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Ernestine Franco

Civic association event renamed to honor animal lover and friend

Gina Mingoia will be performing in concert at this year’s Pet Adopt-A-Thon in honor of her father, Sal, who passed away in 2017.

By Ernestine Franco

In 2012, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its first pet adopt-a-thon. Fast forward six years and the event is still going strong, fulfilling its goal of encouraging responsible pet ownership and providing a venue for local rescue groups to get animals adopted. The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Hartlin Inn parking lot, 30 New York Ave., Sound Beach, across from the Post Office.

Mela, Fuji and Dooly will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

For five years two people made this event special — Sal and Gina Mingoia, a father-daughter team who donated their time and musical talents. In 2015 Sal was diagnosed with cancer. In 2016, although often in pain, when he heard the event was on, he said he and Gina would be there. In 2017 Sal passed away. A gentle, caring soul loved by all, the many people whose lives he touched could be seen in long lines along the roadway the day of the funeral holding their hands over their hearts. Although he’s gone, Sal’s kindness and generosity are not forgotten. 

To honor his life as well as his great love for animals, the civic is proud to announce a change in the name of its annual pet adoption event to The Sal Mingoia Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Gina will be performing this year without her dad. She said, “it was my dad’s and my favorite gig,” and she wouldn’t miss it. 

The animal welfare groups participating in this event take unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals and care for them until loving homes can be found. Some will bring adoptable pets, others will have information on adoptable pets as well as responsible pet care. Taking part this year will be The Adoption Center, Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter, Grateful Greyhounds, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Long Island Rabbit Rescue, North Fork Country Kids, Paws Unite People, Save-A-Pet, STAR Foundation, Strong Island Animal Rescue Group and Suffolk County SPCA. 

Romeo will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

There will be lots of great raffle auction prizes — donations still being accepted — and a 50/50, with all proceeds going to the participating animal welfare groups. Bring your children for face painting and making pet ear bands with Marissa Renee. Bring your pet and have Brianna draw a digital caricature of your “furever” friend. And, of course, come and meet your new best friend. A shelter cat or dog is waiting for you.

Pictured are a trio of siblings at Last Chance Animal Rescue that know they’re adorable! They love to be held and cuddled and love dogs and kids. Stop by and help Mela, Fuji and Dooly find a happy ending!

Meet Penny and Polo, two 7+-year-old poodles at Save-A-Pet waiting for their forever home. Their elderly owner is ill and can no longer care for them. If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle dog consider adopting either one or both. All they need is love.

Also pictured is Romeo, a fun and affectionate boy at the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter. If you’re looking for a partner who will play ball with you for hours and enjoy going for long walks with you, Romeo is your boy. He is about 9 years young and is vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and heartworm negative. Also at the town shelter is Brownie — what a cutie he is!

Lance will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

Four melt-in-your-arms kittens with Strong Island are currently in a foster home but desperately need forever homes. They have all been spayed/neutered and vaccinated, are FIV/FeLV negative and are dewormed. They love people and are looking for families of their own. 

Meet Lance and Jackson at The Adoption Center. Lance is a 3-month-old blue heeler mix and Jackson is a 2-year-old Australian shepherd mix. Anyone would be lucky to call either of these cuties their furever friend.

Whether you’re looking to adopt, would like to support the great work of animal welfare groups or just want to have a family-friendly fun day in Sound Beach, stop by.

Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information call 631-744-6952 and remember, Save A Life — Adopt A Pet.

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

In a July 2017 tweet, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin insisted he’d ‘married up’ when his wife Diana asked him to take their date to the shooting range. Photo from Twitter

By Ernestine Franco

We’ve seen a number of letters in this paper where you [U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)] expound on all the great things you’ve done for your district. However, it seems to me that you either have forgotten
about or don’t want us to know some of your votes and issues you’ve supported, especially relating
to gun control.

The horrific events at the Parkland high school in Florida happened because a 19-year-old was able to walk into the school with an AR-15-style rifle, which he legally bought, and murder 17 people. Some of the children who survived the shooting, the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook, are speaking out: “How are we allowed to buy guns at the age of 18 or 19? That’s something we shouldn’t be able to do,” Lyliah Skinner, a student who survived the shooting, told CNN.

Beginning with the attack at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, life for many of our children has become about practicing active shooter drills and huddling through lockdowns. So I have to wonder about your position on gun control. I question whether you care about what many children now have to deal with when they go to school.

On Jan. 14, 2014, after the Newtown massacre, in a letter to the New York State Senate, you wrote, “This debate should be even more focused on targeting illegal guns and providing maximum assistance to New Yorkers with mental illnesses in order to most directly avoid another tragedy like Newtown. Our focus …  has to be providing people in need of mental health care more access to help. Society as a whole also needs to better understand mental illness and develop improved means of detecting potential violence long before it can become a threat to anyone else.”

So it seems you believe the solution to some of these mass shootings is that we need to better detect problems with the mentally ill rather than ensure that people with mental illness cannot buy a gun? Then please explain why you voted “yes” on the bill to nullify the Obama-era rule that prohibited people with severe mental health issues from purchasing guns?

Granted there was lots of evidence that the shooter’s behavior should have triggered alarm in those around him, but it is unclear whether recognizing and trying to deal with the signs would have changed what this young man wanted to do that day. However, it is clear that if he couldn’t buy an AR-15, he more than likely could not have been able to kill 17 people. So, I ask you, will you support a ban on assault-style weapons?

The day after the school shooting in Florida, in a Facebook post, you expressed sympathy for the victims and their parents. Taking President Donald Trump’s lead, however, you never used the word “gun,” as if the carnage were just about the person.

According to MoveOn.org, you have received $33,732 from the National Rifle Association. So, here, I have to again wonder whether your views on gun control have more to do with gun sales than with gun rights. The majority of Americans, even most gun owners, as well as the majority of Republicans, support enhanced background checks as well as a ban on assault-style weapons. Why don’t you? Is it about the money you can get from the NRA rather than what most people want? What’s more important to you: That anyone, even someone who is mentally ill, should be able to buy an AR-15 or ensuring that our children are kept safe?

On Dec. 6 you co-sponsored H.R. 38 — the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. This act authorizes someone who holds a concealed-carry permit issued in one state to carry a concealed firearm in any state that also authorizes concealed carry of firearms. This bill overrides federal law concerning the concealed carry of a firearm into a school zone or onto a federally owned property.

In case I have misrepresented any of your positions, and if you are really committed to keeping our children — and your own — safe, how about holding an in-person  town hall meeting so we can
discuss these issues?

Ernestine Franco is a Sound Beach resident and proofreader for TBR News Media. She is also a member of the Sound Beach Civic Association.

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!

By Ernestine Franco

The Sound Beach Civic Association brought together a number of health professionals at a health and wellness expo Oct. 21.

At the health fair, professionals were on hand to provide blood pressure screenings, nutritionists discussed how to live a healthier life, representatives from the police department collected unused and unwanted medication and the Sound Beach Fire Department provided tips for calling 911 in case of an emergency

Participants, screeners and presenters participating in the even included: The Chiropractic Joint, The Community Growth Center, Ear Works Audiology, Echo Pharmacy,
Harbor View Medical Services, John T. Mather Memorial
Hospital, the LI Chapter of NYC + PANDAS/PANS Awareness Group and NY PANS Awareness Group, North Shore Youth Council, Rite Aid, Santi Yoga Community, Senior Callers, Suffolk Center for Speech,  Suffolk County Health Department, Suffolk County Police Department’s 7th Precinct., Wellness and Chiropractic Solutions and Young Living Essential Oils.

Patty Pulick, a Sound Beach resident, said she absolutely loved the health fair.

“The various tables were very informative,” she said. “I got my sugar checked, learned about healthy alternatives and discussed hearing issues. It was great that the SCPD was there so I could dispose of my unused medications. I hope they have it again.”

Civic association president Bea Ruberto extended her gratitude to BPN Home Improvement Inc., Echo Pharmacy, Harbor View Medical Services, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, Matt’s One Stop, Pern Editorial Services, Schwamb Plumbing and Heating and St. Charles Hospital, who sponsored the event.

“I would also like to give a special thank you to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to coordinate this event, as well as Bonnie Boeger, a Coldwell Banker residential broker who provided water,” Ruberto said. “As everything else we work on, it’s the generosity of the people in the Sound Beach community that made this event possible.”

Health professionals from John T. Mather Memorial Hospital will be on hand to provide free blood pressure screenings at the event. File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Ernestine Franco

We all strive to lead healthy lives. We strive to eat healthy foods, even if sometimes we overindulge. We strive to be active, even if sometimes we spend too much time in front of the TV or computer. We strive to do what our doctors tell us to do, even if sometimes we don’t like what we hear. To reach these goals, we can use all the help that’s out there. To provide some of this help the Sound Beach Civic Association will bring together health professionals at a free Health and Wellness Expo on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Sound Beach Firehouse, 152 Sound Beach Blvd. The event is co-sponsored by the Times Beacon Record News Media.

The civic invites everyone to come and learn how to make good health decisions from a variety of health professionals. Mather Hospital and its physician services group, Harbor View Medical Services, will provide glucose screening, blood pressure screening, body mass index as well as distribute kits for colon cancer screening.

Ergonomic posture exams will be provided by The Chiropractic Joint, hearing screenings by Ear Works Audiology, body wrap demonstration and fat fighter demonstration by IT Works Health and Wellness and carbon monoxide testing for smokers by Suffolk County Health Department.

Rite Aid will provide flu shots. To get a flu shot, you’ll need to bring any insurance information (including Medicare Parts B & D), a list of any medical conditions, as well as your primary care physician’s name, address and phone number.

Suffolk County Police, 7th Precinct, will be there with a Shed the Meds box so you can safely dispose of unused/unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. The Sound Beach Fire Department will be on hand to showcase its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) equipment and explain best practices for calling 911 for a medical emergency. Ameriprise will bring some table goodies and provide information on your financial health. Echo Pharmacy will have information on compounding, pet prescriptions, medical equipment and more. Senior Callers is a personalized calling service that offers regular check-in to your loved ones.

Suffolk Center for Speech specializes in the treatment and correction of a number of language disorders. The mission of Wellness and Chiropractic Solutions is to help people get well without drugs and surgery. Young Living Essential Oils will provide material on how to kick toxins out of your system as well as some samples and raffles.

The civic has brought together health professionals providing information for all stages of life, with two specifically geared for our young people: the North Shore Youth Council (NSYC) and the LI Chapter of NYC + PANDAS/PANS Awareness Group and NY PANS Awareness Group.

Are you looking for reasons to try yoga? At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. join Barbara Delledonne of the Santi Yoga Community for a yoga demonstration. Delledonne has been practicing yoga for 25 years and believes there is a yoga for everyone. “If you can breathe, you can practice,” she said. “It’s had a tremendous impact on my life and it’s something I want to share with everyone.”

At noon, Joanne Lauro, nutrition director and co-founder of the Community Growth Center and owner and founder of Healthy Living Network, will present a short talk, “Alkalize and Live.” Lauro is a holistic health coach and functional fitness instructor. Join Lauro and learn how food can have a negative and positive impact on your body, mind and spirit.

Our eating habits directly determine our health, but often, because of our busy schedules, we don’t practice healthy eating. So, complete your experience and sample some healthy snacks and pick up some water provided by Bonnie Boeger, a Coldwell Banker Residential Broker, as well as some recipes for healthy living.

“We hope this expo will help build awareness of health risks and provide information on how to make behavioral changes to enhance one’s health,” Bea Ruberto, president of the civic said. We should all strive to “eat well, live well and be well!” For more information, please call 631-744-6952.

A blue jay enjoys a bird bath in Jay Gammill’s Setauket backyard. Photo by Jay Gammill

By Ernestine Franco

 

A trio of Snowy Egrets feeding. Photo by Jay Gammill

A hobby often starts merely by chance. A dad gives his young son a camera for his birthday. The son takes a few photos and has a good time. As he gets older, it becomes a passion. Then, after he retires, it becomes part of his soul and guides his vision of the world.

I am describing Jay Gammill of East Setauket who started taking pictures after his father gave him his first camera, a Brownie Starflash, and today uses a digital camera that has letters and numbers in its name as well as lots of lenses.

To call Gammill an amateur photographer does not do his photographs justice. To experience his exquisite vision, check out his first solo exhibit, “The Birds Among Us,” at the Emma S. Clark Library in Setauket throughout the month of March featuring 20 stunning images of birds taken in Canada, Maine, upstate New York and in Gammill’s own backyard over the last three years.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Gammill about his exhibit and hobby.

How did you get into photography?

My father had the most influence on my picking up a camera. He worked for a photographic company prior to World War II and was a Navy mapping photographer during the war in the North Atlantic. Dad always had either a still or an 8mm movie camera in his hand.

Why do you photograph birds?

Many beautiful birds visit our feeders in East Setauket, and I wanted to capture some nice photographs of our feathered friends.

What else do you like to photograph?

On vacations or when visiting local areas I really enjoy photographing the interior and exterior of mansions, castles, homes and all landscapes.

A Great Egret takes flight at Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park. Photo by Jay Gammill

What kinds of cameras/lenses do you use to capture these stunning images?

Seventeen years ago I started with a 5-megapixel Sony, then I used a 12-megapixel Lumix bridge camera, and now I have a 26-megapixel Nikon D610 and have plans to upgrade yet again to a more professional Nikon camera. I have several lenses for the Nikon D610. In the field I use a 200-500mm lens primarily for birding and sometimes attach a 1.4 extender, increasing the focal length to 700mm. This gives me a lot of flexibility depending on the subject’s location being near or far. I also have 20mm, 50mm, 300mm and a 28-300mm lenses. The wide-angle 20mm lens (probably my favorite) can be used for landscape photography or indoors without a flash and produces excellent photos. The 50mm lens is very sharp and great for outdoor get-togethers. The 300mm lens with an extender is great for birding and the 28-300mm lens is excellent for all-around exploring.

Your photos show that you have an artist’s eye. How does your vision affect how you frame your photos and the subjects you choose?

A lot depends on the lighting. Having good light provides a variety of angles and shadows that can add interest to a photograph plus excellent detail within the photo. When looking at a subject, I try to envision how it will appear on my monitor and whether it will provide the same interest it provides me to others on social media.

You’ve described your wife Jan as your ‘spotter.’ Can you elaborate on that?

Jan has become an integral part of my bird photography. After she started coming out with me, it was evident she could pick out birds in trees faster than I could by myself. Now we enjoy finding birds together but also the exercise. It is not uncommon for her to say “take that shot” and that has proven to be very beneficial to my work.

This is your first solo exhibit. Have you enjoyed getting ready for it?

The answer is yes! I’m happy I started early on choosing my photographs and getting them printed. Visiting the library to view the exhibit location also helped. I am also working on some presentation work that will identify the subject in each photo.

How did you decide which photos to include in the exhibit?

Detail, pose and subject expression had the most influence on which photos were chosen. Some of the birds’ eyes just speak to you when you see them. You know what they are thinking.

What are your favorite photos in the exhibit?

I guess it would be the Red-tailed Hawk and the Atlantic Puffin. A part of getting the photos ready for the exhibit is framing them.

Can you talk a little about the different materials you used to do this?

There are many ways to display photos these days. I have chosen three different types for the exhibit. Some are mounted in the classic frame style. One is under ¼-inch clear acrylic with polished edges. This is a fairly expensive way to present a photograph, but it gives the photo a very unique appearance. The third method is having the photos printed on aluminum. You can have a very large picture and it will not weigh a lot, making it easy to hang, and it makes the colors really pop.

A Great Egret. Photo by Jay Gammill

Where else have you exhibited?

I was very pleased when the Huntington Arts Council accepted two of my bird photos to be displayed in its gallery for a month last year. Another photo, of the original Fire Island Lighthouse beacon, was accepted in last year’s 100th anniversary Parks Department photo exhibit held within the lighthouse keeper’s home for a month. Two bird and two landscape photos were displayed for a month last year at the 2nd Ave. Bayshore Firehouse exhibit gallery for the Long Island Triumph Association’s art show.

Any advice for others who want to have their photos seen by others?

Post your photos on social media for a lot of exposure and to get a feel for others’ reactions to your work. I have been posting on Facebook for years now, and it has given me a good indication of what people like.

Where can our readers see other examples of your work?

I have set up my own website, www.jayjaysvisions.com, to show others my bird, wildlife and landscape photography.

“The Birds Among Us” will be on view at the Emma S. Clark Library, located at 120 Main Street in Setauket, through the month of March. For more information, please call 631-941-4080.

It may look very pretty all wrapped in a red holiday bow, but for all the believers out there, the Country House is said to be haunted. File photo

By Ernestine Franco

It’s the time of the year when children and adults alike will be out en masse on the lookout for ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. During the month of October, which culminates on Halloween, the North Shore of Long Island has many places to satisfy die-hard thrill seekers. However, if you want to experience “real” haunted places on the North Shore, check out the list below:

Kings Park Psychiatric Center, located on West Fourth Street in Kings Park has been closed for many years and is not open to the public. For many years, Long Islanders have broken into this historic location to see the eerie, condemned facilities. At its height, the psychiatric center was home to over 9,000 patients. They were subjected to overcrowding and deplorable conditions as well as dramatic procedures, such as lobotomies and electroshock therapy. From inside and outside the many buildings, people have reported yells and screams of deceased patients, and some say they can see ghosts in the windows. Although you cannot go into the buildings, you can drive through the grounds for a quick peek. The grounds are monitored by the police.

Country House Restaurant is located at 1175 Country House Road in Stony Brook. This building has a prerevolutionary story behind it. It is believed to be haunted by Annette Williamson, the daughter of a former owner. She had allowed British soldiers to stay in the home and was believed to be a spy. She was hung from the second-story rafters and her spirit haunts the kitchen and stairways. Visitors say they can hear her cries and light bulbs flicker. The restaurant also has a “Ghost Bar” where you can view pictures of Annette Williamson. Genre artist William Sidney Mount was said to have attended séances there when it was known as the Thomas Hadaway House.

Lake Ronkonkoma, Lake Shore Road, Lake Ronkonkoma: One of the most frequent tales you hear about Lake Ronkonkoma is one involving a Native American princess who died at the lake in the mid-1600s. The story goes that the Native American princess fell in love with an Englishman named Hugh Birdsall. He lived across the lake, but her father would not permit her to pursue a romance with the Englishman. Legends say that the heartbroken princess killed herself because she could not be with her true love.

Folklore then goes on to say that every year since, in a desperate search for a soulmate in death, the princess takes a young male’s life. Lake Ronkonkoma is rumored to have no bottom, just an endless abyss of darkness. The lake itself is the largest lake on Long Island and it would be impossible for a human being to reach the bottom without assistance since it is 100 feet (30 m) at its southeastern side. Something that feeds into this tale is how the water level of Lake Ronkonkoma seems to rise and fall with no relation to rainfall, something that adds to the mystery. Michael R. Ebert, author of “The Curse of Lake Ronkonkoma,” delved into these allegations and found that, “One study showed that over 7 years in the early 1900s, the rainfall on Long Island was below the usual average by about 52 inches, yet the lake rose 7 feet.”

Another eerie oddity about Lake Ronkonkoma is about the bodies of people who have drowned in the lake. Bodies have been found washed up in Connecticut and out in the Long Island Sound, fueling claims that Lake Ronkonkoma has many hidden caverns, passageways and tunnels leading to different locations. Other bodies have never been found.

Centereach High School, located at 14 43rd Street, has limited access for the public. Some believe that the bleachers of Centereach High School are haunted by James Halversen, a New York City firefighter who used to run at the track every day. At 8:00 p.m. on Jan. 5, 1997, Halversen and his dog were shot. Some people can feel his presence or even a man running on the fifth lane of the track. Some say they also have seen a glowing object in the northeast corner of the track.

Katie’s of Smithtown is located at 145 West Main Street. Katie’s is a popular bar in Smithtown and home to a ghost named Charlie, who is said to have been a bartender and bootlegger during the 1920s. After committing suicide, he is said to frequently visit the bar. Many patrons have felt or seen him. Some have seen people in 19th century dress in the bar, and the figure of a woman has been seen walking up and down the bar and down the basement stairs. Women have reported toilet seats jumping open and making banging sounds when no one else is in the bathroom, and footsteps have also been heard coming from the basement when it is unoccupied. Glasses have also been known to fly off the bar and tables.

And last, but not least, the Port Jefferson Ferries are believed by many that a ghost haunts the ferries as they travel the Sound. Many riders have seen the ghost of a former captain who wears a weathered uniform.

Good Haunting!

By Ernestine Franco

Find your new best friend at the 5th annual Sound Beach Civic Association Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Saturday, Sept. 24 in the Hartlin Inn parking lot, 30 New York Ave., Sound Beach (across from the Post Office) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Eleven animal rescue groups from Suffolk County will be on hand to show off their lovable, adoptable pets including The Adoption Center, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, Compassionate Action, Volunteers for Animal Welfare, Grateful Greyhounds, Happy Tails Dog Rescue, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, New York State Retriever Rescue, Sav-A-Pet and the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter. Adoption fees will vary by group.

Saving one animal will not change the world, but for that one animal the world will change forever.

Created and run mostly by volunteers, many of these groups take unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals into their homes and care for them — training them, playing with them, handling medical issues and solving behavioral problems — until a suitable permanent home can be found.

“Last year twelve ‘furever’ friends found new, loving homes at this event,” Bea Ruberto, president of the Civic Association, said, “and we’re looking to do even better this year. We hope a lot of people will stop by to meet their new best friend.”

The New York State Retriever Rescue will be bringing Alice and Trixie whose owner recently died. Happy-go-lucky dogs who love other dogs but have never been around cats, they just need someone to love them again. The group will also be bringing Buck Hope, a 9-year-old lab who is described as being kind of goofy and loves to swim, and Elsa, a 10-year-old very sweet lab mix who is a big mush of a girl and loves both dogs and cats.

Happy Tails Dog Rescue will be showcasing Georgie and Porgie, two yorkie mixes, and Nana, a 3-month-old female plott hound/lab mix in hopes that they will find loving homes.

Last Chance Animal Rescue, which has participated in this event every year, is bringing Dutchess, a 3-year-old female pibble who is crate trained, house trained and loves dogs (no cats please). They will also be offering Madilynn, a tortoise shell cat, who has been with the group for six months. Her first birthday has come and gone and no forever family has picked her. She is great with other cats and dogs and people of all ages and loves to play and snuggle. What more could you ask for?

Nadia, a young gray and white shorthaired cat, will also be there, courtesy of Last Chance, and would love to find her home soon. She’s kid tested, cat tested and dog tested and ready to start a new life.

Sav-A-Pet will be featuring three cats this year — a pure white beauty named Valke, an 11-year-old diabetic female who just needs some tender loving care, and Miracle and Angel, two pastel calico kittens who had a rough start in life.

The Adopt-A-Thon will also offer information on responsible pet care, face painting for the kids, live music by Gina Mingoia and Sal Martone along with a raffle auction and 50/50 with all the proceeds going to the participating animal welfare groups.

Raffle prizes include a one-year subscription to Times Beacon Record Newspapers, brass candlesticks, Christmas baskets, Dr. Who memorabilia, electric wine opener with a bottle of wine, fall harvest baskets, granite and marble cutting boards, handbag with scarves and gloves, handmade blanket and pillow, hand-painted wine glass, home and kitchen baskets, Italian cheese-making kit with a bottle of wine, Lenox bowl, pet gift basket, Sky Zone passes, spa baskets, a framed silver record signed by Christina Aguilera, Clint Black, EVE 6, and Tyrese, Theatre Three tickets and much more.

Echo Pharmacy will provide some free give-aways, and Miller Place Animal Hospital will be offering a free exam for any newly adopted pet. So, whether you want to help the great work the animal welfare groups do or are looking to adopt your new best friend, stop by for a great family-friendly event.

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The Hercules figurehead from the USS Ohio in Stony Brook. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Ernestine Franco

The heroes of Greek and Roman legends are long gone, but they are still an echo in our collective mythic memories.

Hercules was the Roman name of the greatest hero of Greek mythology — Heracles. Like most authentic heroes, Hercules had a god as one of his parents, being the son of the supreme deity Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. Zeus’ queen Hera was jealous of Hercules and was determined to make trouble for him by making him lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children.

The story goes that when he awoke from his “temporary insanity,” Hercules was shocked and upset by what he’d done. He prayed to the god Apollo, also a son of Zeus. As part of his punishment, Hercules had to perform 12 labors including slaying the Nemean lion — feats so difficult that they seemed impossible. Fortunately, Hercules had the help of some sympathetic deities. By the end of these labors, Hercules was, without a doubt, Greece’s greatest hero.hercules-1 His struggles made him the perfect embodiment of an idea the Greeks called pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering that would lead to fame and, in Hercules’ case, immortality.

There have been many reincarnations of Hercules. To name just a few: Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot; the 1997 animated Disney movie “Hercules”; the TV show “Hercules,” which ran from 1995 to 1999; and a 1970 B film “Hercules in New York.” There is even an adjective, herculean, that embodies all the positive aspects of this hero.

But before all these, there was the 19th-century figurehead Hercules of the USS Ohio. Built between 1817 and 1820, she was the first ship built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Ohio served in the Mediterranean, sailed the Pacific and landed troops on the shores of Vera Cruz during the war with Mexico in 1847. By 1884 the Ohio was decommissioned, sold for scrap and moored in Greenport. She broke free of her mooring during a storm and sunk a short distance off shore. Resting in a mere 20 feet of water, part of the ship was above sea level. The exposed parts of the Ohio were burned and the rest abandoned. Luckily this piece of folk art was stripped off the ship before her end.

The figurehead of Hercules, wrapped in the skin of the Nemean lion, was carved out of a single piece of cedar at a cost $1,500. At one point it was sold for a mere $10 at an auction. It was again sold for $15 by the then owner of the Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays where it remained for decades. Eventually the figurehead was acquired by Ward Melville in 1954 who deeded it to The Ward Melville Heritage Organization for preservation.

As if this isn’t already an amazing enough piece of history, the pavilion also has a whaleboat used on Charles Hall’s final arctic expedition. The Hercules Pavilion is located along Main Street in Stony Brook Village, across from the Village Green, near the anchor of the USS Ohio.

For more information, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.wmho.org.

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