2017-07-20 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

•This summer truly reminds me of the typical summer of my childhood. The continuous heat and humidity bring back those days vividly. One big difference is that now I wonder how I held up through them! Of course, one great source of relief back then was going to the beach or the pool.

I learned to swim in the Bay, at the Babylon Yacht Club and the lovely beaches of the Town of Babylon.

But that was after the Captree Bridge was built. Unlike many of my friends and neighbors, my family didn’t have any kind of boat in those days. With six children in our family, we were too large a group for family friends to offer us space on their boats. We made do with the yacht club and during those years the Bay was clean enough to let us swim without worrying about pollution.

John Nash, a Babylon High School math teacher, also taught us to swim. He was extremely patient as I recall, and although he was “old,” as only a 30-year-old may seem to a six-year-old, I think I had a mild crush on him. I know when I had him for math in my freshman year at BHS, I felt like we were old friends.

When we weren’t at the beach, we were running around with our friends and neighbors, playing all sorts of games. Keeping in mind that this was 10 or 15 years after the end of WWII, and during the Korean War, it is understandable why we found ourselves playing war so frequently. Cowboys and Indians was also a popular game, thanks to shows like Roy Rogers and Hop Along Cassidy. (One of these days I will have to find out how he got that name!)

Sixty years later I still feel that bond to the kids I was lucky enough to share my childhood with. While today’s children have many advantages we did without, it’s hard not to pity them for not having the freedom we had as children.

•Sadly, Robert “Pete” Abbott passed away on July 3. A member of a family long prominent in Babylon and West Islip, Pete loved the Great South Bay and he grew up sailing from an early age and continuing into adulthood, crewing for Hapi Fauth and later Bud and Joan St. John. He is survived by his wife, Enid; his sister, Joan Hawkins, and four children: Gordon, Kathryn, Liz and Sam, as well as several grandchildren. His parents, Gordon and Yvonne, predeceased him. Although Pete worked in finance, the job he liked best was at the end of his career when he worked for the Mystic Aquarium. In recent years, Pete and Enid lived outside Philadelphia.

•Growing up alongside the Great South Bay, I think that many of us have taken the Bay for granted over the years. Feeling that way may be part of the reason that we allowed the Bay to become polluted. Fortunately, many of us have realized that we cannot just stand back and watch this wonderful stretch of water continue to deteriorate. Thanks to various groups that have formed over the past couple of decades, I think most of us want to change the situation.

The organization “Save the Great South Bay” is one that has stepped forward to encourage Long Island residents to bring the Bay back to its former glory. All sorts of businesses and organizations are working together with “Save the Bay” to raise funds and awareness of the danger to the Bay. I’m trying to get info about the second, “Drink the Bay Clean” event, co-sponsored by the Blue Point Brewery and Flynn’s of Fire Island. Hopefully more on them for you in next week’s column.

The Babylon Village Arts Council is doing their bit with a special exhibit at Astoria Bank in Babylon. “Working the Great South Bay” represents how the traditional way of life centered on how the Bay was an important part of Long Island. Stop in and check out the exhibit, which is running now.

Of course, Babylon Village is acknowledging the Bay as a focus of life here with the statue “The Bayman” which will be installed in Argyle Park later this year.

I was thrilled to hear that dolphins have been spotted in the Bay recently. It’s not too clear if they were lost or actually checking the Bay out as a future habitat, but I hope it’s the latter!

•The Argyle Theater, formerly known as Babylon Cinema, is changing quickly. Owners, Mark and Dylan Perlman, hope to recreate the “Broadway experience for Long Islanders.” They are planning to show six major productions, as well as concerts, comedy acts and occasional films.

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