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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: May 18, 2023

A Taylor’s Island connection

To the Editor:

I have lived on the West Coast the better part of my life but had always heard about Taylor’s Island, a rather secret and magical place where in the 1940s, Mr. S. Gregory Taylor (né, Sotirios Tavoularis) held court with friends and family.

Full disclosure: Gregory is my great-uncle, who along with my grandfather, Charles G. Taylor, came to this country from Greece with nothing and built an empire of six hotels in Manhattan. I’m currently writing a book about Gregory and Charles Taylor, and the Greek-Immigrant experience in New York.

The island was a mystery to me. Did it still exist, and who cares for Gregory’s tomb, which lies at the Eastern-most tip of the Island? The Island exists because of P.A.T. Hunt, co-chairwoman of the Taylor’s Island Preservation and Management Committee, and her team of volunteers.

She has defended the Island from those who believed it serves no purpose and should be sold. Year after year, she rallies locals to support the Taylor’s Island Foundation and protect the Island for everyone to enjoy, just as my great-uncle decreed in his last will and testament.

As it was the Greek Orthodox Easter, I laid yellow calla lilies on his tomb along with two heads of garlic to ward off evil spirits. I whispered. “Happy Easter.”

Just a stone’s throw from Taylor’s Island, new developments include state-of-the-art homes with glassy exteriors, austerely commanding the waterfront. A jarring juxtaposition to the humble little cabin perched on a sliver of land.

It’s my hope that those who live on Shelter Island will continue to support the Taylor’s Island Foundation and enjoy this gift from a man who, if it weren’t for the Island, would be all but forgotten.


Artist to artist to library

To the Editor:

I take my granddaughters to the library often, since Sara Garcia, head of youth services, has a delightful setup for students of all ages.

I saw this painting of a hamburger and inquired who did it. “Lio Napoles,” Ms. Garcia replied and I quickly set about to find this former student. Now in high school, Leo laughed when I offered to purchase the painting. “I painted it because I was hungry,” he said.

“No matter,” I insisted, noting that art comes from all kinds of inspiration. “I love the painting and I want to hang it in my studio.”

A week later I returned to Mrs. Brigham’s Art Room and presented Lio with a check. “I can’t take your money,” Lio said. “All artists deserve to be compensated,” I replied.

“What if you donate it to the library for their extension?” he countered.

And so it was decided.

I received a lovely painting by a former student, Lio Napoles, and the library will receive a check with sincere love.

Another Shelter Island memory that I can be proud of!