A Silver Lining at Founders Landing

Written By: Elise  Martini


It’s truly amazing how just a fraction of Long Island can possess such unique beauty.

What is it about this seemingly simple town beach that makes it almost majestic? Yes, magic most definitely occurred here at Founders Landing as I recall an exceptionally hot summer day in July at our summerhouse perfectly sandwiched between Goldsmith’s Boat Shop and Founders Landing in Southold.

Can’t even imagine what the neighbors on Terry’s Lane were thinking as “Ten Little Martini’s,” each looking like the twin of the other, poured out of the VW bus before it came to a full stop. The race was on to get a jump on all the summer activities we had dreamt of, heck, lived for all year!

What to do first? Is the tide low enough to start the annual clamming contest? Hop in the rowboat to get a jump on the biggest fish competition? Who will be the first to tip the canoe over on an unsuspecting sibling… even better, a parent? Forget it, being so hot and sweaty, let’s just do a cannonball right off the dock and see which of the six boys could make the highest splash?

My brother, Keith and I glanced sideways at each other. We were explorers through and through and we knew exactly what we were going to do first, treasure hunting! With hearts pounding in our chests, my brother gingerly lifted a sack out of the trunk of the van. Holding it with revelry, matched only to his vault-like bank that held a year’s worth of savings from mowing lawns to make the purchase of a lifetime: a metal detector i.e. treasure finder! This immediately took summer adventures of our Explorer’s Club to a whole new level. Watching Keith unveil his shiny, new machine created the most vivid visions of all the lost jewels, gold, and silver that were gasping to be discovered all over “Our Island,” a.k.a. Goldsmith’s Inlet, Kenney’s Beach, and Horton’s Point Lighthouse with its 100+ steps leading down to a rocky beach.

It’s truly amazing the deep, lasting effects on others when using your imagination.

Not sure which I noticed first, the high pitch screech of the treasure finder filling the summer air, or the suspicious way some of my many siblings were behaving all of a sudden. But, whatever it was, this explorer was not going to miss out on all the action, as I made a beeline to the back of the house that buffered Goldsmith’s Marina.

Greeted with frantic gestures and hushed tones displayed by my siblings as they discussed something they discovered in the sand with the metal detector. Every one seemed on edge, shushing each other while darting glances at Goldsmith’s Marina and the beach area. My sister shouted, “There’s a cop! They probably know we found stolen property from a bank that was buried here!” My jaw dropped… stolen property? Why are they talking about finding things owned by a bank? My questions were answered as the metal detector buzzed to life, signaling yet another find buried under the sand.

Reaching deep in to the sand, Keith unearthed what could only be described as a silver bar. Stamped deep into the bottom were the words, Long Island Trust Company, and beneath that 999.9. They’re real! We were stunned, but trapped between jumping for joy, and scared to death someone would realize we had discovered a load of Silver. The idea did not escape us that we were standing on sacred ground dating back to 1640. Both Goldsmith’s Boat Yard and Founders Landing were legendary icons that could easily serve as a burial ground for stolen treasure.

News traveled fast amongst our tight-knit clan, and discussions heated up as everyone tried to take credit for making this discovery. Celeste tried taking all the credit because she was the one who had lost her earring in the first place – the catalyst that brought Keith to this sandy place with his metal detector, but only after Gary had strongly suggested it. Each family member had an opinion of what we should do, how we should handle our new found treasure, but most of all, what was it worth???

Our mom, who was visibly shaking at this point, grabbed one of the silver bars, stuffing it into a brown paper bag as she shouted back to us that she was headed to Mary’s Farm on Indian Neck Lane to weigh the darn thing and discern the worth of these silver bars! Oh boy, things were stirring up fast, and the explorer’s one and only treasure finder was screeching away again, signaling yet another cherished bar of silver.  Gary strongly suggested that we stop the search until dark in order to try and keep our newfound wealth a secret. Reminding us that this was Founders Landing, and the Martini Family could quite possibly add to the already existing legends expelled by this magical place on the East End.

It’s truly amazing the power a kitchen table possesses.

Stretched across the large kitchen table in the screened in porch, conversations were flying in all directions. Mom was telling anyone who would listen, how nervous she was placing the brown paper bag on the scale at Mary’s Farm, only to be disappointed that the scale wasn’t sophisticated enough to weigh the silver bars accurately. Keith could be heard shouting across the table at Gary, “Finders Keepers Losers Weepers!” as he tried claiming ownership of the newly found fortune. Of course, Celeste thought she should reap all the benefits having lost her earring that prompted the search in the first place. My father, observing his family with blue-grey eyes was eerily silent on the matter. The only thing we all seemed to agree upon was that because of Keith’s treasure finder, we had struck gold, or rather, silver, and we were suddenly and inexplicitly rich.

It’s truly amazing the strength intuitiveness has among brothers and sisters.

The two member Explorer’s Club sat staring at the silver bar resting on the bureau. In the background we could hear hushed whispers coming from our siblings coupled by a serious conversation between our parents debating how they would spend this newfound wealth. Instead of feeling that satisfying mix of salt bay water and sun on our skin at the end of a hot day, we were reliving the sequence of incredible events that had occurred, stunning us into silence. It was during these quiet moments that we detected a slight shift in the whispers and movements of our many siblings.

Without having to articulate our inner thoughts, senses on alert, we stood together nodding in agreement that this whole situation needed further investigation. Approaching Gary first, Keith said, “I gave it some thought, and I believe you should share in all the financial benefits if we sell the Silver Bars.” Quickly shaking his head, Gary responded, “No, no all the money made from the treasure find should all go to you Keith, for buying the metal detector!” Hmm…..he’s singing a different tune. Next, walking into the bedroom shared by all four sisters, we stood there patiently. As we began retelling all the things we overheard mom and dad excitedly discussing we noticed Celeste staring at the floor, her eyes refusing to meet ours. She seems more upset than happy.

Grabbing the metal detector, we walked behind the house where our unsuspecting family had somehow stumbled upon hidden valuables that surpassed our wildest dreams, and could change our lives forever. With just a sliver of hope left, the explorer’s started digging, while our treasure finder remained oddly quiet. Suddenly, a loud argument erupted inside the house. Recognizing the raised voices of Celeste and Gary mingled with that of mom trying unsuccessfully to settle them down, it spilled outside, stopping in the exact spot it all began. Blame and accusations were clearly stated toward those responsible for the creation of today’s events as well as those assisting in the discovery of our now infamous silver bars. Standing on opposite sides of an imaginary line drawn in the sand we stared incredulously at Celeste. Meanwhile, Gary tried desperately to play down the severity of his actions by explaining how he just wanted Keith to get a real thrill out of using his new metal detector.

It would be quite some time before we could all laugh about the conspiracy that unfolded around Founders Landing that hot summer day. Recovery would be slow for the innocent, hindered by the constant gloating from the guilty party who created a legend of our very own, while carrying out one of the most innovative practical jokes of all time.