I recall one particular crabbing expedition when the wicker basket was teeming with noisy, bubbling crabs. My brother, intent on listening to them “speak,” stuck his face into the basket and was clawed on the eyelid by one angry crab. The moments following were intense; the crab stubbornly adhered to the injured lid. A quick witted adult separated the victim from the offender, leaving the claw dangling from the lid. My brother was rushed to Southampton Hospital, where the claw was disengaged, leaving no permanent damage. That night at the dinner table, my siblings and I refrained from eating any loose claws.
In Sag Harbor near the bridge where the old water tower stood, carnivals lit up the night. There we enjoyed the thrilling rides, savored the glittery pink cotton candy, and sometimes won a prize or two. On Main Street, the short-lived Old Whalers Parades offered homemade peanut butter, the longest beard contest; and a replica of a whale that was later harpooned in the harbor. Eventually, the whale was towed to Otter Pond, where we occasionally fed the ducks.
I recall too when my brothers painstakingly constructed gravity driven “Go-Carts,” eventually entering them in Soap Box Derbies; my sister being crowned “Miss Pine Neck” and, at around the age of 7, my winning title of Miss Rheingold. I have not touched a drop since.
Surpassing all activities was the Bridgehampton (one word) drive-in movie. Overly excited, mom was forced by us kids to arrive early to the outdoor arena; after all, swings and slides beckoned exploration at the playground. At the onset of the movie, we either sat on the hood of the old woody – my dad’s three row station wagon, or on beach chairs, the legs still wrapped with encrusted pieces of dried seaweed from the days’ beach activities. It wasn’t uncommon to find a pail still packed with wet sand buried somewhere in the confines of the battered woody, remnants of sandcastle building at Cameron Beach.
As a writer, inspiration comes to me in many forms; locale and memories being some of them. Recently, I did what author’s do and I sat down and wrote my first children’s story (The Big Bad Rain Monster). And, guess what; it’s based on the place, Pine Neck; the hamlet, Noyac; and the incorporated village of Sag Harbor and other nearby vicinities in the East and West where organic farming and farmer’s markets are widespread and chic. However, to hopefully appeal to my audience of juvenile readers, whimsical names have replaced the aforementioned towns.
Presently, I’m sitting at a long glass table, facing Noyac Bay. A flood tide flows westward, my favorite time for an invigorating swim. In the distance I spot the Cob and Pen Mute Swans and their 7 budding Cygnets. My family and I claim ownership to our feathered visitors, having named the Cob – Itsy, and the Pen – Bitsy. The grandchildren will choose the names of the latest Cygnets. I wonder if Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber will be among the monikers.
It’s just a matter of minutes before the swan family swims towards the house, greedy for food. Rising to find their bread goodie bag, I glance over towards the manicured garden. I can’t help but admire the enormous array of brightly colored hydrangeas, and the soon-to-blossom Montauk Daises, all of which are illustrated in my book.
Yes, it’s another beautiful, sunny, breezy Long Island day, and with the bay so near, the sea-salt fragrance awakens my senses and I feel as vibrant as this East-End day. How lucky am I!
I agree with my Uncle Walter who said many decades ago, “I don’t care where you go, there isn’t a better place than Noyac.” It’s no wonder to me that I was inspired to write my first book, (The Big Bad Rain Monster) based on Pine Neck, Noyac, Sag Harbor – the “un-Hampton,” New York.
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