Monday, March 23, 2015

WELLESLEY '66 | Get-Together in Vero Beach

Wellesley '66 mini-reunion, Vero Beach, Fla. L to R: Alice Tepper Marlin,
Anne Liggett (Cinnamon) Rinzler, Karen Ahern Boeschenstein. Matching
 nightgowns feature a flamingo, the class mascot. Photos by JTMarlin.
VERO BEACH, Fla., March 22, 2015 - Alice co-hosted with Joan Hass a formal Wellesley '66 Mini-Reunion last summer in East Hampton, N.Y.

It was part of a build-up to the class's 50th Reunion next year.

I posted photos of the Mini-Reunion visits to two of East Hampton's top three attractions (according to TripAdvisor):
1. The LongHouse Reserve.
2. The Jackson-Pollock House.
Don't expect to meet "Captain Hiram". He was a U.S.
Army Sergeant who died in the Normandy Landing.
His mother got this letter and her son's Purple Heart.
(The third of the top three is Main Beach.)

Here in Vero we have had an informal get-together with two of Alice's dearest Wellesley friends–Karen Ahern Boeschenstein from Charlottesville, Va. and Anne Liggett (Cinnamon) and Curry Rinzler from Woodstock, N.Y. (Cinnamon and Alice also both attended The Baldwin School.)

I have posted above a photo of the three ladies in their matching flamingo-dotted nightgowns. The flamingo is the Wellesley '66 class mascot.

Someone in the class of 1966 had cancer at an early age and in sympathy–and support of her recovery–her neighbors posted a flock of plastic flamingos on her lawn, in (I'm guessing) about 1975. Her classmates joined in with the support by adopting the flamingo as mascot (Fiona Flamingo?).

Photo of "Captain Hiram" - Sgt. Hiram H. Collins of
Crisfield, Md.

Kate Spade may know someone in the class because she has designed a "Wellesley Quinn Leather Pink Flamingo Bag" as part of her Wellesley Collection. Since Wellesley is lending "gilt by association" to Kate Spade's bags, it was appropriate that we earlier visited LongHouse Reserve, owned by famed textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen.

Yesterday afternoon we all (including Curry Rinzler) went on a boat tour with "Captain Hiram's River King" around Pelican Island.

"Captain Hiram" is named after someone who died nearly 71 years ago - Sergeant Hiram H. Collins, who was awarded a Purple Heart and like my uncle Willem van Stockum was killed in France during the time of the Normandy Landing.

Blue heron looking our way.
It took the U.S. Army five years to confirm in a letter to his mother that her son was incinerated in his landing craft. The letter is posted above at right.
Three blue heron, independently engaged.

"Captain Hiram" offers three boat-tour options - dolphins, Pelican Island or the Sebastian River.

We were on the Pelican Island tour, which promises birds returning to the island at sunset. Our trip was back in the dock before sunset, but we saw a lot of blue heron, white pelicans and wood storks.
Wood storks have a dark grey head and a lot of their wing is black, not visible at rest. They are also
messier than the fastidious white pelicans. At upper right, two long-necked anhingas.

White Pelicans skim over the water with amazing steadiness.
Pelican Island is the nation's very first National Wildlife Preserve, created in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt, just north of Vero Beach north of the Wabasso Bridge (Route 510), on the Indian River.

This was something like the trip we took from the Riverside Cafe, farther south.

But that trip was more about dolphins and this one was more about birds. Both tours were on the Indian River Lagoon, the largest lagoon in the United States.

Our two guides and navigators, Jay and Scott, explained how Pelican Island has been eroded by hurricanes, but when friends of the pelicans try to help out, the results are not always beneficial.

Daffy Duck. Is that
him in the photo
The best plan, currently in force, has been to forbid anyone from going on the island without  clearance from Washington. Violators of this rule are subject to jail time and fines.

Jay explained that Pelican Island is naturally partitioned among the various birds that live there. They create areas where they nest and congregate. So birds of a feather really do flock together.

The various species get along amicably, evidence of the natural agreement among groups over territorial sovereignty that Elinor Ostrom studied and for which she received a Nobel Prize.

American White Pelicans at rest, or at least busy checking themselves for bugs. Looks like an Audubon
engraving, except for Daffy Duck, 2nd from right. Was he inserted by a Warner Bros. animator? Photo by JTM.
We saw a lot of white pelicans, black-headed wood storks (the only kind of storks in Florida, said our guide), blue heron and anhingas. White pelicans are an interesting, majestic species. They have a huge wing span - six to nine feet. They have distinctive white heads, orange beaks and balck wing tips that are not visible when they are at rest. See Pelican Dreams (All About Birds blog, November 5, 2014).
Here we all are at the end of the trip. Better than the slush up north.
L to R: Cinnamon, me (John), Alice, Curry, Karen. Photo by Scott.

The boat's schedule is geared to Standard Time. Because of Daylight Saving Time we were not there for the sunset scene, when all the birds come back to the island.

On the Pelican Island trip we saw no dolphins. On neither trip did we see any manatee. Just to help manage expectations of those who take the tours.

Apart from Pelican Island, the birds were scarce, which suggests that the fish were scarce as well.

In the evening we repaired to Mo-Bay Grill, 1401 Indian River Drive, not far from Captain Hiram's. The Drive runs parallel to the Indian River between Route 1 and the river.

Mo-Bay Grill gets 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor and has a famed Jamaican chef, who came by our table twice. He makes great conch fritters and cooks fish to perfection. We had the grouper with pecan butter sauce, a shrimp-with-coconut-grits dish, and a whole crispy red snapper. The vegetables with it were ample and delicious. It was accompanied by the excellent sweet House Sangria. We shared a scrumptious banana-rum cheesecake and shredded coconut cream pie. The only disappointment was the she-crab soup, which all five of us tasted and none of us cared for. Mo-Bay Grill takes reservations for four or more people–otherwise you have to take your chances and wait in line.