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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

If you missed the 6th annual champagne party at Coe Hall in Planting Fields, put it on your calendar for next year, because this is the party of the summer. A total of 175 guests attended, and many of them were in costume, a new addition to the popular champagne party. The always ebullient Henry Joyce, executive director of Planting Fields Foundation, greeted his guests with his date Daphne, a 3-month-old long haired Dachshund, who is a companion for his Great Dane, Lucy.

The 1907 Courthouse building is now known as the Marguerite and Joseph Suozzi Building, marked by a special ceremony held at the North Shore Historical Museum on Sunday, Aug. 3 to a packed house.

“It’s a great day for the Suozzi family and a great day for the museum. We are so grateful for the Suozzi family for this generous donation,” said Brian Mercadante, president of the museum.

Mercandante then gave some history on the building, which was built in 1907 by the Town of Oyster Bay, when Teddy Roosevelt was president and the Gold Coast was in its heyday. He described how it came to be a museum, explaining that Tom Suozzi came up with a plan for redevelopment during his term as mayor of Glen Cove in the 1990s.


Sports

Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of  21 minutes, 7 seconds.

Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who  took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay will once again be the site of the Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24.

The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at  Roosevelt  Park.


Calendar

Bayville Car Show

Friday, Aug. 22

Junior Triathlon

Sunday, Aug. 24

Historic Church Service And Tour

Sunday, Aug. 24



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