Greenport: A Small Town, but Our Own
This is a small port, but our own. From its humble beginnings as a fishing village, to its rum-running days, to a bay-side village well-known enough to draw Tall Ships and an ever-growing Maritime Festival, this is Greenport. Driving into town, your eyes are drawn to St. Peter’s billboard on the left, beckoning passersby to think on higher things. Heading east, you pass on the right hand-side: a gas station, the bus depot, a ubiquitous 7-11 and Driftwood Cove and yet, you have just begun.
Members of the Stirling Historical Society whisper the past to young men working on a documentary. The town historians talk about the time that Greenport had its own police force. One can still visit the jail. The police force ended because of massive corruption. The past has been meticulously preserved. Preservation put Starbucks out of business because across the street the smell of roasting coffee beans wafts through the air emanating from a tiny rival shop, its coffee smog floods Front Street. The shop that put Starbucks out of business you ask, Aldos, a small cafe, but our own.
Make a right where St. Agnes is split by 6th street; drive to the end where it kisses Peconic Bay, welcome to 6th Street Beach.
Eat raw oysters, the come-back kid of the bay, freshly harvested and shucked behind Claudio’s Restaurant (a half a dozen will cost you $13); watch the waves lap the docks, the stalwart workmanship of Costello Marine.
The blacksmith, still smiths for inquiring minds from “June through September on Saturdays and Sundays from 11a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission is $2.” For students, there is no charge and they can visit almost any time of day, if it is a field trip; there are those who sacrifice time to pay homage to the history of Greenport.
This is the backdrop of fantastic stories of 200 to 300 year old houses and ghosts that haunt. You can even take a boat ride and explore old light houses burdened by spirits from the other side, especially around Halloween.
Porters are accepting, except you will always be an outsider. They are welcoming, but some of them helped to build this town and so many more are actively preserving it from the onslaught of time and change. Conservation is the beating heart of the movie theater and the many antique shops, turning trash into treasure, ever conserving, ever recycling.
It pains me in the winter when I talk to local artists and artisans who eke out a living and barely survive. It is even more tragic when shop owners will say that the more beautiful the weather during those days, the less business they do. People are too busy enjoying the sandy beaches and hazel waves of the Long Island Sound or the Bay. Greenport, whether you like it or not, is a resort town that is ever reliant on the people and the money that flow between Memorial Day and Labor Day; so let it flow!
Ohhh! The Peconic Bay scallops, how could I forget those tender morsels from heaven; chase them down with a Greenport IPA, because Porters have had their own beer freshly brewed in small batches by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company since 2008.
They have had their own Light and Power Company since 1837; it kept the lights on for you during Hurricane Sandy, except for a few hours.
It is a small town, one well-insulated, well- powered, well explored; it is a small town, but our own. Even if there isn’t enough parking!