Holidays

Jameson Flaiz, on right, age 5, of Miller Place with his Super Dad, Ben, and his younger brother Keegan.

TBR CONTEST HONORS LOCAL FATHERS: Thanks to all the children who entered Times Beacon Record News Media’s 2018 Father’s Day Contest. Congratulations to Everett McClintock of Wading River and Jameson Flaiz of Miller Place for being this year’s winners and receiving a family four-pack of movie tickets to the Port Jefferson Cinemas. Special thanks to P.J. Cinemas  for being this year’s sponsor and for their generous donation. Happy Father’s Day! 

 

Jameson Flaiz, on right, age 5, of Miller Place with his Super Dad, Ben, and his younger brother Keegan.

‘All About My Super Dad’

By Jameson Flaiz

My dad’s name is Ben.

His favorite color is green.

His favorite food is chicken & broccoli.

His favorite activity is to build stuff.

He is my hero because when I’m hurt he makes me ok.

My favorite thing to do with him is to go fishing.

Everett McClintock, age 10, of Wading River with his Super Dad, Thomas

‘All About My Super Dad’

By Everett McClintock

My dad’s name is Thomas.

His favorite color is blue.

His favorite food is Chinese food.

His favorite activity is going out with      his family.

He is my hero because he is the best dad in the world!

My favorite thing to do with him is to go out with him and my brother on weekends to 7-Eleven.

 

Photos by Heidi Sutton

The Sound Beach Veterans Park memorial

By Ernestine Franco

A few weeks ago, Ann Moran, a member of the board of the Sound Beach Civic Association, was getting the Sound Beach Veterans Park’s garden ready for its upcoming Memorial Day celebration when she noticed something she had never seen before.

On the horizontal slab of the granite stone that displays the plaques of the seven fallen veterans of Sound Beach, someone had left two coins in front of each plaque, two quarters to be exact, and she wondered why. Moran knew that people sometimes leave a small stone on a headstone in a cemetery to indicate that they had been there but had no idea what it meant to leave a coin. When she stopped by the park a few days later someone had left a number of long-stemmed red roses in front of every plaque next to the coins.

When she told me about the coins, I was moved and knew it meant something to the person who left them there — but what? In an effort to understand this ritual, I decided to do some research.

People have been leaving small items on or near the graves of loved ones for a very long time. Excavations of even the earliest graves have uncovered goods meant to serve the deceased in the next world, such as pottery, weapons and beads.

Coins have been around since the late seventh century B.C., and as societies began using monetary systems, the practice of leaving currency at grave sites began as yet another way of equipping the dear departed for the afterlife.

Mythologies of different cultures added specific reasons for coins being left with the dead. In Greek mythology, Charon, the ferryman of Hades, required payment for his services. A coin was therefore placed in the mouth of the dear departed to ensure Charon would ferry the deceased across the river Styx and into the world of the dead rather than leave him or her to wander the shore for a hundred years. Although it is unclear when and why this started, in England and the United States  pennies were routinely placed on the closed eyes of the dead.

 

Coins left on the headstone of Ann Moran’s late husband

Leaving a coin is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone has visited the grave to pay respect. Which coin is left on the headstone seems to symbolize different things. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited. A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served together in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the soldier when he or she died.

Traditionally, the money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the U.S., this practice became common during the Vietnam War, due to the political divide in the country over the war. Leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier’s family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war. Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a “down payment” to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.

All the coins that Moran found at the memorial park were quarters. Because the veterans honored there died in action between 1942 and 2005, she knew the coins could not mean that the person who left them was with the soldier when he passed. She knew it was a sign of homage and remembrance. 

This past week she went to Calverton National Cemetery to visit the grave of her husband Matt and she left a nickel and a dime — one to remember him and one to just say hello. She did remove the coins at the Sound Beach park and put them in the civic association’s fund for upkeep at the Veterans Park.

We all remember the day that a friend or family member died and we mourn their passing. Memorial Day is the national day of mourning when we as a nation, as a people, remember those who have died to preserve our freedoms. 

Small tokens are left by visitors for no greater purpose than to indicate that someone has visited that particular grave. When visiting the grave of a good friend buried at Calverton, I left a tiny statue of a bunny at her grave for no other reason but that she loved bunnies.

A close-up of the roses and coins left at the memorial.

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) expressed her feelings about Memorial Day by saying, “For 150 years, America has paused on Memorial Day and honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty. These brave souls truly defined what a hero is: someone who has given his or her life for something bigger than themselves. It’s a day to mourn their loss and honor their sacrifice, but also to thank God that such men and women have lived.”

A remarkable scene around Memorial Day at grave sites of men and women who have died for our country is the placement of American flags at each grave by Scouts at national cemeteries throughout the U.S. Sound Beach resident Nancy Ford, whose daughter Katie is now in the Air Force Reserves, places another kind of flag at Calverton each year in remembrance of her husband Jim, who served in the Air Force and was in the Sound Beach Fire Dept. Ford said, “Placing a fireman’s flag each year helps to renew my sense of patriotism in Jim’s military service.”

So this Memorial Day, if you visit a soldier at a national cemetery or a family member at a local cemetery, if you place a flag by the grave site, if you position flowers in front of the headstone, if you leave a memento that meant something special to the person buried there, or if you simply leave a coin, know that you are part of a tradition that remembers and honors the person buried there as well as lets family members know that someone has visited, that the person is  remembered. 

The traditions of a people are born from and nurtured by history. History remembers and safeguards the traditions that make up the spiritual center of a people. We follow them because somehow these rituals connect us with our past and link us to our future.

Ernestine Franco is a member of the Sound Beach Civic Association and a proofreader at Times Beacon Record News Media.

All photos by Ann Moran

Chicken legs and pork ribs smothered in Texas Barbecue Sauce

By Barbara Beltrami

After the harsh winter and capricious spring we’ve endured, Memorial Day comes as a welcome harbinger of summer and all that it embraces. From picnic to pool party, beach to ball game, swimming and surfing and napping in a hammock, this holiday officially ushers in the season and all its pleasures and indulgences. Perhaps the first and most frequent herald, though, is the backyard barbecue. For pure anticipation, the aroma of something on the grill after a long day at the beach, in the pool or, on the flip side, plugging away in the heat is one of summer’s most welcome enticements. 

Let us not forget, however, especially in these troubled times, what the holiday is all about. Let us remember all the fallen soldiers who have not lived to enjoy these renewable pleasures of the season that we take so much for granted.

Here are four of many regional recipes for barbecue sauce guaranteed to whet any summer appetite. Depending on what part of the South or West you hail from, you will think that the barbecue sauce from your region is the only one worth dipping a basting brush into. 

For example, Texas barbecue sauce is, as you might expect, redolent with tomatoes and southwestern flavors like chili, whereas South Carolina uses a lot of mustard, which gives its sauce a yellowish hue. Go to Kansas City and you’ll find a sweet sauce that relies heavily on molasses, brown sugar and onion; but its rival, Memphis, boasts a tangy, thin sauce that calls for mustard and a big dose of vinegar. Basically, these recipes call for little more preparation than combining the ingredients. If your roots are in Brooklyn or Queens, you can impartially enjoy them all.

Texas Barbecue Sauce

Chicken legs and pork ribs smothered in Texas Barbecue Sauce

YIELD: Makes about 3½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups ketchup

1 large onion, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup A.1 sauce

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed      lemon juice

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium nonreactive saucepan combine ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate or use immediately to baste steak, pork ribs or chicken legs during last 15 minutes of grilling. Pass any extra sauce with meal and serve with plenty of cole slaw and potato salad.

South Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Pulled pork on a bun smothered in South Carolina BBQ Sauce

YIELD: Makes 3 to 3½ cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, minced 

2 garlic cloves, chopped and sautéed in one tablespoon vegetable oil until soft but not at all browned

2 cups prepared yellow mustard

2/3 cup cider vinegar

¼ cup ketchup

1 teaspoon hot sauce

¾ cup sugar

One chicken bouillon cube, crushed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 2 teaspoons dried

1 tablespoon powdered mustard

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: 

Heat vegetable oil and sauté onion until golden; remove and set aside. Sauté garlic until soft but not at all brown. Remove and along with onion, add to remaining ingredients; puree together in electric food processor. Cover and refrigerate or use immediately to baste pulled pork or brisket during last 15 minutes of grilling. Serve with sweet potato fries, tomato and kale salad and ice cold beer.

Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

Chicken smothered in Kansas City BBQ Sauce

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, bruised

½ cup tomato sauce

¼ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon yellow prepared mustard

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

DIRECTIONS: 

Heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet; add onion and garlic and sauté till soft. Add remaining ingredients, except liquid smoke, as well as one cup water. Stirring frequently, heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in liquid smoke. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or use immediately to baste chicken, pork or beef during last 15 minutes of grilling. Serve with fried green tomatoes, french fries and tossed salad.

Memphis Barbecue Sauce

A rack of ribs basted with Memphis BBQ Sauce

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, bruised

1/3 cup cider vinegar

¾ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup steak sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon yellow prepared mustard

Dash of celery seed

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

DIRECTIONS: 

Heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet; add onion and garlic and sauté till soft. Add remaining ingredients, except liquid smoke, as well as ½ cup water. Stirring frequently, heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in liquid smoke. Use to baste beef, pork or chicken during last 15 minutes of grilling and serve with corn on the cob, cooked greens and fried potatoes.

Alexa, mom Kristen and Caroline D'Andrea

Thanks to all the children who entered Times Beacon Record News Media’s 2018 Mother’s Day Contest. Congratulations to Alexa and Caroline D’Andrea of Shoreham and Phoebe Powers of Northport for being this year’s winners and receiving a family four-pack of movie tickets to the AMC Loews Stony Brook 17. Special thanks to AMC Loews for being this year’s sponsor. Happy Mother’s Day!

Jenna and Phoebe Powers

Makes every day special

Oustanding mom

Treats me kindly

Helps me when I’m hurt

Everything is more fun with her

Really sweet and loving

— By Phoebe Powers, age 7

 

Alexa, mom Kristen and Caroline D’Andrea

My mother is marvelous.

Opposite of mean!

The best mom ever!

Hugs me a lot!

Excellent always!

Runs with me!

— By Alexa D’Andrea,   age 7

 

My mom is so AWESOME because she does everything for me.

Outstanding, my mom is outstanding because she is 1 in 1,000,000.

The best mom ever, my mom is the best mom ever because she never says no!

Happy, my mom is always happy because she is a postive person.

Excellent, my mom is excellent because she doesn’t yell and is always nice.

Really nice, my mom is really nice because she listens to what ever I want to say to her.

— By Caroline D’Andrea, age 10

 

Above, the royal court of the 2018 Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade, from left, Queen Jordan McClintock, Lady Miranda Navas and Lady Melanie Weidman
Andrew J. Streeff is this year’s Grand Marshal

The communities of Miller Place and Rocky Point, along with the neighboring hamlets of Brookhaven’s North Shore, are gearing up for an annual rite of spring. The Friends of St. Patrick’s 68th annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sunday, March 11. The event will kick off at the comer of Harrison Avenue in Miller Place at 1 p.m. sharp and will proceed east along Route 25A before ending at the comer of Route 25A and Broadway in downtown Rocky Point. Route 25A will be closed to traffic at noon to prepare for the event.

The committe has named longtime committee member and co-owner and chef of the Hartlin Inn in Sound Beach Andrew J. Streeff as this year’s grand marshal.

In keeping with the tradition of recognizing aspiring young women in the community,  the title of parade queen has been bestowed upon Jordon McClintock of Wading River. McClintock is a senior at Shoreham-Wading River High School and is an aspiring physician. The queen will be graciously escorted at the parade by her ladies-in-waiting Miranda Navas, a senior at Rocky Point High School, and Melanie Weidman, a self-employed model and dancer from Sound Beach.

This year’s parade will feature veteran and community groups and organizations, along with elected officials from all areas of our government. Of course, no parade would be complete without the presence of local fire departments, high school bands, Irish dancing, Scout troops and many colorful floats. Be sure to come down to cheer your favorite on! There is something on this special day for everyone, as this local parade reaches historic proportions by carrying on a 68-year community tradition.

For further information regarding parade updates, please visit www.friendsofsaintpatrick.org.

Photos from James McElhone

Three Village Historical Society Archivist Karen Martin dug up some Valentine’s Day cards from the organization’s collection. To learn more about the history and manufacturer of Valentines in the U.S., the historical society suggests checking out http://www.worcesterhistory.org/blog/whitney/. The Three Village Historical Society is located at 93 North Country Road in Setauket. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Above, the museum’s George Washington portrait. Image from Vanderbilt Museum
Visitors invited to take part in museum ‘treasure hunt’

From Feb. 17 to 25 including Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 19, visitors to the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport can view a framed oil portrait of George Washington, originally thought to have been created by the renowned American portraitist Gilbert Stuart. Stuart was widely considered one of America’s foremost portrait artists, producing portraits of more than 1,000 people, including the first six presidents of the United States. Stuart painted a number of Washington portraits. The most celebrated is known as the “Lansdowne” portrait (1796), and one large-scale version of it hangs in the East Room of the White House.

The artist’s best-known work is an unfinished portrait of Washington begun in 1796 and sometimes called “The Athenaeum.” This image of Washington’s head and shoulders is a familiar one to Americans — it has appeared for more than a century on the U.S. one-dollar bill.

The Vanderbilt’s Washington portrait, found in the basement of the Suffolk County Welfare Department in Yaphank, was restored and presented to the Vanderbilt Museum in 1951. While the artist did not sign the work, a specialist reported that year that the painting was an authentic Gilbert Stuart. In 1981, however, two curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art studied the portrait and advised the board of trustees that the work was not created by Stuart. As a result, the portrait, oil on panel and measuring 21.25 by 33.5 inches, is described in the archival records as “After Gilbert Stuart.”

Guests can also view a facsimile of a letter President Abraham Lincoln wrote to Fernando Wood, then mayor of New York City. President Lincoln wrote the letter to Wood on May 4, 1861 — two months to the day following his inauguration as president and less than one month after the start of the Civil War.

Wood (1812–1881), who built a successful shipping enterprise in New York City, served several terms in Congress and was mayor of New York for two terms, 1854–58 and 1860–62. He reached out to Lincoln shortly after the Fort Sumter attack, offering him whatever military services he, as mayor, could provide. Lincoln’s reply to Wood was in gratitude for his offer of assistance.

Excerpt:

“In the midst of my various and numerous other duties I shall consider in what way I can make your services at once available to the country, and agreeable to you —

Your Obt. [Obedient] Servant   

A. Lincoln”

Now a part of William K. Vanderbilt II’s extensive archives, the letter will be on display in the Memorial Wing, outside the Sudan Trophy Room.

Stephanie Gress, the Vanderbilt Museum’s director of curatorial affairs, said, “We do not know how this letter came to be in Mr. Vanderbilt’s possession. Perhaps it was originally the property of his great-grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was an acquaintance of Mayor Wood, and it was passed down through the Vanderbilt family.”

Visitors can also take part in a museum “treasure hunt.” The Vanderbilt curatorial department has created an intriguing list of treasures and clues to “the presidential, the regal and the royal” on display at the museum. Guests of all ages are invited to explore the galleries and discover them. Laminated copies of the treasure list will be available for guest use.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. Directions and updated details on programs and events are available at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For further information, call 631-854-5579.

Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer Cookies

By Barbara Beltrami

There’s no day like Valentine’s Day to conjure up sweet talk, sweet sentiments in sweet cards and everlasting promises of eternal love and/or imminent romance. Those who subscribe to its traditions take them very seriously. Those who do not scoff at what they call the holiday created by the greeting card industry. Norman Rockwell-ish as it may be, there is something sweet about the old-fashioned image of a man holding a sumptuous bouquet of red roses and presenting a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates to his sweetheart.

Which brings me to another thing. No matter how Valentine’s Day is observed, or not observed, like any holiday, it provides an excuse for capitulating to that sweet tooth in all of us, that secret valentine of the appetite.

Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer Cookies

Raspberry-Chocolate Linzer CookiesYIELD: Makes three dozen cookies.

INGREDIENTS:

2¹/₃ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temp.

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups chocolate chips, melted over boiling water

Raspberry jam

Confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; add the extracts and beat to thoroughly combine. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the dry mixture into the wet one. Gather the dough into two even pieces, enclose in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm and solid.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. On a flour-dusted board roll out one piece of the dough to ¹⁄8-inch thickness and using approximately a 2½-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on cookie sheet. Re-roll any scraps to form solid pieces for more cookies. Repeat procedure using second half of dough, except this time use a 1-inch round or heart-shaped cutter.

Bake cookies for approximately nine minutes and remove from oven just as they start to brown. With spatula, remove from cookie sheet and place on rack. When cookies are cooled and crispy, spread a level half teaspoon of melted chocolate on each large cookie; top with a level half teaspoon jam and carefully place another cookie on top. Dust tops with confectioners’ sugar and place on tiered or flat cookie plate. Serve with coffee, tea, milk, hot chocolate or dessert wine and, of course, love.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup water

5 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

In the top of a double boiler combine the chocolate, sugar and water, stirring occasionally; heat until the chocolate is melted. Beating hard after each addition, while the double boiler is still over the heat, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Remove mixture from over the hot water and set aside to cool while you beat the egg whites until stiff. In a large bowl, gently fold the egg whites and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Distribute the mousse evenly among  eight sorbet or wine glasses and refrigerate covered overnight or at least 10 to 12 hours. Serve with whipped cream, fresh strawberries and delicate wafer cookies.

Cherry Sauce

Cherry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 2½ cups.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound sweet fresh or frozen and defrosted cherries, pitted

½ cup water

¹₃ to ½ cup light corn syrup (depending on tartness of cherries)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Kirsch liqueur, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the cherries, half the water and the corn syrup and bring to a boil. With a wire whisk, stirring constantly, blend the cornstarch and remaining water with the cherry mixture. Over medium heat, cook until clear, about one minute. Add lemon juice and kirsch. Serve warm over vanilla or chocolate ice cream, sponge cake, angel cake, pound cake or cheesecake.

A serenade by the Harmonic Tides Quartet will make your Valentine’s Day special. Photo by Chris Beattie

On Feb. 13 and 14 the Harbormen Chorus Quartets are again singing their way into the hearts of many an oftentimes surprised Valentine recipient.

Four elegantly dressed gentlemen travel to homes, offices, schools, restaurants, hospitals, nursing facilities and other locations in Suffolk County to serenade that special someone with love songs. Along with the professional performance, the singing Valentines will deliver a box of chocolates, decorative rose and personalized card. Call 631-644-0129 for more information.

The Harbormen Chorus sings four-part, a cappella harmony at many venues, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donates a portion of the proceeds to Good Shepherd Hospice.

By Ernestine Franco

Why does a generally rational society drag a sleeping groundhog out of his hibernation burrow to learn how much more winter is to come? Don’t we have calendars? Don’t we have memories of what has happened in previous years? Don’t we have the Weather Channel?  Let’s consider how all this happened.

Sound Beach Susie enjoying a carrot. Photo by Ernestine Franco

According to Charles Panati’s “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,” the groundhog (also called a woodchuck or whistle pig) is not really interested in how long winter is. Looking for a mate or a good meal are the actual reasons that determine a groundhog’s behavior when it emerges in winter from months of hibernation.

Quite simply, if on awakening a groundhog wants some company or is famished, he will stay aboveground and search for a mate and a meal. If, on the other hand, these appetites are still dulled from his winter slumber, the groundhog will return to the burrow for a six-week doze. Weather has nothing to do with it.

Folklore about the animal’s shadow originated with 16th-century German farmers. However, the German legend did not rely on a groundhog. Rather, the farmers relied on a badger. (Happy Badger Day?) The switch from badger to groundhog did not result from mistaken identity. German immigrants who settled in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in the 19th century found that the area had no badgers. It did, however, have hordes of groundhogs, which the immigrants conveniently fitted to their folklore.

Weather did play one key role in the legend. At Punxsutawney’s latitude, a groundhog emerges from its hibernating burrow in February, again looking for company or food. Had the immigrants settled a few states south, where it’s warmer, they would have found the groundhog waking and coming aboveground in January. In the upper Great Lakes region, the cold delays its appearance until March. Thus, it was the latitude where the German immigrants settled that set Groundhog Day as Feb. 2.

German folklore dictated that if the day was sunny and the groundhog (badger) was frightened back into hibernation by its shadow, then farmers should refrain from planting crops, since there would be another six weeks of winter weather. Scientific studies have squashed that lore. The groundhog’s accuracy in forecasting the onset of spring, observed over a 60-year period, is a disappointing 28 percent —   although, in fairness to the groundhog, the estimate is no worse than that of a modern weather forecast.

So Groundhog Day has become part of American culture. The official groundhog that gets yanked out of its burrow is Punxsutawney Phil, named for the town where the German immigrants settled. Thousands of people and the national media cover poor Phil’s treatment. And let us not forget there is the film, “Goundhog Day,” which is enjoyed by many people year after year after year.

Many other states celebrate their own groundhog. In New York we have Staten Island Chuck, Dunkirk Dave, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal, whose sleep is interrupted at the Town of Brookhaven’s Wildlife and Ecology Center in Holtsville.

For me, I recently had my own groundhog, whom I called Sound Beach Susie (shown in the accompanying  photo eating a carrot), take up residence in my backyard. But I did not bother her in February. I waited until late spring when she brought her five babies out in the open. I had very interesting encounters with them when she allowed me to feed them all for a few weeks. They particularly liked carrots, broccoli and romaine lettuce. They did not like celery, asparagus or zucchini.

So Happy Groundhog Day, no matter how or when you celebrate it!

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