Sunday, December 4, 2011

Newspaper Story Reunites POWs

Oceanside prisoners of war meet again at VFW 52 years after World War II.

By Joseph Kellard
They both crossed the sea to fight in history's most destructive war, saw action in a major battle, were wounded and taken captive by Nazis and lay bedridden in German hospitals before they met in a prison camp. Ed Hynes and Nat Glanz have lived in Oceanside during the same 52 post-World War II years, and belonged to the same veterans organization, yet these former prisoners of war just discovered all these facts last week — thanks to the Herald.

A chaplain at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Oceanside, Hynes read the article in the Herald's Dec. 4 issue on Glanz, who recently submitted a documentary about his POW experiences to the Library of Congress. As Hynes read the article, certain words jumped out at him, and he pieced them together.

"I really got interested in the story when he mentioned Ludwigsburg," Hynes, 80, said about the German town where Glanz was hospitalized and later imprisoned. "That was where I was put into a camp. Then, when I read he was Jewish and shot in the right leg, I remembered that was probably the fellow I was talking to when I was there. It had to be him."

Fifty-eight years later, Hynes remembered how he and Glanz met and talked once for all of 10 minutes. Following these recollections, he walked his fingers through an Oceanside phone book. At first, Glanz, 82, thought Hynes' call was a gag. But over two phone conversations they spoke for hours, and decided to reunite last Thursday at the Oceanside VFW.

As "Little Drummer Boy" and other Christmas songs played in the VFW's lounge, the former campmates embraced and exchanged photos and other memorabilia from their military days. Hynes laid out a thermal shirt ridden with holes from the shrapnel that left him hospitalized, and he handed Glanz medals, just as he did at the camp, with the hope that they would help his fellow American get out alive.

"I knew he was Jewish, and when I, a Christian, went before the Germans to be interrogated, I was somewhat scared, too, not knowing what they would do," Hynes recalled. "I told him that being Jewish, the odds are against you. So in my own way I tried to help the guy, and giving him the medals was all I could think of."

Between the two men, Hynes had the better memory of their meeting. "One thing I remember about him," he said about Glanz, "was that he was extremely calm. He wasn't complaining."

Both men took up arms in the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, Glanz with the 291st Regiment and Hynes under George Patton's 3rd Army. After the battle, as Hynes' outfit traveled through France, he and four other soldiers were sent to an outpost in Saarlautern to scout Nazis near the Zeigfried Line. Within a week, German troops attacked an abandoned factory where the small unit had hidden. While treating a fellow wounded soldier, Hynes was hit near the lower spine with hand-grenade shrapnel.

From the Bulge, Glanz's regiment traveled to Colmar, France, where he was shot by a German machine-gunner and repeatedly interrogated and beaten.

Following their capture by the Nazis, both men convalesced in German hospitals. While Hynes was put in separate rooms with Allied soldiers, Glanz spent time in two hospitals filled with Germans and did his best to hide his identity as both an American and a Jew.

During their reunion, Hynes and Glanz recalled the conditions at the prison camp where they ended up together, including the "food" they were fed, such as bread made with sawdust and soup with garbanzo beans as hard as pebbles.

"I think those beans and sawdust had their place, because they filled your stomach a bit and you didn't have this gnawing feeling all the time," Glanz recalled as Hynes nodded.

They discussed the guards' treatment of prisoners, which involved shooting men for no apparent reason, and traded memories of war-torn Europe after their liberation, particularly the homeless, desperate and starving civilians they encountered but were powerless to help. Both men were still at the camp when French soldiers liberated them. Hynes had been imprisoned for three weeks, and Glanz for over three months.

Both men moved to Oceanside in the early 1950s, Glanz from Brooklyn and Hynes from Rockaway Beach. Hynes worked then at the A&P supermarket (now the vacant Edward's on Long Beach Road), where Glanz and his wife, Muriel, shopped regularly. In the mid-1980s, both men joined the Nassau-Suffolk chapter of Prisoners of War. Glanz didn't attend meetings, but Hynes made the trips to Northport, though he stopped going and joined the local VFW in the early 1990s. That's when Glanz started trekking to the north shore to attend the POWs meetings.

"[Prisoners of War] really should have listed all the camps that our members were in," said Glanz, now a vice-commander of POW. "A number of men know they were in the same camp, but if we had listed their camps, this reunion could have happened 10 years ago. But how we did come to meet is just a fantastic story."

Glanz will invite Hynes to the YJCC in Oceanside, where the area Jewish War Veterans meet, to present him with a chai pendant, a Jewish symbol for good luck, and they both plan to stay in touch.

"I spoke to my daughter yesterday," Hynes said, explaining that he'd told her about the way in which he learned about Glanz, "and she said, 'Dad, it sounds like something that the good Lord did.' I called it a one-in-a-million shot, but she said it was more than that."

* This story originally appeared in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald on December 18, 2003.

Returning the favor
Glanz gives Hynes Jewish symbol of life

By Joseph Kellard

After nearly six decades, Nat Glanz returned the gesture.

When Glanz and Ed Hynes met and spoke briefly while imprisoned in a Nazi camp in 1945, Hynes handed him two Catholic miraculous medals, hoping they would help his fellow American get out alive. Last week, at the Jewish Community Center in Oceanside, Glanz presented Hynes with a chai, a Jewish symbol for life, a month after the POWs reunited since their first meeting 58 years before.

"May it bring you good luck and happiness," Glanz told Hynes when he handed him the chai, "and thank you for being such a mensch."

Their reunion was sparked by a story in the Herald after he showed the Jewish War Veterans in Oceanside a documentary on his war experiences that was recently archived in the Library of Congress. Hynes read the story and recognized certain details about Glanz that he recalled from their 10-minute meeting at the Ludwigsberg prison camp. After living in Oceanside for 52 years, both men finally reunited last month at the Veterans of Foreign War in Oceanside, where Hynes gave Glanz two more miraculous medals.

Prior to his presenting the chai at the ceremony last Sunday, Glanz recalled for all in attendance — including the JWV, several members of Hynes's family, Legislator Denise Ford, and Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino — the circumstances leading up to their meeting in the camp. When they first met, there were rumors in the camp that allied troops were nearby, and Glanz was concerned the guards would do something drastic before they left the camp, especially to him because of his Jewish faith.

"Ed gave me two miraculous Catholic medals to help me through this dire situation," Glanz recalled.

On receiving his chai, Hynes thanked Glanz and vowed, "I will wear it with pride."

Hynes said he remembered his fellow American's wounded thigh that was riddled with German machine gun bullets, and recalled that Glanz said he hoped they wouldn't amputate his leg because he was a Jew.

"Being a prisoner myself, if they mistreated me or not, I was a soldier and I was prepared," Hynes said. "But I wouldn't want to be a prisoner in a German prison camp and be Jewish. I tried to think of something to help him, and I suggested the religious medal. I hope it worked. God bless."

A daughter of a World War II veteran herself, Ford told the audience, "I think this story of two men helping one another in trying times just brings out the importance of what brotherhood is."

Both the JWV and Santino presented both POWs with citations and plaques recognizing their heroic actions in war.

"This is an inspiring story that needs to be told again and again," Santino said, "because once we forget the sacrifices that were made for us, by our veterans, in order to keep us free, we will no longer be a great society."

* This story originally appeard in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald in January 2004.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Capturing a Terror-Filled Day

Oceanside cameraman featured on Fox 9/11 special

By Joseph Kellard

With a TV camera on his shoulder, Keith Lane had been to Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Honduras and other war zones, and he videotaped the fear on the soot-covered faces of victims from the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. But nothing has ever disturbed him more than a particular seen from last September.

Lane, an Oceanside resident and cameraman with Fox News for 14 years, arrived at the WTC on September 11 just minutes after the second tower was hit, and while filming the chaos that unfolded before him he witnessed people leaping to their deaths.

"I just couldn't imagine what kind of hell on earth it was up there that their only choice was to jump 80 to 90 floors," Lane told the Herald. "It was hard to comprehend. I couldn't even come to terms with that until a week or two ago. I couldn't even talk about it without breaking down."

Recently, Lane was filmed voicing this sentiment in an interview for a half-hour special aired by Fox News on the one-year memorial of that horrific day. "Capturing 9/11 Stories from Behind the Lens" featured Lane and two of his colleagues, Dave Corporon and Jack Taliercio, who told their experiences videotaping the momentous event.

That day, on hearing that a plane had crashed into a twin tower, Lane bypassed the elevator at Fox's 67th St. headquarters, rushed down its stairs and drove his work truck along the FDR Drive to the WTC.

Once there, authorities stopped him from getting to the towers. Instead Lane planted himself in front of the nearby Millennium Hotel, where injured and distraught people were already being treated, and he began videotaping the shocked and crying innocents hurrying from the smoldering skyscrapers.

"I'm thinking to myself, 'How are they going to put this fire out? How are they going to put the fire in two buildings like this out?,'" he said in "Capturing 9/11 Stories."

Meanwhile, Taliercio worked his way down to the WTC, at one point filming the plaza, the once busy square between the towers. The speaker system continued to play a muzak version of Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman" out on to a then eerily desolate area as debris rained down from the gapping black holes above. Taliercio noticed a man clutching to a window outside a floor just below where the flames and smoke were raging inside. Eventually, the man slid and fell.

"I'm shooting the most unbelievable thing that I will ever experience in my life," Taliercio said, recalling his thoughts at that moment.

Amid such surreal scenes the cameramen were unaware they were shooting the results of a terrorist attack, and never did they think the towers would collapse.

But as the first tower began to fall and rumble loudly, Lane, Corporon and Taliercio filmed the people running in terror as thick, tornado-like clouds of dust and debris barreled around buildings and chased them through the streets. They stuck around as long as they could to videotape these scenes. But when they finally ran it was too late; the ominous clouds had quickly surrounded them. The frames of their cameras turned pitch black.

"It was so black you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," Corporon recalled. "And, say, for the first thirty seconds to the first minute, when that cloud swallowed me up, I really thought I was going to suffocate."

Lane, who noticed that pieces of debris pelting him were getting larger, suffered from similar effects. "I just kept clearing my throat and saying, 'You've got to keep breathing. You've got to keep breathing,'" he said.

The quiet that ensued resembled that of a street after a heavy snowstorm, and the only sounds were muffled hollers for help or the cry of names. After they made their way out of their darkest experience, and after they came out from cover following the fall of the second tower, Lane and his colleagues kept working, wandering the war-torn streets. Among the many images they shot were survivors crawling out from underneath parked cars blanketed in ash.

Lane returned to his truck on Fulton and Broadway, one block from the WTC, and after digging it out of debris he parked it in front of Pace University, where firefighters had created a command station. Not wanting to leave an event of that magnitude, he lived out of his truck for four days. But thoughts of his family in Oceanside, his wife Susan and daughter Tara, 10, were most poignant the first day.

"I got a page about 8:30 that night that just said, 'Daddy, I Love You,'" said Lane as an emotional lump formed in his throat.

He returned home early that Saturday morning, but after just five hours, after showering and packing a bag with some needed materials, he returned to lower Manhattan for a week.

Professionally, the events of that infamous day culminated in Lane, Corporon and Taliercio being awarded "General Excellence in Photo Journalism" by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

"It's an award I'm honored to win, but I wish it was a story I never had covered because of the terrible story it was and the number of people we lost," Lane said.

In addition to his work as a cameraman in dangerous circumstances, Lane has volunteered as a firefighter for 21 years, six of them with the Oceanside Fire Department. So since he has come face to face with fire and smoke often enough, he didn't fear for his life much when he was caught in the dust and debris from the fallen towers. But when he reflects on the day, when he thinks about what he went through as a cameraman to capture the destruction, chaos and victims on videotape, he realizes he was also one of them.

"I never considered any of us survivors of the World Trade Center collapse. But I guess we were." Lane said in the last frame of "Capturing 9/11 Stories. "I guess we were."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald in September 2002.

Retired Firefighter's Values Reinforced Since 9/11

Brother of fallen FDNY veteran reflects on the years after the terrorist attacks.

By Joseph Kellard

To Rob Carlo, it felt like September all summer.

His brother, Michael Carlo, 34, was a firefighter with Engine 230 in Bedford-Stuyvesant since 1994 when he was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and Rob avoids any thought about that horrific day until the anniversary each September. But this year, with the heightened attention on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and with many people calling him after Osama bin Laden was killed in May, Rob has relived 9/11 daily.

“I usually can put it off until September and then start worrying about it, but this year it’s just been overwhelming since then," Rob said.

A retired firefighter from Ladder 23 in Harlem who arrived at the WTC site later on Sept. 11, Rob said he's been mostly unaffected by post-9/11 events, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the memorial and mosque controversies at the site, to the death of bin Laden. He said he feels for the families of troops who were killed or wounded, and he finds it too stressful to get involved with any controversies.

“I can’t say anything has changed me or my values so much," Rob said about the aftermath of 9/11, "it just reinforced what I always knew and always believed in."

He and Michael always believed that they were never too busy to let anything interfear with what mattered most to them, from vacations to family.

“If we had an vacation we wanted to take, that was just as important as a job that we had to get done,” Rob explained. “So we put it on the calendar. We made sure we got it done. A family reunion that was coming up, it might not be the most convenient time, but if you don’t spend that time with family, you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to do it."

Rob recalled a deadly fire in Woodside on Father’s Day in 2001, a day he spent with his brother. “We talked about how we could walk out of there and get hit by a bus, or come down with a life-threatening disease, or something could happen at work on our jobs as firemen,” he said. “So we really did appreciate living life and we didn’t waste any time.”

Rob rented a house in Long Beach with Michael in 1999, after which he moved there permanently. Rob describes Mike as a life-of-the-party type who enjoyed socializing and spending his time on the water, kayaking and boating. They played volleyball together on the beach, between Grand Boulevard and New York Avenue, where Rob decided to buy a bench on the boardwalk in his brother's memory.

He chose his Michael's favorite quote, one by Mark Twain that he kept on a Post-It note over his desk, for the plaque inscription: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did. So throw off the bowline, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade wins in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.”

A few years ago on Sept. 11, Rob emerged from a swim in the ocean off Grand and noticed a crowd had gathered around his brother’s bench. They were Michael’s childhood friends from their native Whitestone, who since 2002 had made it a ritual to visit his bench before sundown on the anniversary.

Rob then had something else he would never miss each year. He joins Michael’s friend and his own friends there at sunset each 9/11, along with family members, fellow firefighters and neighbors from Tennessee Avenue. The crowd has grown each September, he said, and estimated that some 75 people attended last year.

“It’s the one time I get to see my brother’s friends,” Rob said, “and it always feels like he’s there, because when I see them all around we start sharing stories about him, and someone always has a new one.”

Remembering Ken Marino

Firefighter swung for the fences with family and friends

By Joseph Kellard

Weeks after her husband, Ken Marino, was killed in the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, Katrina Marino e-mailed his favorite baseball player, Ken Griffey of the Cincinnati Reds, requesting that he hit a home run for her husband that day.

Griffey followed through not only with this request, but also with his promise to meet Katrina and her two children when the Reds visited New York this summer to play the Mets.

"[Griffey] played ball with the children for a while and he talked to me for a while, and he let the kids climb all over him,” Katrina said about their meeting on Shea Stadium's baseball diamond. “He was great.”

This fulfilled promise was one bright spot for Katrina over the past year, a time that for her has felt, she said, "like a lifetime," and for Mary Ann Marino, Ken's mother, "like one long day that really hasn't ended," she said.

An Oceanside native and firefighter with the elite Rescue 1 in New York City, Marino was among the first firefighters at the World Trade Center after 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11. Before that unthinkable morning, the Marinos, residing in their Monroe, New York home for two years, were awaiting approval of a variance to build a second-floor bedroom for their newborn boy, Tyler. If the variance was approved earlier, Ken would likely have been home on Sept. 11 building the new room.

"He was such a big part of my life and now I don't have him," Katrina lamented.

As a means of coping with her grief, she busied herself by cooking for the volunteer firefighters who did build Tyler's room, and by furnishing and decorating it, all of which took about 4 months.

Marino moved to Long Beach in 1987 and joined the city's fire department, but he always dreamed of becoming a New York City firefighter. That dream was fulfilled three years later, as Marino joined with Rescue 4 in Queens. Standing 6'5", he was known as "Little Ken," and fellow firefighters described him as "a kid at heart." In 1994, he began dating Katrina, a native of Massachusetts, who at the time was a TWA flight attendant living in Long Beach. The couple married three years later, started a family and moved to Monroe.

"If it wasn't for my children, I wouldn't know what to do," Katrina said about her son, now two years old, who responds happily to photos of Ken, and Kristine, 4, who understood early on that her father would never return home again.

In addition to her grandchildren, in whom she sees so much of Ken, Mary Ann said she and her family, daughter Lynda and husband Patrick, have derived a lot of strength from the "tremendous amount of support" from their family, friends and people in their community. "They have seen to it that they were there for us, and at times we didn't realize that we needed them," Mary Ann explained.

While she and Katrina tried counseling, they both found it did little to assist them in their grief. Instead, Katrina talks regularly with another widow whose husband worked and lost his life with Ken. She also consults a woman from Columbia University who conducted a pre-Sept. 11 study of over 200 young families who have lost loved ones.

"I think that to have someone who has numerous experiences with people like me, especially with children, has been very helpful," Katrina said. "She's explained to me the different stages that widows like me go through and she believes I'm right on track."

Mary Ann derives emotional fuel to carry on by remembering Ken's strength of character in hard times and by living out his wishes.

"I know that he would want us to be there for Katrina, and he would definitely want us to be in his children's lives," Mary Ann said. "And keeping that in mind, we know that we somehow have to make a go of this because we would be letting him down if we weren't there for his children."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in September 2002.

'The Best of the Best'
Marino remembered for his unmatched passion for firefighting

By Joseph Kellard

If its dimensions could have been quantified, Ken Marino's love for firefighting was an Empire State Building among skyscrapers. His interest in the profession was sparked at the time when young boys begin thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. But for Marino, the interest developed into a passion that he carried into adulthood.

"Ever since I could remember, ever since Kenny was very, very young, he always wanted to be a fireman," said Mary Ann Marino, Ken's mother, during a street dedication ceremony last Saturday in honor of her son, who died while saving people at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

From the corner of Weidner Avenue and Frank Street in Oceanside, where Marino played fireman with his friends, and before some 200 people, including firefighters from the Oceanside, Long Beach and New York City departments, Mary Ann recounted her son's passion for his career.

As soon as he turned 18, Marino joined Hose Co. One in Oceanside, and went on to departments in Long Beach, Mineola, Monroe and New York City. Spending 11 years in the city department, Marino served for the last two with Rescue One Co., an elite FDNY unit. When he joined the city department, Mary Ann and her husband, Pat, were nervous, and asked Ken why he'd want to take on a job that involved the danger of fighting fires in tall buildings.

"He'd say, 'You don't understand,'" Mary Ann told the crowd under a cloudless sky and a large American flag ruffled by a cool breeze. The flag hung above an arch formed by two stately fire engine ladders. "He was right, we didn't understand. And we still don't understand. But what we do understand is the strength, bravery and heroism that was Kenny. … What we also understand is that to be a firefighter is not a job, it's a calling. It's to be a very special person, and that was Kenny -- very, very special."

Anthony Granice, a friend of Marino's when he was growing up on Weidner Avenue, recalled that his friend had never stopped talking about becoming a firefighter since he was 6.

"His firematic skills were second to none," Granice said about the fireman Marino became. "This passion to save lives eventually led Kenny to Rescue One. Not just anyone could be a member of Rescue One. It was an elite unit that requires a unique individual who has excellent physical skills, drive and dedication. Kenny was the best of the best."

"Where do we get such heroes?" Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino asked. "They come from places like Oceanside, streets like this. Ordinary men and women, growing up in this great country and community, living their lives, learning their lessons, being led on the path of life that leads to tremendous things."

The most important lesson of Sept. 11, said Marino's sister, Lynda, is to remember the tremendous things people like her brother did — namely, "that when disaster strikes, there are people in this world who defy the human instinct to flee and conversely run in the direction of danger in order to help."

Lynda characterized her brother as a valiant, strong, smart, funny and hardworking man who "cared deeply for his family and absolutely loved his job."

While it's painful for her to imagine what he saw and felt while doing that job at the WTC inferno, Lynda continued, "I seek comfort in knowing that he lost his life doing what he loved to do most."

Marino's father, Pat, stood between his wife and daughter and laid a comforting hand on their shoulders throughout the ceremony, as Marino's wife, Katrina, held their son, Tyler, 3, and daughter Kristin, 5, stood close by.

"I truly believe that by remembering and celebrating the lives of [heros like Marino], we weave grief, pain and sorrow into strength, courage and connection," said Supervisor Kate Murray before she lifted Tyler and Kristin to pull the rope and unveil the street sign that reads, "Kenneth J. Marino Avenue."

Granice told the crowd that just as the twin towers should be rebuilt to remind future generations of what originally stood at the WTC site, this sign will remind kids that heroic men have come from the streets where they play.

Katrina said after the ceremony that it held a lot of meaning, having taken place on the street where her husband was raised. "He always bragged about us, so it was great that we got the chance to brag about him," she said.

Marino's mother, who said that holding the ceremony just days before the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks made the memorial more meaningful, implored the crowd to "never forget" 9/11, the bravery of the men and women who ran into the towers to save lives, the innocent people who were killed that day, "and Kenny."

One of Marino's buddies who will never forget him is Frank Corona, an Oceanside native who fights fires with Ladder 119 in Williamsburg. After the ceremony, Corona recalled how Marino exhibited unusual confidence when he played softball in Oceanside, and how he always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude. Corona's fondest memory of Marino, however, is of when Corona was in the fire academy and was having trouble tying knots for rescue procedures, a requirement for becoming a firefighter.

"Ken took the time out of his schedule and invited me over to his house, and he had the whole entire course laid out in his backyard," Corona recalled. "And station by station, he took me and taught me, and he showed me a video. The next day was the test, and I aced it. He gave me the confidence. He was just so into the job. There weren't enough days in the week for the fire department. Even on his off time, he was learning how to be a better fireman. He was an awesome fireman."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in September 2003.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering Laura Marchese, 35

WTC victim memorilized by friends and family

By Joseph Kellard

For Anthony and Lorraine Marchese, it was like reliving Sept. 11 all over again.

Last month, the Freeport couple learned that the remains of their daughter, Laura Merchese, an Oceanside resident and a victim at the World Trade Center, were identified through DNA as being at the devastated site.

"I guess a person tends to fantasize, 'Oh, they never found her, maybe she got away,'" Lorraine said. "And I think just the confirmation gave us that bang all over again, because you realize she was there. And it's very hard, very hard dealing with that, and not to have a body is overwhelming."

On Sept. 11, Marchese, 35, had been working for about a year on the 102 floor of the WTC as an executive assistant with Alliance Consulting Group. For 12 years before that, she had worked with Reliance National, an insurance company in Manhattan, where she elevated herself from a ground-floor position to executive assistant. Less than two weeks before the terrorist attacks, Marchese, a life-long Freeport resident, and her fiancé, Joseph Mendez, a life-long Island Park resident, had moved into their new home in Oceanside, happily nestled between their families.

"Laura was a very special person and one of a kind: successful, intelligent, caring, and she touched a lot of people's lives," Mendez said. "It's hard to lose a loved one who you are planning to spend your whole life with and they are just taken away. But what keeps me going is I knowing that she's in a better place and some day I'll see her again."

Echoing similar thoughts about coping with the loss of Laura, Lorraine said, "I pray and I have faith that she is with family members who have passed. I think that's what truly keeps me going. I believed Laura's remains would be found. I never gave up hope."

To assist them in their ongoing grief, the Marcheses attend counseling sessions at South Nassau Communities Hospital's World Trade Center Child and Family Counseling Program in Rockville Centre, where they meet with other parents whose children perished at the WTC.

"If it was not for the wonderful people who are a part of this group, I don't know how we would have managed," Lorraine explained. "It helps to know that we are not the only people who are suffering like this."

Not a big believer in counseling, Mendez has found comfort and strength in his family and friends and through other means.

"I keep working and I keep on moving, and that's how I deal with it," he said. "I keep Laura in my memory every day, and that's what gets me through."

Laura will be remembered by loved ones as someone who was enormously considerate of others, and who gave much of her time volunteering for certain causes, such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

"She was the kindest, sweetest person I'd ever met,” Mendez said. “She would do anything for anyone she or I knew.”

A testament to the many lives that Laura deeply touched is the many dedications that have been made in her memory. A group of her closest friends dedicated a bush and a plaque at Holy Redeemer Parish in Freeport, which they all attended while growing up. The Freeport Memorial Library, where Laura worked for five years while attending Freeport High School and Nassau Community College, dedicated a tree in her name. And Laura's sister, Cathy Collins, recently held a ceremony and unveiled a wall comprised of six ornamental pear trees and a plaque on a rock before them in her backyard in West Babylon.

Marie Thomas, Laura's other sister, has had Masses said in her honor at her local parish in Pleasentville. Others who knew Laura — from people who rode the train with her to work each day to past co-workers — gave donations in her name to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Presently, the Marcheses are unsure what they will do on Sept. 11, but attending the ceremony planned for New York City will probably be too emotionally overwhelming for them, Lorraine indicated. One thing is for sure, however. They will continue to pray for what they still have.

"I pray for the good health of my two girls that are alive and my husband," Lorraine said." I think that's basically truly what keeps me going."

* This story was originally published in the Oceanside-Island Park Herald in September 2002.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Remembering Tim Haviland, 41

'He absolutely loved New York'

By Joseph Kellard

His profession didn't lead him to New York, but his heart did. Tim Haviland moved to the Big Apple after meeting his wife, Amy, on the Internet. He loved New York, and when he had the opportunity to work in the Twin Towers he glowed, said Amy Haviland.

Tim died during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He was vice-president and project manager for insurance brokerage Marsh McLennan, a company that lost many employees in the attacks.

"He was on top of the world,” Amy said. “He'd go to the windows every day and watch the ferries and all the people below. He loved the hustle and bustle and the people. He loved talking to the people."

Haviland was born in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1960. He moved with his family to Ames, Iowa, at age 2, graduated from Ames High School in 1978 and relocated to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where he attended Macalester College.

After graduation, he landed a job with Lawson Computer Associates, a software firm in St. Paul, where he started in the mailroom, and while he was a manager in that department, he introduced many computer programs to make it operate more efficiently. After 12 years, he left the company and returned to school to learn computer programming.

Amy and Tim originally came to know each other through an Internet matchmaking web site in April 1996. They had much in common, except their locations. Living a thousand miles apart, they nevertheless decided to remain Internet friends and corresponded with each other often.

In August of that year, Tim decided to accompany a coworker who was flying to New York on a business trip, and he arranged to meet Amy at LaGuardia Airport. After spending some time with each other, Tim returned two weeks later to attend the christening of Amy's niece.

"I thought he was the most wonderful person I'd ever met," Amy recalled. "He was kind, generous, loving, honest."

In October, Tim set up a series of job interviews in New York and was hired by Avis to run their computer program department at twice the salary he was making in Minnesota. In January 1997, he moved to Oceanside with Amy and her two children, Nicholas, 14, and Jesse, 12. They were engaged in November 1998 and married in August 1999.

"He took over managing my children's lives and became their financial supporter and their homework man," Amy said. "He was very devoted to me and my children."

By September 11, Haviland had been working for Marsh McLennan for more than three years and he expected to be promoted to vice president in October. He started at the company's headquarters at 1166 Avenue of the Americas, and later his office was switched to the 96th floor of the North Tower at the World Trade Center.

"He absolutely loved New York and working in the city to begin with, but when he transferred to the Twin Towers he glowed," Amy said.

The day before the attacks, Amy had returned home from the hospital after undergoing abdominal surgery. The next morning, the couple performed their usual routine, which included driving Tim to the Oceanside Long Island Rail Road station each morning.

"I said to him before we left that morning, 'do you want to go vote now?' He said, 'I would but, you know how Jesse gets if she can't push all the levers for me. I'll come home early and we'll all go vote.'"

After dropping him off, Amy returned home and went back to bed to convalesce. The bedroom phone rang and woke her from her sleep. It was Amy's sister Christine.

"She tried to be very calm," Amy explained. "She said, 'Amy, I think you should put on the TV because they think a plane just flew into the World Trade Center.' I put on Channel 4 immediately and started screaming, because I could see it was his tower."

When Tim failed to call her, Amy knew he was in trouble.

"He would have called me if he could have, even if he were choking with smoke,” she said. “I called his voice mail and then his cell phone. And I kept calling his cell phone. He never answered."

Amy also characterized her husband as someone who always walked around with a smile.

"Our neighbors, who took the train with him in the morning, miss him so much because he always lightened up their morning."

Haviland was someone who was passionate about his interests, whether it was studying computer books to increase his knowledge in his profession, politics or the Minnesota Vikings, Amy said.

Tim once brought Amy to the Metrodome in Minnesota to watch the Vikings play the Green Bay Packers. "I knew nothing about football, but instead of shushing me because he wanted to watch the game, Tim explained the rules and every detail,” she recalled. “He was a very patient man."

Haviland was also a Knicks and Yankees fan, but Amy and her children were Met fans. "Last year's World Series when the Yankees played the Mets was a big deal in our house,” she said.

For Amy, what makes coping with her husband's loss most difficult is seeing her children's suffering. Amy said she feels "very depressed" and wants to "hide under the covers and not come out," but that she has to take care of her family.

"To sit at our dinning room table at night and try to have dinner without Tim, I haven't been able to eat,” she said. “My kids are destroyed. It's just an awful, awful feeling."

Amy and her family's saving grace have been their relatives, who were with her at every moment in the wake of the attacks and the search and rescue efforts.

"I don't think I would have survived this without them," Amy said.

A memorial service was held for Haviland last Sunday at Vanella's Funeral Chapel in Oceanside.

* This story originally appeared in the Oceanside/Island Park Herald in November 2001.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Walks Home Retains Vintage Features

The couple that bought the bungalow, built in 1922, decorated it in retro style.

By Joseph Kellard
Glyn and Kelly Jaime were living in their new summer home, a 1922 single-level bungalow, only a month before it was included on the Long Beach Historical & Preservation Society’s annual Heritage House Tours in June 2008.

When the Manhattenites bought the home on October Walk it had been vacant for two years and was filled with cobwebs and sheet-covered furniture, including a vintage 1950s Herman Miller kitchen table and chairs that the Jamies kept, since it fit their retro style.

“We just had time to get it cleaned up and organized for the tour, which was a bit of a challenge, but we loved it,” Glyn recalled.

The bungalow has three small bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom, and it retains many original features: a white stucco exterior, a brick fireplace, a claw-foot cast iron bathtub, beaver-board walls and linseed linoleum floors.

A description of the home in the house tours' booklet reads: “This bungalow truly exemplifies the long-ago and continuing charm of Long Beach as a vacation locale.”

Other original features that drew the Jaimes to the house are its kitchen sink, which Kelly estimates it weighs as much as 800 pounds; windows with wavy panes that look out onto the enclosed front porch; and an outdoor shower at the home’s rear, where the fenceless property mingles with their neighbors’ concrete plots.

While the Jaimes were house-hunting they looked at some 25 Long Beach properties before discovering the Walks, a neighborhood where homes are divided only by a sidewalk and are without street access. The couple was instantly sold on the area and bought a bungalow that was built by a Brooklyn lumber producer, Louis Bossert, after World War I.

Of course, as with any dated home, it needed upgrades. The 1940s toilet had a crack that was not fixable, so they had to change it along with the lead pipes, and they painted the outside, a task that was last performed in 1976.

“This was one of the first things on our to-do list,” Glyn said about the repainting. “We wanted to bring the house back to its original vintage beauty.”

Glyn knows these all these details because the home’s second and last owner, Lydia Leiner, left behind impeccable records of everything she bought. The first owner was a barrister from Brooklyn who bought the house for his wife.

The Jaimes have added their own touches that include a wall adorned with a mid-century street map of the Columbus Circle area, framed black-and-white vintage photos of Manhattan and replicas of the Statue of Liberty (since they were married on Liberty Island).

They have only been to the house from late spring to early fall, so they’ve never had to shovel snow there.

“It’s instant relaxation,” said Kelly about their sojourns to Long Beach from their Manhattan apartment. “It’s like a vacation every weekend we come out here.”

Kelly works in Levittown as vice president of sales for Premier Merchant Processing, a company specializing in credit card processing for businesses, and Glyn owns a packaging design company in Manhattan.

Having a yard is something new for Glyn, who was born and raised in Greenwich Village and has always resided in Manhattan. In the seven years she and Kelly have lived together in their Manhattan apartment building, they’ve never seen any neighbors on their floor. But they know all the families around them on the Walks. One of their young neighbors even waters their flowers and lawn during the week.

“It’s a whole different speed in New York City,” Glyn said. “I look forward to coming to Long Beach all week long.”

Walks Neighborhood Had Military Beginnings

Historic community had mostly year-round residents by the 1970's.

By Joseph Kellard
What residents of the Long Beach’s historic Walks neighborhood lack in asphalt and yard space, they make up for in neighborly intimacy, whether it’s picking up groceries for one another or shoveling snow together to clear the sidewalk that separates their homes to get to surrounding streets.

The 10 blocks of Walks have no direct street access, driveways or garages. The bungalows on each walk face east and west and are sandwiched behind homes facing north and south from West Park Avenue, the neighborhood’s northern border, to West Beech Street to the south. Named for the months of the year, the walks themselves run north-south, from Lindell Avenue, the eastern border, to New York Avenue.

The homes are little more than arm-spans apart, and their “yards” are best described as patches of grass. Homeowners make the most of their small properties, though, lining their front picket or chain-link fences with flowers, while some leave their backyards barrier-free, blurring the property lines.

“I love it because it has so much charm,” said Roberta Fiore, a Long Beach historian who calls the Walks the city’s most distinct neighborhood. “It’s a cute little community with a lot of creativity.”

The neighborhood was first developed in 1917 and 1918, when the U.S. military took over the Nassau Hotel and Long Beach became a military settlement like Camp Yaphank in Suffolk County, where pre-fabricated bungalows were built for $2,500. They were shipped to Long Beach and installed barracks-style on property owned by Brooklyn developer and former State Sen. William Reynolds. The uninsulated pre-fabs were meant for summer use, but for $500 more a chimney could be built.

Louis Bossert, a Brooklyn lumber producer, developed the second wave of homes there starting in the late 1920s. By the mid-1950s, tenants started to live in them year-round. “The expression then was, ‘Throw some heat in the bungalows,’” Fiore said.

By the 1970s, half the homes became permanent dwellings, said Jim Hennessy, a former City Council president who was raised on January Walk. Hennessy fondly remembers the closeness not only of the neighborhood, but also in his family’s bungalow: He was one of nine children. He and a younger sister, two older brothers and single mother occupied the standard three bedrooms, and his five other sisters shared the attic-turned-bedroom.

Fun for Hennessy meant running with friends through stretches of then mostly wide-open yards, throwing a football across a few lawns and jumping from one rooftop to the next while playing hide-and-seek.

“There was a house across from ours where two elderly French-Canadian women lived,” Hennessy said in an interview in 2009. “If I had to go to the bathroom and one of my other siblings was in our bathroom, I would just run outside my house and use Jean and Isabella’s bathroom. That’s what it was like. It was really close and a lot of fun.”

One typical and long-time feature of the neighborhood homes are the front porches, many of which are now enclosed but were once open to catch breezes from the ocean a few blocks south.

“The whole design of the Walks,” Fiore said, “was to build houses without street access, but an aside was the terrific breezes.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Birders Break Out the Binoculars

The South Shore Audubon Society take a nature walk at Point Lookout Town Park.

By Joseph Kellard

Irwin Zuckerman’s devotion to bird watching has its origins in baseball and city life. As a boy growing up in lower Manhattan, he played the outfield so that he could watch seagulls soar along the neighboring East River.

“I always liked being outdoors and I always liked watching birds,” Zuckerman said.

The Port Washington resident recalled his early fascination with birds while on a trek along the beaches of Point Lookout with fellow members of the South Shore Audubon Society on Sunday morning. Like most birders, Zuckerman straps a pair of binoculars around his neck and pockets a field guide. His is a Peterson 1980 edition, complete with illustrations of bird species and nationwide residence maps.

“I’m looking for a Harlequin duck,” he said on Sunday. “It’s a very pretty duck.”

He did spot an Oystercatcher and turned to its illustration in his guide, pointing out its long, orange beak that he said is powerful enough to crack open oyster shells.

While Zuckerman heads out weekly on bird walks, among the nearly two-dozen people at Sunday’s excursion was novice Lillian Baum of Long Beach.

Baum read about the walk in a newspaper and thought it would be good exercise. She followed the experienced birders who stopped about every 30 yards to plant their tripod telescopes in the sand and point them out to sea. Like them, Baum was eager to get outside after a long, cold winter.

“I’m also here to be out in nature,” she said.

While it was sunny and temperatures were expected to climb into the mid-50s, a stiff wind forced Baum and others to wear winter coats and hats. “Just smell that fresh air,” she said while inhaling deeply.

Baum may become one of the South Shore Audubon Society’s 1,500 members. The Freeport-based organization gathers for nature walks (not just bird walks) at many locations. If they’re not meeting at Point Lookout Town Park or Lido Beach Preserve, then they may be found at the Marine Nature Study Area in Oceanside, Mill Pond Park in Seaford-Wantagh or Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Central Park in New York.

John Gaglione, a board member and event organizer, said that each walk typically attracts between 20 to 35 members, and their monthly meetings up to 60 members.

Gaglione was a Boy Scout leader on a trip with his troop through the woods when he first learned about the Audubon Society's bird walks. They crossed paths with birdwatchers who were members and they handed him a newsletter.

“I always enjoyed communing with nature, and through the seasons you get to see the beautiful landscapes,” said Gaglione, a Bethpage resident. “But I also enjoy the people in the organization, who are of like mind in conservation.”

During Sunday’s walk with Gaglione, Rick Kopitsch, a Massapequa resident, spotted a Common Loon when the group first reached the beach from the parking lot.

“That’s one of the oldest birds chronologically,” said Kopitsch, a 17-year veteran of birding.

His daughter, Stacey, now a wildlife biologist, got him hooked on the hobby. On his first walk with her, he was lucky enough to spot what he called two “vibrant” birds: the Scarlet Tanager and American Redstart.

Like others, Kopitsch's love of birding grew once he got involved with South Shore Audubon Society, citing past president, Elliot Kutner, now in his 80s, as an important influence.

“His enthusiasm for birding was contagious,” he said.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bridge Renaming Ceremony Attracts Hundreds

They honored Michael Valente, Long Beach's only Medal of Honor recipient, at City Hall on March 25.


Ralph Madalena wrote one letter last spring and that was all it took.

Madalena requested the renaming of the Nassau County-owned Long Beach Bridge in honor of his grandfather, World War I veteran Michael Valente, and mailed the letter to County Executive Ed Mangano and County Legislator Denise Ford, as well as other government officials and local veterans groups.

On Friday, less than a year later, Long Beach City Hall played host to the official bridge re-naming ceremony, with hundreds of people packed into the sixth-floor chambers, after the County Legislature last July voted unanimously to rename the bridge to Michael Valente Memorial Bridge.

“Many cultures believe that you never die, so long as you are remembered, and people like my grandfather live on,” said Madalena with his wife, Francesca Capitano, a former Long Beach City Council member, and his daughter, Katherine Madalena, by his side.

Private Valente, an infantryman, rescued his regiment from disaster in France on Sept. 29, 1918, and for his heroic acts he became Long Beach's lone recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor — the highest award for valor given to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces for actions against an enemy force. More than 3,440 medals have been awarded since its inception in 1861.

Friday’s ceremony featured several speakers, including former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Long Beach City Manager Charles Theofan, as well as Joe Sciame, chairman of Conference of Presidents, David Laskin, author of the book The Long Way Home, which features a passage on Valente, and Stella Grillo from the New York State Order Sons of Italy in America. Everyone from local to national veterans groups to Long Beach students to Valente’s family, who travelled from as far as Florida to California, attended the morning event.

The formal ceremony for the renaming was originally planned for Sept. 29, a date the city council designated Michael Valente Day in Long Beach in 2008. It was postponed to March 25, which is designated Medal of Honor Day nationwide. Ford was instrumental in spearheading and organizing the event.

“He put himself in great danger to save so many,” Ford said about Valente in her opening remarks.

The legislator and other speakers, some of who were friends with Valente, remembered and honored a man whose courageous acts came when his regiment, Company D of the 107th Infantry, was suffering heavy casualties during operations against German forces at the Hindenburg line near Ronssoy, France. Alongside a fellow soldier, Valente rushed forward through intense machine gun fire directly on an enemy nest, killing two gunners and capturing five enemy soldiers.

Discovering another machine gun nest nearby that rained heavy fire on American forces, Valente and his companion charged it, killed the gunner, jumped into the enemy trench, killed two more soldiers and captured 21 others. Valente's actions represent the first penetration of the Hindenburg line, Madalena said.

Nearly 11 years later to the day, on Sept. 27, 1929, President Herbert Hoover decorated Valente, then a retired sergeant, with the medal in Washington. "It's the proudest moment of my life," Valente said, according to a New York Times account dated the day after.

On Friday, Sciame, who chairs an Italian organization, said it was not just a proud day for his fellow Americans of Italian heritage, but also for the children of Long Beach.

“Every time they go over that bridge, they’re going to see the name of a man who … came to this country, worked hard, fought in a war, as many of us have done, but he was a hero. And so, I say Michael Valente was a positive role model who we should emulate, refer to and study him, and let’s get his name in the history books.”

From Italy to France to the Long Beach Boardwalk

Valente emigrated from his native Italy to Ogdensburg, N.Y., in 1915, and three years later he entered Company D of the New York National Guard, which was later incorporated into the 27th Division. In May of 1918, he was deployed to France to fight on the front lines.

After the war, Valente married Margareta Marchello and moved to her hometown, Newark, N.J., before the couple settled in Long Beach around 1919, eventually buying a home on West Walnut Street where they raised three children. Valente was a contractor and real estate agent who built houses in Long Beach, but he eventually gave up the business to work as the city marshal at City Hall.

“When I look back at Michael Valente, I remember this giant of a man,” Weisenberg said about the veteran who stood 6 feet tall with blond hair, blue eyes and a barrel chest. “… He was like a John Wayne, only quiet. He was giving. He was loving. He was a model.”

After Valente retired in 1965, he greeted people at La Serenata, a restaurant at the original Long Beach Library, now the site of Sutton Place on West Park Avenue. Among the local veterans groups, Valente was most active in the VFW Post. He was always active, particularly in his garden, and he rode his bike on the boardwalk regularly right up until his final years. Valente died in 1976 at age 80.

The city named one of its senior apartments, on National Boulevard near City Hall, after Valente, as did the Sons of Italy lodge he attended.

City Manager Charles Theofan asked the audience not to lose sight of the symbolism of a bridge.

“A bridge takes us to another place,” he said. “Let us hope that one day mankind will take us to a better place, where peace between nations will rule the day.”