05/15/15 10:00am
05/15/2015 10:00 AM

Fishermen Chuck Purificato and Chris James spent each frigid day this winter in a shed off Main Road in Southold, hunched over work tables and warmed only by their heavy coats and the kerosene heater that would spit choking smoke back into the room.

“No water, no nothing,” Mr. Purificato boasts. “All winter! And it was cold this winter, boy.”

He laughs in short, gravelly bursts.


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Their goal behind the madness? To craft Long Island’s best bucktail fishing lures.

Over the decades, Mr. Purificato, 65, has run several tackle shops across Suffolk County, but the other businesses dried up. A store in Ridge was open for years, but closed in 1994. He relocated to do business in Freeport before shutting that down, too.

“Things happened,” Mr. Purificato said. “I got sick — just life in general. It’s the whole nine yards of growing up on Long Island.”

Mr. Purificato holds a new bucktail lure in his hand. The bucktails only take about a minute to make each. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Mr. Purificato holds a new bucktail lure in his hand. The bucktails only take about a minute to make each. (Credit: Paul Squire)

He worked on the side a bit, making lures for friends, and Mr. James, now 48 years old, helped as an apprentice of sorts. Now, the longtime friends have decided to give it one more go and open up another shop.

“I said to Chris, ‘Let’s make a last stand,” Mr. Purificato said. “Let’s make it happen.”

Their newest storefront in Southold, a tiny set of rooms set into an former antique shop, is that last-ditch effort.

“We did it,” Mr. Purificato jokes. “We weathered the storm.”

The pair met, unsurprisingly, while fishing. Mr. James was fishing the Shinnecock Canal when he ran into Mr. Purificato. The two began chatting and Mr. James mentioned that he’d recently purchased a set of lures called Chucks Bucks.

He had no idea that it had been Mr. Purificato who made them.

“That was it,” Mr. James said. “We exchanged numbers, starting talking. We fished every day for, like, the next year.”

Between them, the two have more than 100 years of fishing experience. They joke that they are pirates born hundreds of years too late.

“You take that knowledge and put it into this stuff? It’s a winner,” Mr. James said. “With the amount of knowledge he has, I’m always learning something new.”

“We don’t want to sit in bars,” Mr. Purificato said. “We don’t want to get in trouble. We want to go fishing!”

Mr. Purificato focuses on the task at hand: finishing another lure. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Mr. Purificato focuses on the task at hand: finishing another lure. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Two desks are set up on opposite sides of the small Southold shop. One each one are small clamps and scissors and piles of dyed deer hair. This is what they’ll use to make the bucktails and other lures. Mr. Purificato said it’s the twisting motion he uses when wrapping the hair to the lure that makes his special.

The pair like fishing for fluke, but make bucktails of all sizes.

“We make the big stuff because people need it, but we prefer the smaller stuff,” he said.

Mr. James points to the “most important” decorations on the walls.

One is a sculpture of a bald eagle head perched over the door frame, representing America. The other is an old crucifix, flanked by bucktails hanging from the wall.

Mr. Purificato is a spiritual man himself. He burns sage in an ashtray — it keeps away the evil spirits, he says — and the smoke trails up past his wall of tools.

The men admit they have a way to go to get their shop up and running. But they’ve already churned out hundreds of lures and plan to offer new ones in the future. This fall, they’ll host classes to teach local fishermen how to tie bucktails themselves.

“You’ve gotta start somewhere,” Mr. Purificato said. “We decided to start from the very bottom and build it back up again.”

psquire@timesreview.com

03/24/15 10:00am
03/24/2015 10:00 AM
Baby owls were recused Monday at same home another owl was saved last week. (Credit: Joseph DiVello)

These two baby owls were recused Monday at same house where another owl was saved last week. (Credit: Joseph DiVello)

Baby owls are having a tough time staying in their nest at one Southold property.

Four days after a local real estate agent and animal rescue crews helped a juvenile great horned owl back into its tree after it had fallen, two babies found themselves in a similar situation Sunday. (more…)

08/18/14 8:00am
08/18/2014 8:00 AM
(Credit: Tim Gannon)

(Credit: Tim Gannon)

Hundreds of planes, jets and helicopters converged on the western runway at the Enterprise Park at Calverton Saturday and then flew around the area for most of the day.

All of them weighed less than 50 pounds.

Saturday was “National Model Aviation Day” and Edgewood Flyers of Deer Park celebrated by having a model aviation “fly-in” at EPCAL.   (more…)

08/04/14 10:00am
08/04/2014 10:00 AM
A screen shot of the music video created to honor a Peconic Landing employee. (Credit: Youtube)

A screen shot of the music video created to honor a Peconic Landing employee. (Credit: Youtube)

Patricia Lutzky of Peconic Landing was recently awarded LeadingAge New York’s “Professional of the Year” award, and staff members and residents couldn’t be more pleased.

In fact, to show their sheer delight with Ms. Lutzky’s win, everyone at the retirement community came together to create a congratulatory video to the Pharrell Williams’ pop hit “Happy.” (more…)

12/27/13 4:00pm
12/27/2013 4:00 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Chipper the dog resting at North Fork Animal Welfare League’s shelter in Calverton. The paralyzed animal was rescued about two weeks ago.

An abandoned, paralyzed dog recently found wandering the streets around town is being nursed back to health at North Fork Animal Welfare League’s shelter in Calverton.

A father and son found the 10-year-old border collie about two weeks ago shivering, emaciated and struggling to move due to a spinal injury that left his back legs paralyzed. They then wrapped the dog, now named Chipper, in a blanket and took him to the animal shelter.

Although the veterinarians there aren’t able to determine how long Chipper has been paralyzed, they believe he was someone’s pet because he’s sociable and neutered.

Gillian Wood, NFAWL’s executive director, said Chipper is able to move around using his front legs. Dragging his belly on the floor, the dog can drink from a water bowl, fetch treats and greet visitors. Unlike other dogs with similar injuries, she said Chipper is able to control his bowels.

“It’s hard to believe someone would just leave him,” Ms. Wood said. “He is a pretty special guy.”

In order to help Chipper with his recovery, NFAWL volunteer Scott Kessler has modified the shelter’s small rolling cart to help the dog move around. As Chipper continues to get healthier, Ms. Woods said her group hopes to find him a loving home.

“He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body,” she said. “He is as sweet as could be. That’s why we named him Chipper.”

cmurray@timesreview.com