The last to be added to the location was a wooden shingled house he had purchased from the father of the well-remembered “Gloria’s” on Main Street. It was located behind the original store and is very similar in style to the ‘Books & Books of Westhampton’ on Main Street in Westhampton. For my grandfather, moving a perfectly good house to a new location must have made much more sense than building a new one.
After the first few seasons, inside showers were added. The addition of a four burner gas burning stove and oven added an additional luxury (and faster lobster dinners). Over time, other modern amenities were added as well, such as hot water for both the sinks and showers and real electric refrigerators instead of ice boxes.
A few years after adding the additional two buildings, the open lot directly across the street came up for sale and he purchased it. His desire for more buildings to maintain must have waned as he instead put up a beautiful wooden boardwalk that allowed easier access to the ocean.
The original boardwalk my grandfather built in 1950 was added to in the late 1970’s. When it was first put in, there were 14 steps at the end that led down beautiful beige sand. As a child, my brothers and I used to jump off these steps and onto the sand, always daring who could jump from the highest step. As the years past, these steps slowly disappeared into the sand. On one of my last visits to the cottages, there were only two steps left visible. The ocean had a sneaky way to remind me of how much older I had become by just a few missing steps.
In the fall of 1963, my grandfather passed away. Various family members, including my father and brother, stepped in and helped maintain the cottages for the next thirty or so years. They all tried to continue to keep everything in working order. Keeping everything running and keeping good tenants was a challenge. It was not any easy job but somehow they managed it.
Once the jetties were installed, everything changed. The ocean side of Dune Road became an architectural boom of modernism. Geometric and abstract homes with elegant paved driveways began popping up everywhere. The more Dune Road developed, the more my grandfather’s little cottages looked a bit out of place.
In the spring of 2001, the property was finally sold. The names of the cottages have changed over the years, from the original ‘West Bay Cabanas’, to ‘Beach Side Bungalows’, to the present ‘The Bee Hive at Dune Road’. They are still rented by the seasons and more modern luxuries have been added. Each cottage has as cable, air conditioning and access to wi-fi. Oh what my grandfather would have thought of all these fancy devices that were now needed to keep tenants happy!
I would like to think that my grandfather, who I never had the opportunity to meet, would have been proud of the way the little cottages have stood their ground. They have made it through some of the worst storms in the past 50 years with little damage. They have also haven’t changed much since the day he first purchased them in 1943. They are still white and have those unique four sided grey roofs.
I was able to return to the little bungalows in the summer of 2009. I spent a glorious week in my favorite cottage, the one closest to the bay. I woke up for sunrise and never missed a second of a sunset as it melted into the horizon. I cooked lobster in a big pot on the stove and ate fresh clams dug from the bay. I heard the familiar creaks and clanks of footsteps as neighbors walked down the center boardwalk. I smelled the faint scent of beach roses and drifted off to sleep to the crashing waves of the ocean. I was reminded of how laughter used to magically drift in the air.
So if by chance you are driving down Dune Road in Westhampton and pass the six square beach cottages with the grey pointed roofs, maybe you will be reminded not of what they are but of how far they have come. Thank you Grandpa Jones for your sense of adventure and your love of the beach; you have given me so many memories of a time long gone by.
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