I am 66-years-old and I cannot remember an August when I did not go to the ocean at least once. I have distinct memories as a boy being in the family car on the hottest days with the whole family driving to the beach. We’d joke about our 4-40 air conditioning in those old cars, 4 open windows at 40 MPH, because in the 1950’s and early 1960’s there just wasn’t “factory air,” in any family car. Remember those small little visor windows on the front window, with the clamp to open and shut them that funneled that air into the car? They were cool.
Nowadays I have an East Hampton Town Beach Sticker for Non-Residents. I purchase one every year at Town Hall. I use it for my go to beach of choice, Atlantic Beach, in Amagansett. Many East Hampton locals prefer Indian Wells Beach whereas many of the wealthy East Hampton Village homeowners prefer Main Beach and Georgica Beach.
In August, on a hot weekend, all ocean beaches are more crowded then weekdays, this is not exactly rocket science. When I lived year-round at Ditch Plains in Montauk, “walking” the 453 steps (yes, I counted them once) to Montauk’s Ditch Plains Beach was convenient, not like the ordeal of driving past the beach to go to the Village via Deforest Road. The very short Deforest Road becomes Ditch Plains Road as it passes the beach. No one has ever explained to me why.
Every sixty-something column has a story that ties into the title. This story happened the first Thursday of August 2016 at Atlantic Beach.
Chris Martin and his band Coldplay was to do a secret exclusive Sirius Radio free concert somewhere in the Hamptons. No one knew where. Two editors I had worked with, called me to ask if I knew the location of the show while I was actually driving to Atlantic Beach. I was heading there for a “Susan’s” Lobster Roll at the Beach Hut right on the ocean. The editors called me because this was the sort thing I would know, but I had no clue I wasn’t really a Coldplay fan.
So after I ordered the food with a Coke, I sat down on a bench feeling the amazing cool ocean breeze the Atlantic Beach Hut always has. I was on my cell phone calling to see who could sail with me that day when I noticed a few little boys looking for a place to sit. I was sitting in the middle of the bench and they wanted to sit together. Having once been a small boy with friends at the beach, I understood this. Without being asked, I stood, moved over to the very end so they could eat their ice creams together. Then the adult appeared to “thank” me. He was wearing a very faded baseball cap and he was Chris Martin himself. I said, “No problem, I had young kids myself once,” and he laughed. He then tucked himself on the ground at the end of the bench and kind of hid his face as he ate ice cream with his boy and his friends.
I thought about asking him where the concert was going to be, but I also was touched seeing how special it was for him to be at the beach with his family in August and I said nothing. I did sneak a camera photo. I later called my wife to tell her the tale I am now sharing in this column. (I was later informed that Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow once shared a home just steps from Atlantic Beach.)
In the Hamptons many celebrities have their favorite spots to swim. I never bother any of the notables even when they come and talk to me. One August day, my life-long friend Lee Brandreth and I sailed to Louse Point, in Springs, and anchored there. I had met Lee in Cub Scouts, and we even graduated from GWU together in 1976.
Lee sails with me once a summer (he lives in New Jersey) and this August midweek day we went to Louse Point. We were the only folks there until this guy with his daughter showed up. It was hot. Not long after arriving the guy swam out to us and started asking us about the sailboat, favorite beaches, etc. The voice was distinctive, it was Christian Slater, but we never acknowledged that. We just talked like dudes in the water on a hot August day. Finally his daughter called for him and he said, “I gotta go!” As he was leaving I said, “Hey, you have a great voice. You ought to be in show business.” He just laughed and laughed, and said, “So I’ve been told.”