As a Navy pilot for most of my adult life, I have flown over the Hamptons on
numerous occasions but never knew anything about the area. Observing the East
End from 29,000 feet for all of eight or 10 minutes at a time does not tell you
anything of the people, culture or heritage.
I well remember a high altitude discussion with my navigator one crystal clear
autumn day while in transit to a Naval Air Station in Maine when he said “Great
view of the Hamptons today”. “What are the Hamptons”? I ask. With a bit of
consternation in his voice he replies “A number of quaint villages on the East End
of Long Island”. “Really? How many Hamptons are there”? Now with a bit of
attitude and an apparent disregard for my rank he said “I’m not sure. I haven’t
been there in ten years but I know there is a West, a South, an East and a Bridge.
There could me more. All of the guys are named Todd and the girls are named
Buffy. A playground for the privileged”.
The East End was not in my thoughts or vocabulary for many years after that
conversation. Retirement from the Navy and the subsequent Management
Consulting position in Atlanta filled my mind and devoured my time. After so
many years of living my life fueled by adrenalin and testosterone, Management
Consulting seemed pretty mundane and my life began to feel as if I had entered
an endless holding pattern. That is, until the fall of 2003 when a chance encounter
at a wedding reunited me with the woman who was to subsequently become my
Love has the power to completely rearrange ones priorities and indeed can
change everything in your life. People in love can find themselves modifying their
diet, dress, deportment and even their domicile. In our (her) case, we (she) had
four choices regarding where we were going to live. These included Georgia,
North Carolina, Manhattan and Southampton. Our (her) choice was obvious or I
would not be writing this essay. I had moved every two or 3 years through six
states and 4 countries during my career and the idea of some permanence was
appealing to me.
My wife had purchased the Southampton home in 1996 when she was one of the
early Woman Wall Street Warriors, and she was a “weekender” until our mutual
retirements when we transitioned into “full timers”. Our adjustment to married
life and our new permanent surroundings was not without the anticipated bumps
and compromises but we have happily settled into the community and
established a small circle of close friends. It is one particular group of friends who
have made a significant impression upon me and I will dedicate the remainder of
this treatise to them.
You can meet the most interesting people at a wide variety of venues in
Southampton. I am certain that many of us have gained friends from encounters
at restaurants, charitable events, gyms, parties or beaches. Personally, I have
found a treasure trove of diverse personalities who faithfully gather on a near
daily basis. They are tradesmen and professionals, employed and retired, male
and female, young and, well, older. For more than a year I have been meeting
with this eclectic group, impeded only by inclement weather. You may now have
surmised that the meeting place for this august group is none other than the
Southampton Dog Park where, as we say, every dog owner thinks that they have
the very best dog…and none of them are wrong.
The commonality of all who gather at the Dog Park is obviously the love that they
have for their animals however, there also develops a friendly human bond and
caring for each other. Personally, I very much enjoy our senior member who, at
age ninety-six still entertains with his brilliant sense of humor, regales us with
stories from his past and always greets me with a broad smile and a firm
handshake. There are also the lawyers, the doctor, the “Sheriff” and others, each
with their interesting backgrounds and stories. I have also been privileged to tell
my own story and answer questions regarding flying or the art of living in various
countries. When one of the cadre is absent for a day or two, there is always
concern and then the phone call to check up on the wellbeing of the truant
member. Additionally, there are the rapidly wagging tails that welcome their
return. It looks like I have made the transition to “local”.