Then Philip, the Maitre d’hotel, would ceremoniously open the dining room doors and invite us in. We’d rush in, feeling rushed, because a movie would be starting only a half-hour later at the Westhampton Movie Theatre on Main Street. We’d order and eat as fast as we could. Clutching sweaters against the evening chill, we’d head down the street.
During my years accompanying my Grandmother to the Howell House, we saw all the great musicals of the fifties, shows like “Oklahoma,” “Carousel” and “The King and I.” I have a distinct memory of returning to our room and personally re-enacting key scenes of “The King and I.” I always played the role of King of Siam, never the role of governess. Thinking back, I must have been an amusing companion for my Grandmother. I’m glad for that.
Night would come and under moonlight I watched trees with silvery leaf undersides swaying back and forth. Eventually I’d fall asleep, looking forward to the next day and exactly the same routine.
It is more than fifty years later and I’ve never stopped coming to Westhampton Beach. My history rides with me every time I drive down Beach Lane. So does what my history has taught me.
I’ve learned that it is necessary to have places like Westhampton Beach as touchstones in our lives. Special places holding essential memories. Places and memories that help us measure the worth of our decisions and sometimes signal the need to make changes.
I’ve learned that the ocean, like some places and people in our lives, can be attractive and threatening at the same time.
I’ve learned that love, like the love of my Grandmother for me and mine for her, transcends all space and time. And that means everything.
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