Monday, November 19, 2012

A Reflective Thanksgiving

For the folks affected by Hurricane Sandy, this Thanksgiving may be quite different. Tragically, lives were lost. For the families and friends of those victims, the absence of their loved ones on this holiday and the holidays to come will be even more painful. I pray for their strength to get through it. Many people lost their homes, cars, treasured possessions, and more. Out-of-state utility workers left their families to help us. Public Safety workers have put in exhaustive hours. I hope that the majority of them can be home with their families for Thanksgiving. There will be much to ponder this Thursday when reflecting upon what we are grateful for in our lives.

One of my neighbor's uprooted trees
My family, our relatives, and friends got through it relatively unscathed; we were extremely fortunate, compared to the devastation experienced by some of our neighbors and fellow Long Islanders.

For those who might need assistance, or if you are interested in helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy, visit the website of the American Red Cross (@RedCross on Twitter).

Yesterday, on a brisk yet sunny autumn day, I took a long drive to attend a guided walking tour of Northport. Along the way, I admired the colors of the leaves which still clung to the trees that were left standing. I listened to one of my "mix-tape" CDs, which included (get ready, I have an extremely eclectic love of music): "Moondance" by Van Morrison, "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen, "Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond, "You're My Home" by Billy Joel, "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles, and "Song for You" by Leon Russell, and many, many more. But it was some of the sights on this journey that encouraged me; the clean-up, repair, and rebuilding that has already taken place in such a short period of time. However, from seeing the photographs on the news, in the paper, and online, there is devastation on this island and surrounding east coast communities that will take months, if not years, to recuperate and rebuild.

Several Robert Frost quotes went through my mind, including:

"Nothing gold can stay."

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

"Hope is not found in a way out but a way through."

I enjoyed the informative guided walking tour of Northport's historic Main Street. The Northport Historical Society's guided tour ("Parading Down Main Street") is offered approximately one Sunday a month, starting at 1:30 p.m. The next scheduled tour is December 16, 2012. A ticket cost $5.00, and it is well worth it. (The museum also offers a self-guided tour, Tuesday through Sunday from 1 pm - 4:30 pm). The tour guide, Dan, was a wealth of information. I highly recommend it ~ get ready to learn a lot.
If you've never visited Northport, you will see "Gunther's Tap Room," a favorite hang-out of Jack Kerouac's, and you will discover where a speakeasy existed during Prohibition.

The museum, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1914 with funds provided by Andrew Carnegie for a Village Library. It functioned as a library until 1967; it became the home to the Northport Historical Society Museum in 1974. The society was established in 1962, and this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the society.

Why the walking tour of Northport, you might ask?

My husband grew up in Northport; his parents were born and raised in Northport. My mother's family moved from Brooklyn to Northport in the early 1950s. My grandfather, Edward Welsh, ran the concession stand at Crab Meadow Beach; he installed a jukebox under the pavilion, and he filled it with records from some new singer named Elvis Presley. Tragically, a massive heart attack claimed his life at age 47, leaving my broken-hearted grandmother to raise six children (ages 4-16, my mom being 15) on her own.

Even more connections: I delivered mail one summer in Northport; I subbed as a music teacher in the Northport-East Northport School District shortly after graduating from LIU. When I became a Suffolk County Police Officer, I patrolled the East Northport and Northport areas outside of the Incorporated Village of Northport. Fate has been pointing me towards Northport my entire life.

My true crime memoir centers around the 1955 hatchet murder of a taxi driver on Scudder Avenue in Northport (today happens to mark the 57th anniversary); it was a case that my armchair-detective grandmother, who lived two miles from the scene of the crime, discussed with me regularly, among other unsolved cases. Sadly, she passed away at age 61 when I was 13. I often ache to have an "adult" conversation with her about the case and what I've uncovered over the past two decades.

Speaking of Northport, there's an unusual but fun event occurring on Saturday, November 24, 2012, at 7 p.m., in front of the Northport Hardware Company, 90 Main Street; the Annual Leg Lamp Lighting Ceremony (an homage to "A Christmas Story"). Check out this YouTube Video from last year's event.

Wishing you and yours a warm, relaxing, enjoyable Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Here's one of my favorite Erma Bombeck quotes, sure to give you a chuckle:

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence."


  1. We have some great walking tours in the parks here. I hope that everyone who was affected by Sandy can recover soon.

    1. I enjoy walking tours; this June I went on a literary tour in Paris, to visit spots frequented by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, & many more. A few years ago I chose a walking tour as one of our excursions during a cruise to New England & Canada; we strolled Bar Harbor. I love learning about the history of locations, the residents (past & present), and of course the anecdotal stories and little-known-facts that guides provide. In July during a cruise to Alaska & Canada, we took a small bus tour in Skagway, Alaska, and it was one of the high points of our trip. The guides make all the difference in the world; it depends on their general outlook on life, their passion for what they are doing, and a sense of humor is so appreciated.

      Thanks for your good wishes for the victims of Sandy. It's on the news & in the paper every day here on LI; people are dealing with tough situations, and some are still w/o power.
      Wishing you & Lana & your family a warm & wonderful Thanksgiving, Charles. I am grateful to have you as a cyber friend!

      How is Lana doing these days?

      I just read your interview with G.B. Miller; I will certainly check out the links & read the stories. You asked excellent questions!

      Best always,

  2. Thanks, Kathleen. I enjoyed that little literary walking tour of my roots. Glad to see you are still writing. Wish I could read your true crime memoir. Stay well.


    1. Hi Dave!
      So nice to hear from you! I thought of you during this walking tour; you could do one of these, hands down! I couldn't help but think about some of your stories as we strolled past certain locations.
      I had a dry spell that I didn't anticipate, when my sister-in-law died in July 2011 from a heart attack at age 40, leaving my then-10-year old nephew an orphan; my brother, his dad, was killed at age 37 when my nephew was only five months old. We took him into our home (as I did every month for ten years, to give his mom a break and to ensure he knew the love of his father's family, and know his dad through us). It turned into a legal issue with his mom's family, and there went almost a year of my life, dealing with a new school for my nephew, meeting with social workers, school officials, grief counseling for my nephew, continuing his Boy Scout involvement, etc. ~ on top of raising two teens with special needs.
      I've never given up on my book (and I never will). An editor in NYC is reviewing it at the moment. I'm torn b/c many agents have suggested fictionalizing the story, and the true story is too good. I have a few others who would like to read it, but I am once again revising it. Yesterday was the 57th anniversary of the murder. I KNOW you would enjoy the book immensely. You were a great help to provide background information, share your memories, stories & photos, and even putting me in touch with other Northporters.
      I may be preparing a power-point type presentation on my knowledge of the case, which is extensive ~ and quite interesting, IMHO!
      Have a happy & healthy Thanksgiving, Dave! Hope you are feeling well these days.
      Best regards,

  3. Dear Officer Ryan:

    According to the NHTSA roughly 33% of fatal traffic accidents are caused by drugged driving, and a recent federally funded study in California found that drugged driving is twice as prevalent as drunk driving. It is quickly becoming a leading public health issue, and our law enforcement officials and first responders are in need of 21st century tools to measure, track and effectively mitigate this growing problem.

    Other nations have successfully implemented roadside instantaneous drug testing solutions, resulting in a significant increase in DUI drugged driving convictions and safer roads and highways. The U.K. program utilizes a non-intrusive, saliva based solution, and will be fully implemented by 2014. Australia's field drug testing program, also making use of saliva based solutions, has been in existence for more than five years.

    You may have read about the recent murder of DEA Special Agent Terry Watson in Bogota, Columbia, on June 20th 2013. This is just another indication that we are not only losing the drug war, but that the enemies of law & order have become emboldened. The widest net that law enforcement can cast is via traffic violations, and the implementation of 21st century tools and field drug examination solutions could be a game changer.

    In collaboration with my former professor, Dr. Brian Manhire, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, Ohio University, we have conceptualized, designed and filed our non-provisional patent for the WingMan DDD™ (patent pending). Our solution utilizes mobile Raman spectroscopic analysis to determine the presence of molecular remnants of consumed controlled substances in the upper respiratory system.

    Thank you for any interest in our effort. Our executive summary, disclosed drawing and trademark are attached for your convenience. The disparity of NHTSA and FARS statistics is an indication that we do not know the full extent of the problem.

    Regardless of the solution, our federal, state and local agencies need the capability to accurately collect and disseminate data on drugged driving. We support the introduction of the technologies and solutions that will make this data collection possible, and save lives by preventing and deterring drugged driving accidents.

    Best regards,

    -Nick Wing