In 1986 I moved my young family from Northeast Ohio to the middle of Long Island. My daughter Elizabeth was eight and my son Scott was five. They were born in Cleveland, Ohio but grew up on Long Island where they went to school and made many longtime friends who they are still in contact with to this day.
Looking back at my family’s transition, I remember the reason for the move. It was based solely on financial considerations. There were opportunities to further one’s career working in and around New York City. However, when my wife Ann and I shopped for housing we both were shocked at the prices of the homes that were on the market. The real estate market at that time was skyrocketing on Long Island and coming from and at this time we were coming from a beautiful pre-war house in Cleveland where the real estate market was severely depressed. We were lucky to get 73K for that house. We began our search in Nassau County where we quickly found out we could not afford a house to our standards at an affordable price. So on we went looking for that elusive house in Suffolk County. Doing this, we found ourselves looking ever eastward. After much looking and assessing we ended up buying a fixer-upper in Holtsville for the backbreaking sum of 121K. This was considered a bargain to Long Islanders, but to us it took all the money we had to live in Holtsville, New York.
With all these changes occurring, my family quickly set into the school and work routines of Long Island. With a large mortgage and life on Long Island being one of the most expensive lifestyles in the USA, Ann was no longer a stay at home wife. With both of us working and raising a young family we never had the resources to go on extravagant family vacations. However as hardworking and occupied as we were, we quickly learned that we could escape the rat race by just driving 35 miles to the East End of the North Fork. After just passing Riverhead you found yourself in an entirely different world. It was a world of pastoral beauty where it seemed as if time stood still and everything was more relaxed.
Ann and I started in the summers of the mid 80s taking the whole family on relaxed Sunday jaunts going by the farm stands and local wineries so prevalent on the north fork. A few potato farms were still operating reminding us of the north ends past thriving economy. During this time period there wasn’t the traffic along route 25 as there is today. It was a relaxed atmosphere, we would get out of the car and casually inspect the produce buying an occasional bunch of cauliflower or brussel sprouts along with the other produce of the season. We would go past the towns of Cutchogue, Southold and onto Greenport where we would have lunch at an old time 50s type restaurant. Later we would stroll over to the edge of the Peconic Bay and pay a visit to Preston’s. The entire family would casually stroll through the shop, seeing the sea worthy items but rarely buying anything since we were still a young family living on a budget.
On the way back home we always visited wine tasting rooms of the many vineyards present on the North Fork. During the 80’s and even on until the early 90’s the tasting rooms gave free samples in hopes of having you buy their wines. That has since changed as the traffic has increased many folds since those early vineyard days. Occasionally Ann and I would splurge on a couple bottles of wine. Life was simple and good.
As the years passed by, the kids got older but they always looked forward to those Sunday trips out to the east end. We not only travelled in the summer but also during the autumn harvest season. The kids loved to go pumpkin picking and we still were having lunch in that old-time restaurant in Greenport. As our financial resources improved we started buying things at Preston’s and more bottles of wine were taken home.