Notes from the High C's
by Sharon Gabriel
After a horrible rainy Friday, Saturday, May 17, turned out to be a beautiful day and a perfect one for our latest Museum Tour. Our trip to Yesteryear began with the bus meeting us on Beach Channel Drive at 9:00 a.m. and with the nice shiny weather everyone was in a great mood. We began our trip to Essex, Connecticut on a high note and that continued on until our return at about 8:00 p.m.
With our bus driver Luis leading the way, we arrived in Essex at noon, a good half-hour before boarding our train, gathered ourselves together and boarded the turn-of-the-century steamtrain and locomotive for a delightful trip through the Connecticut countryside. This part of the country is very historic and I even saw a sign that Essex was founded in 1664, well before the Revolution.
Once on our way, the conductor came through the car and punched all the tickets, just like in olden times. He wore a rounded cap with gold bands around the hat, and you felt you were really taken back to yesteryear. The railcars and engine were authentic, not reproductions, and with a narrative along the way pointing out different sights, we eventually arrived at Deep River Landing where we departed from the train to board the Becky Thatcher River Boat for a cruise on the Connecticut River.
The Becky Thatcher is a three-deck ship. The top deck is open and you can get an unobstructed view of everything along the river. The two interior decks have a roll-down covering to protect you from the elements. Also included is a food and drink bar with everything from potato chips to liquor, if so desired. Our cruise took us past the Goodspeed Opera House and Gillette's Castle before it turned around and returned to its dock.
Gillette's Castle was built by William Gillette who came from a very wealthy family but decided to go into show business and was the foremost Sherlock Holmes on the American stage. Though Basil Rathbone is probably more famous for the role, he only played it in the movies.
On debarking the Becky Thatcher we once again boarded the steam train where we had a leisurely return trip to the depot. After checking out the gift shop we boarded our bus for our trip to dinner at Oliver's Tavern.
Oliver's Tavern is an old-fashioned restaurant with wooden tables and oldfashioned round back chairs and the second floor has an enormous sports bar and game room.
Our group took over the entire front room of the restaurant and we were served a four-course dinner, which consisted of a Caesar's salad, chicken, salmon, steak or prime rib as a main dish along with potato and vegetable, a delicious ice-cream dessert and tea or coffee. Dinner was delicious and most everyone seemed to enjoy it.
My tablemates were Mickey and Eddie Sanger, a wonderful couple from Belle Harbor, and our driver Luis joined us. We told a few stories and had a few laughs and an all-around good time. At that point it was time to return to our bus and our trip back to Rockaway. I must say that Luis was a great driver, and had us back to Rockaway just a little after 8:00pm.
I want to thank a few people who helped make the trip so enjoyable. First, our President, Steve Yaeger. On every trip I ask Steve to do a little history lesson about the area we are visiting and he never fails. A former teacher, Steve took over the microphone and gave us a lesson about the very first submarine ever made and it's attempt to sink a British ship. Steve is just a font of information and no subject is too much for him. There was no question period after he spoke and we weren't marked on our knowledge of the subject.
Next to be thanked is Judy Yaeger, Steve's wife and the treasurer of the RMAC, the lady with the money. We couldn't do a trip like this without Judy. She gets out the checkbook to be sure every thing is paid properly and she is the first one to say if we can or cannot afford to do something. (This is where your membership helps.)
Abig thanks goes to ToniAnn Geraci, another of our members, and the one person I could not do without on any of our trips. ToniAnn gets all the refreshments that we serve on the bus. She drags everything home, drinks, cookies, crackers, pretzels and whatnot, and then we put them in the car to take to the bus so that we have something to nibble going and coming from our event. That we don't fall going up and down the aisle when the bus is moving is a feat in itself.
All-in-all, it was a fun trip and we are already looking into something for the fall season. Watch this column for further information and don't forget that information about the next trip will probably be available at our Fall Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14, at Riis Park.
Please remember, we can't do this without you, your membership counts so watch your mail for your 2008 membership application. If you are not already a member and would like to join just let me know at 718-474-8353. A Solo membership (one person) is $25.00 and a Duet membership (two people) is $40.00. It is inexpensive in today's world and you will be helping bring more culture to our neighborhood.