On The Beach
When a handful of middle-aged men first got together merely three years ago inside George Greco's drafty garage, they did so to fraternize, smoke cigars and share their frustrations about the state of local politics. But they didn't merely exhaust their host's gracious hospitality; nor were they content to idly grumble amongst themselves, bloviating about the lack of equitable representation by the Republican party.
What they set out to do, and actually accomplished, truly expresses the quintessential American spirit! That when a citizenry is discontented with its leadership, it is incumbent upon them to rise up and strive for change. And so, with a shared vision, this small handful of agitated locals grew a grassroots organization and set about charting a new course for the Republican party in the 23rd Assembly District.
It wasn't easy to change the tide. They at first went to their District Leaders with a litany of complaints; that they were tired of being aligned with a Republican party in a district that, while it had a large Republican constituency, was mired in obscurity and crossover deals with the Democrats.
They insisted that the leadership mount candidates and that there be a Republican choice on the ballot. And since their little club was gaining momentum, they wanted to be recognized with a charter, legitimatizing their presence at the county and state level.
The more they were ignored by their leadership, the more galvanized in their mission they became. They chugged along...they mounted meager campaigns; and although their initial candidates lost, they accomplished their task of offering a choice against the Democrats on the ballot.
And then along came Eric Ulrich.
Refreshingly energetic, hopeful and articulate, Eric Ulrich personified for The Rockaway Republicans their quest for a viable candidate to carry their banner. Although he didn't succeed in his first attempt, he tried, tried again! He found in Breezy Point activist Jane Deacy an equally dynamic and formidable complement to the ticket, and they took both District Leadership seats.
With 1087 votes cast, an historic number and the largest amount in any District Leadership race, Ulrich and Deacy won by 61 percent of the vote. Republican Leadership
They not only changed the tide, they caused a tsunami in the Republican party and certainly gained the attention of city and state leadership.
Their first order of business was to convene a meeting of the newly elected County Committee.
Congratulations to George Greco, Executive Committee Chair; Rosemary Duffy, Vice Chair; Bernie Solow, Secretary; Gerald Sullivan, Treasurer; and Scott Jordan, Sgt. at Arms. And to all The Rockaway Republicans, congratulations on your mission accomplished and a job well done! (In memory of Tom Swift).
***John Baxter recently took many of us along on a magical Celtic ride down memory lane to the good old days in Irishtown, Rockaway Beach.
At a concert to benefit The Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital Ronald Mc- Donald House, Baxter, along with renowned accordionist Mike Searson and Kathy Mallon, did a very nice thing by treating the nearly two hundred who attended at the Knights of Columbus to a very special and culturally important afternoon. What they did was restore and revive the cherished memories of a fabled time in our town's history, a time that, though gone, still endures in so many of the Irish people's hearts.
In addition to those who may have read about the event in the Irish Echo and The Voice, and who travelled from throughout the boroughs to relive these memories, there were also those who came from outside the state and as far away as South Africa, as did Sister Ann, to attend the occasion!
There were those who spoke of having their wedding reception in the very same hall forty years ago and Baxter playing for them, though there were so many during the time that he himself can't remember them all!
It was also an occasion to see people like the McGraths, Sally McGonigle, the Rooneys, Chris and Mary Bowles, Jim and Mary Dever Kelly, Kathy and Mike Woods, the Raymond Sullivans, the Cassidys, the Sharkeys, Ann Mc- Keon, Molly Faherty, the Nevins, Teresa Baxter, who looked beautiful, and so many others who danced to the wonderful music and dined on an elaborate buffet prepared by Kerry Mallon, who did an amazing job!
And of course, Owen Baxter dazzled with his all-time favorites.
All I can say is "'til we meet again" and make it real soon!
***There was a whole lot of shopping going on at the Grand Opening of The Blue Bungalow, a beautiful new store located on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 113 Street, offering antiques, framing, beach writings, photography and one-of-a-kind gift items; and if the many who strolled along that part of the Boulevard with their Blue Bungalow shopping bags is any indication, then owners Liz Smith Breslin, Jeannie Jamin and Mary Etheridge have a real hit on their hands!
***My deepest condolences to the family of Joseph Burns, an extraordinary man of great elegance, eloquence and conviction.
A man whose presence and company will be so sorely missed by all those he touched.