Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Police Blotter: Memories of Chief Bob Garafola


Some 25-30 years ago, Saltaire was blessed to have a great Chief of Saltaire Security. This was Bob Garafola.

By the time Bob arrived on the scene, it had been a number of years since I had served as a Saltaire Securtity Officer. I had served under the infamous Lenny McGahey, but finally decided to leave the force when he demanded, after three years, that I start issuing summonses. Not wishing to spend the rest of my life with no friends and many potential assassins, I left the Police Department and got a steady job.

The first time I got to know Bob was on a Saturday night on the Fourth of July weekend. After many cocktails at the Saltaire Yacht Club, I decided to go outside to engage in some Fourth of July revelry. I had been sitting on the edge of the winch dock shooting off bottle rockets when I noticed that a Saltaire Security Officer had been standing behind me for some time observing my, albeit, illegal activities. The officer demanded that I produce Identification. Being such a ludicrous request (no-one carried ID in Saltaire), I brushed him aside and returned to my drinking at the Yacht Club Bar. Less than three minutes later, Bob Garafola was sitting next to me, looking somewhat disheveled, and asking why I had gotten him out of bed at Midnight. I apologized for disturbing his slumber. I replied that I couldn’t’ believe the patrolman was dumb enough to bother waking Bob up for such a minor infraction, and asked offered to buy Bob a drink. Unfortunately, Bob accepted, and continued accepting for the next two hours. The cost of the drinks far exceeded any fine that would have been levied, but I had made a good friend.

Some summers later, a hurricane was approaching Fire Island, and Bob was in charge of evacuating the population of Saltaire off the Island. He had spent almost 36 sleepless hours in his endeavors, and finally succeeded in getting everyone off the Island by Friday morning, only to be notified upon his arrival in Bay Shore that the emergency evacuation order had been lifted. This was too much for poor Bob. I found him at the bar in the old Gil Clarks, quite inebriated. The only other people in the bar were Patsy and Harry Scanlon and the bartender, who pleaded that we take Bob with us. Feeling great sympathy for what Bob had been through, we carried him out and put him on the ferry to Saltaire. It wasn’t until after I had gotten off the boat in Saltaire, and the boat was preparing to leave that I yelled to the deck hand to stop. I went back on board, carried Bob off the boat, and left him on the dock, figuring that he could make his way home from there.

Bob was a wonderful guy, and I still miss him to this day.

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