I smile even more when I remember the party in the backyard later in the afternoon — the highlight being the adults, fueled with plenty of alcohol, in a three-legged race. My dad was teamed up with my Aunt Mary. Legs officially roped, Dad and Mary hopped mightily and were clearly in the lead, then tripped and fell down laughing before reaching the finish line. What a joy it is to remember my adult relatives playing a children’s game and going all out. I could imagine them back when they actually were kids on the streets of Manhattan, innocent and carefree.
My uncle sold the house in Hampton Bays in 1969 and bought a place in Long Beach. His son still shakes his head when he remembers hearing the news after he left the Service. “My father sold it for twelve five…that place would’ve been worth a million today.”
In the early 1980’s I went to a party at a beach house somewhere in the Hamptons. My brother and I were invited through his close friend Myles, who at that time was rising quickly in the publishing world in New York. Myles wore a blue blazer and tan pants and fit right in with the crowd. My brother and I were dressed much more casually and I felt out of place.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and became more aware of the Hamptons-Hollywood connection. Maybe it had to do with the increase in celebrity coverage in the media.
I came back to our home in South Huntington in the fall of 1991. The next summer I visited another friend who was in on a weekend – group rental of a beach house in Amagansett. I was impressed by Grucci fireworks in the distance on a Saturday night while we sat watching from a local dock. However, my visit was abbreviated as there weren’t any extra beds at the house my friend was sharing. So about midnight I headed home to South Huntington. By the time I made it up to the Long Island Expressway, I was pretty tired. I drove a few exits west, then pulled over and slept in my car in an empty parking lot. I woke up feeling stiff about 6 that Sunday morning and continued my drive.
I spent a few days at Briney Breezes Motel in Montauk in the summer of 1995 with my mom, brother, sister-in-law and their then baby daughter. Briney Breezes was a place my dad and mom had enjoyed going to over a couple of summers until my dad passed away in September of 1992.
I moved to Bayside, Queens in 2001 upon selling our family home a year after my mother died. While within the New York City limits, Bayside is a suburban area not far from the Nassau County border. I’m still geographically located on Long Island, but obviously much farther west from the East End.
I have observed that the summer traffic to and from the Hamptons has become much worse over the years, and I find myself taking limited trips out there. However, I did take a daytrip to Southampton last summer with a friend who had rented a place there in the 1970s and wanted to see what had changed. He said weekly rental prices were very reasonable then, but were now astronomical. I noticed how many stores were vacant as we walked around downtown Southampton. This was similar to the closed storefronts I’d seen in downtown Huntington and Bayside. Perhaps there is not so much distinction today between the suburbs and the East End because of the economic crisis that hit the United States in 2008 and now grips the world. Though we did drive through Southampton streets near the beach and saw enormous homes with manicured lawns and hedges, signs of the wealth that is still quite present in the Hamptons.
Those houses stand in stark contrast to the home my Uncle John bought in Hampton Bays. Most of my older relatives are now dead, but my favorite memories of the East End still revolve around my week at Uncle John’s and the family party that summer of 1966.
Though I didn’t go to the races in Bridgehampton and never saw the Rascals perform at the Barge, I was part of the Hamptons in the Sixties, despite being from the suburbs.