Coming up from the beach, there’s a bathhouse. There was a small library there where you could borrow books to read. They would also have craft days for kids once or twice a week. I remember making a multicolored plastic swirly thing that would twist and turn when blown by the wind. I can’t remember what it was called but it was so much fun to make.
Walking back to our campsite, I loved to climb a winding staircase of stone steps that is behind one of the bathrooms. The top of the staircase is pretty high up and you can see the ocean from the top. I used to sit at a picnic table up there and look down for awhile. The view was awe-inspiring. Climbing back down the stairs, I remember seeing wild honeysuckle and roses. The wildflowers at Hither Hills are absolutely beautiful.
Back at our campsite, my mom and dad were busy making dinner. Usually it was hamburgers on the grill with brown beans. You’d have to be careful because seagulls fly over each campsite, watching…waiting for the moment when you turn your back. Inevitably, when you do, a burger is all of a sudden missing from your grill and a very happy gull is flying off with its dinner. I used to feed these birds all of our bread. My mom wasn’t very fond of this, as I was responsible for luring every seagull in the park to our campsite, but she called these birds my friends. I loved them.
We would then eat dinner at our picnic table, which is unique to every campsite. My mom brought a red and white checkered tablecloth and attached it to the table with clothespins. We had an old radio we would listen to and every year, without fail, Paul Young’s “Every Time You Go Away” came on. It became my favorite song.
When the sun would start to go down, and fireflies would light up the early evening sky, my mom would take out a package of Hershey’s chocolate, a bag of marshmallows, and Nabisco graham crackers. We would search the campsite for twigs we could stick through our marshmallows and would then toast them over a campfire until they browned or caught fire. Sandwiching them between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate, we would feast on smores and, as the night wore on, delight in the smell of a smoldering campfire.
After our evening snack, we would walk down to the bathrooms to brush our teeth and wash our faces. There aren’t any street lights so you can see the entire night sky and every star in it. It’s easy to see shooting stars because the sky is so clear.
Arriving back at our campsite, we would climb into our tents, zip up for the night, and get into our sleeping bags. I remember reading with my flashlight until I was so tired I had to turn the light out. Falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the beach is a remarkable memory that even time cannot fade.
The next morning we woke up from the heat. If you’ve ever camped out in a tent you know how very hot it is in the morning. You cannot stay asleep for long.
For breakfast we ate mini boxes of Kellogg’s cereal with milk and my sisters and I would fight over the Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops. No one wanted the Special K.
Later that day we would drive into the town ofMontaukand eat atPizzaVillagefor lunch, sometimes dinner, and then walk around to see the local shops. Every year I would get a screen printed t-shirt from a little t-shirt shop that used to be next toPizzaVillage. It isn’t there anymore but you could pick any design you wanted and they would iron it onto a t-shirt for you.
I also loved to pick up the free real estate books that lined the sidewalks, as well as a copy of the latest Dan’s Papers, which too was free.
And so, every year my parents would take our family out to Montauk and I would have the time of my life. It wasn’t an expensive trip but you could not put a price on the memories that were created there.