Hamptons Subway Newsletter: Week of August 22–28, 2019

White butterflies in Hamptons Subway tunnel with train light heading toward them
Butterflies slowed Hamptons Subway trains on Wednesday, Photo: Thawat Tanhai, Gui Yongnian/123RF

Week of August 22–28, 2019
Riders this past week: 47,831
Rider miles this past week: 168,412

Cartoonist Jules Feiffer and his wife, novelist Joan Zandell Holden, were seen hopping off the Shelter Island Ferry in North Haven to continue on by subway to Sag Harbor for a picnic at the new John Steinbeck Park. Simon Perchik, considered the most prolific poet in America today, was seen with his pad and pen on the subway between the Maidstone stop and downtown East Hampton, headed for The Golden Pear, where he writes almost every day at a table in the back.

Riders experienced a slowdown to 5 mph on Wednesday afternoon between the Southampton and Water Mill stations so their trains would not hurt a fluttery swarm of beautiful butterflies flittering over the tracks in the tunnel between those two stations. The decision to slow down, made by motorman Charlie Angelino without consulting headquarters, was because he feared these butterflies might be an endangered species. He quickly radioed to other motormen, approaching from either direction and arriving later, to do the same.

Bravo to Charlie Angelino for his quick thinking. Passengers experienced the slowdown for 45 minutes, after which the swarm was gone—before the subway environmentalist SWAT team arrived at the scene, hoping to confirm the butterfly endangered-ness. No dead butterflies were to be found on the tracks or anywhere else either, so nobody will ever know for sure. Again, bravo to motorman Angelino.

In a tribute to our President and his good works, Commissioner Aspinall, who is a close friend of the President, has decided that every morning at 6 a.m. when the system opens, the day at the subway will begin with the singing of “God Bless America,” performed live at that hour and broadcast throughout the system by one or another of the fine singing groups who perform at clubs throughout the Hamptons. They will sing from microphones set up in the lobby of the Hamptons Subway building on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays. The playing of that song will be preceded by Commissioner Aspinall announcing the name of the singing group and praising them, which he will pre-record the night before so he doesn’t have to get up that early. As the song is sung, hats will come off and all the underground American flags will be raised temporarily five feet.

Hamptons Subway celebrated the one-year anniversary of not having had the subway system shut down for an entire day. This is the first year this has been accomplished since 1989, and as a gift to the staff, Commissioner Aspinall has decreed that next Tuesday, all of them will have the day off and the system will be run by volunteers, if any can be found. Otherwise the celebration will consist of the system being closed for the day. Long overdue.

Hamptons Subway’s business operation is performed by live bookkeepers using ledger books and pens to make entries. An attempt to computerize the system in 2016 resulted in the collapse of all restaurant ordering and billing programs Hamptons-wide. So we gave up on that.

One hundred and six subway commissioners from around the country stayed at my house on the ocean in Southampton for a work session last weekend to discuss subway problems and solutions. We had planned seminars on Saturday and Sunday, but nobody signed up so we spent the time enjoying the ocean, tennis, fishing, golf, sailing, drinking and eating at four-star restaurants. Business expenses.


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