A confession: I have not been ice boating even once this winter on either Great Pond or Hallocks Bay. And that’s because I’ve been on the North Fork for less than a week between Christmas and today. And therein lies the challenge of writing this column every other week. How can I keep it local and relevant if the former Joan Giger Walker and I, in our so-called retirement years, are away from the North Fork for nearly half the year?
Short answer: I can’t.
Accordingly, writing columns that appear every other week in The Suffolk Times and often in the News-Review must come to an end. Henceforth, this column will appear in this space only from time to time, as inspiration (hopefully) strikes, and as Joan and I spend significant chunks of time in our home in Orient.
This is not the first iteration of columnus interruptus. About 10 years ago, as Joan and I prepared for retirement as co-publishers, I stopped writing a weekly column for a time in order to become active in Southold Citizens for Safe Roads, the community group concerned with the impact of vehicular traffic generated by Cross Sound Ferry. At the time, the editors and I agreed that quasi-political activism and columnizing do not mix, so the column was suspended for a time. But then I resigned from SCSR and began writing the column again, but this time every other week.
There have been more than 1,800 editions of this newspaper since I first began writing in 1978, so I’d venture to say I’ve written nearly as many columns as Coach K has won men’s basketball games at Duke University. Most have long faded from memory, but a few remain. Like the time, back in the late ’70s, when I asked aloud why there were no volunteers of color marching with the Greenport Fire Department in its annual Washington’s Birthday Parade. Or the various columns (and news stories) I wrote over the years about two of the North Fork’s most notorious criminals — two-time murderer Robert Waterhouse and drug kingpin William LaMorte.
It’s been a good, long run and now it’s over. And I have every confidence that the paper’s new generation of columnists — including editors Grant Parpan, Michael White and Joe Pinciaro — will keep this page local, relevant and lively. And from time to time, as circumstances and inspiration allow, I will return.
As anticipated in an earlier column, at least one reader feels I overlooked a restaurant deserving of inclusion on the list of local establishments offering fine dining, past and present. Accordingly, I enthusiastically accept the motion to amend my column as follows: Touch of Venice, both in its former location on Mattituck Inlet and its current location on Main Road in Cutchogue, is hereby added to the list. Any other nominees?