Paul Drum

Paul Drum is the Unofficial Mayor of the North Fork.

He is a champion basketball star, music enthusiast, avid sports fan, assistant restaurant manager, and a thriving joyful young man living with Downs Syndrome.

Paul- BarOn Sunday September 21st Paul will also become a philanthropist.

Paul will be hosting his first fundraising event for the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation during the annual Maritime Festival. The event is called “The Paul Drum Breakfast Fundraiser: A Mermaid and Pirate Experience.” Paul’s family restaurant, Front Street Station, will host the event with proceeds going to the newly founded Paul Drum Nautical Education Program at East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation.

I first met Paul, or PTM (“Pauly the Man” as he likes to be called) during the Museum’s Chowder Contest this past June. Even though the wonderfully tasty chowder served at Front Street Station didn’t win first place, Paul Drum did! During the days that followed the contest it was unanimously decided by this close knit community that, had their been an award for most-beloved competitor, Paul would have taken it hands down. His enthusiasm drew us all in!

In a recent conversation his mother, Sharon Sailor, joked with him about his ever-growing popularity. “He’s getting chummy with my competitors,” she teases. “They just might want to steal you away, Paul.” With these words, we get the full Pauly smile and laugh. He likes the idea and the popularity.

You may know Paul best as the former doorman of DoLittle’s pub in Mattituck where he worked alongside his mother and grandfather. At their new Greenport pub, he has been promoted to assistant manager, a job that Paul tells me changed his life, improved his health and gave him “something good and important to do.” Paul says, “I love food and I love all the people.” Sharon adds, “He knows everyone from 15 to 92 years old. ” Born in Southhampton Hospital and delivered by the same doctor that delivered his mother, Paul has been charming everyone on the East End for 29 years.

When I ask Paul, “If you could do any other job, what would it be?” he quickly responds with the answer “I would play basketball for the Knicks” and further explains, “Carmelo Anthony is a great 3-point guy, but he’s getting a little old, and I think I could be better.” I start to believe him as he and his father share stories about Paul hitting half court shots with ease and being the three-point “go-to guy” for the East End Falcons. The Falcons are reigning champions of the League. Paul’s eyes light up as he tells me of a playoff game in which the coach directs the team to give him the ball in the final 12 seconds. He decides to wind down the clock with a little fancy footwork and then pops off a swishing three-pointer at the final bell to win 43 to 42. I can’t help but stop taking notes at that moment and give him a high five! Again his enthusiasm wins my heart.

Getting to know him, I start to question the word “disability.” I look up the synonyms for this word, and I’m right. Not one definition applies to the person I see in Paul Drum. I see no lack, no weakness, no disadvantage nor affliction. I see someone who has changed my life for the better in a short period with only the pure joyful desire to be my friend. I notice every person walking into Front Street Station looks around to find “Pauly The Man.” They ask how he’s doing, share a smile and a handshake. They too have come not only for a good meal, but for the joyful enthusiasm as well.

The word of Paul’s fundraiser has been spreading in the community. In a synchronistic turn of event, Greenport Mayor David Nyce catches wind of the unofficial title Paul wears as “Mayor.” He asks if Paul wants to make it official. So, on September 21st, the day of his inaugural Fundraiser, Paul Drum will become “Honorary Mayor Drum for the Day” When Paul hears this news he is overjoyed, although he quickly tells me he would really like be a “Fireman for a Day.” That thought fades when everyone starts to congratulate him on the new status.

Purchase Tickets for Pauly’s Breakfast Fundraiser here.

If you can’t enjoy breakfast with Paul and his family, you can still donate to The Paul Drum Nautical Education Program. Funds raised will support and promote water safety and education for children.

Blog contributed by Keturah Hurst
Poet, Writer, Barefoot Capitalist

Keturah Hurst is also a freelance consultant for The East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation as a special event coordinator.

Photo:  David Benthal Photography

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Greenport’s Otto Schoenstein

Otto Schoenstein is a living legend.

Little did he know when he designed and built his first boat at age 11 that the stage was being set for a lifelong adventure of craftsmanship and creations that would touch so many lives. And little did I know when I called him to talk about the Kayak Derby he started for the Maritime Festival 14 years ago I would end up spending a few hours getting the most interesting Greenport history lesson ever.

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Otto Schoenstein. Photo courtesy Juliana Thomas and David Berson from the book Workers on the Waterfront.

For those who don’t remember or never knew, The East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation was formed 25 years ago by a tenacious group of Greenporters. This labor of love was created to rebuild the Long Beach Bar Lighthouse, or “Bug Light” as it’s called around here. Among that group was Otto Schoenstein. Otto built the lantern room, and at age 84 can still recount every detail of the construction. The Lighthouse was uniquely built in sections in the village of Greenport and later moved to its current location by barge. For those who’ve seen it you know it’s a work of art. The reconstruction of Bug Light is only one of the many community projects that Otto has lent his time and talent to over the years.

Mr. and Mrs. Schenstein’s home, a house Otto built, is filled with countless other works of art including hand crafted furniture, model ships (not built from a kit), a full-scale model of Bug Light and what I like to call “painted stories.”

One such story recounts, scene by scene, the adventures of 11-year-old Otto finding a working lantern on an abandoned boat and feeling as if he had scored a gem. Only later did he find out that the light was marking the night sky of a hazard to passing boats, and the removal of it caused the sinking of a tug! He smiles and shakes his head when he tells the tale of a naive younger Otto, saying “No one was hurt, of course.” The story ended when I learned the small lantern graces the entry post of their Greenport home! Otto is a wonderful and humble storyteller.

At every turn, I am suitably impressed with the accomplishments of this man. When the artistic mind is housed in an active craftsman, the possibilities are endless. He has proven that fact time and time again. Where others may see devastation, Otto sees opportunity. He sees a way to bring things to life. This artistry is reflected in the many years of dedicated service he has given to the East End Seaport Museum, The Railroad Museum, The Wildlife Rescue, Cornell Cooperative, Greenport’s village blacksmith shop, and countless other local projects, not to mention the personal reconstruction of boat after boat.

When Otto shows me how he designed the Kayaks for the Maritime Derby, his wife June gently chimes in and reminds him where certain pieces go. He has an exact scale model of the full size boats he designed for the race and June knows its construction as well as he does. I admire the knowing shorthand between them that comes from 62 years of marriage. June tells me “62 years and we have never had an argument.” Otto says “Yes, but she wins all the fights.” He shows me step by step how the boat goes together and as a kayak enthusiast I am intrigued and impressed. As Otto teaches me the construction June pours the coffee. We eat cookies, laugh endlessly about the race videos, talk about kids, grandkids and great grandkids. I see the fabric of a well woven family, the pride and joy of service and hard work, and I begin to understand the collective community praise about Otto Schoenstein.

He truly is a living legend. The thing about living legends is that they have so much to teach. The thing about Otto is that the lesson comes with such joyful exuberance that you really want to learn.

As I pulled onto North Road, I thought to myself, “I can’t imagine spending a more interesting and enjoyable few hours.” It was an honor to meet this charming couple. I look forward to the next time we share stories, coffee, and a good laugh.

Keturah Hurst

Guest blog submissions welcome. Send to maritimefestival2014@gmail.com

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