Ocean Beach Area

Then and Now

By Joey Macellaro

The Village of Ocean Beach and its environs boast a rich history and a treasure trove of historical architecture that has been well documented over the last century. However photographers wishing to take new photos to replicate historical shots face an inherent problem: The vegetation in the OceanBeach of today is much lusher than it was in the village’s early years.

As a trustee of the Protestant church, I have made a hobby of finding locations in which photographs in the church collection were taken in the 1910s through the ’40s and attempting to take new pictures from the same angle. For example, the photo shown on this page was taken by the mother of church Trustee Emeritus Jim Walling in 1938 while she stood on the beach overpass at the south end of Cottage Walk, looking north. Nearly all the structures in the old photo are still standing and look nearly identical today, but most are now hidden by trees, making a “now” photo less impressive. (By the way, the old water tower was just to the left of the view in the photo.) When lots were first divided in the 1910s, our village was largely devoid of trees and shrubs. I think most would agree that, in spite of the fact that “then-and-now” photos are difficult to take, the village is more horticulturally rich today.

With summer in full swing, our community is also rich in other types of culture, and in fun and exciting things to do. The Ocean Beach Fire Department will host its Warrior Appreciation Night to benefit Hope for the Warriors, an organization that aids troops and veterans. A cocktail party will be held on the ferry dock tonight, Friday, Aug. 18, from 5-9 p.m. Tickets are available for $50. Also available are new 2017 OBFD T-shirts, for sale in shops in town.

The Ocean Beach village police department is also making news. After 24 years on the force, Chief George Hesse was recently featured in Entrepreneur magazine for his side job, Copcakes Arresting Appetites, which he has operated the last few years. Many in town have come to love his baked goods, including the members of the Free Union Church, to which he donated a wagon full of cupcakes for their 100th anniversary celebration last season. Congratulations to Chief Hesse for the publicity.

The Ocean Beach Community Fund held its annual gala fundraiser at the Community House on Saturday, Aug. 5. More than 250 supporters enjoyed the music of the New Orleans-based band Big Sam’s Funky Nation and a buffet dinner provided by many of the restaurants in town. The Community Fund will be hosting free dock concerts featuring the band NOIZ Entertainment on Saturday, Aug.19, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., and will be coordinating the Fire Island Poets Society’s annual poetry reading at the Free Union Church at Ocean Breeze and Midway at 8 p.m. the same night.

Local businesses — including Maguire’s, Bambootique, CJ’s, the Palms Hotel, among others — supported the silent auction at the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society’s 31st annual dinner dance on Saturday, Aug. 12, on the lighthouse grounds. The Society was formed over 31 years ago in an effort to bring the Fire Island Lighthouse back into operation after it was decommissioned by the federal government.

Although I have never had much luck at fishing, many others in our community have. The Ocean Beach Fishing Club was established by locals including Mel Brooks back in 1946, and, after falling dormant for several years, was resurrected in 2008 by Woody Salvan as a children’s group. The club’s 70th annual catch-and-release fishing contest will be held on Saturday, Sept. 2, for children 14 years of age and under, along the west dock near Maguire’s. Register by calling 917-699-8416.

The Village of Ocean Beach Environmental Commission will be hosting its 11th annual Environmental Awareness Day event at the Community House at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19. Speaker Marshall Brown, president of Save the Great South Bay, will be giving a talk, entitled “The Water Crisis in Our Area.” The Environmental Commission is an advisory committee appointed by the Ocean Beach mayor and village board of trustees.

Our Lady of the Magnificat Roman Catholic Church held a blessing of the waters service this past Tuesday, Aug. 15. Mass was said at the church in the morning, followed by an anointing of the sick and a procession to the beach. Also last week, Maguire’s restaurant hosted a show by Eric Lindell on Thursday, Aug. 17. Proceeds from that event will be donated to the Ocean Beach Police Department.

Fire Island News would not be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year if it were not for the efforts of the paper’s founder, Ocean Beach resident Jay Trien. Jay and his wife, Ildiko, recently celebrated their 44th anniversary with family and friends. Daughter Ooana Trien tells us that Ron Globus, another longtime Fire Islander, was the best man at the wedding. Congratulations and best wishes to the Triens.

Our community lost a local legend with the passing of Dick Sheldon at the age of 89, on Aug. 1. Sheldon owned Kline’s department store for more than 20 years.

“He was a very good man and an important part of the community,” says year-rounder Christopher Dunworth. “He kept me out of trouble a few times.” South Shore residents will also remember him as a science teacher in East Islip School District. We send our condolences to his 10 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and the rest of the Sheldon family.

All good things must come to an end, including this summer season in a few weeks — and a beloved local institution: Kenny Goodman’s gallery on Dehnhoff. Goodman will be retiring and closing up shop in the fall, but not before holding another rust collection. All are invited to deposit old rusty tools and metal scraps at the gallery for use in future art installations.

Time to head to the beach. Until next time, please keep sending community news my way.