2009-10-01 / Columnists

Fountains, birthday, the first day of school and other remembrances

Babylon News & Muse
by Mary Gallagher

There’s a new project underway in Babylon. Wayne Horsley and Dr. Chris Proto have put together a committee to look into donating a fountain to the Village. This is not just any fountain, but a duplicate of one that sat in the center of the intersection of Main Street and Deer Park Avenue nearly one hundred years ago. At that time, a local group donated a cast iron fountain which consisted of three levels: the lowest was for dogs, then one for horses, and finally, one for people. In the early part of the 20th century, a trolley ran between the train station and the Babylon dock. Unfortunately, one day the trolley smashed into the fountain and demolished it. Most of the pieces were reported dumped in the river that runs east of the Southard property at Main and Willow Streets.

The new fountain will NOT be placed in the intersection of Main Street and Deer Park Avenue! (Can you imagine what that would do to traffic there???) Various sites have been discussed but no final decision has been made as of yet. If you are interested in this project or would like to help, log onto the website: thevillagefountain. org. If you have any information about the original fountain, please let us know.

•It’s hard to lose old friends and watch their homes sold. But the new owners of Don and Lydia Conroy’s home on South Carll Avenue, the Basile family, a lovely young couple with two small children, have moved in and love the house and the Village. (No, they are no relation to Village Trustee, Debbie Basile.) Welcome to Babylon!

•Marie Peck and a group of friends celebrated her birthday at her home on September 12th.

•It seems that September is a big month for birthdays. David Campi of West Islip was the guest of honor at a family party last weekend. Congratulations go to Lorraine Cirasole, who celebrated her special day on September 5th. Best wishes also to Betty Meyer for her September 20th birthday. Judy Skillen, this year’s winner of the Conklin Award, and Charlene Gibbs both celebrated their birthdays on September 26th. Last week’s birthdays also include Joanne Allar on the 28th and Sue Valenza on September 29th. Many happy returns to one and all!

•Dotty Simpson of Sunrise Assisted Living was honored for her 93rd birthday by a party that included cotton candy, popcorn, large pretzels, hot dogs, soda and pink champagne. Theaffairwas hosted by close friends Elena DeMurias and Adrian Killen. One of the most popular features was the Mr. Softee truck, which stayed throughout the party. Many of the residents were seen feasting on banana splits, and most of them finished every bite!

•Get well wishes go to Elida Callahan of Babylon, as well as to Arlene Lawrence of West Islip.

•The Bayard Cutting Arboretum Horticulture Society held a wonderful flower and harvest show the weekend of September 12th and 13th. In addition to wonderful arrangements and beautiful flowers, this show featured a large number of great scarecrows! As you entered the show area, you were greeted by a man made entirely of flower pots! As you proceeded further, the lane was protected by a scarecrow fireman, pulling an old-fashioned cart of fire hose. One after another, scarecrows in creative outfits and poses lined the path. Inside the Carriage House were displays of dahlias from the Long Island Dahlia Society, a miniature version of a shed created by the Cornell Gardeners with a roof covered with plants, and a group of wood carverings. (One of the best carvings was a self-portrait of one of the members dressed as an old sailor.) Garden Clubs Patchogue, Bay Shore, Garden City, and Stewart Manor contributed lovely floral vignettes. In the center of the Carriage House was an elegant tea table with cups and plates covered with moss and cakes made of live flowers. Just behind the building was a large group of scarecrow spectators, leaning against the wall, looking up at a sign, their faces covered by umbrellas. It was an imaginative and elegant flower show in a beautiful setting. Some of the scarecrows will remain up for a few weeks, so go see the foliage and scarecrows!

•The opening of the new school year brings back lots of memories from the past. Do you remember wondering (and dreading) what your new teacher or teachers would be like? Who would be in your class that year? At the beginning of every school year you would resolve to do well…get your homework done and earn good grades. It was a chance to start over and show everyone that you were not the class dunce! Themost pleasurable part of all was shopping for school supplies and school clothes. Do you remember how excited you were when you went to the store and searched for just the right loose-leaf binder? Of course, you needed a pencil case to keep all your newly sharpened pencils and new pens in! One of the most exciting parts of the shopping expedition was to pick out your lunch box. You’d spot it right away because it had a picture of your favorite TV character on the top and a matching thermo inside.

Thenit was time to look for some new school clothes. It began as a pleasurable thing that became less and less enjoyable as the day went on. It was so much pressure to find clothes that would magically convert you into one of the cool kids. Of course, your mother didn’t care if it made you look cool…she just wanted to make sure that it was big enough so you could wear it for a couple of years and that it would keep you warm in the upcoming winter! Just when you were totally exhausted with this shopping trip, your mother would announce that it was time to look for shoes! Horrors!

Later that day, when you were home and had all your school stuff laid out on your bed, it was time to look at them and dream of how you’d walk into school the first day and everyone would realize you had transformed over the summer. You had left school just one of the other kids but now you had evolved into a totally different person!

Of course, new school supplies and new clothes did not really transform you. You were still the same person who had left school in June and after the first week of school you forgot about the big transformation and slipped happily back into your old friendships, perhaps adding one or two new friends. The next September, the process would start all over again with the magic words “It’s time to go school shopping!”

One of the things that you probably did not notice during those first few days of school was that there were several classmates absent. Charlie came back a week late with tales of his trip to see his aunt in Washington. Jane would slip back into her place, explaining that she’d had a bad cold and that her mother wouldn’t let her come to school for a few days. No one doubted these stories. Several kids returned to school the second week and no one noticed they’d even been gone. Usually they were kids who didn’t stand out at all. Their grades were low; their clothes were nothing to make them noticeable. In many ways, they were invisible. You recognized them and would exchange nods or a few words, but then they would slip into the background once more. The truth behind their absence would never occur to you, or to most of the adults in the school community.

These children weren’t on vacation. They were not sick. Theywere ashamed. Theyhad no new clothes. Most of them had no new school supplies. Theystayed away that first week or weeks because they were so selfconscious and embarrassed. Theywere sure that everyone would notice that they were wearing the same old clothes, using the same ragged book bag from the previous year. These children are the reason that the Pilot Club of Babylon began a program called Start School Right.

Every year there are thousands, perhaps millions of students, who stay home for the first few days of school because their parents cannot buy them new clothes or school supplies. These students wear the same clothes day after day. Often the clothes are washed infrequently and some children and even some staff members may comment on this. Theproblem usually grows with age. Instead of missing a few days of school, students stay home for up to two weeks. They miss all the instruction that takes place during those days and are already behind the eight-ball the first day they do go to school. Their grades may be poor and their self-esteem is almost non-existent. The older students begin to cut school on a regular basis and the problem snowballs. Eventually many of them disappear, drop-outs with poor prospects for the future.

Start School Right is a program that hopes to interrupt this cycle. The concept is that if these children begin the school year with good self-esteem, they will do better in school and hopefully better after school. Students recommended by schools and counseling programs are provided with a backpack overflowing with school supplies appropriate for their grade. Their parents are also given a gift card to Bob’s Store to purchase some school clothes for their child. As the days get cooler, Start School Right presents them with scarves, hats, and gloves. In February, the family receives a gift card for a local supermarket.

This year, the Pilot Club outfitted 43 local students. There are many more that need help. If we can help these students feel better about themselves, they may do better in school and stay in school longer. If you would like to help, please send a donation to the Pilot Club of Babylon, P.O. Box 231, Babylon, N.Y. 11702.

•Bill Wolfe says that the Barrique Kitchen & Wine Bar opened officially two weeks ago. The new site, at 69 Deer Park Avenue, offers a large wine list, sold by the glass or half-bottle. They also feature tapas (small plates of food meant for sharing) including items such as veal meatballs, flat-bread pizzas, salads, sautéed calamari, steak, etc. Theyopen in the late afternoon into the night. Rave reviews have already been heard!

•Isabel Gallagher, founder of the Babylon Beautification Society, managed to attend this year’s Country Fair in Argyle Park. Isabelle was thrilled to see how the Society has thrived over the past 36 years and how much they have been able to make Babylon such a great place to live and work. Congratulations to Donna Consola and her staff for such a lovely event!

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