2002-09-07 / Columnists

Beachcomber

The main focus of the September 11 memorial in Rockaway will begin on September 10 on the west end of the peninsula, with a march from the Beach 116 Firehouse to St. Francis de Sales (On Beach 129 and Rockaway Beach Boulevard) and an ecumenical memorial service at that church’s playground. The event, sponsored by the Rockaway-Five Towns Interfaith Clergy Council, will begin at the firehouse at 6:50 p.m. Area clergy will speak. In addition, there will be musical presentations and prayers.

The New York Times did a long, favorable piece on Broad Channel in last Sunday’s paper. Entitled, "Where Time Refuses to Budge," the piece details the highlights of living in the Channel as well as spotlights many of the community’s "must-see" sights, such as the bird sanctuary and the Grassy Point Bar. Kershaw, who has covered many stories in Rockaway and Broad Channel over the years, touches on some of the racial problems that the Channel has faced in the past, but generally paints a positive picture of the isolated community.

There are many teachers who live in Rockaway and Broad Channel, and we want them to know that there is a new teacher’s store nearby that has been opened by a Rockaway resident to serve Queens teachers. The store, called "Teachers’ Choice Plus," is on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale, a quick left off Woodhaven Boulevard. Wave readers can get a ten percent discount at the store with a coupon that appeared in last week’s paper.

Duke Kahanamoku was best known as the father of American surfing, but few know that he came to Rockaway for a surfing demonstration in 1912. More than a dozen years ago, Beach 38 Street in Far Rockaway was dedicated as "Duke Kahanamoku Way" in his honor. Last week, the United States Postal Service dedicated a stamp to the surfing great on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street. Tom Sena, the owner of the Rockaway Beach Surf Shop and Bernie Blum, the president of the Friends of Rockaway, pushed for the Duke’s stamp honor and both were present for the dedication. The stamp is available at all post offices throughout the nation, but it has special meaning for Rockaway.

There is growing anger over the way the two major teacher’s unions, the NEA and the AFT, are planning to address the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Both of those organization, politically correct to the end, urge that teachers not address who actually planned and carried out the attack, opting instead for "feel good" activities that do not address either blame or the anger and fear that many children feel in the wake of the attacks.

Lou Esposito is an unemployed Florida man who wanted everybody to believe that he is Rockaway firefighter George Johnson. He traveled around his home state, telling anybody who would listen that he was the firefighter on the right in the famous picture of the three FDNY firefighters raising the flag over Ground Zero last year. He made an appearance at a Florida post office for the dedication of the stamp honoring the three firefighters, using his own name. When a local reporter checked on the Internet, however, she found that the name of the firefighter on the left was not Esposito. She tipped off postal workers, who did not believe that anybody would do such a thing. Esposito also posed as the firefighter at an appearance at an Alabama elementary school. While Esposito has broken no Florida or Alabama laws, a FDNY spokesperson told reporters that he is "an a__hole" and that "it’s unbelievable that anybody would do anything like that."

Congressman Greg Meeks, who represents the eastern end of Rockaway, has asked American Airlines to consider a base hub at JFK Airport. Meeks believes that AA, which is now based in Dallas (Texas), could bring lots of jobs and money to the region if it were to change its hub to JFK. He says that he is looking for ways to help the local economy in the wake of September 11. He also says, "when you look at the capacity of New York’s airports, there is only one that really has room to grow and that is JFK." We guess that when you look at it from an economic point of view, the congressman’s plan makes sense, but the term "airport expansion" has a hallow ring to those in Rockaway who recently had an Airbus A300 drop in on them and who suffer continuously from airport noise and pollution.

All Rockaway residents should get themselves to a television set connected to cable at 8 p.m. on September 11 for a showing on Channel 61 of "The Women of Rockaway." Oprah’s "Oxygen" Network will present the half-hour documentary about several women in Rockaway who were impacted by September 11, 2001 and by the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor. The Wave has worked closely with the program’s producers, Kevin and Rosemary Breslin (son and daughter of Jimmy Breslin), providing leads, information and pictures.

Digging through the Department of Parks and Recreation "Green Book," a little book that details the rules and regulations for our beaches, is a joy. Under "Construction," (the same chapter that the police use to ticket those who leave their blankets and towels behind when they go into the water), there is a section called "Excavation." Under that chapter, any kid digging a sand castle on the beach would be subject to arrest and a fine. Isn’t this whole thing getting slightly ridiculous? Joe Addabbo and Adrian Benepe need to get together with our state representatives and change the wording in both the state and the city rules to allow normal use of the beach. That normal use should include surfing, fishing, walking away from beach towels and digging in the sand.

Some local artists looked at the rules set by the Chamber of Commerce for the design of a bayfront memorial to those lost on September 11 of last year and wonder why they are so restrictive. One man, who had dreams of a "Vietnam Memorial" style wall in the site wonders why the memorial must be limited to ten feet by ten feet and a dozen feet high.

After a hot, sunny summer, the Labor Day weekend was mostly a washout for locals who wanted to picnic, take in a Yankee-Red Sox game, or to attend the U.S. Open, the Broad Channel Labor Day Parade or the fireworks on Monday night.

Those of you who live in the 31 Assembly District (the eastern end of the peninsula) should remember to vote on September 10 for their candidate for the assembly. There are several excellent candidates running for the office now held by the incumbent, Michelle Titus, who was elected in a special election after the untimely demise of Pauline Rhodd-Cummings last year.


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