<i>En passant</i> Jimmy Doyle

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

En passant Jimmy Doyle

O, the battles I (and others like Jim Warren) had with the Police Chief during Jim Doyle's tenure as "top cop" of Westhampton Beach during the '80s!

The ones he and then Mayor Stu Tobin had with fireworks aficionado Warren were epic and often hilarious, but the one I remember best was when Columbia Pictures was trying to make a movie here in 1986, and everyone was on board but the Chief.

I was serving as the Andon administration's "Film Com­mis­sioner" (which mostly meant that I helped applicants shuffle permit papers and Certificates of Co-Insurance, when "Rocket Gibraltar" got shut-out of the originally desired Sagaponack locations and were desperate to find an alternative locale.

Through fortuitous happenstance and a harmonic con­ver­gence or two, locations manager Diana Pokorny and I dug up, and secured, the old Immes home on Beach Lane.

(Good work if I do say so myself!)

The Producers were delighted and greatly relieved as they had the contracted services of a cast and crew, and no place to make their movie!

The only stumbling block at that point was the requirement the production company for absolute quiet during shooting, and the fact that the movie was being made at the height of Summer on the primary thoroughfare to the beach... no passing vehicles!

That unrealistic expectation could be met if the Police Department had officers on duty to halt traffic while the actually filming was underway, and Chief Doyle was adamant that he simply did not have the manpower to detach to the Beach Lane intersections at Main Street, Library Avenue and Sunswyk Lane to act as Traffic Control Officers.

That's when Diana, Chris Cooke of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and I conferred, and came up with a "now everybody's happy" solution: the county courts were shut down in August, and so it was arranged to have three furloughed Court Officers trans­ferred to Westhampton Beach to stop and start traffic at those three key intersections.

The manpower problem was addressed, and Chief Doyle was delighted to have three additional men, however temporarily, assigned to his command.

The movie was made, a surprising number of careers were launched, and the tabloids... The Daily News and Newsday both ran unimaginative features that month on the "Holly­wood in the Hamptons" theme.

The Village's economy was bolstered, its image enhanced and I gained some valuable insight into how to work with Chief Jimmy Doyle.


James Doyle, Former Westhampton Beach Police Chief, Dies At 83

"After nearly a lifetime of serving his community, Mr. Doyle died on Monday, December 14, at the Sunrise of Smithtown assisted living facility. The longtime West­hampton resident, who spent the past decade of his life battling Alzheimer's disease, was 83 years old."

There's an old gag I first heard from my old classmate Donny Wright, ironically himself later a victim of the disease, about one of the advantages of Alzheimer's: "You meet someone new everyday."

Over the past decade Jimmy and I got along remarkably well... he never remembered the bitterness between us from back when.


1. Martin Baker said...

Dean – So sorry to hear about Jimmy Doyle going upward. I know he will be missed. He an Lou and I all got along great with our house watching business and me being on the Ambulance squad, responding to their emergencies. He will be greatly missed for many reasons. Best to his family.

thanks, Marty... tough time of the year for us older folks. Take care of yourself.

2. Maya Doyle said...

Dean, thank you for sharing your recollections of what were tumultuous (and sometimes comical) years in Westhampton Beach. I lived them too, around the dining room table, during my own tumultuous (and sometimes comical) adolescence. In our household, only family and old friends called my father Jimmy, so I thank you for your grudging affection for your old sparring partner. I do not think it was loss of memory that doused those heated arguments (and I will say, Alzheimer's does much more than rob one of memory. I would wish for you, and your readers, that your families be spared the losses that my mother and I watched before our eyes). In truth, when I think about you and my father, there is much you have in common. An immense dedication to your beliefs. A drive to speak the truth as you see it. And a fierce love for this community. Also in common are your same-age children, who were busy riding their bikes to the beach, catching the waves, and doing our best to ignore the issues of adulthood, while the paper (and our table) was filled with those painful (and sometimes comical) politics. I suspect there is a lesson there.

Dad was a meticulous record-keeper, so last night, I held in my hands the script, signed by cast and crew, to "Rocket Gibraltar," and the minutes to that very meeting, debating how the filming would impact the traffic and our Summer-time community. I remember watching the filming on Main Street one day, from the window where I worked above the Sunset and Main corner at Dunn Engineering. I think it is apropos that you remind us of that film, one of Burt Lancaster's last. We loved it, not just because of the filming in the Village. Its central story is about the wisdom of children, the love of grandchildren for their grandfather, and the things they do to give him the send-off he would have wanted. That is what we will do in the next few days. It won't be a Viking funeral; it will certainly be an Irish one. Jim's grandson had so little time to know him, but I hope he will come to recognize his grandfather's creativity, charisma and character in the days that follow.

My best to you and yours, and to all of our friends in Westhampton Beach;
Dr. Maya Doyle

And P.S., Dean, I'm Jimmy's daughter. Did you think I'd let you have the last word?smiley

Of course I know who you are, Maya... I am father of Colin and for some reason, everytime I hear one of the older songs by U2, I think of the two of you.

I am not a stranger to the ravages inflicted by Alzheimer's, not just on the individual but on those surrounding the primary sufferer. I had a cousin in Remsenburg, one of the most dynamic women in my entire experience, so affected. Her husband referred me to a book, "The 25 Hour Day" (now apparently expanded an additional 11 hours), that details what caring for someone entails.

Thank you so much for your personal addendum. It is certainly the last word.
– Dean

3. Maya Doyle said...

My condolences, Dean, and the family, on the loss of your mother-in-law. She sounds like an amazing lady.

Thank you, Maya... she was quite a gal, and as I noted elsewhere, the last "Rosie," at least of my acquaintanceship. She was from a time when it was rare for a woman to achieve, for example, what you have today.

My wife, incidentally, made it a point to tell me how charmed she was by your earlier comment.
– Dean

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