Turning 91 is a milestone in anyone’s book, but for the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society’s oldest trustee, it was a chance for the membership to show respect for someone who has long been helping to bridge the community’s past with its present.
Therese O’Connor was 91 July 19, and local residents and members of the MPMSHS drove past her home honking and cheering for the venerable community resident. She has been on the historical society board in some capacity since 1990, though she has been a dues-paying member of the Miller Place Historical Society since its founding in 1974 — the Mount Sinai name was added in 1982. Through the years, she has taken her hand to the spindle and has done spinning for the society’s annual fairs for the past 20 years.
Joining in the parade were area residents Thomas and Tricia McCarthy, who brought with them a decommissioned fire truck the husband has been repairing all on his own. It’s one bought out from its retirement last August, and though repairs are ongoing, he and his wife have joined a Facebook community group to participate in many birthday car parades over the past several months. Tom drives, while Tricia stands up top in a Dalmatian costume they call Sparky.
“All these kids were having birthday parties, and I thought you know what, let’s be goofy and make a couple of kids laugh, next thing you know we were getting messages,” Tricia McCarthy said. “They were asking how much it costs, and I just said, ‘Everybody has to smile,’ that’s the way we roll.”
Celebrating the day with her large extended family, O’Connor said she was surprised and delighted to see the cars roll by. She added that such times as these require people to commemorate anything that deserves it.
“Years ago when I taught deaf children, we were trying to figure out what to do for one of the speech teachers, and we never had enough good things to say about her,” the birthday girl said. “That always stuck in my mind, we have to celebrate the good things, especially today with so much going on.”
The society has opened the circa 1720 William Miller House for private tours in Phase 4 of reopening for small groups by appointment at 631-476-5742. The MPMSHS is also developing virtual tours, and is looking to see if there are any volunteers who can offer guidance for such a project.
“This is all new to us, and we want to create quality professional style videos for schools, libraries, general public and the BOCES catalog where teachers look for quality field trips,” said historical society vice president Antoinette Donato.
Fundraising continues with opportunities to purchase an historic brick on the house’s walkway, vintage duplicated postcards, note cards of historic homes in the district and a keepsake coloring book. One can also donate to the restoration of the circa 1810 Daniel Hawkins House to be used for multiple community events.
The society is set to celebrate a special birthday of its own this year with the 300th anniversary of the William Miller House, and the society is composing a keepsake journal. Individuals have an opportunity to be included with an ad or personal friend inclusion at varying price levels. More info is available on the society’s website mpmshistoricalsociety.org.