Gustavson Column: Thoughts on one of Southold’s best teachers

First-time author Teresa Taylor at home in Greenport. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch)
First-time author Teresa Taylor at home in Greenport. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch)

Greenport author Teresa Taylor and her new novel, “Family Matters,” were duly profiled in last week’s Suffolk Times, and I have little to add on that subject, save for the fact that she’ll be reading from and signing the book today at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport.

I first met Teresa back in the early ’90s, and the circumstances of that original meeting are as vivid today as they were two decades ago. At the time, I was the editor/publisher of the local paper and she was an English teacher at Southold High School. My daughter Anna was in her Advanced Placement class, and so it was that I was invited to speak to the class about the newspaper business.

By coincidence, the day of my presentation happened to fall on Halloween, and several of the students were wearing costumes when I entered the classroom. But where was their teacher, Ms. Taylor? At first, there was no sign of her. But then I realized that was because she was in disguise, too, dressed as a wicked witch, as I recall, complete with an eye-catching pair of net stockings. I remember thinking to myself: Anna’s AP English teacher is pretty hot — an assessment that soon was reinforced through the energy and intellectual curiosity that flowed through that classroom.

Bottom line: Anna maintains to this day that Teresa Taylor was the best teacher she ever had at any level of school.

And there’s something else you should know about Ms. Taylor, something I can attest to based on personal observation years later after the former Joan Giger Walker and I became friendly with Teresa and her husband, former New Suffolk School superintendent Bob Feger: She looked pretty comfortable sitting on the back of a speedy Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Like just about everyone else I know, I was profoundly disappointed when California Chrome failed to nail down thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown last Saturday. It would have been a great ending to a great story, but it wasn’t to be — primarily because of a horse by the name of Tonalist, which captured the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes.

And no sooner had California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn’s sour grapes post-race interview concluded than my disappointment turned to surprise when I realized that Tonalist’s owner, Robert S. Evans, is a college fraternity brother of mine.

I was thrown off at first because his middle initial stands for Sheldon, and we all knew him as Shelly Evans. He’s a couple of years older than me, and we were not close friends, but I knew him well enough to have him give me a pair of used Head skis as a gift, which was a very big deal for me but no big deal for him because he was from a very wealthy family that controlled Crane, manufacturers of plumbing fixtures like tubs and sinks and toilets.

Shelly has aged well, judging from the post-race photos that ran in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. And from the post-race interviews in which he demonstrated his good breeding by giving Steve Coburn a pass on his tantrum, saying, “I would have liked for California Chrome to have the Triple Crown. It would have been great for racing, but you can’t have a walkover. I’m sorry, but it’s horse racing.”

Shelly Evans was a class act when I knew him back in college in the ’60s, and his actions and words Saturday suggest that nothing has changed over the years.


Welcome to the ’hood, Louie. (Shelter Island being “the ’hood” and comedian/actor/media monster Louis CK being “Louie.”)

Having been pilloried myself on these very pages for invading the privacy of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor when she visited friends on the North Fork while her nomination was pending, I considered the publication of a photo of Mr. CK’s new home on Shelter Island in last week’s Suffolk Times a little, well, invasive. But then I realized said home purchase had been heralded throughout the World Wide Web, so why shouldn’t the local paper report the facts, too?

And there’s another consideration: Louis CK has made his own life a veritable open book on his groundbreaking FX cable television show, “Louie.” Nothing is too personal for treatment, apparently, so in a sense he has invited invasions into his own privacy. And in doing so he has created one of the very best shows on television.

Two recent episodes, both having to do with double standards, were among the best things I’ve seen anywhere (TV, movies, Web) in recent times. The first dealt with the double standard applied to overweight men and women and the second touched on Louie’s hypocrisy when his 12-year-old daughter experiments with marijuana for the first time. Both episodes were extraordinarily brave and touching.

Yes, indeed, welcome to the ’hood, Louie.

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