If you are in your sixties or beyond, you have likely experienced many Memorial Day weekends. I can vividly recall walking in my Cub Scout uniform with hundreds of others down Wolf Lane onto Main Street when I was nine.
Decades later, I watched my daughters march the same route as Brownies. After participating in that first parade, there was a cookout at the church with the Boy Scouts. It felt like heaven with hot dogs, little green bottles of Coca-Cola, and all my friends. This Memorial Day, I will be in Amagansett for a gathering of friends right off Main Street at their family home. It’s a circle of life ritual.
For locals of the East End, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the influx of summer visitors. Traffic will undoubtedly pick up, and cell phone service will drop off. I still believe that back in the days of Nokia and flip phones, cell phone service was better for phone calls.
I remember noticing the longer lines at the Montauk IGA after Memorial Day. Therefore, I learned to shop near closing time. One summer night, just before closing time, I was shocked to be behind an entertaining and funny dude. It was Jimmy Buffett himself. Even though his main home was in North Haven/Sag Harbor, that year he also had a rental off Otis Road on Sanger Place in Montauk. It was a short walking distance to Ditch Plains surfing. That night, Buffett paid cash and was proud he had enough money on him. I guess people like him worth hundreds of millions, don’t usually carry cash.
Memorial Day weekend in the Hamptons is the official beginning of the summer season. For renters and seasonal second homeowners, things like beach stickers, lawn chairs, and BBQs will be put to use. Grills will be fired up for weekly use until Labor Day.
I love grilling on Memorial Day weekend; it brings back memories of those Cub Scout feasts at the church. One year, between my marriages, we had a Memorial Day weekend party on the deck of the Ditch Plains/Montauk trailer I was living in. We went into town to the hardware store and bought a grill for about $25!
The grill came unassembled. Watching two writers put a grill together was pure comedy. We then went to the Montauk IGA and purchased hot dogs, rolls, burgers, charcoal, and lighter fluid. I put so much lighter fluid on the grill that when we lit it, it sounded like an explosion. Since I had lived in NYC for a few years, it had been some time since I had grilled. I must confess the hot dogs and burgers had a distinct taste of lighter fluid. Eventually, we learned to buy self-lighting charcoal.
I also remember the first Memorial Day weekend (2008) of the famous Surf Lodge in Montauk. David Rattiner, then Editor-in-Chief of the Montauk Pioneer, sent me there a few days before it opened to check it out and write an article.
On Memorial Day weekend, Sunday night, I walked into the very crowded Surf Lodge with Carl Darenberg. He was in shock. He actually said that night that the Surf Lodge “would cause a cultural shift in Montauk.”
Being at the Surf Lodge was very different from our karaoke nights at Liar’s Saloon. The first paid article I ever wrote on the East End was titled “The Truth About Liars.” Vinny Carillo, the founder of Liar’s Saloon, said in the interview, “The truth about Liar’s is it’s a tough place, but it’s a good place.” Vincent Christopher Carillo passed away at 80 years old