2017-06-22 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

•The perfume of summer wafts around my back door. Until last year, I seldom caught the scent. Then suddenly, every time I went to walk my dog, it surrounded me for a brief time. It took a while to realize it was the scent of the honeysuckle vine! The thick hedge around my childhood home was a mixture of boxwood and honeysuckle. It was one of the few things that my mother would have cursed, if she had known how to do so!

I have gotten to understand my mother’s dislike for honeysuckle. In spite of the fact that I love the smell and taste of honeysuckle, it has now wrapped itself tightly around a climbing rose and a dwarf cherry tree. I’m not sure if it will damage either of them, but it does worry me. I’ll have to consult the Cornell Extension people.

•Last week most of Babylon saw a familiar face on Page 3 of Newsday. Skip Gardner was the subject of a large article due to the fact that his property taxes were past due. Frankly, I found the article puzzling. I knew that Skip’s taxes were past due. It was hardly a secret. Twice a year, the Beacon publishes a list of property owners who have overdue taxes. I have found it interesting but not shocking to find any number of familiar names listed. When we have so many other serious issues confronting our country, the choice of Skip’s taxes hardly seems important enough to post on the page usually devoted to murders and other world news.

Skip has worked for the Village for 40-plus years. During that time, he worked his way up through the ranks to become the head of our public works department. I live right across the street from the highway and sanitation department. From there I have seen Skip’s dedication to the people of Babylon. I don’t know what hours Skip reports, but I see him working at three in the morning on a regular basis. I would guess that he puts in close to 70 to 80 hours a week. On top of that, he is constantly (and quietly) helping residents with all sorts of problems, such as climbing in a window when some resident locks themselves out of their home. (He did that for me about a month ago.) Much of his anonymous assistance goes to older people and ranges from changing locks to changing tires, all on his own time.

Skip knows more of the history of Babylon Village, good and bad, than any other person I know. He knows the way Mother Nature works whether you are talking about underwater streams in Twin Oaks or how the rains drain off 231 at John Street. Personally, I am petrified at the thought of Skip retiring, and I’ve heard many others express the same thought. Is Skip perfect? No. The overdue taxes show that. But as far as I am concerned, Skip Gardner is the greatest asset this Village has!

•This Friday Babylon High School will hold graduation services on the athletic field. Our graduating classes have never been very large (except when students from West Babylon, North Babylon and Deer Park were part of Babylon High back in the 1950s and early 60s). Fifty years ago, I was part of the graduating class (1967). This Friday, I will be sitting on the field once again, with some of the same people that kept me company 50 years ago. More of those classmates will join me at the Village Pool in August, when we hold our 50th reunion. My class has been lucky. Although the classes around us lost classmates before they even graduated, our class was already planning our 10th reunion when we heard that the first of our classmates had died. Since then, we have lost about a dozen friends and classmates over the years, but far fewer than any of the classes around us.

However, we have a number of missing classmates and sadly the number of the departed may be greater than we know. If you can help us track down any of our classmates, please call 631-587-0335 and let us know where they are.

The following is a list of people we have been unable to locate: Steve Bellanca, Linda Brown, Judy Brown Hessler, Joe Brundin, Lynda Capobianco, Paul Devlin, Tom Donohue, Jim Evans, Brian Issacs, Robert Johnson, Lynne Kelly Rosenberg, Betty Kinbacher, Dave King, Arlene Knecht, Linda Larned Rossetti, Gail Lehtonen, Jessica

Leonard, Valeri Lindley, Bob Longenecker, Charles Neet, Laura Nelson, Anna Ortis, Vivian Palmer, Bill Peters, James Reuter, Pat Sanders Bunch, Nancy Seifert, Greg Thompson, Barbara Tonkin, Anita Truchess and Linda Wischerth Makowsky.

•Happy birthday to Todd Shaw, Joanne Campisi, Gary Brunjes and Kat Fenig! And special wishes to Kay Baker on the occasion of her 90th! May you all enjoy many more!

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