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Stony Brook Village

Exhibit showcases the brilliance of the Serbian American inventor

By Kevin Redding

Asked in 1927 about not getting the proper recognition for inventing radio among other uncredited scientific achievements, Nikola Tesla said, “Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments … the present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

Ninety years later, not only is the truth out about the greatness of the Serbian American inventor — whose long list of contributions to modern science includes the alternating current motor, the electric motor, wireless communication, X-rays, the remote control, and, yes, radio — his work is utilized everywhere we go.

And now it is celebrated every day in Stony Brook Village for the rest of the summer. Residents far and wide are invited to explore the radical genius of Tesla in a new exhibit at Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center titled Nikola Tesla: Past, Present, Future. Visitors can immerse themselves in the life and inventions of the man who electrified history, powered the present and continues to shape the future.

On view through Sept. 4, the exhibit was designed by board members within the nonprofit Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, where Tesla’s last remaining laboratory stands and features a litany of displays such as an operating replica of the famous Tesla coil, augmented reality technology and a signed Tesla Roadster off the Tesla Motors assembly line.

Buzzing sounds of electricity, dramatic music and compelling narration of Tesla’s life pervade throughout the large room, where kids, teens, adults and seniors have enjoyed since July 8 interactive kiosks, screens showing in-depth documentaries, biographical banners, models and more.

“There’s a real desire on the public’s part to learn more about him because he’s an unsung American and international scientific hero,” said David Madigan, the Tesla Science Center board member who was tasked with bringing the exhibit to life. “He’s also the name that most people don’t know, and yet he’s one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. It’s very important that the public supports it.”

Back in March, Ward Melville Heritage Organization President Gloria Rocchio approached Madigan and other members of the Tesla board and asked them to take up the exhibit space for the summer as a way to give the nonprofit visibility and promote their cause. (The Tesla Science Center is in the process of raising funds to open its doors to the public next year.)

Board Director Marc Alessi and Madigan took on the challenge, seeing the exhibit as a mini version of what will ultimately be their expansive Visitor’s Center, which will serve as the site’s main focus until the museum is in operation — the group needs a minimum amount of $20 million to open it.

“We made a decision as an organization that this would force us to put together an exhibit and start collecting the necessary materials; we’re going to need to put items into our building when we open next year so why not get started now?” Alessi said during a recent tour. “I think people are getting a bit of a taste of what this will be and this is just one pillar of what the Tesla Science Center will eventually be.”

But filling the exhibit room was no easy feat, as the two would learn. “It was a huge and heavy lift for us because I wasn’t aware of what we might have on hand in storage,” Alessi said. “I knew we had some donations, but did we really have enough material for an exhibit this size? At the time, we didn’t.”

Madigan quickly got on the horn with everyone he knew would want to contribute to a Tesla-centric space, which, luckily for him, ended up being a lot of impassioned people. In two months, the exhibit bursted with life.

Banners were brought in from the Tesla Science Foundation in Philadelphia and Belgrade, Serbia, and a Rocky Point artisan named Rob Arnold built a replica of Tesla’s teleautomaton — the first ever remote-controlled boat that Tesla premiered at Madison Square Garden’s Electrical Exhibition in 1898. Local filmmaker Joseph Sikorski, who made the documentaries “Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla” and “Tower to the People” about the history and preservation of Wardenclyffe, set up the exhibit’s kiosks and even donated his model of Tesla’s laboratory used in many of his films.

Nan Guzzetta of Antique Costumes & Prop Rental in Port Jefferson submitted Tesla-period wardrobe to be displayed; neon sculptor Clayton Orehek created a spectacular portrait of Tesla as well as a coil-inspired design of the inventor’s signature; and Richard Matthias of Hot Springs, Arkansas, built and donated a Jacob’s ladder display and the replica of the Tesla coil — which visitors are able to charge with the help of neon glass tubes.

Next to the Tesla Roadster in the corner of the room sits a 3D hands-on exhibit brought in by the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City that allows people to manipulate the magnetic field on which the Tesla induction motor is based.

“We found it all very inspiring,” Madigan said of the support. “Everywhere we go with this, it’s not us, it’s Nikola Tesla that is fascinating to people. We wanted to put together an illustrative exhibit that would help educate the public as to exactly who this man was and how he contributed to society, and continues to. You can’t talk about Tesla in the past without talking about the future.”

Madigan demonstrated in the exhibit what’s called the Nikola Tesla augmented reality app, designed by Brian Yetzer of Philadelphia, that superimposes a 3D animation of a Tesla-related image over something in the room with a quick scan of a phone. Upon scanning over a banner, a film of Tesla played on the phone screen.

Bill Pagels and Sue Ann Wilkinson of Salt Lake City, Utah, made sure to go to the exhibit during a recent vacation to the area. Both of them waved neon glass tubes and watched in amazement as the Tesla coil erupted with electricity. “We know [Tesla’s] a towering giant,” Pagels said. “But we didn’t know the extent to which his inventions resulted in something we would be carrying around in our pockets, or the range of technology he invented. It’s fascinating to understand the depth of his impact on humanity and, frankly, that he was such a humanitarian. It’s really quite amazing.”

Looking around the active room, Alessi said, “For us, it’s remarkable that this was pulled together the way it was over the course of a few months and we’re grateful Ward Melville gave us this opportunity. Having them help us with this first exhibit is remarkable and we’re seeing the benefit, we’re seeing local profile raised as a result.”

Alisa Greene of Farmingville in front of the memorial to Paul Simons. Photo by Elyse Sutton

By Katelyn Winter

 

Located on Harbor Road off Main Street in Stony Brook Village, there is a not-so-little slice of paradise providing visitors with a blissful escape. Behind the duck pond and across from the Grist Mill, you’ll find Avalon Park & Preserve with more than 80 acres of trails, wildflower meadows, ponds and even a winding labyrinth. The park is the perfect balance of a well-maintained public space and a place where nature blooms freely.

“Today, my daughter saw a vole for the first time,” said a mother who loves to take her daughters to this park. “A park ranger told us what it was, and pointed out a paper wasps’ nest, too. I really like that the rangers are always walking around —they’re so great.” Her children were eager to chime in, pointing out some of the parks’ features they find most exciting: “Animals and nature, the pond, the preserve and the labyrinth!”

Ranger Jeff and Ranger Danny walk the trails last summer. Photo by Katelyn Winter

Indeed, according to the park rangers themselves, they’ve really stepped up their presence thanks to the large influx of visitors in past years. When asked what they believe patrons like most about the park, and what they themselves enjoy, one ranger joked, “Us and us!”

On a more serious note, Ranger Danny said it’s all about “where we’re at. And the people you get to meet here are just great.” His co-worker Jeff agreed and said the surroundings are one of the best parts, and the people are really nice. There are a lot of kids that come around, too. Sometimes you almost feel like a tour guide, showing people around the park.”

The joy that both visitors and rangers alike feel at coming together in such a “peaceful, serene atmosphere” is exactly why the Paul Simons Foundation dedicated this park and preserve to his memory. Paul Simons was a young Long Island man whose bright and active life ended too soon, but his passion for nature and taking pleasure in outdoor activities is reflected in the foundation’s wish for the park.

According to Avalon’s web page, the foundation says, “It is hoped that present and future generations of visitors will find pleasure in these gardens, walks and woods.” Walking through the park today, you will find all sorts of people fulfilling that very hope. No matter what brings you to Avalon in the first place, the park seems to welcome you at its stately wooden gate, inviting you onto the boardwalk and into the well-loved park.

A map of the park

Part of the charm of Avalon Park is that you can enjoy art and activity alongside nature. Many people flock to the park to go on walks or jogs, to practice photography (though professionals must acquire a permit), and even to catch Pokémon. Just be conscientious and double check that the activity you want to enjoy is appropriate in that particular area of the park. For example, mountain biking is only allowed on the trails to the west of Shep Jones Lane, and fishing at the pond requires a permit.

If you’ve been to Avalon before, you know that it can be a great place to just walk about, but if you check out its website, www.avalonparkandpreserve.org, you’ll find an array of group activities and volunteering opportunities for yourself and your family to explore.

While Avalon has many youth programs, the two that take place on its grounds all year long and are open to any interested child are the Avalon Seedlings and the S.T.A.T.E. program. For children under the age of 13, the various Seedlings programs will open them up to the wonderful world of nature under the guidance of Sue Wahlert, a certified teacher who will make sure your child’s curiosity is satiated with new and exciting outdoor classes and activities.

The S.T.A.T.E. program, for teens ages 13 to 17, is an environment-focused volunteer program where they can learn about preserving resources, work on projects both short and long term and get down in the dirt with a purpose.

For those past the age of 17, Avalon welcomes you to one of its many other programs at the Barn, such as Asana Yoga, the Avalon Sky Lab for stellar and solar observing, Mindfulness Meditation and special events like movie night. In addition, the Four Harbors Audubon Society hosts regular bird walks through the park. Each individual program has its own website and contact information, but they are all located on the Field and Barn page of Avalon’s website.

If you didn’t know that Avalon Park was there, you might drive by the Stony Brook Duck Pond and never wonder what lay in the woods beyond its shores. But to unearth its existence is to find a way to incorporate adventure into your weekly routine. It’s a way to connect with nature, however you like to do that, and it’s discovering that so many other Long Islanders appreciate the beautiful place we call home.

And that is why Avalon Park & Preserve is a treasure among us.

Author Katelyn Winter is a rising junior at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., majoring in English and creative writing. She is from Stony Brook and hopes to one day work in the publishing industry.

Above, the shops at the Stony Brook Village Center. Photo from WMHO

During the month of February participating shops and restaurants in Stony Brook Village will thank and honor the service of our veterans by offering them special discounts, free coffee, dessert and more.

Veterans are asked to provide their veterans I.D. card to take part in the offers. If they do not have one, Joanne DeMarco, a representative from the Northport Veterans Administration, will be on hand at the Educational & Cultural Center in the rear of the Village Center on Wednesday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to create and provide I.D. cards for them.

Offers from shops and restaurants include the Three Village Inn with a complimentary wine or local draft beer and the Country House Restaurant offering a free dessert with lunch or dinner. Mint Apparel, Chocolate Works, Crazy Beans, Stony Brook Auto Care and Latitude 121 Restaurant are offering 10 percent off; The Crushed Olive and Harbor Cleaners, 15 percent off; the MensRoom Barber and Blue Salon & Spa, 20 percent off; Crabtree & Evelyn will be giving free samples and Village Coffee Market will serve up free coffee with purchase; last but not least Roseland School of Dance is offering $20 off a 10-pack of Zumba classes.

For full details, visit www.stonybrookvillage.com or call 631-751-2244.

The recently opened Reboli Center for Art and History, located at 64 Main Street in Stony Brook Village, is inaugurating a new monthly program called Third Friday at the Reboli. Third Friday is modeled after a number of nationally successful events sponsored by art centers that bring communities together with artists, speakers, authors, performers and other special guests to offer programs that will allow the visitor to experience these institutions in an entirely different way.

“Our goal at the Reboli Center is to involve the community in our programs and be an inspiration for artistic and historical interpretations. We have had such an overwhelmingly positive response to our opening and we want to continue with offering exciting free programs like Third Friday at the Reboli,” said Reboli Center President Lois Reboli. “Our hope is that Third Friday will become a community tradition.”

The first Third Friday program will be held on Friday, Dec. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Reboli Center. The initial program will feature a panel of artists who are currently exhibiting in the Design Shop at the Reboli Center. The artists Pam Brown, Robin Clonts, David Ebner, Jim Molloy and Doug Reina create in a variety of mediums, and the evening will allow the audience members to hear about the philosophies underlying their work and about the practical, artistic and other quirky processes at work in their studios. The audience will have the opportunity to join the discussion. In addition, visitors can get a sneak peak at the gallery’s upcoming exhibit, Joseph Reboli: A Sense of Place, which will be on view from Dec. 18 to Jan. 29, and shop for unique holiday gifts from local artists at the Design Shop.

Future Third Friday programs will discuss historical topics, introduce other artists, offer sketching events, present musical performers, hear local authors and offer other engaging programming that will bring new connections and fresh perspectives. Third Friday programs are free to the public and do not require a reservation. For more information call 631-751-7707 or visit the Reboli Center website at www.ReboliCenter.org.

‘Tis the season for tree lightings and holiday festivals.

Stony Brook Village and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization hosted the 37th annual Holiday Festival and Holiday Tree Competition Dec. 4 at the Stony Brook Village Center.

Anima Brass Quintet

All Souls Church, located at 61 Main St., Stony Brook, will present a Saturdays at Six Concert on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. The Anima Brass Quintet will present a concert titled Brass Landscapes. Featured musicians will be John-Thomas Burson, Tom Pang, Austin Sposato, Michael B. Lockwood and Jeff Smith. Young artist Ava Reilly will perform a violin solo to open the program. There will be a 15-minute intermission and refreshments will be served. All are welcome and admission is free. A can of food donation is appreciated for the St. Cuthbert’s Food Pantry. For more information call 631-655-7798.

By Ed Blair

One was a Broadway star who flew as Peter Pan, vowed to “wash that man right out of my hair” in South Pacific, and frolicked with the Von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music.” The other was a sweet southern singer and popular TV hostess who urged viewers to “See the USA in your Chevrolet.”

Audiences will have the opportunity to learn about the lives of two legendary stars while enjoying musical highlights from the iconic ladies’ careers, as The Ward Melville Heritage Organization presents “Holiday Wishes from Mary Martin & Dinah Shore” at its Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village. Actors will portray the duo in a beautifully decorated seasonal setting through Jan. 11. The event, presented by St. George Living History Productions, is followed by a high-tea luncheon featuring finger sandwiches and delectable desserts.

Mary Martin
Mary Martin

 

As a girl, Mary Martin took an early interest in performing. She channeled her creative impulses by teaching dance, opening her own studio in Mineral Wells, Texas. Fate intervened, however, and when her dance studio burned down, Martin decided to leave Texas and take her shot at making it in Hollywood.

After a number of auditions proved fruitless, Martin got her break when she caught the eye of Oscar Hammerstein, who thought her voice could play on Broadway. She became an overnight sensation in her stage debut in 1938, when the 25-year-old won audiences over with her poignant rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” in Cole Porter’s “Leave It to Me!” Martin followed up with a Tony Award for her role in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” The classic song from the show, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” was actually written at her suggestion, and Martin dutifully washed her hair on stage every night during the run — eight times a week.

The now-famous star added Tony Awards for her performances in the title role in “Peter Pan” and as Maria in “The Sound of Music.” She also starred in “Annie Get Your Gun” and played opposite Robert Preston in “I Do! I Do!” Martin made media history, when, on March 7, 1955, NBC broadcast a live presentation of “Peter Pan.” The musical, with nearly all of the show’s original cast, was the first full-length Broadway production to air on color TV. The show attracted a then-record audience of 65 million viewers, the highest ever up to that time for a single television program. Martin won an Emmy Award for her performance. Mary Martin died in 1990 at the age of 77. There are two stars bearing her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dinah Shore
Dinah Shore

As a student at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee native Dinah Shore began her career by performing her own short program on a Nashville radio station. After graduation in 1938, she moved to New York City, where she landed a job as a singer on WNEW. Her career progressed slowly, but she scored a few hits and became more well known during the World War II years, when she traveled with the USO, performing for the troops. “I’ll Walk Alone,” “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons” and “Buttons and Bows” were all major hits that catapulted her to stardom.

Shore appeared in a few films, but she made her impact on television as TV sets became standard features in homes across the nation in the early 1950s. Her variety show made its debut in 1951. It evolved into “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” in 1956, which became a mainstay through 1963. Shore’s warmth and engaging personality appealed to TV audiences, and she followed her earlier successes by hosting popular talk shows — “Dinah’s Place,” “Dinah!” and “Dinah and Friends.” Along the way, she accumulated 10 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and a Golden Globe Award.

Shore also had a passion for golf. She founded the Colgate/Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle Golf Championship and sponsored the Dinah Shore Classic for a number of years, earning her an honorary membership in the Ladies Professional Golf Association Hall of Fame. Three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honor Dinah Shore, who died in 1994 at the age of 77.

What led writer/director Sal St. George to pair Martin and Shore in his production? “Mary did a special with Noel Coward in 1955, and that inspired me to ponder what a collaboration between her and Dinah would be like,” he explained. “It is a nostalgic part of the Golden Age of television of the 1960s when ‘Specials’ or ‘Spectaculars’ were well produced and had legitimate star quality. This is also Dinah’s 100th birthday year, so we took this opportunity to celebrate her life.”

St. George added, “This is also our 15th year presenting programs for WMHO. We wanted to make this show different and more glamorous than ever before. Consequently, we thought about adding a second celebrity guest. We have never had two high profile women together on the stage. This is the perfect holiday show for the family — great tunes from the Broadway songbook, plenty of good old-fashioned comedy and dazzling costumes — plus an appearance by Peter Pan. Who can ask for more!”

The WMHO Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook will host “Holiday Wishes from Mary Martin & Dinah Shore” through Jan. 11. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows are at 11:30 a.m.; Sunday shows at 12:30 p.m. The high-tea luncheon performance, catered by Crazy Beans, is sponsored in part by the Roosevelt Investment Group Inc. General admission is $50; seniors 60 and over $48; groups of 20 or more $45. Advance reservations are required by calling 631-689-5888. For more information, visit www.wmho.org.

Photo courtesy of The WMHO

Blast from the Past: Do you know when and where this photo was taken? What show are these people getting ready to see? Email your answers to info@wmho.org. To see more wonderful vintage photographs like this, visit The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s ongoing exhibit, It Takes a Team to Build a Village, at The WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main Street, Stony Brook. For more information, call 631-751-2244.

Neil Watson leans against one of the trees in the Crocheted Tree Project on the grounds of the LIM. Photo by Katelyn Winter

By Katelyn Winter

When Neil Watson, the executive director of the Long Island Museum (LIM), sat down with me in his office for an interview, he warned me not to be alarmed if, during our session, people came up close to the window to take a photo with a tree covered in crocheted yarn. It is one of five trees in the Crocheted Tree Project, a current exhibition at the museum, and visitors love to take photos with the stunning pieces of art.

Watson, who began his career as a maker of art, loves the attention the trees are getting. Living and working in the heart of Stony Brook Village, his appreciation for art and eagerness to engage with the community has shone through since becoming executive director in 2013.

What do you like the most about working at the LIM?

There are so many aspects to what I do, which is the beauty of it, because I’m involved in curatorial, education, fundraising, the site itself and the community. So if I could take one of those things, it would be that as the director I get to work with the community and make this museum as vibrant and as relevant to here as possible. This job is so far from boring because there’s something new all the time.

What is the most popular exhibit at the LIM right now?

Having a show from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience) is terrific, because a lot of people can’t go to Cleveland, so to have that here is great and having it alongside the Long Island in the ‘60s exhibit that was curated by Joshua Ruff, our chief curator, there’s a connection to that. While they are two different exhibitions, they are speaking of culture in America, a lot of which overlaps with what was happening on Long Island in the ‘60s; it’s looking at the political, the economic and also art and design. Those two shows overlap as the ‘60s, and the culture and the counterculture of the ‘60s and music festivals, from those in the past to more contemporary.

What kinds of exhibits would you like to see the Long Island Museum present in the future?

Well, there’s the vehicles — we have the carriages and people have become so disengaged from the idea of carriages, while at the same time they’re completely engaged with their cars. This is the car that was available for them before cars. The way cars and carriages work is, to me, so similar, and what we like to do is we like to make that connectivity come to life. We have a long-term desire to create a new interactive space in the carriage exhibit, … a simulated ride in a carriage, so people could not just ask what it feels like to ride in one, but actually experience it. It would involve using technology in some capacity to create a virtual ride. It’ll connect people to our collection. We have the finest collection of carriages in America — it’s a major part of what people know about us. The carriages already have a certain draw to them, but to engage people even more is what we’d really like to do.

How have the LIM’s summer events been?

It’s been great, and we love to have events that tie into what we’re showing at the museum currently. On Aug. 7 we’re showing “Neil Young: Heart of Gold,” which is a documentary by Jonathan Demme on Neil Young. It’s such a great concert film. Andy Keir, the film editor, will be speaking about cutting that film at the showing. We also have a new bluegrass series, and there will be a concert for that on Aug. 12 [with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado]. I love having a variety of music series. People will come here for all kind of music who maybe haven’t been here before, and then want to come back and explore more. We are an art museum, but we are also a cultural hub: for music, for talks about books, for history — it’s very broad.

Do you have any hobbies?

If I do have a hobby, it’s cooking. I prepare all the meals for my family; I love to cook. I think it’s a great way of separating yourself from what you’ve done during the day, good, bad, whatever, it’s nice to focus on the task at hand. And feeding people is such a great thing to do; [whether it’s] feeding them knowledge, visual information, or food — I love it. Music is also always on in the house, and I play guitar. I still have the callused fingers; I started when I was 13, and I have the same guitar that I bought in 1974. Now it’s actually vintage, which is scary. I also love going to museums. My family and I just went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art up in Amherst, and it’s a wonderful museum. We also went to the Emily Dickinson Museum, which is the house where she grew up.

What is your favorite thing to do in Stony Brook Village?

My family and I walk every morning. We walk in the village, because I live right here, right by the museum — when I say I’m here all the time, I’m really here all the time! Having the Long Island Sound here, I mean, the water is just such a gift. I also like to shop locally whenever I can. I love Pentimento; I love the wine shop, Lake Side Emotions & Spirits; Brew Cheese; my drycleaner’s. I try to support everyone as much as I can. So that’s what I like to do here — walk and shop. It’s a beautiful place to be.

Author Katelyn Winter is a rising junior at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., majoring in English and creative writing. She is from Stony Brook and hopes to one day work in the publishing industry.

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