08/05/11 11:57am
08/05/2011 11:57 AM

The Titanic, the QE 2, the HMS Bounty. How about the USS Constitution, the Good Ship Lollipop, the Mayflower? Then there’s the African Queen, the Pequod, the Jolly Roger. And every school kid knows the names Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, the three ships bringing Chris and crew to the New World. Sadly, Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were used vessels (I should say pre-owned) and Chris didn’t even get a chance to name ’em.

But for the moment let’s forget about Christopher Columbus, Captain Bligh and even little Shirley Temple’s Lollipop. Let’s fast-forward to the North Fork 2011 boating season. We’ve got all kinds of boats, lots of marinas, seasoned sailors and youngsters who fill safe-boating classes. And we have some wonderful boat names. Sorry QE 2, you’re just a runner-up. And Lollipop? You’re licked.

In our search for unusual North Fork boat names, we’ll talk with Mary Anne Huntington. This Cutchogue boat owner sailed Peconic Bay for 17 summers in Impulse, her 22-foot O’Day sailboat, a craft Mary Anne did not name. Impulse has a North Fork history. Previous owners had ventured up the New England coast, especially enjoying Block Island. Mary Anne followed the old sea superstition that it brings bad luck when you change a boat’s name. So Impulse was the craft’s first and only name.

By the way, Mary Anne had a handsome and faithful crew member. Always by Mary Anne’s side in Impulse was her dog, Magee H., a chocolate-Labrador friend.

Now Mary Anne has downsized a bit — no sailboat but a 10-foot recreational kayak. And with a brand-new boat came the opportunity to choose a name. It’s Plan B. I think Mary Anne is one wise woman. As we navigate life, a Plan B is often necessary. Moreover, a Plan B often turns the tide.

This next North Fork boat has an absolutely delightful name. At least I think so. I guess I have to think so because the boat is owned by my Mattituck dentist, Dr. Alex Boukas. I want to remain on good terms with a guy who shines a bright light in my face and comes at me with all kinds of ominous instruments, most of them sharp.

Anyway, in his less aggressive moments, Dr. B. heads out on Long Island Sound with his two young sons. They enjoy the day in a craft named by one of those sons just a few years ago. Fishy Boat. How innocent, how perfect. For the three Boukas boaters do quite a bit of fishing.

Dr. B. said they start out early in the morning, purchasing some egg sandwiches at a local deli before pushing off. They fish the better part of the day. However, there’s always enough time for Dad to tow the boys around on a raft tied to Fishy Boat.
What do the Boukas fishermen bring home? Mostly porgies, lots of them. “We go home and cook up the catch right away. It tastes best then,” said Dr. B. You know, for all his high-tech equipment and his sophisticated technique, it’s good to know Dr. B. is still your basic angler. Fishy Boat indeed!

I hope you don’t mind if I insert the name of a vessel that’s not really local, although in a way it belongs to every North Forker, every American. Out at sea right now, it’s the USS Bataan and it’s the ship my husband and I are most interested in. Aboard it is our United States Navy grandson, Brian Buswell. We email back and forth as if he were moored across Long Island Sound in New London.

One more North Fork boat name before we cast off. The skipper of Reel Pilot is just that: a real pilot. Jim Devaney flies for United Airlines out of JFK and LaGuardia but takes his boat out of Jamesport Marina. His crew includes his wife, Elizabeth, who works in Riverhead, and their three youngsters. Meet Jimmy, Katie and Kiernan.

The Devaneys are serious fishermen. But they do take time out for swimming off the Reel Pilot and eating the lunches Elizabeth packs. And yes, they take lots of pictures. That’s good. Years from now when the Devaneys look through their photo albums, they’ll recognize not only Reel Pilot but real joy, real love.

Canoeing a creek, paddling the Peconic, sailing the Sound, no matter. The North Fork is blessed with waterways and with sailors young and old, recreational or those whose livelihood is fishing. One thing most North Forkers have in common? If we have a boat, we name it. We call by name that which we love.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

06/20/11 2:59pm
06/20/2011 2:59 PM

It’s the strangest thing. My Cut­ch­ogue neighbor had a little pre-Fourth of July picnic last weekend and three uninvited guests appeared. Now this is highly unusual for the North Fork. We’re generally aware of what’s proper and we live accordingly.

Anyway, the three men seemed polite, they were dressed well, if strangely, and they had about them an aura of kindness, concern, even other-worldliness. So Richie, my neighbor, welcomed them to the picnic.

Well, you should have seen the fuss that followed introductions. George, Ben and Tom shook hands with a dozen or so North Forkers, helped themselves to hot dogs and beer, and then sat at a picnic table and began to talk.

First, we asked the three how they managed to get to the North Fork. “Easy,” was the reply. George explained they came by horse. His horse, Old Nelson, was particularly reliable and Ben and Tom had good mounts, too.

Ben, the oldest, was much taken by the women at the picnic. Matter of fact, he secured his silly little spectacles on his pudgy little nose and seemed to concentrate on the ladies assembled. You’d think he’d never seen a woman in shorts before.

Actually, the trio said their visit to the North Fork was prompted by all of our Fourth of July celebrations. They’d read in Times/Review newspapers of the many parades, parties, fireworks displays and religious services from Riverhead to Orient, and George said they were delighted we remembered, we cared.

At that, I noticed several happy picnickers brushing away a few tears. Care? By George, we care. We care more than we can speak or write. Across the years we care in our hearts. Come, George, Ben and Tom. Come with us for an hour or so and see how the North Fork lives and cares. Then we’ll return to the picnic for some coffee and cake.

So into Richie’s car we went. Obviously this was all new to the three visitors and they were so excited. I do think, however, that Ben was more interested in how the engine worked than the speed at which we traveled. Actually, we moved along slowly. Richie is proud of the North Fork and he wanted our guests to understand our way of life. Understanding takes time. It always does.

“My goodness.” This from Ben as we drove west from Cutchogue. “It looks like a church but it’s a library.” Richie explained that’s what the Cutchogue library was originally — a church. And, added Richie, across the road from the library is Cutchogue Village Green. George asked, “Do you have a militia assembling there?” No, George, we don’t, but we have Revolutionary War reenactments, concerts, fairs. All good things.

Richie continued past a few vineyards. Tom, red hair blown wild now, wanted to stop. I think he recalled Monticello. How he loved farming and grape-growing. Perhaps the seeds he sowed in Virginia bore fruit in Philadelphia. On your knees with your hands holding earth, you begin to think. At least Tom did.

Richie continued driving, all the way to Riverhead and Tanger Outlets. I was a little uneasy about this. Would our guests think North Forkers were too caught up in buying and selling? I should not have worried. George, Ben and Tom were worldly men, of course. They knew and loved fine clothing, books, wine, music, international travel. But they’d put it all into perspective. Life and liberty first. Then the pursuit.

Back east now, passing farms, a police station, a town hall, more churches and schools. George talked of his visit to Greenport so many years ago. Interested in horses, he made note of the carousel. OK, so we stopped and went round in circles for a few minutes. It’s something Ben and George and Tom will talk about eternally.

Then on to Orient Beach State Park. We stood on the sand and looked about. Perhaps Ben thought of the years across those waters, years in England trying hard to avoid war. And George. Did he think of hostilities on the other end of this long island? Brooklyn and how the patriots escaped?

Tom had walked a few feet away from the group. Alone, thinking of what he’d written. A declaration of independence, yes, but more than that. A declaration of devotion, a declaration of love.

“Come on, guys, back in the car.” It was Richie who broke in on our reverie. And you know what? George and Ben and Tom were gone. We searched about the park but with no success. When we returned to Cutchogue we discovered the horses were gone, too.

But we knew we’d had no dream. Our three had other picnics, other places, to visit. They had given us a great gift and now they must travel on.

Let the fireworks begin.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

06/04/11 12:17pm
06/04/2011 12:17 PM

It’s that time of year. North Fork women, and even some guys, seem to enjoy hanging out. But before you jump to a faulty conclusion — like we’re just a lazy, bucolic bunch — let me tell you we’re not hanging out on North Fork street corners late at night.

Not at all. We’re hanging out in backyards and usually early in the morning. Sometimes as early as 6 a.m. and most often we’re hanging out alone. Our only companions are a basket of wet clothes and a bag of clothespins.

Many North Forkers use clothes dryers in winter only and even then reluctantly. It would be difficult for them to live in a community that prohibited outdoor clotheslines. There are lots of reasons why.

I, for example, just like the way a backyard clothesline looks. Lots of colors — blue jeans, red T-shirts, snowy sheets, pale green bath towels. And shapes — a big circular tablecloth, tiny square washcloths, bright triangle scarves.

There’s a social bonus, too. When I hang out I’ll probably get to talk face-to-face with Denise, my next-door neighbor. She may be hanging out, too, or gardening near the fence separating our yards. We talk about the weather, her children, my grandchildren. Even politics and baseball. I’ve never had a decent conversation with the clothes dryer in my basement. It just sits there looking dumb.

In my quest for fellow North Forkers who are clothespins custodians, I met quite a few folks who are pros. There’s Tina Marie Drake from Mattituck, for one. Tina practically lectured me on the benefits of hanging out. Nothing beats the sun for bleaching sheets and removing stains of all kinds, says Tina.

And, Tina asked, did I know lint in the dryer is really fabric? Well I never thought about it, Tina, but it certainly makes sense. That dryer in the basement can wear out clothes faster than any clothesline can.

But Tina wasn’t all practical. She admitted she is moved when she watches the breezes play hide and seek with the clothes on the line. A kind of poetry.

There’s a bit of poetry in Betty Bresloff, too. Or at least in one of her reasons for hanging out. Betty lives in East Marion and claims the cardinals and blue jays and all their bird pals gather in her yard and sing away as Betty pins the laundry to the line.

Betty believes she inherited a “hang-out gene” from her mom, who had no patience with drying clothes in a noisy machine. Mom sounds like a smart lady, Betty.

Now, a guy who specializes in taking clothes off the backyard line. Gale Alexander lives in Southold and is every inch a determined, independent guy. But when wife Julie, the hang-out lady, sees a storm approaching, even just a few raindrops, she knows what to do. “Quick, Gale. Get the wash off the line.” Julie asks and Gale obliges.

I told Gale he appears no worse for the wear. His clothes are sunshine-clean and he looks rugged and ready for anything. That’s ’cause he’s out in all kinds of weather taking in the wash.

I’d like Gale to meet another guy who excels at the outdoor sport of clothes-pinning. Andy Warkentien lives in Mattituck and enjoys helping his wife, Dorian, whenever he can. Dorian is grateful, though she has one little complaint about her husband’s laundry techniques. Seems he never even thinks of folding the things he takes from the backyard line. You know what I believe? The inability to fold a sheet is a male affliction with no cure in sight.

If things go as planned, the North Fork will have a guy who knows all the clothesline tricks. Trey Ross is 11 years old, lives in Riverhead, and helps his mother, Mary, hang the family laundry “outside in the fresh air.” Trey and his mom have a pulley system, the clothesline stretching between two backyard trees. When I spoke with Mary she was excited about a recent purchase — a whole box of wood clothespins! That’s North Fork.
Call me crazy, but I’m going to talk to the kingpins in the Clotheslines Department at both Riverhead and Southold town halls about a community clothesline for all North Forkers. A clothesline stretched out along Main Road from Riverhead to Orient. Why not? After all, we have community gardens, community theaters, even a community college.

A North Fork Community Clothesline (NFCC) would be so much fun. Little kids searching for a missing sock would meet there. Teens would say hello as they checked to see if their T-shirts were dry. Dads? Well, a Riverhead guy might meet up with a Southold friend as they hung up, feeling just a bit uneasy, some baby clothes. And North Fork women? They’d smile and say, “I told you so.” Nothing beats a warm sunny day, clothes hung neatly on the line. Everything, indeed everyone, ready for tomorrow.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

05/23/11 1:35pm
05/23/2011 1:35 PM

Happy birthday! You’ve just turned 5 and you’re thinking about starting school — getting on that big yellow bus with your 8-year-old brother.

All of a sudden it’s your ninth birthday and a bright red two-wheeler is a gift from Grandpa. Turn around and you’re 16. Maybe a summer job awaits you. And certainly a driver’s license is right around the corner.

Later, so much more sophisticated, you celebrate birthday 35. Now you may assume the United States presidency. But only if you want to.

And then, wouldn’t you know it, you’re in your 60s. You’re hearing words like retirement, Social Security, Medicare. I suppose it’s at this time most North Forkers begin to think birthdays have come and gone too quickly. And wouldn’t fewer birthdays be a good idea — maybe birthdays arriving only every four or five years.

Strangely, a heck of a lot of North Forkers would disagree. Not only do we not have enough birthdays, they argue, they want to give us more. These folks, found in communities from Riverhead to Orient, work tirelessly to provide “a world with more birthdays.” That’s their motto, their motivation. Right now they’re going into high gear. There’s a great big birthday party coming up.

Everyone’s invited, of course. Location? Jean Cochran Park on Peconic Lane in Peconic. Date? June 4 and 5, 2011. Two dates because the party’s a sleepover, if you wish. Guess you know by now this party is Southold Town’s annual Relay for Life (there’s no event planned for Riverhead this year). That’s the American Cancer Society’s way to celebrate survivors, to remember those who have passed on, to fight back with every ounce of strength, with every nickel and dime pledged to beat cancer.

Annual Relays for Life occur all over this wonderful world. Millions of people are involved. But I tell you this. Having participated in the Southold relay for several years (I’m on the Banking on a Cure team from Suffolk County National Bank in Cutchogue), I can’t imagine any relay, any place, any better. By the way, there are more that 30 teams in Southold’s relay.

This year Southold’s Relay is a birthday party with a carnival theme. In addition to the night-long relay around the track, there’ll be all kinds of carnival stuff like rides and clowns. Plus the birthday party trappings.

Yes, you’ll find balloons and food, lots of it. Survivors are even invited to a dinner. This year it’s the gift of Greenport’s Porto Bello restaurant. Dessert? A great big sheet cake from Junda’s Pastry in Jamesport. Cut­chogue’s Chuck and Judi Mogul are heading up the food festivities. The dinner’s held in a monster tent set up in the park.

And what’s a birthday without candles? Not the tiny ones we struggle to blow out after we make a wish. This birthday party has luminaria lining the track after dark. That’s a heart-thumping sight for sure. You know, with one big breath, all North Forkers just might create enough energy to carry away cancer. It’s worth a try. Cathy and Wayne Dries of Mattituck sure hope so. They head the luminaria committee.

And games. A birthday party’s gotta have games. Remember playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Put on a blindfold, spin around a few times, and then walk directly to a big picture of a donkey and try to pin a tail where the tail should be. Possibly beating cancer is exactly like this game. It may seem as if we’re going around in circles and perhaps we’re blind, at the moment, to cures. But oh, yes, someday, somehow, some folks are gonna get cancer by the tail and whirl it to oblivion. Gone. Forever. Another donkey off our back.

Every party needs music. And Relay for Life is no exception. From Saturday afternoon, through the dark night, into Sunday sunrise, there’s music. North Fork bands, singing groups, soloists — all entertain. And you know who bagpipes us around the track as darkness descends and luminaria light the way? TimesReview’s very own Tim Kelly. An experience to be cherished always. Sandra Lazar, who works on Love Lane in Mattituck, heads the entertainment committee. What a job that is!

So survivors will don their special T-shirts. Caregivers will be cheered by North Forkers who seem to be cheering for life itself. And those North Forkers raising money for a cure will dance, eat, sing, play games and relay the night away. Email SoutholdRelay@aol.com and join those who know full well “the slightest force can move the greatest weight given sufficient time.” They’ll be walkin’ in faith and with force around that track. It’s only a matter of time.

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.