What is a Hamptons Native?
by: Alanna Torres
If you live on the East End, you’ve heard this term before, but do you really know what it means? No, it doesn’t signify a type of descendant nationality, nor is it an ethnic community specifically made up of Hamptonites. It denotes a person who has lived in the Hamptons area for all or most of his or her life; a local. Someone, who is involved in the mix of the potpourri of rich and famous and middle class sectors.
Those of you who have been here for at least 50 years can remember how it was, where Sunrise Highway ended in Patchogue and became a dirt road. Here you’d stop for a donut at the only shop around and then continue East on Montauk Highway. Southampton College was booming and students were hitch-hiking everywhere. It was safer back then and hitch-hiking was a main source of transportation.
Can you remember the very first bus in the 70’s that took an hour to do the loop of local towns? Wow, did that take off!! Remember when McDonald’s opened in Southampton and Healey’s boat of French fries went to the wayside. High Schooler’s went “up-street” to Sip and Soda or Silver’s. Both are still in operation, ah, continual excellence!
A native basically knew everyone and knew that everyone was either related to or associated with everyone else in the small towns or hamlets. You wouldn’t dare argue with anyone or speak badly of someone because that “evil eye” would always get back at you. But isn’t it kinda nice that everyone was sort of a friend of everyone else? One big happy family.
It’s difficult for a native in the Hamptons now, hardly recognizing a familiar face in summer months. High living expense and bad economy have forced a lot of locals to move elsewhere. New ventures and ideas culminating the area, necessary rules and restrictions and the positive approach toward environmental protection on the East End, have changed the native’s life-style. A true native can remember clamming barefoot in any muddy bay waters with no posted signs or taking a bike-ride down back country roads with not one car passing by and the main roads traffic free in summer. A Sunday outing would be a drive down Dune Road to view the handful of “large houses” and their unique designs. Now these houses are replaced by gi-normous mansions and the large houses could be host to their family pets. Nevertheless, natives and non-natives continue to enjoy the economic development and exciting architecture of homes only privy to elite areas like the Hamptons.
Every town has something special to remember, like hanging in Hampton Bays at the Boardy Barn and, yay, that still happens…or dancing at The Cave in East Quogue, now we have The Drift Inn. Does anyone remember the Grotto of the Purple Grape in Bridgehampton… what a great way to spend a rainy evening by candlelight…now named The Agave and has a most delicious menu. How about Barnes Country Market in Springs. I bet there’s not one native who hasn’t been there and then ventured on a ride to the Montauk lighthouse. And, we can’t ever forget one of the East End’s iconic figures, Billy Joel…who sometimes still can be sighted at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. As you can see, there are many things that have remained the same, confirming the Hamptons as still a wonderous region for future “potential natives” to explore.
The Hamptons have become a celebrity’s paradise and it’s no wonder why hundreds of people flock out here. Where else can you go jogging, passing Howard Stern or Kelly Ripa and say to them “Wow, hot day, huh?“ then exploit this phenomenon at their mediocre jobs for the entire next week. I remember my sister-in-law celebrated her 60th birthday at a local restaurant and Kim Bassinger was at the next table, so she sang along with the Happy Birthday. Always surprises.
Even though most natives earn a modest salary in the Hamptons and live on their week-to-week checks, they do not want to move away. The ambiance of the Hamptons makes natives proud to be residents. It’s their roots, their life, their family and close friends and, most of all, their memories that will never make them leave. It’s the calling of the beaches and the serenity of the lakes. Can anyone remember swimming across Big Fresh in North Sea? And then back? It’s a bit tougher now after age creeps in. So now it’s slow paddling in the quiet of dusk or casting a line.