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Middle Country Public Library

The Middle Country Public Library recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of the Centereach Reading Room. 

The newly renovated 7,500 square foot area includes an innovation maker space and podcast recording studio that will allow the community to explore new technologies. 

Patrons will have the opportunity to participate in the creative process and collaborate with one another in a quiet study room and two small group study rooms along with a redesigned public computer area. 

The functional and transformational design was created in collaboration with architectural firm Bermello Ajamil and Partners and includes the information desk and a glass curtain wall leading to the Reading Garden, and a café that is scheduled to open in the early part of 2023. 

The library thanks the community for their support throughout this project and the many distinguished guests who attended the ceremony, including Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) and Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden).

A product from Sweet Woodland Farm. Photo courtesy of Rachel Stephens

The leaves are changing and there is a nip in the air, which means it is time for one of the community’s favorite fall events! After two years virtual and outdoors, the 22nd annual Women’s EXPO returns in-person at the newly renovated Middle Country Public Library, in Centereach on Thursday, Oct.6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with more than 70 exhibitors.

An initiative of the Middle Country Library Foundation, this annual event celebrates women entrepreneurs by connecting them with their peers, local business women and most importantly, potential customers. 

It’s been a tough couple of years for everyone and entrepreneurs have really taken a hit. “While the library’s Miller Business Center never stopped working with these and other entrepreneurs the entire time, we know that the camaraderie and energy of the EXPO is invaluable. We are happy to welcome these local entrepreneurs into our new space,” says library director, Sophia Serlis-McPhillips. 

“Our favorites along with a great selection of new women entrepreneurs will be at this year’s EXPO and we can’t wait,” said Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator of the library’s Miller Business Center. As it has in previous years, EXPO welcomes a diverse group of entrepreneurs with something for everyone including soaps, food, clothing and more. Like all entrepreneurs, they have worked hard to survive uncertain times. 

Shahnilla Jamal, chair of the EXPO’s planning committee and an SVP and Relationship Manager at HSBC Bank is excited to appreciate and celebrate these entrepreneurs. “Resilience is what I see in the women of Long Island, especially the EXPO entrepreneurs,” she said. “They have endured many trials and tribulations over the past couple of years, yet these amazing women have emerged stronger and more determined than ever before.” 

Long Island has always supported small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit. The support comes from shoppers and other Long Island businesses, including People’s Alliance Federal Credit Union (PAFCU), who has supported the EXPO for many years. Lisa Mitnick, Senior Manager of Business development for PAFCU knows how important it is. “Driving initiatives that advance women in their careers is not just critical to our business success, but is extremely important. The EXPO promotes the career advancement and success of women throughout Long Island,” she said.

Let’s learn more about some of the women you’ll meet at the EXPO.

Loretta Oberheim
Artwork by Loretta Oberheim

Loretta Oberheim

Loretta Oberheim Art

@lorettaoberheimart

After hearing great things about the EXPO from her dear friend and photographer, Holly Hunt, Loretta Oberheim, decided to apply to participate. “The support she had received from the wide range of female entrepreneurs, as well as Middle Country Library, was something I found to be extraordinary…To see an entire event celebrating female entrepreneurs is phenomenal, and I’m proud to be a part of it.” 

Loretta is an award-winning sculptor and abstract artist. After graduating with a B.F.A. in Textile/Surface design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, she began working in the interior design industry with her designs gracing the pages of Vogue, Architectural Digest and more. A traumatic brain injury made creating impossible for a while, but after a time, Loretta was able to create again in a new form – contemporary abstract impressionism. 

As an entrepreneur, sales are important of course, but for Loretta, one of her greatest business and creative successes happened when she gave a piece of her artwork away.  “A young woman came by my booth with her parents and commented on my cool cane. After looking at my work, she commented to her mom that she needed to start painting again.” This comment touched Loretta. She gave one of her paintings to the young woman telling her to “go home and just start trying.” For Loretta, nothing compared to the moment. She knew that the young woman would forever look at that painting and see that a complete stranger had faith in her.

Rachel Stephens

Rachel Stephens

Sweet Woodland Farm

@sweetwoodlandfarm

Born and raised on Long Island, Rachel Stephens owns and runs Sweet Woodland Farm on the North Fork, growing elderberry, herbs, roots and more. The crops are hand-harvested, barn-dried and used in all the wellness products Rachel makes and sells through farmer’s markets, local shops and the EXPO. Using the herbs she grows to help people is an incredible feeling for her. Some moments, when Rachel is alone on the farm, looking around, she is reminded that success doesn’t need to be proven financially, but success can mean that you are doing what you love to do. 

“Besides these cherished moments, I celebrate quietly to myself every time a customer tells me how well my products have helped them. It feels incredible to know that I can help people using herbs I’ve grown myself and processed by hand into a product that people will enjoy and benefit from. It’s these moments when I can appreciate the work that I’ve chosen rather than feel the rush and burdens of running a business.”

Rachel is thrilled to be at EXPO again this year. What she remembers most about last year’s event is the camaraderie and support among the women who participate. “I appreciate that there is an event recognizing and celebrating woman owned businesses. As women gain momentum in every field I’m happy to represent women in farming at the EXPO.”

Tina Dos Reis

Tina Dos Reis

All Out Anime!

@alloutanime

After too many years in retail management, in 2014 Tina Dos Reis decided to be her own boss, starting a small business that suffered too many losses during Covid and closed. Having plenty of time on her hands, she started watching Japanese anime. Tina quickly became hooked on the action-packed scenes full of heroes with powers and quirks and started collecting keychains, figures and her current obsession, nendoroids. 

That’s when it clicked, her next entrepreneurial outing — “selling anime figures!” Choosing a business name wasn’t difficult.  “The phrase ‘go all out,’ is used quite often in anime. Characters will say it when they are determined to act on or do something important. Going all out was exactly what I wanted to do with this new venture.” And so, All Out Anime!: Your Place to Go All Out! was born. It is a business built on trust. With much of the product imported, there are many fakes out there. This can be a big challenge and is the reason customers may turn to well-known, larger shops first. But Tina is trying to change that in her corner of the anime world — she guarantees that her merchandise is 100% fully-licensed. 

As an online business, one of Tina’s proudest moments has been creating her first website. “When you see your vision come to life, it’s truly exhilarating!” She is excited to be a part of this year’s EXPO. “This event is such a great opportunity not just for myself, but for all women entrepreneurs.  The local community will have the chance to see firsthand the price we women put into our small businesses, as well as the friendly service we provide in order to make each customer experience a happy one.”

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The 22nd annual Women’s EXPO will take place on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd, Centereach from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase in the EXPO Café. Admission is free and there is ample parking. For further information, call the library at 631-585-9393 x296 or visit www.womensEXPOli.org. 

 

'The Goonies'

Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach will present the following free outdoor events for the community this summer:

Music Under the Stars: Petty Rumours

Thursday, July 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Join Petty Rumours for an unforgettable evening of music. This show will bring together over four decades of hits from Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac and the Traveling Wilburys. As this concert will be held outside, patrons should bring their own chairs and/or blankets. Food trucks will be on hand beginning at 6pm and performance begins at 7 p.m.

Music Under the Stars: 20 Highview

Tuesday, August 9 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Get down with 20 Highview, a nine-piece powerhouse band specializing in dance classics with funk grooves. They will cover classics from the 60’s up to the present day. As this concert will be held outside, patrons should bring their own chairs and blankets. Food trucks will be on hand beginning at 6pm and performance begins at 7 p.m.

MCPL Under the Stars Movie Night: ‘The Goonies’

Wednesday, August 17 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Join us for an outdoor viewing of the movie, The Goonies! As this movie will be held outside, patrons should bring their own chairs and blankets. In the event of rain, the program will be rescheduled for August 25. Food truck will be on hand beginning at 7 p.m. and movie begins at 8 p.m.

For more information, call 631-585-9393

The Museum Corner at Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach has a new exhibit! Titled Pattern Pod, it features patterns in art, math, nature and language. Through engaging and colorful hands-on activities visitors will learn about symmetry and repetition, as well as number patterns, patterns that appear in art from Africa, Asia and South America, and patterns found in nature. 

Middle Country Library cardholders may check out circulating Pattern Pod kits for at-home exploration and register for Museum Corner programs for children. The Museum Corner is open during regular library hours, Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the Youth Services desk at 631-585-9393 ext. 559.

Nature Explorium. Photo from MCPL

Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach has announced that the library’s Nature Explorium will reopen April 1. 

Photo from MCPL

“We know that many of you are eager to visit the Nature Explorium and play outside. The Nature Explorium is an outdoor learning space for children and families to experience the benefits of nature. Children are invited to explore, play, and learn in a safe and natural environment. The Nature Explorium contains a variety of learning areas, all geared toward connecting children to a different aspect of nature. Whether they’re making a pie in the mud kitchen, climbing on a tree stump, or expressing artistic talent through song and dance on the Play It stage, children will discover the gift of the outdoors,” said the press release. 

For more information and operating hours, please visit www.natureexplorium.org or call the library’s youth services desk at 631-585-9393 ext. 559.

Stock photo

Join the Middle Country Public Library for an exciting evening of career exploration! Long Island teens in grades 6 to 12 and first/second year college students are invited to register for this informative panel of professionals from specialized job fields who will give insights into their professions. Attendees will have an opportunity to chat with panelists one-on-one and learn about the library’s Career Counseling services.

Featured career panelists include:

Stephanie Knorzer: Owner/Operator, The Cookie Shop, Centereach

Dominika De Leon: Graphic Designer/Creative Director, Konwalia Design

Danielle Gruttaduario: Forensic Artist, Suffolk County Police Department

Karen Oswald: Senior Evidence Specialist, Suffolk County Police Department

Large Anthony: Tattoo Artist, Main Street Tattoo, Kings Park

Chris Kelly: Training Director, Long Island Electrical JATC with IBEW 25 & NECA LI Chapter

This event will take place on Wednesday, March 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Middle Country Public Library’s Selden location at 575 Middle Country Road. Registration required and open to district and non-district residents. Register in-person or call 631-585-9393 ext. 115.

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Unknown couple circa early 1900s enjoying fishing in the pond. Photo from MCPL

Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral roots. The picture and story below comes courtesy of a collaborative effort among the librarian staff.

Gould’s Pond is both! It is a pond, a body of fresh water, but it is also known as a kettle pond. This name is used for ponds or lakes which form when very large blocks of ice left by glaciers break off, stop moving and melt. 

Photo from MCPL

This is exactly what happened when the glacier which formed Long Island reached its southernmost point on its journey down from eastern Canada over 20,000 years ago. There are many kettle ponds and lakes on Long Island, the largest of which is Lake Ronkonkoma. Lake Ronkonkoma is the largest freshwater lake on the Island, measuring approximately two miles in circumference. Fresh water has always been a valuable resource, and Gould’s Pond is one of our local treasures.

 People have always chosen to live near water, and Long Islanders were no exception. Middle Country Public Library has some historic atlases which show exactly who lived near the pond back to the late 1800s. Here is an image from Fredrick W. Beers’ “Atlas of Long Island, New York” published in 1873. The pond is represented by a circular feature at the left side of the map.

Individual family names were plotted on older maps like this one. Here we can see labeled homesteads surrounding Gould’s Pond and the names of families who lived on Hawkins Avenue, Middle Country Road, Moriches Road and Saint James and others. 

One of the earliest settlers we can name was Morgan Lewis Gould, whose home appears above the pond which bears his name. In 1886, the Town of Brookhaven paid Morgan Lewis Gould and his son, Henry Lewis Gould, $5 to maintain an unobstructed pathway connecting to the main road, four rods wide (approximately 60 feet), for public access to the pond, so residents could bring their livestock to water and to use it for general household purposes. 

Two historic houses are still situated near the Pond today, most probably the M.L. Gould and T. Scott homes shown on our 1873 map.

In later years, with home wells or piped water, this freshwater pond was used more for leisure purposes, including ice skating and fishing. But during the 1880s the pond still had a practical purpose – as a source of ice before refrigerators and freezers were commonplace.

In this case, ice from the pond was harvested. It was cut by hand from the surface of the pond and stored for later use. Two separate icehouses were built along the shores of Gould’s Pond, used to store this ice during the warmer seasons. 

The large chunks of harvested ice were tightly packed in these icehouses so they would not easily melt. Sometimes, straw or sawdust was used for insulation, and in many cases, icehouse foundations were built below ground to keep the ice frozen year-round. Research shows that after World War I, the icehouses were no longer necessary and were dismantled.

Today, Gould’s Pond is used for hiking, nature watching and fishing. A gentle hill which is popularly used for sledding lies next to the pond. This hill was most likely scooped out by that same glacier which formed the pond so many years ago. You can find Gould’s Pond at the corner of Moriches and Saint James Roads in Lake Grove, where a beautifully lettered sign marks its spot.

Unknown couple circa early 1900s enjoying fishing in the pond. Photo from MCPL

Gould’s Pond: Is it a pond or a kettle?

Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral roots. The picture and story below comes courtesy of a collaborative effort among the librarian staff.

Gould’s Pond is both! It is a pond, a body of fresh water, but it is also known as a kettle pond. This name is used for ponds or lakes which form when very large blocks of ice left by glaciers break off, stop moving and melt. 

This is exactly what happened when the glacier which formed Long Island reached its southernmost point on its journey down from eastern Canada over 20,000 years ago. There are many kettle ponds and lakes on Long Island, the largest of which is Lake Ronkonkoma. Lake Ronkonkoma is the largest freshwater lake on the Island, measuring approximately two miles in circumference. Fresh water has always been a valuable resource, and Gould’s Pond is one of our local treasures.

People have always chosen to live near water, and Long Islanders were no exception. Middle Country Public Library has some historic atlases which show exactly who lived near the pond back to the late 1800s. Here is an image from Fredrick W. Beers’ “Atlas of Long Island, New York” published in 1873. The pond is represented by a circular feature at the left side of the map.

Individual family names were plotted on older maps like this one. Here we can see labeled homesteads surrounding Gould’s Pond and the names of families who lived on Hawkins Avenue, Middle Country Road, Moriches Road and Saint James and others. 

One of the earliest settlers we can name was Morgan Lewis Gould, whose home appears above the pond which bears his name. In 1886, the Town of Brookhaven paid Morgan Lewis Gould and his son, Henry Lewis Gould, $5 to maintain an unobstructed pathway connecting to the main road, four rods wide (approximately 60 feet), for public access to the pond, so residents could bring their livestock to water and to use it for general household purposes. 

Two historic houses are still situated near the Pond today, most probably the M.L. Gould and T. Scott homes shown on our 1873 map.

In later years, with home wells or piped water, this freshwater pond was used more for leisure purposes, including ice skating and fishing. But during the 1880s the pond still had a practical purpose – as a source of ice before refrigerators and freezers were commonplace.

In this case, ice from the pond was harvested. It was cut by hand from the surface of the pond and stored for later use. Two separate icehouses were built along the shores of Gould’s Pond, used to store this ice during the warmer seasons. 

The large chunks of harvested ice were tightly packed in these icehouses so they would not easily melt. Sometimes, straw or sawdust was used for insulation, and in many cases, icehouse foundations were built below ground to keep the ice frozen year-round. Research shows that after World War I, the icehouses were no longer necessary and were dismantled.

Today, Gould’s Pond is used for hiking, nature watching and fishing. A gentle hill which is popularly used for sledding lies next to the pond. This hill was most likely scooped out by that same glacier which formed the pond so many years ago. You can find Gould’s Pond at the corner of Moriches and Saint James Roads in Lake Grove, where a beautifully lettered sign marks its spot.

From left to right: Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator, Miller Business Center and Sophia Serlis-McPhillips, library director, MCPL; Maryellen Ferretti, retail market manager, V.P. Long Island East Region; Joseph Clements, V.P. store manager, Bohemia; and Patricia Owens, VP, store manager, Sayville, TD Bank. Photo from MCPL

TD Bank recently provided a generous grant of $2,500 to the Middle Country Library Foundation in support of the annual Women’s EXPO, the library’s educational and supportive venue where local women entrepreneurs and artists gain valuable tradeshow experience.

Here is a picture of a lopped tree cultivated in Middle Island standing in 1940, as photographed by Albert Bayles on June 29 of that year. Courtesy, Donald M. Bayles, Albert E. Bayles 1897-1963, A Lifetime in Middle Island, 2008.

Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical documents and artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral roots. The picture and story below come courtesy of a collaborative effort among the library staff.

To grow a fence — If this seems like an impossible idea, think again. 

If you lived on Long Island during the late 18th century and you needed an enclosure for your livestock or wanted to create a boundary line, you’d most likely grow a fence instead of purchasing one. 

Today we’d take a drive over to the local home improvement store to buy the posts and other supplies to erect a fence, or perhaps we would hire a contractor to take care of the project. 

Photo courtesy Frederick S. Lightfoot, et.al. Long Island in Early Photographs, 1867-1951, ©1984.

Whichever way we choose to install a fence nowadays, we have goods and services at our disposal to get the job done.

Take a look at these photos and read on to learn how our ancestors went about the same task, using materials at hand — trees or young saplings already growing in the proper locations.

As local historian Thomas Bayles wrote in his 1965 booklet, “Old Lopped Tree Fences,” live trees were partially cut with their tops bent over mounds of previously piled soil, in a technique known as “lopping.” 

The bent section of the tree would begin to sprout roots and continue to grow. After several years the larger upright branches would become new trees and the “lopping” process would be repeated again. According to Thomas Bayles, these living fences could be maintained for a century or more, with the original offshoots developing into large trees, still attached to the original trunk.

One of the most fascinating facts about the lopped tree fences is that George Washington took note of them on his 1790 visit to Long Island, even writing several entries about them in his diary. 

Lopped fences were very popular in our area at the time, and President Washington was quite intrigued by them. 

However, he did note that they were not “hog tight,” meaning that the homesteaders’ pigs could get around or under the fences. Nonetheless, the settlers of the time favored these fences because their horses and cattle were safely contained within their borders. 

Landowners learned that the fences could be reinforced by weaving in vines or adding other plants like saplings and woody shrubs along existing lopped tree fences to fill in gaps and provide a more secure barrier.

Over time, most of these trees have been removed, but some have been reported to be standing on Long Island as late as 1965. 

A few may be standing yet. Next time you are driving or cycling down an old country lane or exploring a wooded area, see if you can spy a tree which looks as if it may have been coaxed into growing in this special way, and you’ll see a piece of our living local history. 

If you locate a lopped tree and would like to let us know, please e-mail Middle Country Public Library’s Local History Team at [email protected]