A friend called to say that Ned Parkhouse had died – news that caused both eyes and heart to fill up: the former with tears, the latter with wonderful fond thoughts and recollections.
When I came to live in Sag Harbor in 1993, I had known Ned for perhaps five years, probably longer. Our paths crossed because of a mutual interest in recorded classical music, and we soon found we had so much to talk about. My first Sag Harbor home was the small apartment on the second floor of Ned’s house. My office was literally catty-corner from his shop and we were in constant communication. When I moved back to New York in 2000, we stayed in touch, and each summer we would dine together at the American Hotel. It was like accompanying royalty. Only this last summer – and I kick myself for this – did it prove impossible to work out a date.
What a remarkable fellow Ned was; what a wonderful friend; what an ornament of the village. Gentle, funny, talented, cultivated, mannerly, elegant, brave: a perfect gentleman of the old Southern school. As I write, his CD of pianistic reminiscences of his native New Orleans is playing. It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful, emotionally transcendent and moving recitals ever committed to disc by anyone – music that digs to the heart of the listener, to the heart of things. Memories flood back of fifteen years ago, of being upstairs alone at night, and hearing Ned at his piano through the floorboards. To hear this and to reflect that he will no longer be making his gingerly way down Main Street in the morning to get his coffee and open his shop is unendurable.
All we can wish for him is a happy landing on the far shore. Like Bunyan’s Mr.Valiant-for-Truth, he has crossed over, although in Ned’s case I rather doubt it will be trumpets that sound, but rather a welcoming dulcet Steinway. As for us, well, as was said of Ty Cobb when he left baseball, we shall not see his like again, for the game has changed – and not for the better. Godspeed to an absolutely delicious and delightful human being.
Very truly yours,
Support the Process
As I sit down to write this letter I must start by saying that having three children, one with a learning disability, and oneÂ in each of the buildings,Â and being an extremely active parent, I think our school is one of the finest in the state. I was on the board for six years and went through two contract negotiations with the teachers’ union, so I think I speak from some experience on this subject. I want to ask our public to understand both sides of this.
I would not want to be a union representative fighting for raises or anything else in these difficult economic times, nor would I want to be a board member having to look at our teachers and say ‘no’ when they know how valuable they are to us. I do have some thoughts for both sides. The Sag Harbor School District is fortunate to have many talented, dedicated employees. Whether the economy is flourishing or not, our teachers still have the same job to do — and that is to educate our students better than ever and to help prepare our students to succeed in the world.
We all read the headlinesÂ in the localÂ papers like “There are no government bailouts for our schools.” Our children are not cars that you can stop producing.Â They are our future.Â I have read letters over the years that we have teachers who are not very good, and my question to all of you is this, “What profession has 100% perfect employees?” The answer is none. The majority of our teachers are excellent. The Board of Education has a difficult job that consumes hours upon hours of their time and for which they don’t get paid. They have to deliver a better education to our students and figure out a way to do that and not drain our community’s resources. They are given the challenge of needing to educate our children and yet receive little help from the state or federal government. They are in charge of over 900 students’ lives. They listen to people talk about how we spend too much money over and over. They listened for years that our kids get a mediocre education, but that has been proven false now by our test scores, and Intel science winners, and our college bound students. My hope is that we, the community, allow the process to move ahead, refrain from being divisive, support the difficult challenges that both sides face, and remain hopeful that this contract is settled quickly. As community members, we should support the process and continue to support our dedicated administrators, teachers, staff, and the board. I personally thank all of you and will support each of you in the days ahead. I know that my children are very fortunate that they are being educated in this wonderful school and community
Congress Should Give Back
To the Editor
If members of Long Island’s Congressional delegation want to preach about how they disagree with a pay increase for themselves, then they should lead by example and donate the increase to charity. If members of Long Island’s Congressional delegation believe in the redistribution of wealth then they should lead by example and redistribute their own wealth to those less fortunate.Â
These are tough economic times and while Congress passes bail out package after bail out package, our nation’s debt and overall financial stability get weaker by the day.Â While members of Long Island’s Congressional delegation state that they oppose salary increases, they accept the pay, support bail out packages adding up to the trillions, all while the rest of us on Main Street continue to suffer. Enough is enough.
As a new Congress is sworn in this week, I pray that these members don’t provide just more of the same. It is time for more fiscal discipline on Capitol Hill. Step #1 is for members to either rescind their pay increase or donate it to charities. Step #2 is for Congress to put the blank checks away and stop wasting taxpayer dollars. The September bailout package was a disaster from the start and for the members that argued otherwise they should not be receiving a pay check at all.
Lee M. Zeldin,
The author was a candidate for Congress. – ed.