A thank-you card sent to volunteers in 1972 who had made the Montauk Village Association’s Greenery Scenery event so memorable was designed by local artist Frank Borth. It was donated to the Montauk Library by Phyllis Clemenz, onetime MVA President, whose daughter Annie, shaking her head and smiling, said, “Oh, the stories my mother used to tell about those Greenery Scenery parties!” Celebrity bartenders Lauren Bacall, Al Pacino, Eli Wallach, and Cheryl Tiegs were among those who pitched in for a good cause. As many as 1,000 tickets were sold, also to celebrities: musician Billy Squier and Queen drummer Roger Taylor showed up in 1988.
This year, however, the August 7, 2020 Greenery Scenery Benefit for the MVA was cancelled due to COVID. (Social non-distancing is at the heart of Greenery Scenery success!) A major fundraiser that has gone off without a hitch for 55 consecutive years, the event has consistently fueled the beautifying and “betterment efforts” of Montauk’s oldest nonprofit organization. Infrastructure was improved in the 1960s through sidewalk curbs and underground telephone and electric wires; dispensing scholarships to East Hampton High School graduates who are Montauk residents has become a priority. In fact, says MVA Treasurer Marge Harvey, the Board was determined this year to allocate scholarship money in spite of COVID-related budgetary restraints. Members did the planting work around the Village themselves so that $4,700 could go to deserving high school graduates showing leadership qualities in community service.
MVA President Theresa Eurell emphasizes that volunteer members work tirelessly. “It’s not just the planting of the flowers. It’s studying the surrounding tress and looking at catalogues ahead of time, examining what will work best for Montauk’s soil and climate during that particular year.” (A guide published by the MVA in 1967, The Salty Thumb, is still a go-to for serious Montauk gardeners.) This season the organization chose hardy, sun-loving tropical plants for hangers and boxes. Teak benches, compliments of the MVA, were placed around Montauk, and memorial trees were planted for donors wishing to commemorate loved ones who have passed. So … thank you for keeping Montauk beautiful, MVA. Here’s a hopeful toast to being able to express our gratitude in person at the 2021 Greenery Scenery Benefit.