2001-04-07 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter

As it is the season of renewal and resurrection, I celebrate the special
lives of Rabbi Weiss and Bridie Duignan, who in their own way had a
profound impact on my life. As Rabbi Weiss stated when he eulogized Leon
Locke, "for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee;" and I've been thinking
how many moments we take for granted and in doing so, we forfeit our happiness, our peace, our contentment for some later date...when all we really have is...now.

Rabbi Weiss leaves with me such a gracious impression. He was so patient and easy to be with. I felt I'd known him for years. He had this indelible quality of being so genuinely interested in and respectful of people. I was awed by his initiatives and his life-long work on behalf of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council. He was a spiritual man in every essence of the word.

To commemorate his 50 years of Rabbinical service to the community, I had felt it most appropriate to interview him for this column several years ago. I was struck by his humility, his patience, and his willingness to sit with me for hours engaging me in his wisdom and warmth. I felt he was more interested in my "story" than he was in expressing his. He had this ability to listen that very few have and although I was only in his company that one time, he never forgot me or to ask about my family. He was so genuine; the real deal.

My other memories of him are of his physical capacities. How, at eighty-something, he would march with such vigor each year in the
Memorial Day Parade. And afterwards, how he would join us for hot-dogs and beer at the American Legion! We danced around him but in fact he had more stamina and energy than we did! And oh how he could contribute and enhance any conversation...with anyone. I'm grateful for his life and how he touched mine.
   I will also miss my neighbor Bridie Duignan who passed at the age of
90. If you had the sheer pleasure of having known this lady, then lucky
you were indeed. "They just don't make them like that anymore!" Bridie was from County Longford but resided here in Rockaway for nearly 50 years. From her lovely porch, she would talk for hours about a special time in Rockaway that has gone by. She was a strong, feisty, sharp lady who knew everything that was going on. Nothing got past her! She just had this way of getting right to the point or the heart of a particular matter. For years I would each day park my car and stop to talk to her by her hedges. I was lucky to have known her, as well as her inimitable late bother, Matty Quinn. My condolences to her daughters Joan and Mae and her grandson John.

***Mark your calendars! The Rockaway Theatre Company is about to mount its 2001 season and oh how they have an exciting slate planned! They will open the season on Satuday June 2 with a rendition of the Neil Simon comedy, God's Favorite. If you saw and enjoyed Rumors, then you will love this one by a fine and talented cast. The production will run through June 30. The company also has plans for their third annual USO Show, which will be presented on July 6th and 7th, and the 13th and 14th. There are also plans for a
post-theatre gala for invited guests and advanced ticket-holders. The
Rockaway Theatre Company is always reaching out for new talent. If you have any interest in acting, directing, singing, or dancing, or aspect of theatre design or production, the company would love to meet you! Don't be shy waiting in the wings. Reach out to them and you may discover a hidden talent that you may have. Anyway, it's all about fun and they certainly are a fun group of people.
   See you...On the beach!

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