replied. “I’m on a wedding diet.”

That’s right. Ashley will marry a North Fork guy this April and they’ll be living in Laurel. As printed on the Sweet Shoppe business card — How Sweet It Is.

Well, gentlemen, I do indeed hope my sugary meanderings help you win fair lady on this Valentine’s Day. Though I realize most North Fork men, while romantic at times, are more often realistic and practical. If that’s the case, by all means get the candy. But add a little something extra. Like maybe a promissory note offering to wash the windows in the spring. It’s right around the corner.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

01/21/12 12:07pm

Yes, winter’s quiet on the North Fork and it may become even more so. As you might have heard, the Long Island Rail Road has initiated a Quiet Car policy on its trains. The pilot program began a few weeks ago on the Far Rockaway branch. Perhaps Riverhead to Greenport is next.

I spoke with Aaron Donavan, a helpful young guy who is a media liaison at a Metropolitan Transportation Authority office in New York City. Aaron told me there would probably be only one Quiet Car per train. In that car no electronic devices would be permitted and any conversation would be in whispers only. Matter of fact, conductors will hand out “shh” cards to commuters who break the silence. I’m thinking those “shh” cards would be great for teachers with noisy classes or for husbands who claim their wives never stop talking. And wouldn’t you like a “shh” card if you came face to face with a presidential candidate?

I’ve an idea. Make a game of it. If a person receives five “shh” cards he goes directly to jail.

It so happens that Amtrak began its own Quiet Car policy several years ago. In my first Quiet Car experience, I accepted tickets for seats in an Amtrak “quiet, no cellphones” car traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York City. I was with a friend, Ginny, and we planned on drinking tea as we rolled north through Baltimore. Maybe read a newspaper, even take a nap.

Ginny and I settled in and began a quiet review of our D.C. days. The Museum of American History, a White House garden tour, even a Nationals game. Then came the voice, a kind of female James Earl Jones voice. “Somebody’s talkin’ in the Quiet Car.”

She, and her voice, headed to our seats. She was large, very, and stern, very. The dark-uniformed Amtrak conductor stood over me and asked for ID. This while holding that steel-cold ticket puncher up to my face. There was to be no talking in this car.

My laughter was not directed at her. Rather, at my foolishness. We knew no cellphones were allowed. We did not know quiet conversation was verboten.

Lady Amtrak didn’t crack a smile. She told me to check for seats in another car if I wished to speak even a few words during the three-hour ride. Dutifully I rose from my seat and rocked side to side up the aisle to the next car. No adjacent seats available. I tiptoed back into the Quiet Car and sat down next to Ginny.

So it was we arrived in New York City well rested. Ginny continued on to her home in Saratoga Springs while I was ready for battle on the LIRR to Riverhead, where my husband would meet me for the ride home to Cutchogue. The dusty, creaky LIRR was crowded and it was not until I changed trains at Ronkonkoma that I found a comfortable seat next to a smiling young woman and across from an equally happy-looking young couple. And then, a revelation.

I admit it. I probably started talking first. My seat companion was headed to Riverhead and we chatted about that town. Her three children graduated from Riverhead High School and remain in nearby North Fork towns. The young couple across from me? They hoped to purchase a home in Mattituck.

Naturally, I told my Amtrak story. We all laughed, loudly. And when the LIRR conductor walked toward us, I thought, “Oh no, not again.”

Bet you can guess what happened. The conductor asked, “What’s so funny?” He was not scowling nor was he waving a ticket puncher. He just stood there, waiting to hear the source of our joy.

So once again I repeated my Amtrak experience. By this time I did so in a most dramatic way. Well, the conductor laughed. Out loud. Here were five of us having a good old time. It was great to be home on the North Fork.

And about a LIRR Quiet Car on the North Fork? I’m not gonna worry about that now. There’s too much laughing to do.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

01/09/12 4:08pm

Right now it’s quiet time all over the North Fork. Windows are tightly closed, locked. Some folks even put up storm windows. No question about it. Chill times are here. Quiet times, too, since those closed windows shut out sounds as well as shivers. Funny, isn’t it? A few months back we read of noise problems on the North Fork. Music that’s loud, truck and boat motors running all night, helicopters intruding on peaceful skies. Finally last summer, a noise ordinance in Southold.

But with our windows closed we come to realize that some North Fork noise is not noise at all. Rather it is sound, sound we take pleasure in, sound we miss during the “closed up” months.

For example, there’s a Greenport guy, name of David Pultz. He’s married to Gillian Pultz of the North Fork Animal Welfare League. So you’d imagine Dave’s special sounds would be a woof, a meow, a tweet. Not so. Dave thinks back a few years and recalls two treasures of North Fork sounds.

One is the Greenport foghorn from early misty mornings past. How comforting it was. How secure. Dave said the foghorn sounded from a Greenport shipyard and evokes emotion still.

The other North Fork sound Dave enjoys is the 6 p.m. siren from the Greenport firehouse. Years ago Ed Pultz, Dave’s father, told Dave over and over again, “When you hear that whistle get home for dinner.” That 6 p.m. sound is familiar to so many North Forkers. Tradition ties it to dinner time in homes from Riverhead to Orient. May it always be.

I’ve a North Fork sound bringing me not memories, but anticipation. Early in the morning, certainly well before 6, I hear the Long Island Rail Road whistle as a train rumbles by about a mile away from my Cut­ch­ogue home.
I wonder, as I listen in bed or in the kitchen eating Special K and blueberries, who the engineer is, who the passengers are. Where are they going? I bid them a safe journey each open-window day. In some odd way they have become my friends and I wish I were traveling with them. Not necessarily to Greenport or New York City but to those faraway places with strange-sounding names.

With windows closed, my friends and fantasies fade.

Now hear this. It certainly appears to prove one woman’s meat is another’s poison. There are, on this North Fork, at least two ears that enjoy hearing a tractor at work. Those ears belong to Southold’s Sue Purcell.

Sue recalls “staying over” at her grandma’s home on Ackerly Pond Lane. That road, by the way, was formerly Bowery Lane. The name change must be a story in itself.

Anyway, Grandma Marta Dramm lived next to Diller’s farm and when Sue had a stay-over at Grandma’s the Diller tractors awakened her each morning. Those machines were “big and exciting” to young Sue.

Fully awake, Sue would rush downstairs to breakfast made by her grandma. A breakfast served with lots of milk and lots of love. And outside a tractor welcomed a child to a new North Fork summer’s day.

In Southold still, stop by for a visit with Judy Clark. Perhaps walk in her backyard for a bit. If you’re lucky you’ll hear Judy’s favorite North Fork sounds — sounds unheard through winter-closed windows.

First, the winter leaves, the ones left clinging to branches. Brittle and brown, dried and desolate, they rustle in winter wind. Judy thinks of that rustle as a feeble protest. Leaves refusing to go gently into that good earth. Come spring, those leaves will be gone, their protests giving way to new life.

And then there are the crows. They settle in the woods behind Judy’s home. Noisy, almost arrogant, unlike their shy, smaller bird friends. Crows are smart, too. Judy recalls seeing a TV show explaining how crows use twigs as tools. Watching the crows through snug-closed windows, Judy can’t hear their calls. But her heart responds to remembered sound.

Perhaps that’s what beloved, familiar sounds do best. Even if just in memory, they bring a sense of well-being to January’s pale days and long dark nights. Someday soon we’ll open all the windows.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

12/18/11 3:37pm

Heading south. Lots of North Forkers think about that this time of year. Perhaps for a holiday visit with grandchildren in Virginia; a tour of lovely, old and temperate Charleston; or, if they’ve got weeks of time, North Forkers might choose to bask on Florida’s beaches. All sounds good in mid-December.

There is, however, one kindly chap who, when he thinks about traveling south, thinks North Fork. Really. Our North Fork is more than 3,000 miles south of his very northern home. I’m talking about Santa Claus.

Now Santa has been traveling south every winter for many years. He and his reindeer must be exhausted. After all, they’re not as young as they used to be. Also, I heard Santa has to remove his boots every time his sleigh passes over an airport. That alone is discouraging.

So, since Santa is such a sweetheart, I thought we could help him out. Meet him halfway, perhaps, and carry his gifts back to the North Fork. That way Santa could return to the North Pole sooner and everyone would be happy. Maybe not Ms. Claus, but I don’t want to start any rumors.

Question is this: Which North Forker would head north to meet with Santa? I suggest Scott Russell, our town supervisor, accept applications for the job based primarily on how far north the applicant had previously traveled. Experience counts.

I, for example, have been to Alaska. But that was in a warm July, when native Alaskans showed me their home-grown tomatoes and went swimming every summer day. So I really have no experience with northern snows. I didn’t even see Sarah Palin, so I couldn’t get a recommendation from the lady who used to be Alaska’s governor. I believe she’s traveling around the Lower 48 but I’ve never seen her on the North Fork. Therefore, much as I would have enjoyed assisting Santa, I knew I must search for other North Forkers who had more experience in cold climes.

When I met Dennis Kedjierski of Greenport, I thought I’d found the ideal applicant. He looked strong enough to carry Santa’s gifts and he had an easy way about him, just like Santa. And he’d been to Alaska.

But alas, Dennis said he felt a sense of “isolation” in so many parts of that northern state. And Dennis made mention of how few roads he had seen in Alaska. Most folks appeared to travel by seaplane. Somehow I got the feeling Dennis prefers the convenience of Main Road and the comfort of North Fork neighbors.

Way east in Orient lives Berit Lalli, but she used to live way north because she was born in Sweden. So she must have some experience with snow and ice. I do know this: Berit warms every heart with gladness when she talks about all the Swedish pastries she bakes. By the way, you can sample some of those treats if you attend the fairs and festivals at her Greenport church. Maybe even meet Berit.

You know, much as Berit might be a good candidate for Santa’s helper, I think we’d better keep her right here on the North Fork. Winter is cookie/cake time in these parts and we can’t afford to have Berit out of her kitchen.

How you gonna keep her down on the farm? That’s the question I asked myself after chatting with Gekee Wickham of Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue. I’d stopped by the farm for apples and Gekee and I started talking north.

Gekee’s been to Norway, where she “shivered,” and to Russia, where she and husband Tom honeymooned. Listen to this. Gekee has actually flown right over the North Pole. Seems she was flying from the USA to Singapore and right down below was the Claus home. Gekee said she didn’t see Santa himself but Rudolph’s nose was distinctly visible.

Well, it’s obvious there are a number of North Forkers who’ve been far north. If they all submit applications to Super Scott, the guy will have one tough job deciding. Maybe he’ll need a committee to help. After all, they have to think about whether a candidate is allergic to reindeer, whether the candidate can fit in a chimney and how many pit stops a candidate needs while traveling around on a winter’s night. But committees work so slowly. Santa’s gifts might not arrive till spring.

Wow! Guess we shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. We’ll just let old Santa do his job, as he has for years, with a generous love. And to all a good night.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

12/03/11 11:49am

“Pull up a chair. Can you stay for supper?”

Delightful words at any time, but especially on a chilly winter night. In December, at the start of the freezin’ season, North Forkers begin some serious cooking. No more salads and sandwiches, ice cream and iced tea on the back porch. This is meat and potato time in a warm, cozy kitchen.

Just what makes up a good North Fork winter supper? Well, I’ll dig in first. An old favorite of mine is a pork and sauerkraut casserole my mother used to make and I remember enjoying it ever since I gave up those little jars of Gerber baby food.

Anyway, the browned pork chops are baked with the sauerkraut. I add lots of caraway seed and a chopped-up apple. Truly a meal to warm body and soul. Especially with mashed potatoes.

Now here’s Greenport’s Florida Jones Mealy. Even her name, Florida, is warm and sunny on a cold, cold day. Florida’s special winter supper is ham hocks with lima beans. Good stick-to-the-ribs stuff. Add baked sweet potatoes and you’ve got some sweet eating. Florida says you must have homemade cornbread with this meal. So you can soak up the gravy. I really like the cornbread part. Only I’d save my cornbread for breakfast the next morning. Toast it, then butter-and-jam it. That’s winter heaven in the a.m.

During the summer it’s easy to spot our next chef. She’s found running the farm and the farm stand, Farmer Mike’s, on Main Road in Cutchogue. But in winter look for Dorothy Konarski in the kitchen of her home right next to the farm stand.

And what does Dorothy cook on a night when the flakes are falling thick and fast? Roast pork is what the family anticipates. With luck, a green bean and carrot combination accompanies the pork. Oh, and I forgot. Dorothy suggests a steamy hot carrot soup to begin the meal. I’ll let you in on one of Dorothy’s secrets: She uses some apple cider in that soup.

Room for dessert? A creamy tapioca pudding is Dorothy’s offering. Always a hit and even more so when made with a bit of coconut milk.

If you’re out early in the a.m., most likely you’ll spot winter cook Laura DeMaria, who lives in Mattituck and works at Carquest, also in Mattituck. Laura drives all over the North Fork, delivering parts to auto repair shops where hapless car owners hope for miracles.

Still, Laura has time to cook. Especially when teenage sons Marc and Zack will be at the table, hungry for supper. The boys have a few favorites. One is lentil soup. Laura uses a recipe given her by her mother. Mom recipes are always the best. If not lentil soup, then it’s split pea soup with ham. Laura says both soups freeze well, though there’s usually little left when the boys eat.

On a really cold day, Laura warms the kitchen with a roasting chicken in the oven. No time for making stuffing? Here’s what Laura does and I’m gonna try it. Cut an onion in half and put it in the chicken cavity. Makes the chicken soft and sweet, says Laura. Well, that’s better than hard and sour. By the way, I met one of Laura’s sons. He’s a senior at Southold High School, a tall and healthy-looking guy. Must be Mom’s cooking.

Bet you thought every winter-weather cook on the North Fork was a woman of a certain age. No way. Shake hands with Pete Kreppein, a Cutchogue guy in his early 20s. Pete admits to cooking since he was in junior high school. Now a college sophomore up in really cold country Albany, Pete says when he gets the chance to cook he makes a great chicken and rice casserole that he serves with green beans. His lasagna, he claims, is delicious, too. No wonder the young man has such good grades. He’s eating the right stuff.

I wonder about his desserts, though. Any time of year it has to be ice cream. Speaking of cold, on winter weekends, if Pete comes home to the North Fork, he grills outdoors, first clearing away a patch in the snow. You know, I think my sons need to hear about Pete.

Guess we’re at the end of the menu. But come again for supper in just about any North Fork kitchen. In winter dark and deep, you’ll find a taste of happiness.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

11/19/11 3:00am

About this time last year I had an idea. That happens occasionally. Anyway, my idea was this: Lots of roads on the North Fork have winter/Christmas names and I was sure Santa Claus had named those roads. Like Holly Tree Lane, Antler Road and Claus Avenue.

Well, it’s Thanksgiving time now and I’ve another idea. Santa obviously didn’t name all our roads. He had help from three Massachusetts guys. That’s right. John Alden, William Bradford and Myles Standish. We’re told there were 53 Pilgrims at that first Thanksgiving feast in Plymouth in 1621 and that they dined for hours and hours. I maintain the Pilgrims ate so well and so much that a few of them decided to take a long walk after dinner and ended up, several days later, on the North Fork.

How else to explain the street names I discover as I travel the roads through towns I love? I believe the walkers began their North Fork sojourn in Laurel. They tarried for a bit in a red-gold treed area and called the spot Harvest Lane, recalling their recent bounty.

Even today, Harvest Lane is red-gold with trees. Homes line both sides of the lane and cold-defying mums brighten most front porches. Appropriately, Harvest Lane runs into Farmveu Road. Full circle.

And there’s a homeowner on his power mower. Perhaps, on Harvest Lane, cutting lawns becomes grass-harvesting. Less of a chore then, more of a blessing.

Now on to North Fork main course names. Back in Massachusetts our three travelers dined on “turkies, fowle, deere and codd.” They spelled things funny in those days but then their clothes were a bit unusual, too. At least I think so. And, oh, North Fork roads abound in Thanksgiving entrée names.

In Riverhead there’s Pheasant Court and Trout Brook Lane. I’d take a helping of each. Heading east you can pass your plate for a serving of Deer Drive in Mattituck or Goose Creek Lane in Southold. Wait a minute. Go back to Riverhead. I forgot Scallop Lane. Never, ever, pass up scallops.

Now east for Rabbit Lane and Oyster Ponds Lane. Both courses are found near Orient Harbor and I’m sure our Massachusetts men sampled the area’s menu.

Me? For a main course I choose Duck Pond Road in Cutchogue. It’s a south/north road ending right at Long Island Sound bluffs and beach. Lots of farms along the way. Truthfully, I saw no ducks, but then it was too chilly to get out of my car and go hunting. Maybe the ducks are all gone, following the Pilgrims back to Massachusetts. Or maybe the ducks went to Central Islip. That’s where the Long Island Ducks play their games. I wonder if North Fork ducks play games, too.

Some side dishes? Coming your way. Try Chestnut Road in Southold for your Thanksgiving dressing or Cranberry Street in Riverhead for savory sauce.

With all this North Fork good eating, I think we need a drink or two. I know there’s a Gin Lane and a Bourbon Lane in Southold — but were Pilgrims aware of such beverages? There’s another Bourbon Street far south, but that’s too long a walk even for a Pilgrim. So I guess we’ll go with Vineyard Way in Riverhead. We’ll drink wine on the North Fork. Besides, Vineyard Way sounds Biblical, just right for Thanksgiving.

Look at the dessert table. Huckleberry Hill Road and Plum Island Lane, both out Orient way. Meanwhile in Riverhead, take your pick. Apple Lane, Cherry Lane, Peach Street. I love walnuts so I drove down Walnut Avenue in Mattituck — a dirt/gravel road that crunched just like the cracking open of walnuts. The posted speed limit was 5 mph. Those Pilgrims knew enough to slow down and appreciate.

I do think I found exactly the spot where our Pilgrims left the North Fork for home. They probably thought it safe to return because their womenfolk had finished cleaning up. So, having named our roads, John, William and Myles started back to Massachusetts, but not before giving thanks again. From a road a bit north of what is now Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, a road named Amen Corner, they paused and prayed. Now they were ready to face another winter.

As are we all.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

10/27/11 1:00am

Thinking about getting married but can’t seem to find the right guy or gal? I’ve got some news. If you can wait it out for just a couple of weeks, there’s some help coming to the North Fork. That help is a good old-fashioned matchmaker, name of Dolly Levi.

Now this Dolly Levi will be available to all North Forkers Nov. 11-13 and 18-19. She’s here courtesy of Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre and will meet you at Riverhead High School. Actually, she’s appearing in “Hello, Dolly,” a musical detailing Dolly’s adventures. Dolly has such a big heart I’m sure she’ll meet with you after a show should you desire her matchmaking magic. Who knows? You might be settled into domestic bliss by Thanksgiving.

Believe it or not, there are some happily married folks on the North Fork. I’ve even met a few. They’ll be going to “Hello, Dolly” not for a consultation but just because they like musicals. Matter of fact, I’ve heard some North Forkers sing and I’ve seen some North Forkers dance. They’re pretty good. But most of us are not so talented and sing and dance only when we’re alone in our kitchen. That’s why we enjoy seeing the good stuff on stage.

For example, Denise Balzaretti has a favorite musical and can be found humming some “Bye Bye Birdie” songs in her Cutchogue home. Denise especially likes one of the Birdie songs, “What’s the Matter with Kids Today.” Remember? “You can talk and talk till your face is blue, but they still just do what they want to do. Kids.”  Now I say nothing, absolutely nothing at all, is wrong with kids today, though Denise vehemently disagrees. She says kids should work harder. You know, that may be true of all of us.

But even Denise didn’t work all the time. She told me her mother and her Aunt Margie began taking her to Broadway musicals when she was only 9 years old. That’s the kind of work I like, Denise.

There are some Birdie lyrics I like, too. “Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face.” There’s the tough-it-out musical outlook that’s seen this country through some pretty hard times.

Forget bye-bye and say hello to Bob Kuhne of New Suffolk. Get him talking about music and he’ll tell you all about that rock band he played in when he was 18 or so. He was the guitar and keyboard guy and said the band appeared in “places” in Nassau County. Of course, I asked him what places and Bob’s reply was generic: “Bars.”

Now, however, Bob and his wife seek out musicals on Broadway and in theaters on Long Island like Mattituck’s North Fork Community Theatre. Bob’s favorite is “Phantom” — not, Bob said, to be confused with “Phantom of the Opera.”

The music of “Phantom” is “much, much better than the music in ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ ” claims Bob. Well, that’s an opinion some North Forkers may disagree with. But I have to give Bob this: There are lyrics in “Phantom” that seem to sum up the very essence of music.
“You are music, beautiful music, and you are light to me.” To a lover or to life itself, music illumines.

As for me, I recall to this day the joy I felt seeing Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in “My Fair Lady.” And, of course, every high school musical my daughter appeared in quickly became very special. Especially “Fiddler on the Roof.” You look at your children and, yes, swiftly go the days.

But there is one bit of music and lyrics from the musical “Oklahoma” that has always moved me — more so as I get older: “We know we belong to the land, and the land we belong to is grand.” Whether that land is the North Fork or the whole darn USA, what could say it better?

Well, we’ve danced and sung our way to the finale. Before the parade passes by it’s time to plan for a couple of glorious hours with Ms. Dolly Levi. Then, right after the show, just walk straight up to that wonderful woman and sing out what’s in your heart. “Hello, Dolly, well hello, Dolly, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong.”

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.