It’s All Relative
By Carole and Jennifer Paquette
By Carole Paquette
One beautiful day in late September we got a lesson in relativity.
Two of our grandsons, ages 13 and 14, were visiting us and we decided to treat them to one of our favorite trips – a ride along the South Fork, ending at the Montauk Lighthouse
“Afterwards we’ll go to Lunch,” I said.
“We always go to lunch Grandma, so what’s the big deal?”
“Because we are going to Lunch with a capital L, which means it’s a really good lunch. It is a restaurant famous for its delicious lobster rolls. In fact the words Lobster Roll are also on the sign on the roof.”
“What do you mean also?”
“Because it also says Lunch!”
“So?” “Well, so … it’s famous. Everybody goes there, local residents as well as celebrities. They also make wonderful pies.”
“So do you.”
“Thank you sweetheart, but mine are not like these, these are special.”
“For lunch, right?”
“Right, for Lunch.”
So how do you explain this mouth-watering experience in the middle of a stretch of land bordered by a bay and the ocean? How do you explain that coming from a little shack with two big signs on the roof “Lunch” and “Lobster Roll” are some of the most delicious tastes in the area?
After asking if Lunch had peanut butter and jelly the boys busied themselves making faces out the back window of the car.
We drove the two hours from northwestern Suffolk County along the island’s spine via the Long Island Expressway, then due south to Sunrise Highway where we pointed out where the Central Pine Barrens wildfire was back in 1995 and how the pines are all coming back. Then we made the turn onto Montauk Highway, which took us through quaint Hampton villages past the Water Mill, Bridgehampton and then Amagansett windmills, into the bustling Montauk business district and on to the loop road and Turtle Hill where the 217-year-old Montauk Lighthouse stands. We told the boys that it was the first lighthouse built in New York State. They were impressed and asked if turtles lived in it.
Arriving at the Lighthouse the boys raced up the hill, went up the tower and waved, then came down and said: “That’s it?”
We said, “No that is not it, come outside and down the hill to the bottom of the dune in front of the Lighthouse – you’ll be at one of the end tips of our country.”
The kids rolled down the grassy hill then grudgingly agreed to hike down to the little beach.
“This is the end of the World?” they asked, standing on the rock-strewn strand and staring out at the Atlantic.
“No, it’s the end of New York and of the United States,” we said.
“Oh, big deal.”
They turned and started walking back up to the parking lot.
My husband and I stood there, still in awe of the magnificent view. Yes, it is a big deal, we thought. We love this wondrous end of Long Island’s southern fork where all you had to do was stand, look and breathe to feel its magic. So, we tried again to infuse that magic into two teen know-it-alls.
“Want to see a shark?” we asked.
That got their attention.
“Yup!” and to sweeten the moment we told the story of how Montauk’s famous sport fishermen, the late Frank Mundus and a man named Donnie Braddick, had caught a huge Great White Shark back in the 1980s. We told them how Mundus was supposed to have been the inspiration for the character Quint in the movie Jaws.
Now that was impressive. They were rarin’ to see that shark. My husband and I looked at each other dubiously. Did we go too far?
We left the Lighthouse loop and drove to the village of Montauk, turned right to the Lake Montauk waterfront area and saw the replica of the 17-foot Great White Shark that Mundus and Braddick had caught.
“That’s the shark? But it’s hanging up!”
Of course, they expected to hear the quick, pounding sounds of imminent danger, then the haunting high-register of the tuba as in Jaws’ famed theme song. They expected to see the huge shark lunging out at some unsuspecting soul. What were we thinking?
“Sooo…How about Lunch?”
Off we went back down Montauk Highway along the Napeague stretch in Amagansett to Lunch where the parking lot was beginning to fill up.
“This is it?” they asked incredulously, looking around the tree-lined lot.
We parked, went indoors and I pointed out the photos of famous people who eat at Lunch. We sat in the outdoor seating area and ordered.
“I want a hamburger.”
“No, get a lobster roll! You like lobster. They make the best here.”
“Can I get a grilled cheese then?”
Why waste a perfectly excellent lobster roll on someone who wants a grilled cheese sandwich? We didn’t. They got hamburgers.
For dessert we ordered fresh, homemade blueberry pie. The kids ordered ice cream.
“Why not have some blueberry pie on your ice cream,” we suggested.
“Nah, we like it plain.”
“Where do we go now?” they asked.
“Where do you want to go? How about a walk on one of the ocean beaches, they’re the most beautiful in the United States.”
“Nah, we want to go to the Memory Motel where the Rolling Stones stayed.”
We didn’t even bother telling them that the Rolling Stones never really stayed there. We pointed it out on the way to the ocean beach.
As soon as we got home, our daughter Jennifer and her husband arrived to pick up their children. The boys ran to greet them.
“Mom! Dad! You should have seen the cool places we went to: we climbed the lighthouse tower at the end of the United States, we saw a shark hanging up that was in Jaws, we had lunch at a great place called Lunch and we went to a beautiful beach, the best in the country. We had the neatest time ever!”
Their parents nodded, and their mother said: “Did you go to Memory Motel?”
“Oh yeah, we saw it but who are the Rolling Stones again?”
My daughter turned to me with mixed emotions. She had her own memories, the least of which was the Rolling Stones.
* * *
It’s All Relative, Part II
By Jennifer Paquette One of the earliest memories from my childhood were the late summer drives out to Montauk, which always included a visit to a roadside eatery called LUNCH.
Here, the sky went on for miles and crashing waves could be heard in the distance. The infamous Hamptons “light” washed over us, with the indescribable beauty that drew artists and painters here, and even the restaurant had a special glow.
However, to me, a pre-teen and an avid Stephen King fan, the setting of LUNCH could have been a chapter in “The Stand”…a seaside shack on the road to nowhere.
The only thing I remember on the menu was lobster rolls. Or perhaps, that was the only thing we were told to eat off the menu. I don’t remember if I liked it or not, but rather the experience of eating at a picnic table staring into nothingness was the most appealing.
The trip would then continue to the Montauk Lighthouse, where we would climb the salty rocks and search the beach for paper thin shells in shades of lemon, creamy orange and pearly white. We collected buckets of them, brought them home and somehow strung them together to make whimsy necklaces that tinkled softly around our necks.
LUNCH and seashells. A perfect childhood memory.
Fast forward about 25 years to the above crisp September weekend, and my husband and I have left our two young boys with my parents while we go on a business trip. When we pick them up two days later we ask what they did with Grandma and Grandpa.
“We went to Montauk!” exclaimed my oldest.
“We went to LUNCH!” squealed my youngest.
I smiled brightly.
“How was the lobster roll?” I asked, already proud of my two boys who were taught to try everything offered to them.
“We had hamburgers!” they cried in unison, their faces beaming with the memory.
I was aghast. “Grandma let you have hamburgers at LUNCH?”
I then switched gears, asking if they climbed the cliffs and collected seashells the colors of sherbert.
“No, but we found these big sticks and played war!”
I gulped, realizing my childhood memories were going to be mine alone and my boys were going to have their own.