The Cats Are Back on the Water – Words by Bob Stevens and pictures by UseppaGin – Wow! Turned out about perfect weather for sailors on the Sound. Out Saturday were veteran Marshall Cat sailors on Buttercup, Coot, and Patti P. Buttercup and Coot each had two first place finishes, Patti P finished second twice, and Coot and Buttercup each had a second place finish. Newcomers sailing Amrita had the usual learning curve to traverse, but they never gave up and will be back. Our new Race Committee crew aboard Winter Whelk helped with the marks. My thanks to all of you. And, then, once the racing finished to the best part of the day, Bill’s Grille. A delightful hamburger/hotdog spread on the beach. We’re off to another great season.
It Takes a Village To Fight a Fire – Thoughts and pictures by UseppaGin – Useppa has its own Fire Department. Chief Maria Silva and Assistant Chief Chris Wilfong working with mainland firefighters Ed Plyaka and others know the Island and its structures. They know the idiosyncrasies of its homes. They have all the necessary equipment for fire and health emergencies. But in a crisis, extra hands might be necessary, jobs shared. Knowledgeable and prepared Island residents might be needed. On Friday January 24th the first 2020 Training Session was held. Homeowners were invited to the Firehouse and showed equipment, told how it was used. Procedures were explained, and then the highpoint for many was … a chance to actually put a helmet on, use the fire truck hose. Thank you to Chief Maria, Chris and Ed for leading our first class.
Rakes, Clippers, and Grins: Beautify Useppa Day – Thoughts and photos by UseppaGin – The volunteer crew assembled with tools in hand, gloves on and smiles everywhere. B.U.D. Sunday, January 19th was about to begin. Under the guidance of Donna Anderson and Dawn Jalowy, friends and neighbors worked all morning to prune, clip and plant in the Marina entrance area to Useppa and around the eastern side Bocce Court. Thank you to the official Useppa landscaping crew for setting it up and thank you to Useppa Island Club for the plants.
A Seminole Voice in the Useppa Museum – Thoughts and photos by UseppaGin – On Saturday night, January 18th Tina Marie Osceola, a member and Tribal Associate Judge of the Seminole Tribe spoke at the Barbara Sumwalt Museum. With facts and stories she reshaped what many of us understood as Seminole history. The chronicle of the past is more complicated than we thought, messier, and more heartrending. There is no clear line between the different Florida indigenous people. There was a melding into what became known as The Seminole Tribe. None of us in the room knew, including lifelong Floridians in the audience, about the concentration like camp on Egmont Key near Tampa. Seminoles were interned there prior to being shipped to reservations in Arkansas and Oklahoma in the 1800’s. We didn’t know approximately 1400 Florida native people’s remains are in the Smithsonian and other museums stored in boxes because there is no clear bureaucratic way to bring them home. A Seminole voice shared fragments of a history we need to learn more about. Tina Osceola said that is the importance of museums, the importance of the Barbara Sumwalt Museum. The past becomes real. Please support the Museum and its Gift Shop.
Beach Croquet 2019 on Useppa – Thoughts and photos by UseppaGin – Skill, concentration, the ability to follow directions, patience, humor, and self-deprecating laughter are all necessary ingredients for playing in Useppa’s Annual Beach Croquet Tournament. Old timers paired with newbies address the ball, aim for the wicket, and sometimes score. Congratulations to the winners in a field of 64. 2019 Champions are Tor Carlson and Dana Keller. Runners Up are Clare Sipprelle and Ryland McGinn. A special thank you to Dave and Winky Merrill for once more orchestrating a day of Island family fun.
Bocce Players Shuffle To Victory – Words and Pictures by UseppaGin – The Bocce Tournament is played in honor and in memory of Useppa Island husband, father, and grandfather Cody Davis. Cody was a master of self-deprecation, common sense, wisdom, and mischievousness. Competition was also part of his nature, and when he played bocce, all his character traits were part of the game. And when things went well… he did the Cody Shuffle. Winning and losing on and off the court required the right moves. His daughter young Cody taught everyone just how it should be done. In fact, the winning team wasn’t given their trophy until they showed their moves dancing with Cody’s granddaughters.
Useppa Duathlon 2019 – Words by Simon Bound with pictures by UseppaGin – The 5th Annual Duathlon took place on 27 December 2019 on the warmest day of Christmas week. 10 individual athletes and 5 teams took part in the 2k/400m/2k event, and were led home by Alex B, winning for the third time. A competitive team competition saw newlyweds Matt E and Mary-Paton D take line honors. All proceeds went to Useppa Fire and Rescue. First Place Winner – Alex B 24.12, Second Place – Jack B 24.33, First female – Payton Carol Y 30.20, First Team – Matt E and Mary-Paton E., Kids Race Winner – Masie S
Lots of Kids, Lots of Fish, Lots of Fun – Thoughts and Pictures by UseppaGin – The Useppa Christmas Kids Izaak Walton Tournament was fun for everyone. Kyle C, once a tournament participant and now one of the best fishermen on the Island, administered the Fisherman’s Oath. Children promised to do their best and help their fellow fishermen when help was needed. It’s catch and release so the goal was always to get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible. Paul M sounded the tournament’s beginning and end. Captain Kevin measured and helped the young anglers. Trophies and Blue Ribbon Medals rewarded all the participants.
Caroling on Christmas Eve, A Useppa Tradition – Thoughts and pictures by UseppaGin – On Christmas Eve families and friends gather together in the old Collier Inn. Longtime homeowner Steve Kaufman welcomes everyone, and the evening begins. Tor Carlson and his cousin Maggie Merrill grew up visiting Useppa. Once it was their grandfather Paul F. Miller who led the carols. Now they are the ones who get even the shiest Islander singing. They are the ones who bring our littlest ones up front to sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” Finally, Steve Kaufman lifts his baton and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” begin. Some people are geese a laying, calling birds, maids a milking, swans a swimming, and of course, the jubilant five golden rings. It is a triumphant celebration of Christmas on Useppa.
Ho!Ho!Ho! Santa Visits Useppa – Thoughts and Pictures by UseppaGin – T’was the middle of the afternoon when Santa arrived on the island. He left the reindeer on Pine Island. He needed his yearly visit to Useppa to see his young friends and ride the Fire Truck. Sleighs are okay for an overnight job of delivering presents around the world, but a chance to sit on the beach for a bit… it’s just the break Santa needs. Thank you to the Useppa Fire Department, Chief Maria and Chief Chris for making it happen.