Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 21 January 2011 00:00
Partying at Jack Halyard’s American Bar & Grill at 62 South Street at the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party Dec. 13, was a great time to get to know more about chamber members.
The chamber members are very happy that Billy Joel’s 20th Century Classics are located in the hamlet and adding to the mix. Media sources revealed that on Nov. 23, piano legend Billy Joel, was recovering from a double hip-replacement surgery that he underwent the week before at Department of Orthopaedics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
At the grand opening of 20th Century Cycles on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 6 at 4 p.m., when the doors opened for an invitation-only cocktail reception, Mr. Joel was using a black metal cane for additional support as he greeted dignitaries that ranged from Congressman Peter King, the Honorable Judge Joseph Covello, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Town Councilman Chris Coschignano, and Nassau County Sheriff Mike Sposato.
They were all congratulating legendary musician Billy Joel on the successful opening of his new museum and motorcycle shop. The shop will sell motorcycles and accessories and serve as a bike stop for two-wheeled enthusiasts, like Billy Joel himself.
Austin Azzaretto said that Billy Joel’s 20th Century Classics will be a supporter of Cruise Night in 2011. Austin chairs Cruise Nights which run for 22 weeks a year from April to October.
“Billy Joel also supports dog rescue,” said Mr. Azzaretto.
Austin volunteers at 20th Century Classics on Sundays and said, “He’s been coming in on crutches after his operation.”
Mr. Joel enjoys being just a guy who loves motorcycles when he’s at the showroom. Mr. Azzaretto said he doesn’t want to give out autographs and have pictures taken while he is wearing his “motorcycle hat/helmet”. “That is except when its an older person, someone who is handicapped or children,” said Austin who gets along famously with Billy, sharing their interest in motorcycles.
Austin is also no novice to music in that he arranges for the live entertainment that is a regular part of Cruise Nights.
They also share a love of dogs. “When Billy Joel talks to a dog his voice changes: it gets into a doggie voice: a high pitched voice,” said Austin.
Austin said, “After my standard poodle, Jester of 12 years died last March I went to labradoodlerescue.org. They are the greatest.” That is how he got his newest dog. He was so pleased, he now volunteers with the group.
“I told them I’ll go get them. I was busy at work when I got a call to go to Bay Shore to rescue a dog who was going to be put down in a week. I go and get her, a 30-pound, white, five year old. She sits in the front seat like she’s driving. If I didn’t know better she would have put on a seat belt. I went home and told Nancy we had company for the weekend.”
He said she wasn’t too happy about the surprise of having another dog until she saw her. “Her face changed when she saw the dog,” said Austin happily.
He rescued another dog that he brought to his friend Bob Jerome who has a gas station in Hicksville on Route 106 and always wanted a dog. “I brought Molly to him and he said, ‘My wife will say no. She’ll divorce me.’ But he brought her home. She falls in love with her. She takes it for haircuts and grooming.”
Austin got another call to go rescue a dog. This one was a 70-pound Goldendoodle. It was in Allentown, Pennsylvania and he picked it up on a Sunday at 6 a.m. “When my wife saw Daisy, she couldn’t let her go.
“I’m waiting for the next call. Now all my friends want dogs!” said Mr. Azzaretto.
Austin has a big heart. Besides dogs, and his wife, he loves cars and motorcycles. Maybe a few more things...
Bob Martin, longtime resident, a chamber member, and a crusader for traffic safety had more information about the subject at the chamber holiday party.
Mr. Martin, who grew up in Astoria said, “Nassau County has a contract with Traffic Safety Systems for red light indicators for speed control. If you exceed the speed limit the light goes on.”
Mr. Martin said he and Rob Brusca had an engineer look at Route 106 to show the need for the red lights on Route 106 at the Vernon School; on West Main Street at the Roosevelt School; and on East Main Street by the Oyster Bay High School.
“The cost for the flashing red lights are just $3,000 each, so we need two by the Vernon School: so people will see them coming and going up Route 106,” said Mr. Martin.
“We can’t enforce the laws, we need education. We have to use technology today because you can’t enforce the laws,” he explained, still shaken from the memory of his near death experience in an accident on Route 106 in February 2009.