Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Missing historic gravestone returned to Jamesport Cemetery

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | George Penny replaces the footstone of his ancestor Nathan Penny to its rightful location at Jamesport Cemetery Monday as Mattituck historian Norman Wamback watches.

It has been nearly thirty years since the 18th century footstone from Nathan Penny’s grave mysteriously appeared on a back doorstep at the Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society’s Main Road campus. But what was called “the footloose footstone” finally returned to its proper place on Monday with Mr. Penny’s great-great-great-great-great grandson George working the shovel and patting down the soil surrounding it.
“It’s amazing to see it back here after all these years,” said Mr. Penny, a former Southold Town Board member, looking down a now-uninterrupted line of footstones in the Jamesport Cemetery. “I assume that mischievous kids dug it up, but that makes no sense because it’s, pardon the expression, in the dead center of the cemetery.”
Mr. Penny, who has spent years researching his family’s genealogy, called Norman Wamback, the historical society’s curator and historian, to ask for the stone shortly after the Suffolk Times ran an article about it in 2003. But close to a decade passed before Nathan Penny’s headstone was discovered in Jamesport.
“I had no idea where he was buried but found references that said he both lived and was buried in Jamesport,” Mr. Penny said. “My friend Dana Davis knew where the spot was because he had seen it around the time of the article, but we failed to pick up the footstone when we were looking for the spot last week. Once you see the distinguished shape of the footstone, you know to look for a headstone that’s similar, but we didn’t do that. It took us an hour and a half to do it the dumb, old-fashioned way – looking and scratching and scraping.”
The oldest recorded ancestor in Mr. Penny’s genealogy is Nathan Penny’s great-grandfather, John, one of Southold’s original pioneers.
Nathan Penny, George Penny said, is the first of his oldest ancestors that he’s come to know anything about. Mr. Penny has a copy of Nathan Penny’s will, written near his death on May 16, 1768. At that time, what’s now Riverhead was still part of Southold, which extended all the way to Wading River.
In the will, Nathan Penny described himself as being “sick and weak.” He bequeathed his 15 acres of land and buildings, purchased from Ezekiel Petty Jr., to his wife, Mary, and son, Joseph, who became Captain Joseph Penny and had 13 children.
“He basically populated Aquebogue,” Mr. Penny said. “Half of the children went to Hampton Bays, known then as Good Ground. So half of them went to the South Fork and then some of them came over here and settled on the North Fork. That’s when Captain Joseph Jr. went to Greenport and married his cousin, Harmony Squires. George Gilbert, Joseph Jr.’s direct descendent, lived on Shelter Island and married Esther Cheryl Havens, so there’s a whole Havens connection with the Havens House on Shelter Island. That’s my next stop.”
Nathan Penny also had five daughters: Mary, Katharine, Hannah, Esther and Pergis.
“I’ve just got to find out more about him now,” Mr. Penny said after replacing the footstone. “It’s all part of a continuing saga of research. I’ve got to count on people like Norm here to give me more information.”

Long time, no talkies!

Hello blog!

I have failed to update you for a long while, but as a staff multimedia photojournalist of the Times/Review NewsGroup, my work (written and visual) has been consistently published on the web at both

The Suffolk Times and The Riverhead News-Review websites

and of course, in the newspapers.

Occasionally, one of my pieces will make it onto The Shelter Island Reporter website or in the print version of The Reporter, but much less often than when I was a staff reporter there last year.

I regularly do the police report for The Suffolk Times, as well as write features and news, shoot video and photograph for both the Suffolk Times and News-Review, as well as write and photograph for our supplements, such as the Wine Press, the Vacation Guide, the senior sourcebook, Home and Gardening, Health & Fitness, etc.

A photograph of mine will actually be the cover of the upcoming Wine Press issue, which I'm very excited about! I hear that a synthesis of my cover stories about this year's harvest will also be featured in the magazine. We'll see!

I will try to remember you more often, blog.

You're a good man. Stay that way.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Veteran Helicopter

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | The Flying Tigers were one of the first Marine Corps helicopter squadrons to be sent to Vietnam in 1963. The Flying Tigers are the second most decorated helicopter squadron in the United States Marine Corps, as well as the third oldest squadron.
She’s an actual piece of American history and for the time being, she’s airborne.
The “Gracious Lady” Bev, a Marine Corps (Sikorsky) UH-34D helicopter that saw three tours in the Vietnam War is currently being stored in a potato barn in Jamesport for winter.
She functioned mainly as a medevac helicopter and according to Neil Dembinski, a member of the charitable organization that cares for her, saved countless Marine lives.
He said the Marine Corps Aviation Museum wants the historic bird badly, but the organization is hoping donations will keep her airborne so the public can continue to see, touch, and learn about her, the Vietnam War, and the military in general.
“We don’t want to see her in a museum,” Mr. Dembinski said.
You can find out more information about this aircraft or make a donation to the Helicopter Squadron 361 Veterans Association, Inc., by visiting here.
The Gracious Lady will be viewable from the South side of Main Road in Jamesport in mid April or May, weather permitting.

Jeff Fabb: From Mattituck Drummer to Opening for Ozzy

Jeff Fabb with his first music teacher, Mark LaRosa

Mattituck native Jeff Fabb is a drummer who went from playing the school variety show in junior high to opening for legends like Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie and Megadeth with the chick-fronted metal band In This Moment.
Mr. Fabb is currently drumming for “American Idol” alumnus James Durbin, who released his first album, “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster,” on Nov. 21. The album found its way to No. 36 on the Billboard 200 chart the first week it was released.
We caught up with Jeff for an interview while he was home for the holidays.
Q. Did you ever imagine you’d get to where you are now when you were growing up in Mattituck?
A. Honestly, I always envisioned it in my head. Every night I would go to sleep as a kid and I’d put my headphones on and be listening to Metallica or something and really seriously envision playing on stage. Maybe this girl who I had a crush on at the time would be watching me from the audience, you know what I mean — just dreaming about it. I would like to say I always knew I was going to do this, but not really. It’s just what I loved more than anything in my life. I didn’t grow up playing sports. I was a skateboarder. I played music. I grew up with a single mom and didn’t have a father figure in my life. I wasn’t really turned on to sports and things like that.
Q: How did you get into playing the drums?
A. At 11, I started taking drum lessons from Mark LaRosa, who my family knew because I think my sister had taken lessons from him. I’m not sure, but when I met him I felt that connection. It was like, “Oh I can relate to this guy. He loves music, too, and he wants to sit and jam.”
I continued getting lessons from Mark for seven or eight years, a little before I left for California. He made it really fun to get lessons and really, that was the first person I ever played music with. I’d never sat down with another musician and just played.
That was priceless. I learned more from that than reading from a book.
Q. What was your first gig?
A. The variety show at Mattituck High School, which was a pretty cool first gig because the whole auditorium was packed. I was in seventh or eighth grade and it was with Alternate Exit. We played “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Guns n’ Roses’ version, and “Enter Sandman,” Metallica. It was cool, too, because those two songs were just out, so everyone knew them. That was a really awesome first gig, actually. The place was packed with parents and kids. It was fun.
Q. Did you play in the high school band?
A. No, I never played in the band. I played in rock bands. I played in Alternate Exit, Delirium Tremens and I was in a band called TripFace, too, a Long Island hardcore band.
Q. How did you meet James Durbin and why do you think you and Blake [Bunzel, rhythm guitarist for In This Moment] were chosen for the spot?
A. I was in the band In This Moment at the time. Our previous manager, [Ozzy Osbourne/ex-Rob Zombie bassist] Blasko, was no longer with the band. He and I are friends. One day when In This Moment was not touring, I was in Jersey City recording with a friend of mine, Tommy Vext. Blake was also there with me. I received a call from Blasko saying, “I know that this guy James Durbin is looking for a drummer and a guitar player for this band. Would you be interested in trying out?” And immediately I was like, “Who’s James Durbin?” I don’t really watch “American Idol” or any of those shows. I don’t really watch much TV at all to be totally honest with you.
Q. What is your advice to a young band?
A. In This Moment got started on Myspace. We put a demo out there and started adding friends. When I was younger, I wish I had YouTube and Facebook. You can get things out to the masses now through the Internet, instead of “I’ve got to move to L.A. to meet some other musicians.”
Q. You filled out a survey in 2007 that said, “When I look back on my life one day, I would like to be able to say …” and you wrote, “That I fulfilled all of my goals.” What are your goals at this point?
A. To be at peace with myself and to be grateful for the things that I have.