2013-08-02 / Columnists

Broad Channel Bits

By Dan Guarino

A flood of emotions, and I do mean a ‘flood’, swept through me like waves as I sat in the Rockaway Post Theater at Fort Tilden last Sunday.

The Rockaway Theatre Company’s show, “Rockaway Café-The Comeback,” through words, dance, music and pictures brought back the memories of the hurricane; the actual flood and the long road back for all of us since then.

It opens with video shots, appearing on a small screen above the stage, of the hurricane crashing in from the beach. As it lingers over the destruction, people digging out, the devastation and people helping each other out, the song “Smile” gently plays.

You know the song.

With music written by Charlie Chaplin and words added decades later by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, it says “Smile though your heart is aching/Smile even though it’s breaking/ When there are clouds in the sky/you’ll get by.”

The camera glides over post-Sandy Cross Bay Boulevard, and the huge wreck of the boat dubbed the “SS Minnow” (you can’t miss the Broad Channel humor.)

As those images and the music went by, even with tears in my eyes, I thought, “Damn, we sure are some tough sons of bitches.”

You, my friend, and I and all of us lived through that story. And here we are today.

What made the show even more moving was that I knew all the cast and crew, and all the Broad Channel people in the production, actually lived through the story they were portraying.

Even the RTC was hit, had to regroup and rebuild and, after nine months, was finally coming home.

Among others, on stage I watched the multitalented Matt Smilardi, who was my neighbor on Noel and who I’ve known since he was 10.

I stood with Matt in his cold and stripped down house. Even though they had been completely washed through by the storm, Matt’s Mom and family put out hot coffee, homemade soup, sandwich fixings and more food on a folding table outside for anyone who needed.

Also in the cast, and a fantastic costume designer/maker, was Naomi Seitz, who will always be remembered as ‘Naomi 1’ who worked 24/7 keeping food, donations and people all coordinated and the American Legion going as an emergency center month after month.

At the time, Naomi’s house, too, had been hit hard by the hurricane and was being rebuilt.

You are part of this story, too. Make time this weekend. See the show before it goes, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Sunday at 3.

Welcome this talented group of people home.

First things first, as Dan Mundy Sr. tells me, several people in the Channel signed up for NYC Build It Back and got notices to come in for an appointment. But nobody seemed to know where they were supposed to report.

He tracked down and confirmed it was actually at the US Army Reserve base near For Tilden, not within the old army base/national park itself.

I can now add the address: US Army Reserve 415 State Road and Breezy Point Boulevard. Drive toward Breezy; go past the old Coast Guard station and the Fort Tilden national park entrance. You’ll see some tan brick buildings just off the road, on your left.

You’re there.

Things to write down: The Iroquois Yacht Club is holding its annual “Corn and Frank Party” at the VFW Post on Shad Creek Road, on Saturday August 3rd at 3 p.m.

It’s a $20 donation per adult and $10 for the kids. Everyone is invited.

On Sunday, August 11th at 9 a.m. Christ Presbyterian by the Sea will be celebrating its first service back at its restored church on Noel Road.

A lot of hard work, volunteer effort and cooperation have gone into reaching this day.

All are invited to celebrate with this special moment with the congregation.

Welcome home, Christ Presbyterian By The Sea Church. Welcome home.

The big American Legion fundraiser is coming next week! Tickets are already on sale for the Saturday, August 10th event.

Tickets are $20 each. To order a table now, call 718-751-3698. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

There’ll be 50/50’s, cash bar and more. (Please, no bottles or coolers).

Also not to be missed is a one night only performance by The Broad Channel Theatre Group. They’ll be doing a variety of acts and skits.

ALL proceeds will go to rebuilding the Legion Hall, which is still struggling with Sandy damage.

Despite their own troubles, they opened their doors the day after the storm and remained a strong center point for our community for months afterward.

Can’t make it? You can still help.

Send a donation to: American Legion, 209 Cross Bay Boulevard, Broad Channel NY 11693.

BC needs volunteers to build a playground. JetBlue and kaBoom are donating it and really need to see community involvement.

Needed: 25 volunteers for Prep Day 1- August 15th, 15 for Prep Day 2- August 16th and 75 volunteers for Build Day, August 17th.

Send your name, e-mail, number and date you can do it, to BroadChannelPlayground@gmail.com.

This week Broad Channel sadly says goodbye to Michelle Elizabeth Ross and to Eileen Bradford Miller.

Deeply loved by their families, they will be greatly missed by their community and all whose lives they touched.

Noted: Some activity was spotted inside the store fronts on Cross Bay near Noel Road, where Kroogs/Coogan’s luncheonette used to be. Unfortunately, all those stores have stood vacant for years.

Not sure what’s going on there now, but at least it’s some activity.

Going, going: Broad Channel Historical Society 2013 calendars, including tide times, are available at the Bay Gull Store, All American Market and Rock N Roll Bagels for only $5 each.

Trust me; come September, October, November, you’ll want those high tide times handy.

For more background, pictures, production info and even a trailer for the new movie “The Girl Most Likely,” which filmed in 2011 in Broad Channel as “Imogene,” check out the West 12th Road blog.

Got BC news? Mardi Gras events you’d like to let everyone know about?

Fun and fundraiser stuff? Send it to workingstories@aol.com.

Thank you for reading!

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