Many years ago, when Clara was still quite small, our across-the-street neighbors treated us to dinner at what was then called the Island Grill (now Sunset Beach) on Shelter Island. Clara was dressed in a sweet, summery sundress and pigtails and was enchanted with the view from the restaurant. We were all enchanted with the food. I noticed a fellow sitting across the room and said to everyone at our table, "That man looks like Hugh Carey, the former governor of New York." We decided it couldn't be, since we thought he had passed away. We finished our dinner and ordered dessert. Clara was digging into a rather large ice cream sundae when the fellow I had noticed stopped by our table to talk to her. It was indeed Hugh Carey, very much alive and charmed by my daughter. When he discovered that Clara came from a long line of McNamaras (McNamara is her second middle name, as well as my last name), he broke into song. The entire restaurant listened as he serenaded her, from start to finish, with an Irish lullaby. It was a memorable moment, a little gift from a rather important (and maybe a bit tipsy) statesman and the father of eleven children to a cute little girl in pigtails who had made him smile.
I often thought we would run into Governor Carey again -- we spend a lot of time on Shelter Island where he had a summer home -- but we never have. I was sad to hear he had passed away on Sunday. He did many great things for New York while governor, but I will always remember him singing to Clara while the sun set on Crescent Beach.