Big Cats in the Shelter Island Lion’s Club

Howard Brandenstein has been named the Shelter Island Lion’s Club’s Citizen of the Year. I don’t know Mr. Brandenstein, but he must be a real mensch to be the Club’s Citizen of the Year.

I can’t say enough good things about the Lion’s Club. When my children were younger and still in school and I was a newly single and very poor parent, and also broke—they saved us many times. Over a ten-year period, they filled my empty gas tank in winter twice. They sent me a certificate for the IGA before major holidays, which literally put food on the table. Once, when I was struggling to figure out where I was going to squeeze $100 out of my very tight budget to pay for my son to go on a school trip, a Lion approached me in my car in the school parking lot and out of nowhere told me the Lion’s Club would cover the expense for me. I burst into tears from the release of the emotional pressure.

But that’s how they work. I never directly asked for any of the help I got. People on the Island just sort of know who needs help and when, and without seeking it, help appears. It’s one of the magical things about the Island. So whenever I think that spying and gossiping is bad, I just remember that it has an upside. If no one spied on me and gossiped about me to the Club, life would have been so much harder.

Of course, I may have thrown out a few hints…

Lion #1 “We’ve gotta do something about Miss Sally, she’s wearing her “Will trade sex for lobster” tee shirt outside the IGA again.

Lion #2 “I heard she’s trying to rent out her autistic son as an organic pneumonic memory bank for important family arguments.”

Lion #1 “What?”

Lion #2 “The kid remembers everything he hears exactly and can qoute back word for word anything he’s heard. He’d be a great asset at a big argument, he could remember who said what to whom and if you lose your train of thought, that happens sometimes during a big fight….”

Lion #1 “I know.”

Lion #2 “Anyway, the kid can tell you where you went off track. And if you have to stop the fight, he can remember where both of you left off so you can start up again without backtracking.”

Lion #1 “Impressive.”

Lion #2 “Well, we’ve definitely got to help her before she starts her ferry raffle.”

Lion #1 “Ferry raffle?”

Lion #2 “Yea, she tells the tourists she’s raffling off one of the ferries, and the winning tourist gets to use it and dock it north or south.”

Lion #1 “That’s crazy! Who would fall for that?”

Lion #2 “Tourists. Ya gotta love ‘em.”

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