Change of Course for Wooden Boats at OB Historical Society

 Photos by Shoshanna McCollum and Ian Levine

To tack is to change direction by turning the bow of the boat through the wind. Ocean Beach Historical Society Director Linna Kantrowitz Salamone did some deft tacking this summer by recognizing an opportunity when she saw one and acting on it without hesitation. That’s how “The Wooden Boats We Rode,” the exhibition on display at the Historical Society through Labor Day, came to be.

The Ocean Beach Community Fund events calendar had stated another exhibit was scheduled, and certainly it would have been an interesting one. However, the great thing about summers on Fire Island is that we live in the moment.

“She approached me about use of some photos,” Luke Kaufman explained. “But I told her I really wanted to exhibit my drawings.”

Kaufman is a man of many facets. He is a devoted family man living in Seaview, dedicated to his work at Fire Island Ferries as a ferry captain and operations manager, a fastidious collector of local period photos and images, and a talented artist – ferry boats being a central subject.

I had seen examples of his drawings before and knew he was a skilled draftsman, but to see the series hanging on the gallery walls of the historical society makes a powerful statement. Partnered with vintage photographs from the Ocean Beach Historical Society’s permanent collection, you’ve got one handsome exhibit about a vital component to Fire Island’s local history – the show really has it all – beauty, nostalgia, and substance. This is what all local history organizations strive for.

The positive response resonated at the opening reception held on the evening of Aug. 11. It was a joyful, animated crowd as well as a who’s who in Fire Island Ferries top brass who came to support their friend.

Salamone has been with the historical society for nine years and smartly delegated duties to the talented team she has forged over time. Hanging and design of the exhibition was orchestrated by Lori Marabella Bloom, the handsome poster that promoted the exhibit was designed by longtime Ocean Beach resident Liz Schwerd, and Theresa Davidson saw to organizing the wine & cheese spread to keep the crowds happy – and as a former curator of the historical society myself, I can assure you that can be a stressful task!

This is an exhibition that will be meaningful to residents of many Fire Island communities and should not be missed. Kaufman’s works are available for sale as well, a wise investment for the collector.