Every summer has a story.
When a year gets mentioned instinctively I think, what was I up to that Summer, and the memories come flooding back. I have yet to experience a Summer without on the East End specifically, Montauk. 21 Summers strong. My earliest Montauk memories are split between biking thru the Hither Hills campsites with skinned knees, and running down the deck of East Deck with splinters littering my feet. My ladder Summers have been spent sun kissed and surfing off the Ditch Plains Trailer Park.
Womb- Three weeks before I made my debut, my parents were already acquainting me with Montauk. They were camping at Hither Hills, a place that still holds a major part of my heart. My mom relaxed at the campsite while my dad insisted on going fishing for the day. Mother tried to remind my father how pregnant she was, but we all know how important fishing is. Off he went to the rocky shore off around the iconic red lighthouse He had been gone longer than anticipated, when he finally arrived back to the campground, he toted more than fresh caught fish, he also fashioned a shiny silver hook through is hand. A family friend happened to be the doctor on call in South Hampton and seeing my parents stroll through the door made him giddy, thinking I was ready to make my appearance. The doctor’s disappointment was obvious when he saw my dad’s hand.
4- Our annual family Hither Hills camping trip. Sites belonging to family members were sprinkled throughout the park. Our tent splayed across site E 12. My Grandma worked in for Hither Hills for 35 years. Much to our dismay, that meant the rules always were enforced a little more upon us. My cousin Tyler has recently turned six and my uncle assured us the birthday signified it was time to take the training wheels off. The wheels were removed in no time. I wanted to be a big kid too! Before I knew it, my training wheels were off as well. The expedition went swimmingly for Tyler. He cruised the streets like big boy. Me, not so much. Took off just like Tyler but ended up with my whole body skinned and was a human scab for the rest of the summer. The training wheels went back on quicker than they came off.
8- The Summer of Bailey and Grandma hijinks. My Granny, my best friend since the day I was born. She hated the idea of me being cooped in a classroom as spring blossomed. This led to her breaking me out of class every Friday afternoon to get a kickstart on the weekend. On our two hour ride out East, she would tell me every piece of Montauk history she could think of. Granny educated me on the original settlers of Montauk, the Montaukett Tribe and how a Dutch explorer encountered the tribe at Montauk Point, which he named Hoeck van de Visschers, meaning “Point of the Fishers”. Granny explained how Culloden Point’s name is derived from a British ship ran aground in that area. She told me about Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riders and 2000 other soldiers being quarantined in Montauk after fighting the Spanish in Cuba. Granny told me how Robert Moses made Montauk accessible to the people by establishing state parks -my beloved Hither Hills and Montauk Point and created the Montauk Point State Parkway. Then came the visionary Carl Fisher, wanting to turn Montauk into the Miami Beach of the North. (If only he could see it now). I cherished these talks with my Granny, but I never knew how it would stick with me.
13- The most instrumental Summer of my life. I had no clue this summer would change the course of all summers that came after it. The first time I got to spend 10 whole weeks in Montauk. My mom rented a ‘trailer’ in Montauk shores. My expectations were low, but by Summers end the bar was set higher than ever before. Little did I know I would meet my best friends this Summer. My mom said it the Trailer Park allowed me the freedom she had as a child. She would set me loose and I’d be home for dinner. My crew and I divided our time between frolicking in the waves in front of the East Hampton Lifeguards, lunching at the Ditch Witch, and playing tag on the playground. We were equipped with bikes, skateboards, scooters, and we felt like we ruled the world. Most importantly after such a fun filled day we wound down with creamy soft serve ice cream served at the club house. I knew at some point the Summer would have to come to an end. After not crossing the stretch for 10 weeks I cried my way through Montauk, Napeague, Amagansett, East Hampton, Wainscott, Sagaponack, Bridgehamption, Water Mill, and South Hampton. My water works finally dried when we got to Manorville and I realized my mom was not turning around.
16- The year I longed for Montauk the most. My dad passed away suddenly over the Winter and Montauk was the light at the end of the tunnel for me. My Father cherished Montauk just as I did. Growing up, his parents and four siblings would camp in Hither Hills for the entire Summer. The instant I made it to Montauk that Summer, I finally felt at peace and close to him once again.
21- The Summer of finally being 21, but so many emotions came along with it. I graduated from Flagler College in the Spring, but along with this came whats next? I maximized and savored every moment of the Summer. I rose with the sun at the lighthouse to surf, spent everyday on the beach reading and relaxing, soaked up every extraordinary sunset I could. My seventh Summer working at Whalebone Creative on Tuthill Road, and the view out the back window over Navy Beach never seemed more beautiful than it did this Summer. Midway thru the Summer, I received an offer of a big girl job and I couldn’t say no. The most bittersweet realization hit me, Montauk Summers would be halted for awhile. The East End shaped me, and my sandy feet will find my way back as soon as possible. It’s not goodbye Montauk; It’s see you soon.