2016-06-02 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

•Last week’s column had an error with the phone number for tickets for the Pilot Club Belmont Stakes Cocktail Party on June 11th. The correct phone number is 587-8024. I hope you’ll come… it’s a lot of fun and tickets are only $25!

•Memorial Day has so many different meanings to Americans. However, first and foremost should be, of course, the memories and honoring of the brave men and women who have served, and died, in the armed forces. This year I have been thinking of my brother-in-law, Dick Freeman, who died nearly two years ago. It never occurred to any of us that Dick would die from his service in Vietnam.

Dick came home in relatively good shape if rail thin. He married my sister Isabel and they had five children. Several years ago, like many of us his age, he began to develop skin cancers but then developed leukemia, dying a couple of years after diagnosis. As it turned out, all this was due to exposure to Agent Orange while he was in the service. He was one more victim of war. I wonder how many others there are out there with similar problems, unseen victims of war. Dick was a good man and had a good life that ended too soon. But I guess all who die from war die too soon. Let’s remember all of them, not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

•Memorial Day also is considered the beginning of summer. When I was in grade school, and ever since, Memorial Day’s most important feature is the parade. When I was in third grade, I joined classes at St. Joseph’s marching in the parade each year. I remember parade practice more than the actual event in those years. We would practice on what we called “the playground” which was actually the huge parking lot for the church and school. It was a “tar and chip” pavement: small gray rocks mixed with tar… hell on the knees, elbows and other parts of the body if you fell while playing! We would march up and down in formation, under the watchful eye of the nuns and brothers. I will never forget the chant we used: “Left…right…left my wife and my 48 children alone in the house in a starving condition, and that’s the reason I left!” To this day I think of this chant when I hear “left…right…left”!

The spring sun could be very warm and practice was just after lunch. On a hot day, one or two children might faint, and the rest of us would stand in the broiling sun as they attended to the unconscious child. But the reward made it all worth it…we had the day after the parade off! In those days, Memorial Day was always on May 31, unless it was a Saturday or Sunday, and then it would be held the next weekday. This meant that we had both Memorial Day (once the parade was over) and the following day off!

Then there was the Memorial Day barbecue. My parents and their best friends and the many children of the families would gather in one of four yards for the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs. As the years went by, and children grew up, the crowd got considerably smaller, but grew again when grandchildren began to make their appearance. By then, it had become a tradition to hold it at our house because we had such a large yard (and three bathrooms…a very important feature). It was a lot of work but always a great deal of fun for most of us…a chance to catch up with people you hadn’t seen since the last Memorial Day (except, sadly, at funerals).

•We belonged to the Babylon Yacht Club (a must for a young lawyer trying to set up a local practice) and would venture down over the opening weekend. My parents were not sailors (Dad would get sunburned walking from the parking lot to his office) but they enjoyed chatting with friends while we threw ourselves into the Bay (no pool until much later). If it were warm and sunny we would emerge an hour later with chattering teeth and skin red as lobsters (that would eventually blister badly). But I have to admit we took a long time to connect the fun in the water with the sunburns! For me, I looked forward to Memorial Day almost as much as Christmas!

•Great news! Stork's Market is planning to reopen on Father's Day! They've been closed since the big fire last July 4th, and their many friends and customers have been waiting for the reopening!

•The Farmer’s Market will start on June 5.

•Village Pool Parking Update: I just spotted this on the Village's official website: Effective June 1, a permit will be required to park in the Village of Babylon Pool parking lot, all day, every day. "Unfortunately recent situations have left the Village no choice but to institute this policy. If you already have a permit, which allows you to park at the Municipal Dock, this permit will also be good at the pool parking lot."

•Many villagers, especially alumni of Babylon High School, will be saddened to learn that Connie Hoernel passed away on May 27, 2016. Connie was probably best remembered as a secretary at Babylon High School for many years. Connie enjoyed her job immensely and cared deeply for the students and staff that passed through the halls of BHS.

Connie was the beloved wife of the late Fowler Hoernel and devoted mother of Constance Ann DeMott and Paul W. Hoernel, grandmother of Heather, Arthur F., and Eric Johann, Ryan, Gareth and Paul F. Hoernel and the late Catharine Johann Ryan, as well as great-grandmother of Luke Hoernel. Especially appropriate for Memorial Day (although many of us may not have known), Connie also served as a WWII WAVE veteran in Washington D.C., Lido Beach and the office of the Port Director New York from 1943-1945. She will be deeply missed.

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