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Ted Lucki

Members of Ted Lucki’s family were in a forced labor camp. Lucki’s grandmother Anna, left, grandfather Nicholi, second from left, are shown with their children, including Lucki’s father Michael in the back row. Photo from Ted Lucki

By Ted Lucki

“Good morning, Lori. How are you?” (I said to my wife.)   

She said, “I feel great.”  

Ted Lucki’s family arrived in America in 1948. Photo from Ted Lucki

I said, “You should be ready. “ 

“Ready for what?”

“My relatives will be coming from
the Ukraine.”  


“When the first tank crosses the Ukrainian border with Russia.”

Lori said, “You worry too much.” 

I replied that the cycle repeats itself every 70 years or so.

An old Ukrainian folk tale: What is the difference between a Ukrainian and a Russian? The Ukrainian has two shots of vodka and falls asleep. The Russian has two shots of vodka and wakes up to finish two bottles of vodka.  

Let’s go back in time to 1944 and stories from my grandfather Nicholi. His family was ethnically Ukrainian but lived in Eastern Poland. The borders were constantly moving by advancing and retreating armies. Welcome to the Eastern Front. 

My grandfather was in the Austrian army during World War I and knew the German commander in his town. The commander told him that his unit was moving out in the morning. He said that the Red Army was marching, and they were killing everybody in their way. If you were alive, you must be a traitor. This was the logic of Joseph Stalin, who governed the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death in 1953. 

So, my grandfather, Nicholi, woke up his wife and five children — including my father and 2-year-old sister. They loaded up their horse-drawn wooden wagon and headed west trying to avoid the advancing Red Army. They made it to Czechoslovakia. They sold the wagon and bought train tickets to Vienna, Austria. 

Grandpa Nicholi was a student there after World War I and knew some old friends. They then made it to Salzburg, Austria, and were arrested. They had Polish passports and were not allowed legal passage to Austria. They were arrested and sent into a forced labor camp. They worked in the slave labor camp for two years building boxes for ammunition. 

When the war ended, they were fortunately liberated by the American Army and put into refugee camps. They waited for one year before they were sponsored by a medical doctor in Cincinnati, and ultimately ended up in Buffalo. They survived and they were together. They had hope for a new life. Thank God, they made it to America. Many of my relatives were killed or sent to their deaths in Siberia. Those were insane times. I thought the world was more civilized now.  

The Red Army is on the march again. Sounds like a very similar tune. Sounds like a similar strategy: the domination of the Ukrainian people.  

So, Lori, when the tanks roll, my extended family will head west. They’ll hop a train to Poland, fly to JFK, and I will go pick them up. I do not really know them. We met them 20 years ago on our trips to Ukraine. But I am sure they remember us. We were the lucky ones that got out alive.   

I hope history doesn’t repeat itself.  

Please join me in “praying for peace” and hoping that America understands its leadership role in our crazy world.

Ted Lucki is the former mayor of Belle Terre and president of the Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen.

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Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, (left) stands with Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber. Photo from Barbara Ransome

One group’s extra funds is another group’s treasure.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that leftover money from the chamber’s restaurant/meal program was donated to the Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen.

According to Ransome, a check for $2,000 was given to the local soup kitchen. The program, she said, ended in late July, but helped bring food during this past spring and summer when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Long Island. 

“Besides the hospitals we worked with, we also coordinated meals for the soup kitchen as well as other non-profits,” Ransome said. “We suspended services late July with the thought that the remaining money could stay static and used at a later time. This was the time.”

Ransome said the chamber’s board of directors agreed to give the donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals to the food insecure five days a week. 

Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, said that for nearly 30 years, the soup kitchen has served the greater Port Jefferson area with a shelter to enjoy a hot meal. Prior to the pandemic, the nonprofit utilized five kitchens in local churches, where food was collected. But things had to change with new guidelines and restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

“Basically, the churches closed down and we couldn’t keep the kitchens open,” Lucki said. “We had to adjust to becoming a distribution service instead of a cooking service.” And instead of making the meals, they’re giving them to those in need in an organized, and safe, way. “Now you show up and we give you the food,” he said. 

Restaurants like Port Jefferson’s The Fifth Season and Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station have been donating warm meals and sandwiches that the Welcome Friends can distribute. Stores like Cow Palace in Rocky Point and Trader Joes in Lake Grove also have donated groceries, and fellow nonprofit Island Harvest Food Bank also has been involved. 

“All of these people are so giving,” he said. 

While other groups and organizations have halted their donations to those in need, this group still vows to handout food Monday through Friday.

“Because of the great effort of reorganizing a delivery meal program again, our board of directors agreed to give an outright donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals five days a week for the underserved and people in need,” Ransome said. 

The $2,000 will go a long way, Lucki added. “The chamber helped early on and paid for several meals,” he said. “We’re so grateful.”

Grab and go meals are available Monday through Thursday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 309 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and Fridays at the First Presbyterian Church, Main and 107 South Street in the village from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

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People protest a proposed deer hunting law in front of the Belle Terre Village Hall. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Belle Terre officials got an earful at Village Hall on Tuesday night, as residents and visitors debated a proposal to allow deer hunting in the village over the sounds of jeers and the din of snide remarks.

At a public hearing over the proposed law, which the board of trustees developed in response to complaints about experiences with an increased deer population, more people spoke against hunting than in favor, shifting at least one trustee’s opinion.

Comments touched upon issues of public safety and health as well as quality of life. Yuri Farber was part of the minority speaking in support of hunting, saying the deer are destroying his property and he wants the village to offer him protection or allow him to do something “to get rid of this nuisance.”

“This is just not fair,” he said, noting that he would have recourse if it were a human destroying his plants.

But many speakers favored leaving nature alone.

Chris Nelson said, “It was their foliage before it was ours,” and he likes the environment in his village. Dr. Mike Fracchia, to applause from the audience, said falling trees — such as the ones sent flying during a powerful and unexpected storm in early August — were a larger threat to villagers than deer and the animals were “a nuisance that I’m willing to tolerate.”

Other arguments in opposition to deer hunting in Belle Terre included perceived flaws in the proposed law that would define hunting too broadly or make a new set of regulations impossible to enforce.

One woman, who identified herself as a pediatrician, warned the village board that with every law there are people who abuse it.

According to the proposal, residents and their guests would be allowed to use weapons such as crossbows, BB guns or similar devices other than firearms to hunt on their own properties at least 150 feet away from any home, as long as they have state hunting licenses and a permit from the village.

But many worried a child would get caught in the crosshairs.

Dr. Ken Rosenthal held up a broadhead arrow he found at his front door one day, to gasps and murmurs from the audience. The concern about the welfare of playing kids was repeated throughout the night.

Residents also debated whether hunting deer would produce the result desired.

While some said they were worried about contracting illnesses such as Lyme disease from the ticks deer carry, others said many smaller creatures, such as raccoons, carry those ticks as well. And the pediatrician, a Seaside Drive resident, noted that there are diseases everywhere and “unless we’re going to live in a bubble” we take risks in everything we do.

There were calls for compromises and for the board to do more research into sterilization methods, related costs and the actual size of the deer herd in Belle Terre, as some speakers acknowledged deer as a problem, but the sentiment in the room leaned heavily against allowing hunting.

Jaime Ivory produced a petition of 209 signatures against the proposed village law, representing more than 100 households. Her husband Brendan told the board to “go back to the drawing board.”

“This code needs to be thrown out,” he said about the proposal. “You know it.”

The debate had Trustee Bob Sandak changing his public stance on deer hunting in the village.

In a previous interview, Sandak said he had been leaning toward voting in favor of the hunting law because he wanted to do what the majority of the community wanted. But at Tuesday night’s meeting, Sandak got up to the podium and explained that the proposed regulations would only allow about four or five properties in Belle Terre to legally hunt, and the deer would leave those properties if hunting began.

Gasps and applause erupted in the audience when he said, “So as far as I’m concerned, a hunt at this point is ridiculous to consider.”