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Editorial: It’s A Wonderful Town/Life

We met Professor Jack Mandel coming out of Radio Shack on Tuesday, Nov. 6. We were out looking to buy an old-fashioned telephone that plugs into the jack because although we got power on Sunday Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. our service kicked out on Monday night. Using the East Norwich Fire Department land line and after a lengthy call to Verizon, we had a lady advising us their engineers spotted a short circuit in one of our handheld phones. We did what she advised, disconnecting all the phones and letting the system reboot, and we got a dial tone. Still our cell phones were not working. That means another call to Verizon is needed.

Funnily, we had spotted Mr. Mandel leaving the Vernon School after voting, but he was in conversation with an old neighbor and we didn’t call out to him.

Inside the voting room, Fran Johnston was at our registration desk, as was Ed Bracken. We chatted with Fran and told her how we intended to call her son-in-law Kenneth Ramirez, a.k.a. Kenny The Electrician, to have our house wired for a generator to be ready for the next storm.

Fran was still without power and Kenny was helping their neighbors out.

Back to chatting with Mr. Mandel, we told him we had been cooking with a copper fondue pot and a chafing dish from Monday night to Sunday night. Life was centered around not using all the Sterno at one time.

He said, “Tell people about that. Tell them from the heart that you know what they are going through.”

Well, who could resist advice from the Nassau Community College Marketing professor. He too doesn’t believe in retirement.

So that’s the story. We had some great meals using the chafing dish. I actually made a great grilled cheese sandwich, with tomato, and tucked some sliced canned potatoes in the edges of the pan. For that meal I heated Campbell’s Mushroom Soup in the fondue pot. The next night I put some canned peas into a plastic baggy and heated them along with water for coffee in the fondue pot.

Actually it was getting very exciting cooking a la campfire. It reminded us of a stint as a Campfire Girls co-leader when the leader, Cotton Green, and her family, moved back down south. We shared the job with Joanne Fischetti and we learned a lot about cooking outdoors. We made stoves out of large juice cans and homemade cans of “sterno” for the heat. We made chocolate chip pancakes that we never wanted to eat again. Out of doors they were great.

It is fun to see what we can do without, but as Mr. Mandel said, “As soon as the power is back on we forget how fantastic it is to have.”

But it is great to have survived. Sleeping in a cold house had us wearing hats and scarves as well as wearing all our outdoor clothes. We added gloves to the mix one night and it was perfect.

Luckily we had stopped off at the Oyster Bay Public Library and had several books to read. Four of them are by M.C. Beaton, nice detective stories that have some humor. When under duress don’t read dark novels.

Getting gasoline was a challenge. On Saturday we waited for three hours to get a full tank and were greeted by a husband who wanted to get out of the cold house and into a warm Canterbury Ales for dinner. How lucky can you get?

On Sunday we saw a line at the Hess Station on Lexington Avenue with a line that went down to the Mill Pond. People were walking in carrying empty gas cans to fuel their generators.

We have all been through a great deal. The one bright spot is knowing we — and you — have great neighbors: thank you Steve, Sean, Jimmy, Andrew, Neil, Cathy and East Norwich Civic Association President Matt Meng. He was driving around with generators he got at Home Depot, for people who wanted them. He too was a great help. As we keep saying, this area is a little bit of heaven.

It may sound sappy, but boy are we living in a wonderful area.