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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO In its day, the building that today houses Melina Wein’s real estate business was Lester’s Ice Cream Shop.
In its day, the building that today houses Melina Wein’s real estate business was Lester’s Ice Cream Shop.


Malcolm X was assassinated in an upper New York City ballroom, allegedly by a group of Black Muslims with whom he had a falling out.Ranger 8 made a hard landing on the moon and sent back data and photographs.

Americans were listening to “Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

“The Greatest Story Ever Told” was the most viewed new movie of the year.

A new re-mastered color broadcast of Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” starring Leslie Ann Warren was on CBS Television.

And on Shelter Island …

Two wrongs don’t make a right

It was 50 years ago that Congressman Otis Pike was on the Island to dedicate a new Post Office in the Heights. While he remained  popular here as he was throughout his district, the new Post Office drew criticism from the Reporter for spending at time when the United States Postal Service was operating at a loss and taxpayers were complaining about their tax bills.

The editorial called into question a new building and said if taxpayers supported such spending, they had no right to complain about their taxes being too high.

POSTSCRIPT: Islanders generally express great allegiance to their individual Post Offices, despite problems with receiving all of their mail at times. One could argue that the Island is small enough that one Post Office could accommodate the needs, but no one is clamoring to shut either.

Town to charge for 10K police work

Despite protests from many quarters, the Town Board in February 1985 voted to charge organizers of the Shelter Island 10K for costs associated with providing police services. The argument at the time was that unlike the Chamber of Commerce fireworks, this was a private event and money was lacking to cover the costs. The chamber, at the time, let it be known that it would cancel the fireworks if a future vote by a Town Board imposed such a cost on organizers.

Cliff Clark, who was 10K race director said he understood the town’s dilemma, but disagreed. The 10K was organized by community volunteers and is “part of what a small town police force is all about.”

Supervisor George Kontje, said he doubted the 10K brought “two red cents into the town,” a statement that angered Mr. Clark and others in town.

Mr. Clark sought an assurance that the charge wouldn’t be repeated in future years, something he couldn’t get from the Town Board at the time.

POSTSCRIPT: The town doesn’t charge for policing this event, according to Chief Jim Read. “This may have been a one-time occurrence because I am not aware of the town charging the organizer of the event for the cost of policing the race,” he said.

Thiele succeeds Behan in Second Assembly District

When Assemblyman John Behan was appointed Director of Veterans’ Affairs by Governor George Pataki in February 1995, Southampton Town Supervisor Fred Thiele Jr. was tapped by Republicans to run in a special election he won to succeed Mr. Behan in the Assembly. He has subsequently been re-elected to the seat since 1996.

POSTSCRIPT: Islanders know that the lines for the First and Second Assembly Districts have moved around through the years and today Mr. Thiele’s district includes Shelter Island. He now runs as an Independent, generally voting with the Democrats.

Tom’s to change hands again

In February 2005, Tom and Donna Fischer let it be known they were giving up their coffee shop and soda counter in the Center, across from the school, after operating it since 1999. The Fischers had purchased the building from John and Carol Hallman.

What would — what should — happen to it? Residents speculated — keep it as it is; add comfortable chairs and couches to encourage people to hang out there. But it was not to be. Word came that the building was being purchased by Marc and Melina Wein for an undisclosed purpose.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, Melina Wein maintains her real estate business in the building. Those looking for that cozy place to relax over coffee can find it at Stars Café in the Heights, the Island’s only coffeehouse.

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