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Ward Melville Heritage Organization

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From left, Tom Manuel, judge (founder of The Jazz Loft); 2015 First-Place Winner Julianna Gape, Setauket; Kyle Foley, judge (Stony Brook University Music Department); and James Faith, judge (2nd vice chairman, Long Island Music Hall of Fame). Photo from WMHO

Attention Long Island students! Can you carry a tune? Is a musical instrument your specialty? If so, get your audition DVD or YouTube video submitted now for Long Island’s Got Talent 2017, hosted by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO).

Created by WMHO’s Youth Corps, the event gives Long Island students the opportunity to show off their talents this spring. It’s open to students 10-17 years of age in Nassau or Suffolk County who must still be in high school at the time awards are given in November 2017. Talent must be nonprofessional vocal or musical instrument performances. The entry deadline is March 17 and there is a $25 entry fee. Those who are contacted after submitting their audition will be asked to perform at the first-round performance on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. at WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main Street in the Stony Brook Village Center.

Finalists chosen will also have the opportunity to perform at WMHO’s Sunday Summer Concerts series in July and August, and finals will take place on Nov. 3, 2017 when the winners will be chosen. For full details and Official Entry Form, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

From left, “Tobias” played by Darren St. George; “Thomas” played by Jordan Gee; Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn; “Dorcas” played by Carolyn Brown; and Lori Andrews, WMHO development director. Photo from WMHO

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Empire National Bank are this year’s generous sponsors of Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s riveting live theatrical drama, “Running Scared, Running Free … Escape to the Promised Land.” Performed by St. George Living History Productions, it tells the story of slaves escaping through the Underground Railroad from the south to Long Island and north to Canada. Native Americans, Quakers, free blacks and Abolitionists assisted them through the fascinating use of secret codes in quilt patterns as a means of communication.

The show, currently in production at the WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook runs through Feb. 28. Tickets, by reservation, are $12 per adult; $12 per student (up to 35 students); $8 per student (over 35 students). To order, call 631-689-5888. For further information on this and other WMHO educational programming, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.wmho.org.

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.

Visitors express their enthusiasm for Stony Brook. Photo by Donna Newman

Stony Brook was on display as a destination on a global scale this past weekend.

A group of travel product developers — those who design tours for the luxury market in mainland China — visited the Village Oct. 22 as part of a “familiarization (or fam) tour” of Long Island.

“We don’t have time to showcase the entire island, so we choose some places that are special,” Joan LaRosa, director of sales for the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau said of the visit. Evidently Stony Brook is one of those.

The tours encourage designers to add Long Island stops to their itineraries. She said five “fam” tours are going on right now, hosted by United Airlines, which provided the plane tickets.

A second entity participating in this travel sales pitch is the New York State Division of Tourism via its I Love NY campaign.

Anna Klapper, a manager for global trade development for Washington, D.C.-based Brand USA, is one of the guides accompanying the group on their journey.

“They flew into New York Oct. 19 and have been visiting places on Long Island,” she said. “Tomorrow morning we’ll ferry to Connecticut and make stops in New Haven, Mystic [Seaport] and Mohegan Sun.”

Visitors enjoy craft beer at Brew Cheese in Stony Brook Village. Photo by Donna Newman
Visitors enjoy craft beer at Brew Cheese in Stony Brook Village. Photo by Donna Newman

Klapper pointed out that she and colleague Philip Joseph have noticed that their guests are constantly online posting everything on social media — adding value to their sales efforts.

Brand USA is an organization that markets the United States as a destination to travel product developers worldwide. Its goal is to increase international tourist visits, thereby fueling the nation’s economy and enhancing its image abroad, as stated on the organization’s website.

The website further states it is “the nation’s first public-private partnership to spearhead a globally coordinated marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry policies. Its operations are supported by a combination of contributions from destinations, travel brands, and private-sector organizations, plus matching funds collected by the U.S. government from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.”

The visitors from China are also accompanied by Tina Yao, Brand USA’s Shanghai office director.

Gloria Rocchio, president of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, made the arrangements for the visitors and was on hand to greet them.

“The LI Convention and Visitors Bureau picked Stony Brook for this visit,” she said. When asked if she knew why, she speculated, “perhaps because we have a 21st century, world-class university and a picturesque, historic village on the water?”

Rocchio invited Yu-wan Wang, associate dean of international admissions at Stony Brook University, to meet the group, talk about the university and answer any questions they had about it. She also served as an interpreter, and when she asked William Wang of Shanghai to tell what he liked best about Stony Brook, she translated:

“I love the fresh air and to be so close to the ocean.”

Following a sampling of lavender and espresso cheese and craft beers, the party of 16 made their way across the street to The Jazz Loft for a musical evening.

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.

Photo courtesy of WMHO

Blast from the Past: Where was this store in the 1940s and what is it today? 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.

clancysLast week’s photo: This photo was taken in the early 1950s during a festival at the Stony Brook Village Center. Photo courtesy of The WMHO

Above, one of the many scarecrows that greeted visitors at the Stony Brook Village Center last year. File photo by Giselle Barkley
A sparkly (and flexible) witch greets visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center in a previous year. File photo
A sparkly (and flexible) witch greets visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center in a previous year. File photo

One of the North Shore’s most popular holiday events is now underway at the Stony Brook Village Center, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s annual Scarecrow Competition. This will be the 26th year the spooky, silly and scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote in their favorite! Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office.

Categories are Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline will be Sept. 30 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will receive cash prizes awarded at WMHO’s Annual Halloween Festival, beginning at 2 p.m. on Oct. 31. Suffolk Center for Speech is the main event sponsor for the festival and competition. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com

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The Hercules figurehead from the USS Ohio in Stony Brook. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Ernestine Franco

The heroes of Greek and Roman legends are long gone, but they are still an echo in our collective mythic memories.

Hercules was the Roman name of the greatest hero of Greek mythology — Heracles. Like most authentic heroes, Hercules had a god as one of his parents, being the son of the supreme deity Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. Zeus’ queen Hera was jealous of Hercules and was determined to make trouble for him by making him lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children.

The story goes that when he awoke from his “temporary insanity,” Hercules was shocked and upset by what he’d done. He prayed to the god Apollo, also a son of Zeus. As part of his punishment, Hercules had to perform 12 labors including slaying the Nemean lion — feats so difficult that they seemed impossible. Fortunately, Hercules had the help of some sympathetic deities. By the end of these labors, Hercules was, without a doubt, Greece’s greatest hero.hercules-1 His struggles made him the perfect embodiment of an idea the Greeks called pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering that would lead to fame and, in Hercules’ case, immortality.

There have been many reincarnations of Hercules. To name just a few: Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot; the 1997 animated Disney movie “Hercules”; the TV show “Hercules,” which ran from 1995 to 1999; and a 1970 B film “Hercules in New York.” There is even an adjective, herculean, that embodies all the positive aspects of this hero.

But before all these, there was the 19th-century figurehead Hercules of the USS Ohio. Built between 1817 and 1820, she was the first ship built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Ohio served in the Mediterranean, sailed the Pacific and landed troops on the shores of Vera Cruz during the war with Mexico in 1847. By 1884 the Ohio was decommissioned, sold for scrap and moored in Greenport. She broke free of her mooring during a storm and sunk a short distance off shore. Resting in a mere 20 feet of water, part of the ship was above sea level. The exposed parts of the Ohio were burned and the rest abandoned. Luckily this piece of folk art was stripped off the ship before her end.

The figurehead of Hercules, wrapped in the skin of the Nemean lion, was carved out of a single piece of cedar at a cost $1,500. At one point it was sold for a mere $10 at an auction. It was again sold for $15 by the then owner of the Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays where it remained for decades. Eventually the figurehead was acquired by Ward Melville in 1954 who deeded it to The Ward Melville Heritage Organization for preservation.

As if this isn’t already an amazing enough piece of history, the pavilion also has a whaleboat used on Charles Hall’s final arctic expedition. The Hercules Pavilion is located along Main Street in Stony Brook Village, across from the Village Green, near the anchor of the USS Ohio.

For more information, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.wmho.org.

Photo courtesy of WMHO

Blast from the Past:

Do you know where and when this photo was taken? Why are these men wearing costumes? 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.

Last week’s photo:

Beauty ShopThis photo was taken in the early 1940s in the Harbor Crescent section of the Stony Brook Village Center. Photo courtesy of The WMHO

Photo courtesy of The WMHO

Blast from the Past:

Do you know where this bowling alley was located? Do you know when it was built and how long it was in existence? 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.