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February 3, 2018

Dear Fellow Members,

     There was a song once – as in “A long, long time ago” – released in 1971 – that seemingly lasted longer than the entire month of February. “I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.” At 8 minutes, 33 seconds long – this folksy anthem captured the hearts and minds of an entire generation. But February made me shiver…with every paper I delivered,as Don Mclean would later chillingly write as a direct reference to his learning of Buddy Holly’s death. He learned of the ill-fated flight while folding newspapers for his route on the morning of February 4, 1959. “Bad news on the doorstep…I couldn’t take one more step.Though only an eighth grader at the time at St. Barnabas the Apostle, I remember vividly – the release of the song. Immediately, I wanted to know as much about the history of the song as possible. Slightly over 800 words – the lyrics fascinated me. It was a musical timeline. I was enraptured. Now do you believe in rock ‘n roll…can music…save your mortal soul?” I do. It can. It did and I’m here to tell the story…whether anyone’s listening or not!

     That was then…while today, I sit at a nice table over at longtime, Chamber member, Sergio’s Italian Restaurant. By now, I am engaged in deep conversation with owner and maitre d’ extraordinaire, Michael Ramirez - when all of a sudden walked in a “girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news.” Did you hear the Massapequa Chamber is celebrating their 70th Anniversary,” she says. The couple at the next table paused just long enough from their garlic knots and Minestrone Soup to say, “That’s terrific.” “Fantastic,” I fired back. This was the best news I’ve heard since CBS cancelled Maude. “And in the streets the children screamed…the lovers cried and the poets dreamed.” Who could blame them?” We all got up to dance…oh, but we never got the chance.” Don’t you know – with that – almost on cue, the waiters simultaneously brought out my Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana and our lovely couple’s “Fisherman’s Platter for Two!” Ooohh, the mussels and calamari! Looked so good…it made me re-think my order. What else could I do…the only logical thing I could do…I started singing, Bye, Bye Miss American Pie…”

     Catchy little tune, isn’t it? Now try getting those lyrics out of your head. I haven’t been able to shake them in forty-seven years. It’s tantamount to one trying to shake the memory of a dear friend. There’s simply no use. February can (for some I suppose) …despite being short ondays…be long on pain! “I can’t remember if I cried…when I read about his widowed bride.” It’s hard to let go sometimes. “But something touched me deep inside.” Curiosity getting the better of me; I call over to this young woman and say, “Do you mind if I ask how you found out about our Chamber?” “But she just smiled and turned away.” Not exactly the reaction I was expecting. Oh, well! I then cried out…as if she was listening… “Do you recall what was revealed…the day…the music died?”

     Granted, our 70th Anniversary Celebration may not be as historically significant as the ill-fated flight of Holly, Valens and J.P. Richardson…a.k.a. “The Big Bopper,” but we still feel it’s a milestone worth celebrating. Even if it pales to days in history like August 16, 1977 – “Oh, and while the King was looking down…the Jester stole his thorny crown.” Those memories tend to be marked by sadness. It is not a stretch to assess…at the time of the crash… for true “Rock ‘n Rollers” at least, the earth seemingly stood still…as well as it did on the evening of December 8, 1980 – when I was a rookie cop in the NYPD. Who can ever forget where they were when they heard of the death of either Elvis or the bespectacled Beatle? “And while Lennon read a book on Marx…the quartet…practiced in the park.” Call it a coincidence, but on the day of my Installation the first time around as Chamber President – June 25, 2009 to be exact – the “King of Pop” died. And we sang dirges in the dark.” I then waited a decade for my second stint. “Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own.” Some wish I had waited longer! “And moss grows fat on a rolling stone.” There is no denying it – dating back to 1948 and Herman H. Maass – our first Chamber President – commerce, like music – has evolved. “But, that’s not how it used to be.” Back then, the cost of a gallon of gas was 16 cents /gallon. The average cost of a car was $1,250.00 and a loaf of bread was 14 cents! Always a sucker for the classics, I revel in the opportunity to research the pioneers of our Chamber. I am intrigued both by our history and by the trailblazers who made it possible.

     Think about it…seventy years ago…a group of merchants gathered…with the majority of them most likely born in the first decade of the twentieth century…to form what we now know better as The Massapequa Chamber of Commerce. We should honor their vision. Why wait any longer? Purchase those tickets now. Honor those like the aforementioned, Herman H. Maass (the retired Chairman and CEO of the now defunct, Security National Bank) – who was born on July 16, 1897 – back to the days of President, William McKinley (our 25th U.S. President.) “So come on Jack be nimble.” We should honor their entrepreneurialism. “Jack be quick.” Honor them for being bold enough to take the first steps…and honor them for having the fortitude and fixity of purpose to leave a trail on an untraversed road. Jack Flash sat on a candlestick.” Former President, Herman Maass died in his home in Massapequa on Wednesday, April 4, 1979. Herman was 81 years old. Honor him. Honor them all!

   I remember the 60th gala over at Manor East on March 28, 2008 – where the late and great, former President, Joseph A. Basile presided over the ceremonies. It was a great night. I remember Joe for his indefatigable determination to see a job through. “And as I watched him on the stage…my hands were clenched in fists of rage.” You’d be mad too if someone just swiped your last Parker House roll. Next to me was former President, Robert J. Rubino working over the waiter for a little bit more Balsamic Vinaigrette. Aside from its typical use as a salad dressing; Bob liked to dunk. Hey, give me back my roll! Unfortunately, we lost Chamber Bob on November 20, 2016. Sadly… and it still hurts to say this…Joe passed on June 10, 2014. Two juggernauts of the Chamber. I miss them both. Their efforts will never be forgotten. We lost another giant on January 16th of this year when Robert S. Thompson made his triumphant procession to heaven. Bob Thompson was the Chamber President from 1990 – 1992…not to mention…the former Mayor of the Incorporated Village of Massapequa Park and the President of the Massapequa Kiwanis Club (’89-’90.) Bob was laid to rest at Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery on January 20th. Bob Thompson was eighty-three.

   Back at the Manor for a moment, we were joined by the likes of former Presidents, Pete Gisonda and Gary Slavin. It was an evening of great celebration. And as the flames climbed high into the night,” there was Hewston and Ventiera, Orzano and Doriato light the sacrificial rite…happy members from various services and industries – together in one room – Oh, and there we were all in one place…a generation lost in space.” There were members there both old and new. If I recall correctly, we had honorees, Carolyn and Alfred James of the Massapequa Post. The theme that night was “The Past, the Present and the Future.” Then a couple of tables over – we saw the Bordino brothers – Joseph and Vincent – from Pequa Park Florist. Don’t look now, but isn’t that the third of our honorees, Annemarie McMullan of Annie Shines? And there’s Carol Leff of Leff Law…Maria Hernandez of the UPS Store of Massapequa Park…Realtor, Sal Polito (put out that cigar!)…Sue Martin, CPA and over there we have the Director of YES Community Counseling Center, Jamie Bogenshutz.

   I believe if we are to ensure the continued success of this Chamber, we must continue to look at the people who got us here. Just as we’ve seen and heard from McLean’s “American Pie” timeline – there’s a story to tell. It might have taken 55 different Presidents to do it and 70 years to get here, but with the help of the current Board and the Board before that and the countless scores of members who support this Chamber…year in and year out…I am happy to report, “We are in a great place. The Massapequa Chamber of Commerce is strong…because our membership is strong…hence… we are thriving!” Just ask “Featured Member-of-the-Month,” Tina Villalobos.

   Some of you probably know her better as the “Macaroni Kid.” If it is Family Fun you’re after – then the Farmingdale-Massapequa Macaroni Kid is the answer. The Macaroni Kid reaches thousands of local families in and surrounding Massapequa via weekly e-mail newsletters; their website; social media and event calendar. It is an excellent resource when looking for local activities for the kids. Macaroni Kid was founded with two very specific goals: Enrich communities and Empower moms. They call it “E2” and it is the driving force behind all that Tina does. “Macaroni Kids are never bored,” boasts Tina. Our mission is to make Mom’s jobs easier. “We’re the 4-1-1 on all things for kids,” says Tina. Macaroni Kid is the “go to” site for Kid-Friendly events. The Kid promotes local causes and local businesses.

   If you would like a custom-made, perfectly tailored, marketing plan or would like to sponsor a community event – like the one coming up on March 25th at Marjorie Post Park, namely, the 5th Annual Egg Hunt – you can contact Tina at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. To subscribe to the free, weekly newsletter, visit http://farmingdale.macaronikid.com. Tina encourages all families to follow her on Facebook at Farmingdale-Massapequa Macaroni Kid. Twitter @MacKidFarmingdl or via her text-friendly number (516)527-2530. I am most certain Tina will give mention of our upcoming 70th Anniversary Celebration on her calendar.

   Indeed – it is a time to celebrate – a time to allow ourselves to be swept away by the nostalgia – at least for the night. It is a time to remember our past, cherish the present and eagerly welcome the future. This time around, Wednesday, March 28th, we will honor Frederick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home and Bayview Florist and Montage. Won’t you join us? Joining us that night will be, of course, “The three men I admire most…the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Those closest to the triad say, “They wouldn’t miss it for the world!” Shelley tells me they have already made their reservations and left behind a little note: “Love Constant Contact…wish we had thought of it…but there’s only so much one can do in six days…everyone gets weary.” Omniscient as ever – “They caught the last train….for the coast…the day…the mu-sic died!”

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Sincerely,

Robert R. Barrett, President