By Robert Levine
In the early 1950s when Cherry Grove was still young, a magical place sprouted in the wooded area between the Grove and the Pines dubbed the Meat Rack. It was a very active part of the Grove scene for many years, with action 24 hours a day, but not so much anymore. In the early ‘70s it also was known as the Judy Garland Memorial Park. There is a path that leads people to their destination and you can continue your walk to the Pines or Grove depending on the direction you are coming from.
At a certain point there is a swampy area where someone put planks of wood to walk across. In the early ‘80s, an unknown handyman replaced the planks with a small bridge. On Labor Day 1995, Kent C. Dillon, who resides in Fire Island Pines, rebuilt the bridge. Through the years it was repaired as needed by Jeffrey McLean, who lives in the Grove. However in recent years, maintenance repair was just not enough, the beloved bridge was absolutely falling apart.
On Saturday, July 20, the Boffo Residency Group from the Pines, who sponsors artists from around the world, rebuilt the bridge again. They named it the Cruising Pavilion – a re-inauguration of Bridge to Lust, Love & Carnal Pleasure. A ceremony was held to commemorate this historical occasion. Drinks were served at a bar that was set up near the bridge. At least 50 people were in attendance. We thank the artists who built the new and improved bridge. They include Pierre Alexandre Matoes and Charles Teyssou from France, as well as Rasmus Myrup from Denmark. Kent Dillon and I were among the guests at this momentous occasion.
Cherry Grove also had their annual Archive show on July 20 and 21, at the Community House. The committee includes Lee Sharmat, Clara Bogetti, Troy Files, Brian Clark, Shirley Munnell, Lorraine Michels, Sue Kravitz and Parker Sargent. They are all devoted to this endeavor, and they all work very hard on it yearround. Harold Seeley of course was the major force behind the concept, collecting memorabilia early on. Since he passed away in 2012, the committee has taken this project to the next level, and it has become a major force behind the preservation of our Cherry Grove history, leading the way for other historical repositories across Fire Island itself. The Archive Committee has made a decision to alternate the film festival and archive presentation every other year. This year was a tribute to Stonewall’s 50th anniversary. There were two highlights that were recognized: Dominic DeSantis celebrated his 90th birthday and Joan Van Ness was saluted as the only real woman who was ever Homecoming Queen, in 1994. Gay Nathan and Julie Paradise returned to Santa Fe for a few weeks. We will see them again soon. Charlie Isola and Dan Clancy, who were Cherry Grove homeowners, return every season for at least three weeks. They had a great time here. Jack Roullo spent a week in South Beach checking on his winter apartment. Michael Moran returned from St. Petersburg, Florida, where he attended his father’s 75th birthday party. Toni Cesta and Jane Haber had day guests from Long Island, Lisa and Tom Delsignore. Joan Van Ness and Lorraine Michels will be on Cape Cod for a few weeks. Vacationing for their yearly visit to the Grove is Melinda Blau and her Madame X. Their houseguest was Jill Stern from Massachusetts. David Rattcliff lived in the Pines for 18 years. He now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, and spent four days in the Grove with his friend, Steve Sangesland, a new Cherry Grove homeowner. Andre Almeida had guests from San Paulo, Brazil. A very happy birthday to Bill Beauchamp, Peter Chace, Michael Moran, Matthew George and Mike Fisher.
We at “Roseland” had daytripper guests, Wolfgang Busch and his partner, Ming Tan. Wolfgang hasn’t been here for 15 years. When he lived in the Grove, he was the technical director for the Cherry Grove Community House for two years, followed by the Fire Island Pines Community House for another year – the community house that stood before Whyte Hall was built. Wolfgang is also proud to say that at that time he also won two Mikie Awards for his sound and light work.
Steven Skeels and Jerad Bortz also returned to the Grove for a day trip. Jered was with “Wicked” for years. He is a songwriter and composer and will soon have his album “Thankful” released.
Casino Night was a big hit at the Community House on Saturday, July 27. The theatre was transformed into “Emerald City.” All the dealers and bartenders were dressed as Dorothy, the Lion, Tin Man, Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, the Good Witch, and the Bad Witch, among others. It was a fun evening. Joe Mello even proposed to his future bride, Elise Christine, in this magical world. At the same time the Pines was having their “Island of Lost Boys” beach party, as Peter Pan characters took over the beach. What a night it was in the Pines and Grove. MGM studios would have been jealous!
• “The Monroe Sisters,” written and directed by Parker Sargent, starring Patty McKeever and Emilio Deluca, will appear at the Community House, on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 8 p.m.
• Arts Project of Cherry Grove brings comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer to Fire Island, on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 8 p.m.
• A limited amount of tickets are available for sale for the Cherry Grove Honors Dinner, on Aug. 17, at the Community House. Gerry Losquadro and Eddie Fraser will be honored along with a posthumous recognition for the late Jim Fallon.
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