A picture perfect weekend

| vschneps@queenscourier.com |


Jonah and Rudy at one of the grand fireplaces.

It was a gloriously beautiful weekend with weather that was picture perfect.

It began for me on Friday when old friend Rudy Auslander took me on a tour of a school that has been his passion for decades.

Then on Saturday I went with my cousin Marcia to the Metropolitan Opera and had the great pleasure of seeing legendary conductor James Levine at the podium after a two-year hiatus.

And then on Sunday I paid a visit to our LIC Flea & Food market and took a ride on the East River Ferry to bring Marcia back to Manhattan. It all happened under clear, cloudless, warming sunshine. It doesn’t get better than this!

But back to my visit to the Mill Neck School for the Deaf in Mill Neck, a community on the gold coast of the north shore of Long Island. The magnificent former Dodge Estate on over 86 acres is one of the largest properties on Long Island. The school was founded in 1951 with Lutheran ministers leading the way to serve the unserved deaf children on the east coast of the United States.

In finding and buying the Dodge Estate the board was forward thinking. They wanted to be able to grow and fill the void in services for the deaf.

The property has a stately stone manor house right out of The Great Gatsby. When I drove up I mistakenly went there first and was enthralled by its 500-year-old doors. But it looked too stately and old to house an active school. In fact, just yards away I found the modern school and administration buildings.

Over these many years the school has changed from a residential center to day programs for children ranging in age from a few months old through high school. It’s a modern, child friendly group of classrooms, physical education space and beautiful playgrounds. I took my four-year-old grandson Jonah with me, who loved the well- stocked, cheerful library and found one of his favorite ninja books. The librarian was kind enough to “lend” it to him.

From the attractive classrooms we went to see the lovingly restored mansion. It was ready for a group coming by bus to visit and learn from two docents the history of this well-preserved house now used as a conference center and catering hall.

I was impressed by a series of beautiful Tiffany designed stained glass windows on the landing between the first and second floors that portray key scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

Coming up this month, on the 12 and 13, is their famous fall harvest apple festival. It’s an important fund raiser that brings over 20,000 people to the grounds. You can be sure I will be there! Thanks Rudy for bringing me into your world.

Rudy Auslander in front of the Tiffany stained glass windows.

A night at the Met

Each year I buy tickets to the Metropolitan Opera from a childhood friend who “inherited” his seats from his parents. Since he moved to Michigan he sells some of the remarkable seats in the second row center of the orchestra. This past Saturday night I saw the enchanting Mozart farce “Cosi Fan Tutte.”

We began the evening with dinner in the Opera House sitting by the window overlooking the handsome plaza of Lincoln Center and the “dancing” fountain in its center. Our table gave me a close-up of the enormous Chagall mural that can be seen hanging handsomely in the dining room. I never tire of enjoying it!

As we made our way to our seats I got to see the rotating platform that was built to accommodate conductor James Levine, who uses an electric wheel chair. He rolled up a ramp and then the rotating platform allowed him to turn to us in the audience and then turn back to brilliantly and energetically lead the large orchestra.

What a treat to hear the magnificent voices in the stately and stunning Opera House. A memorable night that kept me up til midnight and home by 1 a.m., way past my bedtime.

LIC Flea and a ride on the East River Ferry

As a frequent LIC Flea visitor, since my children Josh and Elizabeth manage it, I’m always amazed by the variety of vendors. This past Sunday was over the top not because of the vendors, but the visitors. I was delighted to see my stepdaughter Mimi there with her boys Zac and Ben and her husband Jim. And then there were friends Heskel and Janet Elias as well as Phyllis Goldstein from the North Shore Towers. It was a delight to see them all. We kept adding seats to the large table and ate and drank from at least 10 vendors!

My cousin Marcia had to get home to New Jersey so I suggested she take the ferry and catch a taxi to the bus terminal. I decided to take the ferry with her, and what a treat that was! The short ride across the East River stopped at 34th Street and we kissed goodbye with joyous memories of the weekend. Coming back to Long Island City I was taken aback by the beautiful park that just opened contiguous to the ferry stop. I think the $4 ride is the best bargain in New York offering the most majestic views of both Manhattan and Queens. Try it. You too will love it!

There is an enormous sandbox playground overlooking the Manhattan skyline at the East River Ferry stop.