Where do you live?

Written By: Lorne A  Winner

I want to start out by saying that I am not preoccupied with death. I am preoccupied with my obituary. You see, I’m worried that when they get to the part about where I lived..well..they might get it wrong.

I was born in Nassau County; I went to school in Nassau County, got married in Nassau County, and raised my children in Nassau County. Seems like a no brainer, but it is a bit more complicated.

When I was two, my parents brought my brother and me to Noyac, notice the spelling…no k, and this is where we lived during the weekends in the spring and fall and full time all summer. My dad had to work, no teleconferencing back then, so he would drive the car back to Nassau County, and my brother and I would be with our mom in a cottage by Noyac Bay. The house was heated by a coal stove, which we only needed in the spring and fall. There was no television or phone; they came much later, and even then my parents fought the idea of a television. I think it was the mid 60’s before the rabbit ears started picking up Connecticut stations in our cottage by the bay. Did I mention it was painted pink?! Now there was definitely a man who loved his wife. Anyway, with no phone and no TV, we lived outside.

When I say we lived outside, we lived outside. We built fish roadways, pools and dams for Killies to swim in and out of. At low tide we would crack open a clam or steamer, put it in our fish road, and when the Killies would come to eat the clam, we would block them in, and watch them swim through our roads, dams and pools. We were in and out of the water so many times, that you just lived in your bathing suit all day. We all swam like fishes, though I never remember actually learning to swim. There was always a new crop of friends arriving , because we lived in a predominantly rental area, so new friends arrived weekly. We were considered the locals, although from what I have learned over the years, unless you are born here, you are not, nor will you ever be a local, even though I have been coming out here for sixty-two years. We didn’t worry about skin cancer,but we did have to wait an hour after lunch before we could head out. I later heard my mom telling a neighbor that she kept us the hour mainly to give us a chance to dry out.

We didn’t have jet skis, but we had Sailfishes. For those not familiar with this mode of transport, a Sailfish is basically a surfboard with a sail, rudder and keel. We were allowed to sail out to the buoys and back. It was a small course, but you learned to maneuver really well in tight spaces. When we got older, we would sail to Shelter Island, but my mom would only let us do that when my dad was around. She was not fond of boats, so if we needed rescuing, my dad was the appointed lifeguard. My brother built a hydroplane boat which he ran with a 7hp motor. We flew across the bay, but mom’s fears kept me onshore to watch my brother rule the bay for that summer. We ran around the streets at night playing hide and seek in neighbors yards until it was too dark to see. There was always Kool aid in someone’s fridge, and orange juice ice pops in the ice trays. My mom had a ship’s bell on the porch wall, and when she rang it, we had to come home.

When it rained, we had paint by number kits and Readers Digest condensed books. My love for reading grew on those warm summer nights. I would read those books cover to cover, and when I hit high school they saved the day when book reports were due. Painting was definitely not my thing. Even now I would rather curl up with a book then paint a wall or paint anything! I have been know to hang a picture over a repaired spackle spot rather then take the ten minutes to paint it. Now they would say I have ADD, or HD, or AADD or all of the above. Back in less alphabetic times, mom’s diagnosis was I could not sit still. I never let my colors dry before I would start painting new colors, but my blotchy painting of a deer walking in the woods was proudly hung next to the meticulous winter barn scene that my brother spent days doing. The big entertainment of the night was jigsaw puzzles. We would buy two at the 5 and 10, and when we finished the puzzle, we would trade with our friends for a puzzle we hadn’t done.

When my father arrived on the weekend, we would go into Sag Harbor to get the best ice cream at The Paradise. If we had been good all week, we were treated to a hot dog and root beer at the Oasis on Long Beach. We caught blowfish for dinner, dug steamers, which I still cannot eat, scooped blue-claw crabs off the poles in Mill Creek, and gathered scallops on the beaches. One summer I decided I was not going to wear old sneakers in the bay, and managed to develop a thick layer of callous on the bottom of my feet. It took years before I got rid of those callouses.  I remember the carnivals that would be where 7eleven is now, and behind the American Legion Hall.  Flying Point Surf Shop was a gas pump and tiny Italian Restaurant, and I think LT Burger is on or near the site of the Black Buoy Bar. We watched fireworks that were set off at the end of Long Wharf, and I think John Steinbeck lit the first one one year, but that memory could be a bit blurry.

My parents retired here and became part of the community. My father was President of the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, and my mother was on the board of The Oakland Cemetery for a brief time. The painted ships that were used on the museum signs were cut out by my father and painted by my mother. Sadly, those ship signs seem to be disappearing, but I still have the original.  My children spent their summers here, but their memories are much different from mine. Different times, different world.

Noyac is where I lived.

I hope when the time comes to write that obituary, the Sag Harbor Express remembers to say I lived in Noyac…no k.