At the end of last year, the publisher of this weekly announced that he was taking a step back from running the paper and passing the torch to the next generation. It was almost eight and a half years ago, that Kevin decided to tilt against windmills and start a business that everyone told him would fail. Of course, those are just the type of odds he likes. If you ever played against Kevin in the Graybeards, CYO or CHSAA, you know that he likes nothing better than to go in as the underdog and then drain 30-footers in your face. Then after the game, buy you a beer and tell you that you didn’t play so bad. Oh brother.
But in taking a chance and starting a paper by riding around on his bike, looking at Rockaway, and highlighting to our small neighborhood what was really going on, he invited us all to join the conversation and helped create a collective consciousness of what it means to live in Rockaway. Along the way, he invited so many different people to contribute to that cause, their articles highlighting the small-town nature that Rockaway really is, tucked neatly inside this huge city of New York. I was lucky enough to get an invitation to write a column way back then. His instructions were straight forward: you have 500 words. Topic I asked: anything you want but try to tie it to Rockaway. Pretty broad stuff. This assignment came just after I was ending a 31-year run at work, and truly needed something to fill my imagination. So, as I rode my bike around Rockaway too, I began to see things I hadn’t really noticed, and people I didn’t give enough credit to, and appreciate the natural beauty of our peninsula. My wanderings took me all around Manhattan as well, and I reported on what I found there too. My articles, under the Lazer Speaks column, attracted the attention of more than a few, and people would ask where I come up with this stuff. One friend delighted in calling me Hemingway, but I am not sure it was meant as a compliment!
Not growing up in Rockaway, I didn’t have the network of school friends and relatives in the neighborhood that so many lifelong residents had. Participating in the Graybeards gave me entrée to a new group of friends here, but it was really Kevin’s invitation to write that made me feel like I was born and raised here. Although my mermaid will go to her watery grave claiming I am not a resident, just down for the day. She is, of course, right.
But back to Mr. Boyle and his paper, he introduced so many writers, on so many topics, created photo contests, awesome front pages, and headlines, that most people really look forward to seeing the paper every week. And he created something that can survive on its own now that it will be in other hands. We are truly indebted to him for sharing his plucky and cranky writing style with stories about his family and mom, his phobias, that not only did we get a newspaper, but we got insight into one of Rockaway’s truly entrepreneurial spirits. Which reminds me, I am beginning to see a trend happening post-Covid, that is, people are making changes in their lives as they realize now is the time to live. Another entrepreneurial type also announced a transition, the founder of Ocean Bliss arranged for a transfer too, and into very capable hands. Transitions with businesses like these are so hard because normally their success is so tied to the personality of the founder. But in these cases, the founders built something that is so solid that it transcends the individual because it is so intrinsic to the community that they serve. You could say that is obvious, but it is not so obvious when you start, and everyone tells you you’re nuts.
So, I think a huge thank you is owed to Mr. Boyle for having the courage, the perseverance, the tenacity, to go the distance and create a lasting good thing. His portfolio is littered with these types of start-up successes; look no further than the Graybeard basketball league, and the Graybeard organization. And now add The Rockaway Times to that list. He is like that entrepreneur from Philadelphia who also started a few newspapers in his time, Ben Franklin; Lord knows he has the hair. And I know he will hate this limelight, which makes it even more deserving, and fun to do. But seriously, from this humble columnist I extend the warmest thank you for allowing me the opportunity to grace your pages. And for sharing your thoughtful, caring adventure with us all. I am sure the next phase will be even more fun, and I hope we all get to ride with you again. It’s been an honor, boss.