What are you going to be when you grow up? I think this was the most difficult question that I have ever faced. This one question can lead to many more, sending you into different realms and times. When I was young it seemed like life and time were never ending. As I grow older, I now have different realities. This question really puzzled me as a teenager. I did not realize where it could take me. I guess in the immortal words of Sean Penn and Jeff Spicolli, I answered, ” I don’t know.
This is what has led me and my life into eastern Long Island and my many experiences with the Hamptons. You see that I believe that we have destinies and that things happen for a reason. My journey here, likewise yourselves, started with your parents and their circumstances. My family was led to eastern Long Island in the very early seventies, where we first had a summer bungalow. It was extremely quaint and peaceful, located by the Great South Bay and the William Floyd Estate. The fishing was incredible and when the breeze blew just right, on a Friday night, we knew when the funny cars and dragsters were at Manorville’s now lost and famed drag strip, National Speedway. We would then tell our dad who would if possible, take us to the following evening’s event. It was then a far shout from O’Leary’s flats, on Taylor Avenue, located adjacent to Parkchester in the Bronx, where our family lived until I was twelve.
It was a new world for us and I really loved exploration. My parents were also experienced explorers. They led us in this fact, that they were Irish immigrants. The first time we really went east was to head for Montauk to see the lighthouse and have a picnic. We had a 1968 green, fake wood laminated paneled, Ford Country Squire station wagon. It had a seat compartment in the very back for kids, where you could sit and leave the back window down. It was so big my dad also helped haul half the St. Anthony’s roller hockey team, who I played with for three years, while living in the Bronx. This team I helped to lead was the real life, Bad News Bears and would always be part of my persona.
He would also head us out to the Bridgehampton racetrack, relieving my mom of what children could be gotten out of her hair. He would pick up a fifty pound bag of Bridgehampton russets. Potatoes being the staple of our diet. I remember it being a big deal when Paul Newman was there and I really enjoyed when the motorcycles came out. The track was located high in the hills overlooking the Peconic Bay with Sag Harbor down below. There was also an incredible sand Motocross track located there with a jump called the parachute. This leap and name really was an inspiration for young, dumb and brave lads and was an area of the track where incredible bravery and carnage was capable.
Being the oldest can have many perks and disadvantages, freedom and ignorance included. I got my driver’s license at the age of sixteen. I had already started riding motorcycles due to our neighbor, Father Powers and my dad’s influence at age 12 or 13. My dad bought a red, manual three speed, 1975 Chevrolet Vega for commuting to the Bronx and his job with the MTA, as a union Bus operator. This was the first car I drove. My dad let me drive it when I was fifteen, in the parking lot of Cupsoque Beach County Park which is now called Westhampton Dunes. This area was obliterated in the 1991 Halloween storm known to us now as the Perfect Storm. Thanks George Clooney.
The trips to Westhampton were my introduction to the many beautiful mansions. They were a sight to behold, especially since the were only summer bungalows. I remember driving my friends that I grew up with in the Bronx and taking them for a tour. I used the station wagon and remember lots of beer and jamming out with Mick and the boys, Hot Rocks 1964-1971, cassette.
After High School I went on a voluntary tour of the southeastern United States, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. Compliments of the United States Navy and the hard working American tax payer. I really do have to say in hindsight, that it was definitely more than a job and was an adventure!
On my departure in 1986 I came back to stay with my parents. My dad had recently retired and as fate goes started working for the Quogue Field Club and as a chauffeur for Christine Leness, wife of the late Merrill Lynch executive, George J. They needed help so I worked there also for a few months. I thought the Navy was tough but it was nothing compared to “Caddy Shack!”
Looking for career opportunities, I spotted an advertisement looking for marina yard help in Southampton. I thought that it could possibly lead to mechanical training or future sales. Opportunities are very different and less extensive today then when my Uncle Johnny came here, in the early fifties and worked his way out of the mail room, to become an executive with I.B.M. I made a call and got an interview, which led down to North Sea and around the bend from Conscience point.
Back in 1988 when you drove out on Sunrise Highway there was a huge, long dip, where the main highway ended. It signified arriving in Southampton and to slow down from that point, as the roadway was now undivided. As I was driving east, I came upon a boat showroom on the south side, just west of Tuckahoe lane by Hess, now Speedway. There was a huge power boat, a Formula 357. I thought to myself it would really be something to work with a boat like that! I also couldn’t believe how it was situated and placed there. I now think back on how it introduced me to the Hamptons and that anything is possible with hard work and belief!
I followed the directions given me and stayed north on North Sea road instead of bearing to the right and east on Noyac road, towards Sag Harbor. Here I was greeted by a various array of incredible boats and Hamptons legend Dave Bofill. This is where I schlepped and worked for two years. It was in this secluded location where I knew my journey was far from over. Where was my destiny taking me?
The next road in 1990, took me to the construction of a golf course in Bridgehampton, the Atlantic. My dad used to buy those potatoes at the stand located at Scuttle Hole and Millstone road, just to the north of the future golf course. This intersection leads you north to the Bridgehampton racetrack .
The Atlantic and their Superintendent Bobby Ranum gave me work and a room. I remember when Donald Trump came to the course to check things out. He and Marla were in the midst of their stormy relationship. They supposedly had a discussion in our building in Mr. Glover’s (General Manager) office, when I wasn’t present. My room was across the hall while Bill Shuford was next door and Donny Woods lived upstairs. I now find it extremely interesting and ironic that he is now a presidential front runner in the 2016 elections, twenty four years later.
I was still racing motocross and would ride my bike through the hills from the golf course, to a practice area by the sand mine and Bridgehampton racetrack. Currently dilapidated and constantly struggling to survive.
I heard cars racing one day, walked my bike in to see the track once again and reminisce. As I approached some people saw me. I politely told them I was a respectful neighbor. I wound up meeting the owner, Robert Rubin and having a conversation about the track and property with him.
I guess I made somewhat of a decent impression upon him. As I left and travelled onward in my life, I was interested in the news that he actually took my advise. He allowed motocross to come back to the track for a time period. Then when all else had failed, created the Bridge golf course.
I know these chance encounters will continue to happen. It is called life and can be miraculous as I am faithful. The good and the bad. If I did not ride dirt bikes, I would not have met Richie Marsicano in the Spinney Hills woods of East Quogue, in 1991. He set me up on a blind date with a beautiful young woman and honors college student. She was helping his girlfriend’s son, stricken with cerebral palsy.
Twenty four years later an incredible wife, three wonderful daughters and I forgot, another “Blue Moon.”