Saltaire Summery

PHOTO: Saltaire’s oldest resident and World War II veteran Milton Pike, 102, displays his copy of the Instrument of Surrender signed September 2, 1945, one of 11 such copies Milton, a professional lithographer, was commissioned to draw up for the occasion. (Photo by Hugh O’Brien.)

By Hugh O’Brien

Well, no one could have asked for a more perfect Memorial Day weekend. Warm but not hot, great ocean breezes, old friends to mingle with, and the Saltaire Market door easier than ever to pull open, beckoning you toward well-stocked shelves. Heck, this year it’s even easy to find the Fire Island News on the reorganized newsstand. So, no excuses not to grab and read a copy. 

Elsewhere, the folks that get things done around here continue making all preparations for getting underway with the summer of ’23. Maybe it’s people’s understandable itch to get the season moving that’s behind it, but there have been a few instances of late where some residents have been a bit more touchy than feely in their expectations. Still, the Village staff has been putting in even longer hours than usual getting things in shape and in order in order to be in shape before the place really fills up with summertime’s quota of the usual throngs and hordes that flesh out our community’s life. Anyway, the beaches, courts and fields are open, with the Club offering peace and serenity after a hard day’s beaching, courting and fielding, so no need to add additional angst to a world already sufficiently beset with same.

This may be the early-June doldrums, but no mistake, Miss Kate (Valente) has set up the Library for browsing and play while preparing for her full-summer program starting the first week of July – the same week Camp begins, with director Molly Davis and crew likewise busily gearing up. (Is there some 1950’s song reason we say “Miss Kate” but not “Miss Molly”?) The Post Office is slated to open June 13, with Miss Liv Hempel overseeing the boxes and hearing-aid ads that flow in, and in a sure sign of summer, twice-weekly (plus-Thursdays) rubbish collection has begun. Don’t miss it.  

On a sad note, amidst the early-season rush last time I inadvertently missed including the passing of Merry Wetherall, Barry’s wife and, well, just simply a smart, ever-cheerful, lifelong islander who for decades managed Barry, his business and their family, the first of which at least is no small task. A rare gem, our Merry. 

On a happier note, I had a great visit with Saltaire’s oldest resident, Milton Pike, back home after four months refugeeing south of the border in Cozumel, where he celebrated birthday number 102 on March 11. Milt got 202 birthday cards (I didn’t check), but the highlight was reading a copy of the Instrument of Surrender signed by the Japanese in Tokyo Bay in 1945, which Milt (who helped prepare the physical documents) somehow retained. (I didn’t ask about that one either.) Every signatory’s John Hancock is there except Hirohito’s, who only signed the primary copy; but that disappointment notwithstanding, MacArthur, Nimitz, Shigemitsu and the gang by the gangway are all aboard, in four languages (including Chinese and Russian). Quite an item to keep in your desk drawer.