02/21/16 6:00am
02/21/2016 6:00 AM

book

February is the month of presidents’ birthdays — two of our greatest, Washington and Lincoln. I remember a cartoon in Esquire many years ago, Lincoln and Washington in a room, Lincoln saying, “George, is February 12 your birthday or mine?” It was funny because the question was real for many people — which was whose and whose was when. This amusing uncertainty was eliminated by creating Presidents’ Day, a cop-out if ever there was one.

Washington/Lincoln: Lincoln/Washington — the endless comparisons are inevitable. There always seemed to be many more books about Lincoln, but important facts aside, Abe clearly wins the face-on-the-money contest, $5.01 to George’s $1.25. George, though, had a state named after him, plus the site of the government’s capitol and a great big bridge, while Abe had to settle for a tunnel, a city in Nebraska and a very pricey car.

The level of advice they received varied widely. Thomas Jefferson to Washington: “Delay is preferable to error”; 12-year-old Grace Bedell to Lincoln, on growing a beard: “You would look a great deal better, for your face is so thin.”

Regarding books, ‘Team of Rivals,’ Doris Kearns Goodman’s examination of the oppositional cabinet that Lincoln dared to put together, is an excellent study of Lincoln, and I just finished ‘Washington’s Crossing’ (David Hackett Fisher). I learned more about Washington and the Revolution than I ever learned in grammar school (which focused mostly on wooden false teeth, the chopped-down cherry tree that he admitted to, and the freezing cold at Valley Forge). This is a heart-thumping book, and if it looks too long, it’s not. If you exclude the copious appendices and the pages of maps and illustrations, you wind up with around 320 pages of inspirational, eye-opening material.

I don’t want to ignore the ever-romantic St. Valentine’s Day. Every couple has an “our song,” and my wife and I, back in the ’50s, decided on Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” — it was summer and we spent endless hours talking on the beach. Years passed and if the song happened to play on the radio we’d poke each other and grin. Then one time we really “listened” to the words and realized that the bridge went, “You made a vow that you would ever be true, but somehow that vow meant nothing to you.” Now Boone’s heart is aching as the waves are breaking over the sandy love letters, etc., etc. In the 1950s, love, apparently, was not only blind, but somewhat deaf, too. But we’re working away on year 58.

As an old year ends I like to decide which was the best book I’d read. There were three I considered: ‘Someone,’ Alice McDermott’s touching story of an ordinary young Irish woman in Brooklyn; ‘A God in Ruins,’ Kate Atkinson’s follow-up to “Life After Death”; and, my final choice, ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ (Anthony Doerr), about a young blind girl in World War II France and a boyish German soldier disenchanted with his army’s cruelty. This is a beautifully written story of the faith, hope and charity that exists within us all.

Jerry CaseMr. Case, of Southold, is retired from Oxford University Press. He can be reached at [email protected].

Featured Story
10/15/15 12:00pm

R1008_Stackpole_George2_C.jpg

As he lay in Ward 32 at Bellevue Hospital, Judge George F. Stackpole was studied by a stream of physicians and surgeons who had gathered from around New York City.

It was Oct. 11, 1915, three days after the former Riverhead Town justice was first hospitalized for treatment of anthrax.  READ

05/16/15 2:00pm
05/16/2015 2:00 PM

File

The basement here at the News-Review’s office probably isn’t all that different from your own.

It’s cold and musty. There are some dark corners, some old furniture, books and gym equipment from eras gone by scattered throughout. The insulation and duct work is exposed.

It’s pretty much your average basement.

But downstairs in the basement of the Riverhead News-Review (or, as it was previously known, the News-Review of Riverhead) are six file cabinets you won’t find anywhere else in the world — just like that box stuffed away in the corner of your own basement with those silly old photos of you and your siblings. (more…)

03/14/15 3:00pm
03/14/2015 3:00 PM
‘Building and Grounds workers were at the Fresh Pond School house Thursday morning doing renovations to the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch)

‘Building and Grounds workers were at the Fresh Pond School house Thursday morning doing renovations to the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch)

Built in 1821, the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse was once one of 15 single-room schoolhouses in Riverhead Town. Boys would sit on one side of the room; girls, on the other side.

The schools were heated by wood stoves, fueled by wood brought inside by the students themselves.

These days, the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse — located on the ground of East End Arts — is in the process of getting a top-to-bottom renovation, soon to be in use by the arts nonprofit as a multi-use building for events such as poetry readings and film presentations. (more…)

07/28/14 10:00am
07/28/2014 10:00 AM
Zachary Studenroth, president of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Historical Council, notes that the settlers in the 1600's were quite a bi shorter than now. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

Zachary Studenroth, president of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Historical Council, notes that the settlers in the 1600’s were quite a bi shorter than now. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

As you can walk near the library on Main Road in Cutchogue, it’s easy to overlook the collection of buildings scattered, almost haphazardly, on a gentle hill at the nearby Village Green.

But three structures on the green — the old schoolhouse, the Wickham farmhouse and the “Old House” — are much more historic than they seem, offering a glimpse of centuries of North Fork living. (more…)

05/25/14 8:00am
05/25/2014 8:00 AM
A modern painting depicting the October 1814 military engagement off Northville. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Academy Collection)

A modern painting depicting the October 1814 military engagement off Northville. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Academy Collection)

It’s 1814, and the United States is at war.

British frigates and brigs clog the East Coast’s trade routes, preying on merchant vessels and shutting down commerce.

On an October morning, an American cutter called the Eagle finds itself face-to-face with a Royal Navy brig nearly twice its size off Northville.

Below is a detailed account of the encounter that followed.  (more…)