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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

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.

Diamond Fitness held its grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 6. Members of the Historic Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce came out to meet Wendy Goldstein, her staff and her re-invented gym at 138 South St.

Goldstein said she was touched by the warmth of the people who came into the gym to welcome her, even before the official opening. “People came in to say hello, saying they had heard that the gym had changed hands. It warms my heart,” she said.

Goldstein attended a chamber meeting and is now a member. Nassau County Legislator Donald McKenzie helped Goldstein cut the red ribbon as chamber members Walter Imperatore and Michele Browner cheered the opening along with staff members and friends.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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