Memories of Montauk
By: Linda G. McElroy
Oh yes, Montauk! My all-time favorite summer getaway. It all began approximately 20 years ago, during the hot summer days of August. My younger brother’s birthday was approaching and he suggested a road trip to Montauk. So I packed up my son, who was a young child at the time and drove off from our home on Long Island to meet my family in Montauk for a couple of days of fun in the sun and ocean breezes. The trip by car only takes about one and a half hours, unless of course we travel east on a Friday or Saturday when the weekenders traffic slows down travel time. This we knew so we headed out midweek. Upon arrival we knew we would be in love with Montauk forever. So here we are all these years later. So many years have gone by, so many precious memories of our moments in Montauk. Last year, in 2011, I found myself once again planning our annual family getaway to Montauk. However, this time I was elected to be in charge of reservations. Which I must admit was far from easy. The fact of the matter is that my brother never makes hotel reservations too far in advance. He likes to confirm a good weather forecast beforehand, usually the week before we are packing our bags. After confirming “abundant sunshine and clear skies, I proceeded to begin calling some of our usual favorite hotels on the ocean side. After many calls and not finding the accommodations we required for different family members (including a pet friendly establishment for my brother’s small, well behaved dog) I came to a decision. It was time to take out the Montauk brochures from previous years and hunt for a different hotel. Finally, luck was on my side. I found a place for all of us to stay but on the Sound side of Montauk. I called the Montauk Chamber of Commerce to ask their opinion of this establishment and they highly recommended it to me. I did hear some initial criticism from family members at first, but eventually we were all packing our bags for Montauk once again with the usual “I can’t wait to get their feelings”. After all, we all needed Montauk = “The End”, to relax, rejuvenate, walk on the beach, bask in the sun, and to get away from it all for a few days. We all needed Montauk in August, just as we have all these years. The sound of the ocean, the delicious seafood, the sunsets, the fishing boats coming and going out of the harbor, and so many happy relaxed people. So here we were in 2011 on our way to a different part of Montauk that we had never experience staying overnight in before. We had only viewed it from passing thru the area over the years. Well I must admit I found a diamond in the rough! I named it my “peaceful paradise”. As usual, luck was with us the day we arrived. The weather was picture perfect! Sunny, blue clear skies, in the 80′s and a breeze blowing off the L.I. sound which was right outside our hotel rooms. The view was beautiful! I knew then that it would be very difficult to leave this place when the time came to do so. The hotel management was humble, friendly, and accommodating. My only child, my son Nicholas and his girlfriend drove out to join us. My brother’s birthday celebration was approaching, which is always a good time for all of us to be together. Life was perfect, who could ask for anything more! Over the years I have met some wonderful people during our Montauk stays, people from all different places and walks of life. The rich, the poor, the local fishermen telling their fish tales, the locals, the chefs, and the Irish immigrants that work every summer in many of the restaurants. I also have spoken to other families like ours who fell in love with Montauk so long ago. On this journey I met a wonderful couple, Rob and Joanne and their daughter. They were staying in the cottage next to ours. We all became friendly. There seemed to be a special connection between us. We talked, we laughed, we shared drinks and food, joys and sorrows. Coincidentally, they also spend the same week in August as we do every year in Montauk at this hotel, how wonderful; another reason to look forward to Montauk each year. So bonded and became friends. Although, unfortunately, we live far apart but we have kept in touch. We enjoyed spectacular sunsets, especially on the night of my brother’s birthday, it was one of the most beautiful sunsets we have ever witnessed. Most importantly I was able to spend quality time with my son and my family. Oh, yes, my memories of Montauk keep getting better year after year! However, there was a touch of sadness one day in August last year during our stay in Montauk. I was lounging by the pool one afternoon along with so many others. Suddenly I heard someone yelling out loudly “look, look, I think it’s a whale “. People began moving to the water behind the resort. As soon as I looked out upon the water, I saw the sad eyes of this giant sea turtle drifting towards us on the shoreline. Unfortunately our moment of “Oh my God he’s so beautiful, huge, must be the great grandfather of all sea turtles, let’s take our cameras out to photograph him”… etc., etc., suddenly and unexpectedly turned to shock and sadness. We noticed as he came close to shore that he was seriously injured, there were gashes obviously from a boats propeller on his side that blood was gushing out of so extensively that the water turned to a sea of red blood. Many of us were on our cellphones trying to call the proper authorities for help. It was too late. We all witnessed the sad death of this huge sea turtle who authorities told us was over 100 years old after measuring and studying him on the shoreline where he now laid dead. Tears filled our eyes. We felt so helpless at that moment in time. A local fisherman told me that sea turtle was the “steward of the sea”. The largest, oldest, and most beautiful ever seen in those waters. The local fisherman of Montauk respects the waters and the marine life surrounding us. However, boaters beware. He was obviously hit by a pleasure boat, maybe they knew, maybe not. We will never know. The next day was my brother’s birthday, a time to forget the sadness and celebrate life. The weather remained perfect. We all enjoyed my brother’s birthday overlooking the water that night with family and friends. To top it off, I won $580.00 on lotto! My dad’s birthday (914) came out on my brother’s birthday. I was able to treat the family for dinner out of my winnings. Oh so many good memories over the years of Montauk in August. Last year was definitely one of the best. God willing, Montauk will be seeing us again soon this year. I can’t wait! See you there!