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Lucky Gas Leak Leads to Live Grenade
sayville.com - 2/29/2012
Grace Papagno

On Friday, February 24th, Dimitrious Sioutopoulos, known to us commonly as “Jimmy”, and his uncle Teddy opened the Sayville Modern Diner at 5:45 AM as usual. What was unusual was that Jimmy noted the vague but distinct odor of gas. Since he had very recently upgraded the suppression system which automatically turns off all the natural gas throughout the diner in the event of fire, Jimmy suspected a gas leak.

He checked the basement and noticed the smell was strong. Jimmy called the Sayville Fire Department which showed up in about five minutes. They mandated that he turn off the gas and so he called Alan Gross Plumbing and Heating (my favorite plumber). Alan sent his men, Chuck and Tim, experienced plumbers, to take care of the emergency. Having turned off the gas, the two men left saying that there was no imminent danger and that they would return after other scheduled emergencies were tended to. The plumbers returned and worked to repair the leaks on Thursday afternoon and again on Friday morning. That’s when, entering a crawl space under the dining room, they saw a small case with the words, “Hand Grenade – MK2 – FRAG” written across the top.

Jimmy, who was curious and concerned at the discovery, asked the men to return to the crawl space and take a photo of the capsule with his phone camera. When the men completed the job, Jimmy kept the diner closed. “I was allowed to open up for business but I wouldn’t,” says the conscientious diner owner. “I went to the 5th precinct Friday afternoon. There’s a possibility that we have something here and we don’t know if it’s really dangerous,” Jimmy told the two officers at the desk who then brought the photo to their commander.

“By the time I got back to the diner, you’d think Osama Bin Laden was there,” Jimmy told me. The police department had shut down the town evacuating the stores and street. “It was my civic duty to protect my fellow merchants, townspeople and visitors. Whatever had to be done, had to be done,” said Jimmy fighting a bit of guilt at having been responsible for the town’s stores losing income.

The arson squad arrived and removed the object. They waved Jimmy over and told him, “We have possession of the grenade. It is corroded but very much live.” Jimmy didn’t see the actual grenade, but he showed me the original photo of it. The arson squad checked the diner basement thoroughly deeming it safe and so Jimmy – and town – is back in business.

I learned that the dining room area of the diner was not built until the 1970s. Before that it was open space. Possibly the grenade was buried then. I spoke with Alan Gross who showed me one of several Ehler’s Coffee coupons found next to the grenade. The expiration date on the coupons is January 1947.

So, was the grenade a World War II remnant? Did someone bury a war souvenir where the dining room now stands before the room was built? Did the Modern Diner undergo major construction in the 1970s without the grenade igniting? Was it placed in the crawl space after it was built? No one knows.

I did contact Public Information of the Police Department to learn that “the Police Department has, or will shortly, safely dispose of the device – usually in a safe chamber.”

Besides the hubbub and excitement finding a live grenade has caused, I think we’re all thankful – especially Jimmy – that it was discovered and removed, never having caused any harm or damage to Sayville.


The Dining Room 

Jimmy, owner of Sayville Modern Diner

Dale Gross (left) and Alan Gross
Ehler's Coffee Coupons circa 1945

Phone picture of the live grenade found in a crawl space under the Sayville Modern Diner

Grace Papagno has lived in Sayville for over thirty years. She loves her town and loves to write, so writing for Sayville.com is a natural combination for her. She can be reached at lady33g@verizon.net.




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