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OBHS Presents Spirituals And Christmas Spirit

A lovely way to begin the holiday season with a nod toward history

This was the sixth year the Oyster Bay Historical Society has preceded its holiday party with a concert at the Hood African American Episcopal Church in Oyster Bay. Last year and again this year, they brought the Hempstead A Cappella Ensemble directed by Hildyne Bowen to perform in concert. They come together from a variety of churches and denominations to share their love of singing, and their love of Negro Spirituals from their African-American heritage. Ms. Bowen said the spirituals were the gift of the African-Americans that she said, “were created out of the souls of our enslaved ancestors with a biblical message.” They are about running away to freedom; sorrow songs; and rejoicing songs, telling of a life better than slavery as they longed for freedom.

The concert worked up to the toe-tapping, hand-clapping spiritual “Every Time I Feel The Spirit.” It was followed by the poignant and sorrowful “Hush, Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name.” Bowen talked about the syncopation in the songs with a beat that came from Africa. It was a heritage they brought here even though they were bought here under force into slavery, “They couldn’t take away the soul or the heart of the Africans. It was a holocaust,” she said. The songs were all they could do and so it contained hidden messages of stealing away to freedom and messages of a better life.

The second part of the concert featured Christmas songs. It ended as Ms. Bowen led the entire congregation and ensemble in singing “Silent Night.”

OBHS executive director had invited everyone to walk down to the Earle Wightman House and walk on through it to the Koenig Center where the new exhibit was on view and a buffet dinner was ready. The evening was unseasonably warm and the guests were able to stroll down to 20 Summit Street to see the new exhibit: “Miniatures: Doll Houses, Little Rooms and Childhood Treasures” at the Koenig Center. 

There was the model of the North Room of Sagamore Hill; a model of the two period rooms in the Earle-Wightman house; and a 1922 dollhouse that belonged to Polly Weeks of Oyster Bay that was donated by her daughter Ellen Nicoll who grew up here. 

Guests enjoyed seeing them and the children’s clothing, children’s books and seeing samplers made by children. The food was delicious and the company was very interesting. People chatted about the collection and about things going on locally including a lecture by Barry Rivadue at the North Shore Historical Museum in Glen Cove titled “Hurrah for Hollywood: Long Island II.” Mr. Rivadue talked about Planting Fields being used as the set for the new movie The Ark about the story of Noah. He said they had a rain machine on site, and said the most trouble they had in filming the scenes were the paperazzo hiding in the bushes. 

The OBHS gift shop, Windfall, was open and books were for sale as well as handmade knitted items by Jacqueline Blocklyn including some that can be ordered. There were cards by Elizabeth Roosevelt and some elegant pottery items waiting to find just the right home. Please call for information at 922-5032 or check their website obh.org.

News

Driving rain and an early start time did not deter 600 people who arrived at Crest Hollow Country Club recently to celebrate the Women’s Fund of Long Island’s 20th year and to honor four exceptional women.

The breakfast started with a meet and greet and a chance to showcase Women’s Fund contest winner Patti Hogarty, designer of “Women as Bamboo.” Inspired by her neighbor’s bamboo, she entered the contest drawing a design of the bamboo, which Ambalu Jewelers of Roslyn then turned into various pendants of which 40-percent of the profits would go to WFLI. Hogarty wrote a short essay comparing women to bamboo in that they are strong and can weather difficult storms, yet remain graceful and continue to grow sending out new shoots.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O’Hara addressed the board of education at Tuesday night’s meeting about offering a summer school program at the high school. It would be the first time the district had a summer school program in more than 12 years.

Dr. O’Hara explained that with the institution of the Common Core state standards, students are faced with a greater level of academic rigor and more challenging coursework. The program would offer remedial and enrichment classes for students both in and out of district.


Sports

In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.

The conditions were as fierce as the competition earlier this month at Oakcliff Sailing’s Halloween Invitational.

Ten teams from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda battled 30-knot-plus winds, heavy rain and biting cold to see who would take top honors at Oakcliff’s final match racing event of the 2014 season.


Calendar

Annual Turkey Trot

Thursday, Nov. 27

Turkey Detox Workshop

Friday, Nov. 28

East Norwich Holiday

Sunday, Nov. 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com