Our summer yacht club social and sports life was sharply curtailed because of the covid threat. Members, as usual, pitched in to do what could be done but the effort was driven by our Commodore (sometimes referred to as the Covidore) Laura Darling. Both the May opening and the September annual meeting were conducted via Zoom. One benefit was that at an in-person opening the bars at the club don’t open until the ceremonies are completed. Watching on line from home I noted that our bar was open.
A covid committee was established to review and plan activities compliant with state mandates. Even they met via Zoom, and the frequent trustee and committee meetings were also Zoomed. Our Friday Night Happy Hours were reduced to social distancing with masks under the open air pavilion. Monthly dinner dances were a thing of the past. The junior sailing program went forward under tight controls as did senior sailing and bocce. For pickle ball and tennis the players are already social distanced. Occasional gatherings for drinks or dinners among small groups were also severely limited and the emphasis was on gathering at home.
Please do not misunderstand me; I know that people were terribly sick and dying. Knowing that was a possibility I think we tried to make the best of what we were fortunate to have. With gallows humor I envisioned our summer sinking away. It didn’t.
Some of our traditional opening ceremonies had been video taped earlier for inclusion in the Zoom telecast. These included, for example, the raising of the flag to the bugler’s call-to-the-colors. As an addition to the ceremonies, however, the Commodore delivered a wreath which was then cast upon our sailing waters in memory of those we lost in the past year. This included two dear friends, past Commodores Phil Flagler and “Tommy’ Thomas, and to add to the stress of the year, Laura’s mother, Audie, long active at the club.
The annual meeting is always held on Labor Day and includes committee reports, special awards and the election and transfer of flags to incoming officers. Below is a screen shot from the Zoomed annual meeting. Usually there are probably a hundred or more people in this room but it was empty except for these principals and Zoom support.
You’ve read my comments here in the past about the history that pervades this one hundred and eight year old club, and the sense of traditions and continuity but in looking at this image I was struck again by the connections to the past.
On the left is Commodore Darling whose father, Bill Haig, was commodore in 1973. On the right is Vice-Commodore Caroline Flagler whose father, Bruce Rosborough, was commodore in 1992, and whose father-in-law, Phil Flagler, was commodore in 1974. In between are the succeeding commodore, Bob Kiep and his wife, my daughter, Sigrid Kiep.
Those cases in the back of the room contain several sailing trophies bearing granddaughters’ Gretchen and Madeline’s names so we’ve also started to build the family connection. Elsewhere in this “Commodores Room” along the walls there are framed portraits of past Commodores. Many of them are a part of my contribution to maintaining the history of the club either from making the original photos or restoring water damaged earlier versions.
For the pre-taped conclusion of the annual meeting the flag officer burgees and the American Flag were lowered, attended by several past commodores.
After the meeting it has been customary to have a receiving line in which members thank the officers for their years of service and wish the new ones well. With covid it wasn’t going to happen because members had been asked not to come inside. So, Sigrid Kiep and Caroline Flagler came up with inviting everyone to the club house for a salute to Laura as she left the building. I am indebted to granddaughter, Maddy Kiep, for capturing this scene which I have titled Laura’s Laudation. The event was moving, especially as Laura’s grandchildren ran to join her. (Sound on?)
Our club has been sustained as has our sense of its history. It’s just going to be remembered as a little different.