Saltaire Summery

by Hugh O'Brien |

            Looks like we’re settling into the new reality in our happy haven of unreality, as summer activities loom, days grow shorter, and people’s faces, instead of their masks, become familiar identification markers. Even the market now lets you in unmasked, provided you’ve been vaccinated; anti-vaxxers may be barefaced in their false medical assertions but not in the store, where a suitable, and preferably impermeable, face covering is still a mandatory fashion-statement for the health-averse. Camp opens July 6, lifeguards are beaching daily, churches are re-convoking, the Club’s running full-tilt due to some sinking posts out back, and field sports resume as soon as Maintenance moves the bleachers back once the new shades are installed (thanks to the financial generosity of the SCA). A new normal, perhaps, but “normal” is the operative word.

One new normal that’s been rising faster than anyone would like are calls to the SVFC, culminating in the tragic house fire June 25. The largest fire in the village in years saw no fewer than five

Firefighters’ gear drying out at SVFC headquarters following Friday morning’s seven-alarm fire. (Photo by Catherine O’Brien.)

island and two mainland departments respond to the early morning call. Fortunately the blaze was confined to the one home – terrible enough. But it comes on the heels of a higher-than-usual number of calls earlier this month, each answered with dispatch as soon as we got the dispatch, but alarming after a record 100-plus calls in 2020. Fortunately, the Company, under the leadership of Chief Josh Raeben (and, as he always emphasizes, the entire team), has been so immersed in even-deeper training over the past year that its record number of members are ready to jump on any emergency at a moment’s notice. And as everywhere on the island neighboring departments will always provide mutual aid. But care and prevention serve everyone best.

Now normally we’d wait until late summer to make note of those members of the community who’ve passed on this past year, but this being a new normal, I think it’s appropriate that we begin the season by remembering friends lost since last September. Loes Schiller, George Roy Hill Jr., Jonathan Leigh, Ken Preston, Jake Yazejian, and most recently Dick Starkey, have all left us, and left us bereft. Mention should also be made of two individuals who, while not strictly speaking Saltairians (do Saltairians speak strictly?) were nonetheless integral parts of community life: Frank Whitney, former owner of the Market, and Carl Dahl, jack, and master, of all trades. All these people were – and are – beloved by their families and cherished by their friends. Special note in particular needs to be taken of “Mac” Hill, former village administrator; and especially Jonathan Leigh, former two-term trustee and two-term mayor, who helped shape the course of Saltaire’s life in the last part of the last century, bringing his in-depth experience and depthless love for the community to bear in guiding Saltaire toward the future while keeping all that’s best about it paramount. Many wonderful people, many wonderful memories, and much to be thankful for.

About the Author

Hugh O'Brien

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