Working in two public libraries for 45 years was a dream job. At the information desk, I met so many wonderful, interesting people.
I was also responsible for adult programming, which included coordinating bus trips for 41 years in the tristate area. New York City excursions were popular, but our Long Island trips seemed most meaningful. Long Islanders are lucky to have a rich assortment of destinations.
Montauk, one of these unforgettable trips, began like this one morning: At 6:30, my wife and I climb aboard our charter bus. I take the mic and greet the almost 50 library patrons. The words are embedded in my head.
“Good morning!” I begin. “My name is Bob Konoski, and assisting me today, as usual, is my wife, Diane.” An itinerary and other information on each stop are handed out. “This morning, we are traveling to Montauk to tour the lighthouse, its grounds and the lighthouse museum. Lunch will be at Gurney’s Inn and then on to textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen’s LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, 16 acres with a sculpture featuring pieces from Buckminster Fuller, Yoko Ono, Willem de Kooning and many other artists. We will also be touring his 13,000-square-foot home, its design inspired by a 7th century Shinto shrine at Ise, Japan. It should be an interesting day.” It was!
The house is incredible, including a huge, covered deck on the second floor overlooking a large pond. An anxious moment happened when a visitor bumped a bench with three antique-looking vases. One wobbled but eventually stayed upright.
Other memorable Long Island trips included treks to the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton, Judith Leiber Museum in Springs, West Sayville Maritime Museum, Vanderbilt estate in Centerport and Nassau County Museum of Art. In Water Mill, we toured the magnificent Parrish Art Museum with its collection of more than 3,000 paintings and other artworks.
Other trips on eastern Long Island included Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, displaying the home and gardens of writer and artist Robert Dash. Nova’s Ark Project in Water Mill was an unusual, fascinating trip. The brainchild of Romanian artist Nova Mihai Popa, its nearly 100 acres of serene rolling hills, polo fields and sculpture park exemplified the artist’s “integral art” movement, a fusion of art, life and nature.
We also chaperoned trips to shows at most Long Island theaters, not to mention visits to Lincoln Center and Broadway shows. Group rates helped keep prices down, with lunch always included. Our travelers were mostly seniors, but the demographic depended on the trip. When we toured Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, families joined us.
Prices averaged $80 to $95 a person. Lunch skewed the cost the most. If we dined at Sardi's or the Russian Tea Room, the price would be a bit higher, of course. Our riders often said they chose a destination because it included a high-end restaurant they had never been to.
Diane and I got to know our traveling companions well. They knew they could count on each trip as a day that they could sit back and enjoy. We believed that if we did not take them on these jaunts, most would not have gone on their own because of the logistical planning involved.
We ran five or six trips a year for 41 consecutive years, the first 29 in Sayville before I joined the Port Jefferson Free Library, where trips continued another 12 years. I retired, the pandemic hit, and the trips stopped. Fortunately, they are slowly coming back in Suffolk County.
The memories, though, still linger.
Reader Robert Konoski lives in East Setauket.