Beach Has Changed
May 18, 2011
To the Editor,
I am writing to add my thoughts about the lawsuit over control of the beach in Amagansett.
I have spent summers in Amagansett for over 40 years. I went to summer camp here as child, was an ocean lifeguard at Indian Wells Beach for two years, and am delighted that now my children can grow up and spend their summers here as well. Collectively, during my lifetime I have spent more time in Amagansett than anywhere else; it is my home.
There are many things I love about Amagansett but the main attraction for me has always been the beach. My summers here taught me to love the ocean and appreciate the joy it can provide for swimmers, sunbathers, surfers, boogie boarders, dogs, and the occasional fisherman.
When I was a child I loved watching the fishermen drive by with their boats in tow, and I loved running down the beach at the end of the day to see what they would pull in with their nets. It is still exciting to watch the blues run and the surfcasters reel them in.
But over the years, with the proliferation of the all-wheel-drive family sport-utility vehicle, the atmosphere on the beach has changed. I have watched the number of beach vehicles grow exponentially and the situation has gotten out of hand. On summer weekends and holidays, I have counted over 200 trucks and S.U.V.s parked on this small stretch of beach at one time. There were days over the last few summers when the vehicles were so concentrated that they were parked two rows deep. Summer residents, as well as families who live here year round, are parking here mostly because they have no other reasonable access to the beach.
While I do not understand all of the intricacies of the law pertaining to land use, property rights, and the Dongan Patent, what I do know is that this lawsuit is an attempt to force the trustees and Town of East Hampton to address the rapidly deteriorating beach-driving situation. This suit, stemming from an inequitable usage of a beach in Amagansett, is not about privatization. It is about fairness.
In my lifetime, I have seen the trustees and Town of East Hampton, who claim to own or control all of beaches in East Hampton, close most of the beach access points, leaving only this one stretch of ocean beach (other than the New York State-controlled Napeague State Park farther to the east) open to vehicles. Pleas to the town to address the situation over the last 10 years have gone completely unanswered.
The quiet, serene beach I grew up on as a child is gone. Why has it become a parking lot? Why can’t our town officials preserve access to the beach for everyone in a less-intrusive and less-confrontational manner? Please, let us not lend credence to those who want to avoid the issue by reducing this to a conflict about class warfare.
It is time for some serious dialogue. Our officials need to take this seriously and find an equitable and fair solution that preserves everyone’s right to enjoy the beach as I have been so fortunate to do in my lifetime.
Trash Can Blues
Just sittin’ on the beach by the bay
watchin’ the trash go floatin’ away.
Tried to toss one full garbage bag out,
but ain’t no rubbish bins standin’ about.
Seems the town has slashed the budget so low
expectin’ folks to haul trash home when they go.
Just sittin’ on the beach by the bay
watchin’ trash mountin’ higher each day.
Seems there ain’t nothin’ much I can do,
but wail these sorry, mean, old trash can blues!
S. DIANNE MORITZ
May 20, 2011
To the Editor,
I am so tired of the ranting about dogs on the beach. This has nothing to do with feces or urine. Most dog owners are responsible. I challenge the amount of feces is left on the beaches. This has to do with dog lovers and those poor people who have never learned what dog ownership brings to a life.
I have a wonderful solution to the problem. When dogs are born, a sample of their feces should be taken and DNA sampled and recorded. No sample, no license! If feces are found and picked up, its owner will be easily identifiable (might put a lot of people to work too!). With a $1,000 fine attached to any summons, my bet is that there will no longer be feces left on the beaches of East Hampton or anywhere for that matter. Perhaps then, responsible dog owners, who understand what dog ownership brings to life, will be able to relax.
PATRICIA ANHOLT HABR
May 22, 2011
My husband and I want to thank all the wonderful people, many strangers, who helped in the search for our missing dog, Ginger. Last Thursday, this beloved pet, a small 6-year-old chocolate Lab, took off with her neighborhood dog-buddy, Harry, on an adventure along the walking trails in Northwest Woods.
A kind woman, who found Harry wandering up and down Red Fox Road, off Route 114, brought him home later that afternoon. Our frantic search for Ginger continued until late on Friday when I got a call from a swimming pool company to tell me that Ginger, a champion swimmer, had been found drowned in a swimming pool at 545 Deer Path, near the trailhead, the home of a Jodie Berro. They would leave her body on the side of the driveway for our family to retrieve.
When we went to the house, we found an attractive house and a backyard swimming pool that is visible from the road. The insubstantial wire fencing around the property was pulled wide open in the area near the road and the gate on the other side of the house had been pulled back and secured with wire in the open position, apparently for some time, by the appearance of the old rusted wire. The sight of the pool, so easily accessible in two gaping spaces, must have proved irresistible to my little chocolate Labrador retriever.
Tragically, there were no steps and no stairs in and out of the pool. I am tormented by the knowledge of how she must have panicked and struggled until her heart gave out. She was one of the gentlest, most loving animals I have ever known. My heart is forever broken over the loss of this wonderful creature, so totally preventable.
I cannot help but think of all the grieving parents who have lost a child because of the same negligence and cannot comprehend how people live with such senseless loss. Surely, more can be done to prevent such terrible events.
May 22, 2011
To the Editor,
Last week I read an interesting article in The Star about the “recent” discovery of the settlement of the Van Scoys by the trails society. This settlement was a destination for field trips when I was in Amagansett School.
In 1968, when I was in eighth grade, Carleton Kelsey, then the town historian, with a few of our teachers took classes on excursions into Northwest Woods. They showed us several settlement areas and the biggest one was the Van Scoys’.
When we studied history, we learned about our local history. After all, the very first European settlements were on the East Coast. The West was not settled until after the Civil War. There were settlements in the Grace Estate, Barcelona, and probably the earliest was Van Scoy. If I remember correctly, there were smaller settlements in the Cedar Point area that were pointed out to us also.
Because of the shallow water, Carleton Kelsey believed provisions were taken in by either horse and wagon from Sag Harbor or there may have been a ferry system with rope and pulleys. Either way, these foundations, wells, and graves stand as great reminders of how these settlers carved an existence with their bare hands out of the earth. I am glad the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society picked up the ball and is honoring the history of Northwest.
JAMES M. CUOMO
May 20, 2011
To the Editor:
The New York Supreme Court has decided in favor of the East Hampton Library. Let us hope that a rather sordid chapter in the history of East Hampton Village can be closed.
May 17, 2011
To the Editor,
My heart goes out to the parents of the children currently enrolled in Stella Maris School. I know the shock, sorrow, and sense of betrayal that they are feeling. I experienced it 27 years ago when the late Bishop John McGann abruptly shut down Holy Family High School in South Huntington, where my daughter was in her junior year, and from which her three siblings had graduated. Like many of the parents of that school, I first learned of Bishop McGann’s decision on the radio.
The shock and sorrow pass in time, but the sense of betrayal does not. You believe you are doing the right thing by providing a Catholic education for your children, at no small financial sacrifice, only to discover that the bishop has higher priorities than supporting a Catholic school system, in spite of his words to the contrary.
Ironically, a special collection was taken up at Most Holy Trinity Church, and I assume throughout the diocese, this past Sunday for the Catholic Communications Campaign to support the “inspiring” media activities of the diocese. Without question, the lack of open, frank, and timely communication between the diocesan leaders, church pastors, parochial school administrators, and the laity is a serious problem, but a diocesan public relations campaign is not the answer.
Twenty-seven years ago, Bishop McGann claimed the diocese could no longer afford to subsidize two of the four diocesan high schools that his predecessor, Bishop Walter Kellenberg, had built through the generosity of the Catholics of Nassau and Suffolk counties. In fact, at that time Bishop McGann was providing more funds for his diocesan TV station than he was to the diocesan high schools. It seems clear that Bishop William Murphy has a similar set of priorities.
Bishop Murphy has been quoted as saying that having only a handful of children in a classroom is neither economically nor educationally viable. My personal experience speaks to the contrary. I had the privilege of attending second grade in a public elementary school in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada, that had only two rooms and two teachers — grades one through four in one room and grades five through eight in the adjacent room. There were maybe 30 students in each room. I remember that experience vividly. It certainly had no detrimental effect on my scholastic development or subsequent secondary, college and postgraduate work. I earned my Ph.D. in engineering at New York University.
My point is that where there is a will, there is a way. What is lacking at the diocesan level, and not just in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is the will to continue the Catholic elementary and secondary school systems, especially if it requires imaginative and challenging approaches. The after-school Christian doctrine programs, while commendable, are not a good substitute. A consequence of this lack of determination to continue and enrich Catholic school systems may be the rapidly declining number of vocations to the religious life, as well as the decline in population of practicing Catholics, in this country.
I hope a suitable use can be found for the Stella Maris school building. To finish the Holy Family saga, Bishop McGann sold the Holy Family High School building and grounds for $1 to the Franciscan Brothers, who moved St. Anthony’s High School into the facility and converted it to a coed school that opened without missing a beat after Holy Family closed its doors.
St. Anthony’s High School has flourished and grown since then, and is an asset to Long Island. It seems that the friars have been able to do what the diocese could not, or would not, do. We can pray that some white knight will appear on the East End to rescue Stella Maris. But don’t expect him to ride out from Rockville Centre.
JOHN I. ERDOS
Did Not End
May 23, 2011
My grandson was bar mitzvahed on May 21. It was a joyous celebration and, needless to say, we were so pleased that the world did not end. He had studied for three years for this event in his life and it would have been profoundly unfair if it had ended as predicted.
We had a party afterward and many of my son’s close friends who are not Jewish were also there. We were a bit concerned, but they all kept their feet on the ground through the entire event, and were all present at the end.
The only suggestion of heavenly intervention might have been the glorious weather on Saturday. As we know, it had rained all week, but Saturday was a beautiful mild day. You might recall that it started to rain again about an hour after the party closed down, so who knows?
Love for Liam
May 23, 2011
We’d like to take this opportunity to share our gratitude to every individual who helped make the Love for Liam benefit a great success. A huge thanks is due the folks who pounded the pavement seeking donations, to the people that helped plan, set up, cooked, cleaned up, or worked the event in any capacity. Perhaps you donated or bought tickets and attended, either way, each and every one of you made it all happen.
And happen it did, as you all were a part of that wonderful energy in that packed room, pulling together to share our love for Liam and his family.
A special thank-you goes to the Springs Fire Department and Jeff and Michelle Miller for their endless support sponsoring the event.
There are too many individuals to name personally and many businesses who so generously donated. It was truly inspiring feeling our community come together to make a difference in a peaceful and positive way. It was a true definition of what this community is really all about.
May we all walk away with that good energy in our hearts and keep our community pointed in that positive direction.
May 22, 2011
The Springs community lost a remarkable man last week.
Tom Collins had been a mainstay of our community for many, many years. We first met Tom over 25 years ago when we moved into a house next door to Tom and Ann. As I drove out our driveway one morning, there was Tom on a riding mower grooming the lawn in front of his home. He waved and motioned to me to pull over and with great sincerity introduced himself and welcomed Chuck and me to the neighborhood.
I was immediately taken with his openness as he made it clear that as a gay couple we were indeed welcome in the community. When I began attending the Springs Community Presbyterian Church it was a delight to talk with him after service on Sunday mornings.
He and Ann were always concerned for our well-being. The night several years ago that Chuck brought me home from the City after heart surgery and my surgical dressings gave way, Tom came to my rescue. He asked his daughter-in-law, who was visiting from Chicago, to come to the house to use her nursing skills to keep things in check until the ambulance arrived.
When Tom was allowed to tell the tale of Sgt. Collins and his remarkable task of escorting the Dragon code-breaking machine to Bletchley Park, England, during World War II, we realized we were living next door to a major figure in America’s history.
He was a proud man, an honorable man, and a true neighbor.
Tom will be greatly missed.
May 16, 2011
Thank you to everyone who helped make the Spring Into Action 5K and Family Fun Run, held on May 7 at the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, such a great success!
We are extremely grateful for the support of so many, first and foremost, Lara Siska, from East Hampton Rotary, who with her husband, Bruce Siska, organized the race, secured sponsorship support, and made the entire event come together.
Thanks go to the East Hampton Union Free School District for permitting us to use the fields for the kids’ races, the village police for providing support along the route, and the many volunteers who helped that day, from East Hampton Rotary, Star of the East Lodge, the staff of East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, parents of children enrolled in the center, and members of the community. Many thanks to Southampton Hospital for its sponsorship and for providing oranges and water for the runners, and to the other race sponsors.
Congratulations to all of the runners! More than 100 people ran in the 5K on a course that started at the center, continued through the village, returning to the center. One hundred children ran the 400-meter and 1-mile races, crossing the official finish line with smiles on their faces and the incredible pride of accomplishment.
This event brought so many in the community together. We were pleased to provide an opportunity for other groups to promote their work as well, including Theresa Roden and the girls from iTri, the amazing mothers who organized the Tikes on Bikes event on May 14, and the professionals at East End Kids Therapy.
East Hampton Rotary and Star of the East Lodge are to be commended for their generous and steadfast support of many organizations in our community. We are grateful to be included among them. Thank you!
East Hampton Day Care
Too Many Deer
May 21, 2011
Regarding the article, “Ruminant Rumblings,” on the front page of last week’s Star. I beg to differ with the premise that the proposed deer contraceptive study will cost the town nothing. It will, if given the go-ahead, cost the town a great deal of what the town has precious little of, namely, time: a minimum of four and a half years to do one small-scale pilot project which might or might not yield useful, scientifically valid results. We don’t know. Here’s what we do know:
Exploding populations of deer (or elk, or moose) are a problem in every state.
In the Northeast, the deer population has been exploding for decades, and the rate at which it is doing so is accelerating. According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the deer population has reached a critical mass such that it’s now set to double every two years.
And we must remember that the problem is not just deer; it’s also deer ticks, and the potentially deadly microorganisms which deer ticks, and in the case of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, only deer ticks, carry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme is the fastest spreading infectious disease in the U.S. What’s more, the two main hot-spots of Lyme disease in the nation are the Central Hudson River Valley and the East End of Long Island.
There are too many deer living here already. Far too many. They have decimated their natural habitat; the few remaining swaths of deciduous woods between our sprawling subdivisions are deforested. All the trees you see are old. The deer have consumed all the saplings, so there is no younger generation. Also, no understory (meaning, among other things, no place for birds to nest). When the trees now standing die, and they are not particularly long-lived, the woods will cease to exist.
An estimated 10,000 deer are conservatively said to be living among us now, and, given the artificially ideal conditions — bounteous resources and a total absence of predators — that number will have quadrupled, to 40,000 animals, half of them female, even before the contraceptive study has run its course. Therefore, even if, in the end, the contraceptive worked, the cost of implanting it (and reimplanting it every four years) into thousands and thousands of female deer would be astronomical, not to mention that tick numbers, which directly correlate with deer numbers, will be off the charts (actually, they already are).
The study is no doubt well-intentioned, but the chances are that it will, inadvertently, do more harm than good, by allowing public officials, who for years have kept their heads firmly embedded in the sand with respect to this issue, to leave them firmly embedded there for the foreseeable future.
May 22, 2011
Since I announced for the East Hampton Independence Party, the choice for town supervisor, Zachary Cohen, a Democrat, I received a nasty phone call from a Republican operative. There have also been many anonymous posts online by apparent operatives, attacking me and accusing me of endorsing Zack Cohen for my own personal reasons.
I can only answer these accusations by stating that the Independence Party is not a rubber stamp for either the Republican or Democratic Party and makes choices for what we believe to be the best candidates for the town. The election for 2011 will include on the Independence Party line, Republicans, Democrats, and Independence Party people. That’s is what we are about.
The fact that the leaders of the Republican Party have made attempts to sway our vote in every way they could is a verification to me that the right choices were made.
I can only hope that Trace Duryea will follow her own suggestion, that now that the candidates have been selected let’s support our candidates and may the best people win.
East Hampton Independence Party
Board Should Care
May 23, 2011
In accepting the East Hampton Democratic Committee nomination for East Hampton Town Board, I told the gathered members and friends that I wanted to start my acceptance speech with a political joke. I soon learned that political jokes are pretty much in three categories: They hate Democrats, they hate Republicans, or they hate all politicians. This rhetoric was not the tone I wanted to start a campaign with nor is it how I feel. The goal is to work together. Instead, I told the group that they should consider me an advocate for everything East Hampton.
Unfortunately, what we have witnessed in the past 18 months is a town board that is willing to sacrifice East Hampton as we know it. In fact, they have acted more like an inept corporate boardroom instead of an elected town board. A corporate boardroom cares about profits and self-interest. An elected town board should care about the community and creating a level playing field.
Community input is the essence of democracy. But the town board majority turns a deaf ear to the people of East Hampton. They have sided with developers over neighborhoods, they have engaged in spot-zoning, tried to sell our fishing heritage, closed Fort Pond House and put it up for sale, dropped the leaf-pickup program, changed the critical bluff setbacks so one person could have a bigger house with more clearing, and they shouted at a speaker during a public hearing, “You conservationists lost the election,” signaling a real threat to our unique and fragile environment.
Nor is this the time to lay off town employees. The social cost is too great, and the ripple effect to our local businesses could be devastating.
Great leaders in government believe that the broader the dialogue between those affected, the better the result. This was certainly true in producing the 2005 comprehensive plan and the local waterfront revitalization plan. These documents took many years to produce, thousands of people provided input, tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time were needed, and finally documents emerged that provided our road map to the future, our blueprint to follow.
Leadership that is effective should be able to manage, negotiate, unify, and inspire. It may not be what we have now, but it is what we can have. In accepting the Democratic nomination to run for East Hampton Town Board I hope to help our town move towards that type of leadership.
May 23, 2011
To the Editor,
Another do-over! Time and again, our current town board majority has rushed to undo practice and tradition with outcomes that give the lie to their boasted managerial expertise. Only public outcry and advice to check with their lawyers have stopped them from putting a paintball contest on a nature preserve, turning our lighting laws upside down, selling town docks used by commercial fishermen, selling cherished public park property used by the Boy Scouts and Montauk School students, closing popular farm stands, and allowing private residential property owners to hire out their property for raucous commercial events. Now, in the fiasco over beach concession changes, we have another astonishing example of incompetence.
How on earth could the board have allowed itself to deny vendors of long standing the full-time access to the beaches they had enjoyed without event a period of grace? How could they have appointed a secret committee with secret standards to make this decision on criteria they later questioned? How could they have suddenly canceled their decision in another secret procedure, opening themselves to litigation both by those to whom they awarded the contract and those from whom they took it away? How could they have left us where we are now, with no vendors entitled to permanent spots, and any number authorized to pull in and out at 30-minute intervals all day long?
I’m reminded of that old cartoon that writes the word “think” starting in big, handsome capital letters that get smaller and smaller. Funny in the comics, but not funny when it’s your town government.
On the Road
May 23, 2011
For the first time in over 40 years I am almost happy to write a check for my real estate taxes. Why shouldn’t I be happy with a 17-percent reduction?
I cannot recall reading any letter by Democrats complaining about the complete incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility of Bill McGintee and his board who were responsible for pushing taxes through the roof and did a great job of putting the town close to bankruptcy.
Since taking office, Bill Wilkinson, the board, and Len Bernard have been successful in lowering the town debt by decreased spending and better labor contracts, along with other necessary steps. This has put the town on the road to fiscal recovery.
It gets tiring week after week, reading the petty complaints by the same Democratic clique. I have yet to see a suggestion by those people as to how to lower costs and put the town on a long-forgotten, solid financial footing.
Remember, my Democratic friends, cutting expenses is always painful.
Isn’t a Cap
May 16, 2011
I would like to thank the voters of Springs for supporting this year’s budget and also for giving me the honor of serving them on the school board for the last 13 years.
But now it’s time to move on to the next issue. Voters should not be fooled by the proposal to impose a 2-percent real property tax cap, which would most significantly affect the funding of education in our state. The proposal itself is not really a cap but rather a legislatively enacted equivalent of the filibuster rule in the United States Senate, surrendering the right to decide school budgets to the minority rather than have the majority vote for the budgets, as is currently the case. The proposed tax cap as currently structured permits a school tax increase of over 2 percent if approved by 60 percent of the voters voting, which means 41 percent can veto such a tax increase even if the majority of voters, say 59 percent, approves of it. This is not a tax cap but a change in the way we conduct our democracy.
First, it should be noted that school districts, unlike any other municipal, government, or state agency, are so democratic that their every expenditure is voted on by the general public. Every year they put to the voters a budget that must be balanced. The budgets must be on time, as there is a state-mandated deadline for getting the budget onto the ballot, and school districts must provide extensive information to the voters ahead of time so that they can make an educated decision about whether or not to vote for the budget.
The tax cap, that really isn’t a cap, really is an attempt to make political hay by our leaders in Albany by appearing to oppose education cost increases without taking on the teachers’ unions that make it so hard for school districts to keep their expenses under control. If the governor and Legislature were serious about controlling school costs, they would not propose a law that allows the minority to have veto power over the budget but rather would give school districts the tools they need to negotiate on a level playing field with teachers’ unions to get more reasonable compensation and benefit packages that grow at a reasonable rate, are sustainable and are sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy that the voters and taxpayers must deal with.
The tax cap also is a poor substitute for the real action necessary, which is to decouple educational funding statewide from the real property tax. The way we currently fund education makes it a burden on fixed income taxpayers and regressive not to mention inequitable, with richer communities getting the benefits of better funded schools.
The 2-percent tax cap is a politically motivated distraction from the action at the state level that is really required to deal with the unions or reimagine how we pay for education in this state. Voters should not be fooled or assuaged by its proposal or enactment, just as they should not be happy that in the U.S. Senate 41 votes can prevent 59 members from enacting national law and policy that the majority agrees on.
Springs School Board
May 17, 2011
To the Editor,
I would like to thank all of the voters who voted no on the Montauk school budget. Once again the parents, PTA, and the teachers’ union have another victory. Homeowners lose.
Those who voted yes have no idea as to what they voted for. Each child in the Montauk School costs over $36,000. A good education does not cost $36,000 per child.
No contract with the teachers, no assessed property valuation, and no firm budget at this time. Wait until the fall, when the final tax bill comes out.
For $33,000 you could send your child to the Ross School in East Hampton or a state college for a year.
We, the taxpayers, pay, and the teachers win. The school board can agree to anything the teachers want in a new contract. We pay.
Wait until next year.
Values That Inspire
May 16, 2011
To the Editor,
On May 5, 1866, the Civil War was over. Henry Welles of Waterloo, N.Y., closed his drugstore and asked other stores to close for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War as a gesture of healing in a land ripped apart by Conflict.
In 1882 our nation observed its first Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the sacrifice of all who died in all our nation’s wars. In some places, these ceremonies continue, as they do here in East Hampton. Your presence will show you understand the true meaning of Memorial Day. Your being there will make a difference, showing you are not forgetting the values our men and women of the armed forces stood and died for — and are still dying for today — The values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These are the values that inspire ordinary citizens to rise to the challenge of battle, to put their lives on the line in service to their country. We owe a great debt to those who sacrificed their lives so that we could live free.
Please read these words by Charles M. Province:
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press,
It is the soldier, not the poet, who as given us the freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trail
And it is the soldier who salutes the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Even more, these words impel us to remember these courageous men and women, each so different in heritage and background, but sharing common bonds of the armed forces: duty and sacrifice. All of them reached a moment in their lives when race, religion, creed, and color made no difference. What remained was the essence of America, the fighting spirit of a proud, valorous people, soldiers who paid the price for freedom.
It is imperative that each of us show our respect for the soldiers who fought and to remember the sacrifices made by each, for it is their dedication to duty that will ensure each call to duty will be responded to with the assurance of victory over every threat to our freedom.
In addition, it is appropriate to acknowledge the sacrifices endured by the immediate and extended families impacted by the service of their own service members, there will be to many families that will not have the pleasure of sharing this weekend with a fallen serviceman or servicewoman.
God bless our troops, and God bless America.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 550
For the Money
May 23, 2011
To the Editor,
When in history have the invaders ever said, “We are going to war for the money?” War is the addiction; money is the drug that fuels it. Are we, the taxpayers, the junkies?
April 11, 2011
To the Editor,
As I write this on April 11, Yael, her father, Orin, and mother, Rebecca, are airborne. As we slumber, they fly. Within hours they will be landing in Israel, God willing.
Anyway, this is Yael’s third trip to her father’s birthplace. She is not even a year old yet. Her birthday is June 23.
This world traveler has five grandparents, three great-grandparents, and four great-aunts and uncles in America. I hope I have not left anyone out. Yael also has two grandparents, many aunts and uncles, and 10 cousins in Israel. She is a very popular little lady wherever she goes.
Enough about Yael’s lineage. I am writing on this first Mother’s Day for Yael and many of her loved ones. I am writing about the blessings of being a first-time grandma. It knows no bounds. Only another grandparent can really understand this special bond. To hear Yael say something like “mamma” over the telephone makes my day. I am addicted.
Yael really expresses herself now. When we meet up with mother and child every other Thursday, I cannot wait to see the lady of the moment and her lovely mama. When we cautiously open the back door of the S.U.V. (that Grandfather Les is letting them use), Yael is in her sturdy car seat facing the back seat. Within minutes the car seat becomes a stroller. This is when she studies the three of us, one grandparent at a time. I wonder what she is thinking, how much does she remember these three people who seem to be showing up pretty regularly bearing gifts that only a princess deserves? Yes, we love to spoil our little princess as only a grandparent is free to do.
We shower Yael with all the practical stuff like clothes, and then comes the fun: stuffed toys, books, and many other things that catch our eyes. Of course, we clear the extras with Mama and Papa. They are fantastic parents who know what is best for their little girl.
Rather than speak of the “material girl” we are creating, I would so prefer to write of the absolute joy Yael bestows on us. To hear her laugh touches my soul; there is nothing more precious than the laugh of a baby. I hear Yael is pulling herself up in her crib, grasping and holding stuff that seems much too heavy for this dainty little girl.
I’m just thinking of our always enjoyable visits to Stephen’s mom, one of the great-grandmothers. Anyway, when we last got together in her lovely home, Yael discovered this large bell that was within her grasp. We were concerned about how loud it might be. Well, Yael grasped onto it and she would not let go. She shook it and got everything this bell had to offer. We were surprised at her strength and endurance.
Just as I finished the last paragraph, we received the great news that the three of them had landed safely in Israel. Now they can get ready to celebrate Passover in addition to a bar mitzvah of one of Yael’s grown-up cousins.
When I awoke this morning, I saw the red light blinking, indicating a message. Rebecca had called us late last night to say they were taking off.
I want to say here that I am so happy that Orin’s family has the opportunity to celebrate with seeing Yael and her parents during the three most important dates on the Jewish calendar. They must really see growth and development in Yael with so much time between visits. How quickly the babies change in that first year. I’m sure we will see and hear subtle and not-so-subtle changes in Yael who aged almost one month in Israel. Yael is 10 months old now.
We are blessed to see our girls as often as we do. When and where we meet depends on Rebecca’s very busy schedule. Whatever place we do, we have a great time. Yael draws so much attention so often. She is definitely becoming a little ham who thrives on others’ noticing her.
Something funny happens when we do lunch. I (who love to eat) usually end up taking most of my meal home in a doggy bag. I rationalize that I can eat anytime, but it is always a novelty to be with that little girl and her entourage.
Actually, we usually come as a foursome. That would include two grandfathers (Rebecca’s father, Les, stepdad, Stephen), and yours truly.
It works out well for Les to accompany us. He prefers not to drive too far west on the Island, something I can totally relate to. Stephen, my husband, is an excellent driver. We take advantage of that and his very good nature.
The kids will be in Israel until May 4. When I realized this Mother’s Day is early, May 8, I no longer worked on finishing this letter. I would not print it without Rebecca’s approval.
A few hours ago I received a wonderful call from Israel. Rebecca called to wish us a Shabbat Shalom (good Sabbath). She wanted me to read this letter over the phone, and so I did. She gave me her thumbs-up on faxing this to The East Hampton Star, and so I did.
Happy Mother’s Day!
MICHELE LEE CONNAR