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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Jose Feliciano sang the Star Spangled Banner at a naturalization ceremony for 20 new American citizens at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and later gave his Concerto Candelas guitar and other items from his personal collection to the Smithsonian.

Director Roman Polanski’s film, “Rosemary’s Baby,” starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon premiered in the United States.

American journalist Campbell Brown — former co-anchor of NBC’s “Weekend Today,” Emmy winner for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and later a CNN correspondent, was born in Ferriday, Louisiana

American actress Yasmine Bleeth, who was in television’s “Baywatch” and also in soap operas “Ryan’s Hope” and “One Life to Live,” was born in New York City.

And on Shelter Island . . .


1,000 Off Sounders onshore

Forty years ago members of the Off Soundings Club, with bases in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island, visited Shelter Island with 193 vessels, each with about five crew members aboard. It was part of the Off Soundings Club’s spring series that filled Dering Harbor with colorful sails blowing in the wind during the races that started a bit late because of fog.

Members were hosted by the Shelter Island Yacht Club at cocktail parties during their two-day visit.

POSTSCRIPT: The Off Soundings Club will be back in local waters, sailing in Greenport Harbor and Gardiners Bay in mid-September.


Nix the fireworks?

The Chamber of Commerce fireworks display was in the seventh year in 1988 at Crescent Beach when Police Chief George Ferrer suggested maybe it was time to end the annual event. Some neighboring towns had ended their Fourth of July fireworks and the chief speculated that would lead to even more people coming to Shelter Island for fireworks here. He suggested the event caused too much disruption.

The result after his words to the Town Board were reported was to hear from a raft of Islanders saying how much they valued the annual fireworks display and didn’t want the event ended.

It didn’t end then. In its 58th year, the Chamber of Commerce was faced with a tough decision to abandon funding the fireworks since most of its time and energies were consumed by that one event.

That brought forward a group of Islanders who took over the annual fireworks display and since 2015 have raised the funding and arranged logistics to keep the event going.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, the annual fireworks display at Crescent Beach is scheduled for July 7 when Fireworks by Grucci will be celebrating the 60th straight year of the community event.


Gearing up for the 19th annual Shelter Island 10K

In 1998, Jim Richardson was race director,  preparing for the upcoming Shelter Island 10K. He had been organizing the race initiated by South Ferry’s Cliff Clark for a number of years and was as excited as ever about the race that would bring money to several charities.

At the same time, he told the Reporter that he wasn’t anticipating many world-class runners in 1998, while predicting that would change for the next year when the race would celebrate its 20th anniversary.

POSTSCRIPT: This year’s race is on June 16 and an estimated 2,000 are expected to participate in the 10K run or 5K walk with elite runners Joan Benoit-Samuelson and Bill Rodgers again expected to run.

Ms. Benoit-Samuelson won the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in the Los Angeles-based race — the first women’s Olympic marathon — beating famed runner Greta Weitz. She was subsequently elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

While a senior at Bowdoin College, she entered the 1979 Boston Marathon as a virtual unknown and won, setting a record for American women. Following surgery on her Achilles tendons, she again won the Boston Marathon in 1983.

Mr. Rodgers ran in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, but was hampered by a metatarsal problem. He is a four-time winner of the Boston and New York marathons and a winner of the 1977 Fukuoka Marathon.


Storm shocker a rude awakening

Ten years ago the Island was besieged with week-long temperatures above 90 degrees and while rain was initially welcomed to cool things down, a storm of major proportions struck with heavy rain and winds the Reporter described at the time as like a scene out of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Lightning, 50 mph winds and rain that blew sideways in sheets left 38,000 Long Island customers without power with 2,998 of them here on Shelter Island. Many had their power restored that night, but for some it would be at least two days before they had service back.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, the Island has faced rain storms on a continual basis, although few electrical outages occurred since PSEG had cut back tree limbs that were touching wires and put up new poles in many areas, improving the viability of the system. Town officials have continually praised the responsiveness they receive from the utility company that has regularly stationed a crew on the Island whenever a major storm was due and responded quickly as they did this week when only five houses were without a power in the Ram Island Drive area.

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