Home at Last
School is out. It is the end of June and we packed up the old cream colored Ford station wagon with the wood trim. Five kids, a great dane, 2 cats, suitcases and beach chairs tied to the luggage rack. We are headed out east to spend the summer at grandma’s and grandpa’s summer cottage.
I spent my summers and most memorable times of my life on the east end of Long Island. It is where I find my inner peace, my happiness and my go to place. My father was the only son of Erwin and Gladys Spellman, and it was through them that my father was introduced to Southampton Shores in 1948. They bought an Oliver Built cottage down by the water and that is where it all began.
Life in the Shores has not changed much over the past 66 years but our family has. The cottage had an addition built in the 60’s to handle my grandparents expanding family of five grandchildren, their son , daughter in law and the family pets. I have such wonderful memories of growing up in the Shores. Boat rides on the Boston whaler, skiing, scurfing,trips to Greenport and Spellman’s Marina/Hobbyland in Hampton Bays. Running up and down the Bluff. Playing for hours on end with my siblings, neighborhood kids and distant cousins down by the docks. Summer rainstorms playing barbies outside, using puddles as their pools. Watching scary “B” movies on an outdoor screen down at the pavilion on Saturday nights. Huddled together under towels and blankets on the sand…giggling. Flashlights guiding us all home in the pitch black of the night. Parents feeling safe that their children were ok to be out on their own at night.
The Country Deli right up the street off of Noyac Road blowing their 5:55 pm whistle, a signal for kids to go home for dinner. Grandpa’s clam bakes, homemade clam chowder and the Chinese lanterns strung along the patio. Wild roses, hedge and honeysuckle, these were the smell of summer.
There were trips to the Penny Candy Store in Watermill on Sundays. A real treat! A dollar filled your own white candy bag. It was all hand counted and added up in pencil on the bag by the owner as his wife gently placed your sweets on the counter. Fowlers Beach, Flying Point and Coopers Beach. Coppertone #4. SUNBURNS! Collecting soda bottles and getting pennies in return to buy more candies and treats at the Coopers concession stand.
In 1969 my parents decided to rent their first summerhouse in Sagaponnack. It only cost 5 thousand dollars for the whole summer. It was a rainy summer. No A/C, No washer and dryer for mom to handle our family’s clothes let alone the wet beach towels. Croquet in the back yard. Watching on the black and white TV, during a horrendous summer storm , the landing of the first man on the moon. My oldest brother becomes a Sagg Beach lifeguard for the first time.
When I turned 12 I was old enough to put my name in Dan’s Paper and along the side of the Penny Candy shop cash register to Babysit. Getting calls from complete strangers to watch their children. My parents ok with the fact that their daughter was getting picked up by these same strangers and returned hours later with a good night’s earnings. Once being asked to babysit a big old sheep dog for a family who lived on Bridge Lane in Sagaponnack. The dog got lonely being by himself. I made twice the going rate that night.
My oldest brother Don married a wonderful woman in the fall of ’78 at the Catholic church in Bridgehampton. Mary Sczpanskowski was a “local”. Her family owned lots of beautiful land in Sagaponnack…Potato farms. Don and Mary went on to work the Sagaponnack General Store for close to 20 years. They became famous for their meatloaf, chicken pot pies and tea cakes. I had the pleasure of working for Mary in the kitchen for several years during the summer while I was in college. I also got to work some wild, fun and outlandish parties that they catered. I got reprimanded by the famous soccer player Pele for putting 1 too many ice cubes in his scotch during a party I bartended. I met Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote and Peter Jennings. I delivered Birthday cakes and food to Christie Brinkley’s daughter’s birthday party. I met so many famous and not so famous people working there over the years. I got to meet and become friendly with the local farmers, The Whites, The Fosters and The Babinskis to name a few. I am not sure that they would recognize or remember me 32 years later.
In 1985 I married my college sweetheart, someone who grew up on Long Island. It is now almost 29 years later, I have 3 wonderful adult children and I have moved 10 times due to my husband’s job. Last year when my youngest went off to start his second year of college I was hit by the realization that it was time for one LAST move. This was going to be a move that my husband and I CHOSE to make. A place where I feel my inner peace. A place that is familiar after many years of adapting to unfamiliar surroundings. We moved this spring to live full time in Bridgehampton. I have finally come back to my happy place. My family’s only constant. A place that holds such special memories in my heart. I have finally come home.