Local filmmaker creates love letter to Sound Beach
By Aidan Johnson
Dozens of Sound Beach residents learned much more about their community on Monday, Aug. 8, during a second screening of the new local film, “The History Upon Our Shores: Sound Beach, NY,” at the Heritage Center in Mount Sinai. The well-received premiere was shown on June 10 at the same venue.
The film, produced and directed by resident Leon Adler, is based on the book, “Sound Beach: Our Town, Our Story,” authored by Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association.
“It’s exciting to be a part of sharing the town’s history with everybody, but I think it’s hard to say I’m among the first,” Adler said. “I imagine over many years, people were always telling stories through family members about the history, but I’m probably among the first to wrap it all up in a bow.”
The film tells the story of the quaint hamlet, from its beginnings as a summertime escape from 1929 onward to its present form as a community of over 7,000 residents.
Adler, who also narrates the film, infused humor throughout, keeping the audience laughing and learning as they digested plenty of information about Sound Beach.
Despite a runtime of under an hour, Adler devoted immense effort to getting the film over the finish line. According to him, two minutes of on-screen time could take up to four days of work to edit.
Furthermore, Adler put in months of his time to ensure that the narration, music and photos all synchronized perfectly. However, he said the finished product was well worth it to him.
“I think that when people know the history of where they live, it gives them a greater appreciation for it and just the whole background of it,” Adler said.
Ruberto was pleased by the interest that the movie garnered among the public. Despite living in Sound Beach for 45 years, she still considers herself a newbie to the area.
“I really began to appreciate Sound Beach when I got on the civic board,” she said. “Before that, I didn’t appreciate what a wonderful place it is to live.”
By joining the civic association, Ruberto realized the importance of local issues to both her and her peers. For her, in order to help keep the community beautiful, residents must remain active and engaged in it.
The inspiration to write the book came to Ruberto about a decade ago when she was looking to get better bus stops for Sound Beach. “We were reviewing the stops, and a lot of them were wrong,” she said. “One of the bus stops was called Scotty’s Corner, and I had no idea where that was. I can’t tell you how long I spent trying to find it, and that’s when I realized that a lot of people didn’t know either.”
The seemingly nonexistent bus stop drove Ruberto to the realization that much of the history of Sound Beach was passed down by word of mouth. However, as the older generations passed on, the precious history they carried went with them. Ruberto has made it her mission to keep that history alive: to research it, write it down and to preserve it. With the help of Adler, she has done just that.
As the film concluded, the audience gave Adler a long round of applause. For some, the film brought back memories of the town that they knew while growing up. For others, it sheds new light on a place where they are only beginning to establish their roots.