August has perhaps always been the unofficial American vacation month. We all do our vacations in so many ways. With some folks renting huge “recreational vehicles,” or summer beach cottages, or others taking trips abroad. Then there are the east end folks who realize in August there is no place like home to “staycation!”
With the best beaches always so close, I believe our section of the Atlantic Ocean is the finest of the whole east U.S. coastline. Then there are the pristine bays on the east end too. The produce at the various historic farm stands of the east end are superb. In August the fresh local produce is at its ripe peak for sale especially the local corn. I have always loved Long Island corn.
I remembered telling my sailing buddy, Todd Wickersham, while enjoying a magnificent Gardiner’s Bay sail that, “In August the richest, the most successful and in some cases powerful people in the country come out to hopefully spend two or three uninterrupted weeks vacationing in their east end homes and mansions. While we enjoy the beauty of the east end not only in the high summer season in August but also all year round.”
The truth is the Hamptons do sizzle with various activities on weekends in August, but with the worst of Covid hopefully now in the rearview mirror people are really taking every opportunity to optimize their new regained freedoms doing so of course with open eyes on safety protocols.
I must confess my wife seems to wear her most dazzling attire when we go to one of those summer events of the east end. I have noticed she is not alone in this behavior. There is a buzz, there is a magic and an excitement no matter how many of these parties, galas, or fundraisers you attend.
However that’s not to say private weekend time around the home with the family is not extremely special too. I remember how proud my dad used to be with our large family around him back home in Westchester while grilling some fresh tuna he just caught on his boat off Montauk maybe the day before. The fresh tuna you catch off Montauk always tastes the best.
My two girls are grown women now. However there is not a single time while gazing at the Montauk Lighthouse or even a photo of it, that I do not recall the summer back in the mid-1990’s when they both flew their kites purchased from White’s Drug and Department store in the village. I am not sure if it’s even permitted these days but that summer we often went to the lighthouse and flew the kites literally next to the tall historic lighthouse because quite frankly the wind there is best almost every day for optimal kite flying. For single digit aged girls a kite that stays up in the sky soaring and dancing in the wind is quite an experience.
Now at sixty-something the memories of those pleasant moments are special treasures forever branded in my mind. I can still see their faces intensely looking up at their kites holding on to the spool of string line with a firm determined grip. They now live far away, one in England the other in D.C. but I know to this day they have a unique fondness for Montauk. They spent time with their grandparents fishing there, with their own parents vacationing there, and I believe when they can they still somehow get there on their own, even if just for a day or two to experience what east end folks experience every day not just only in August.
My old friend John Heisig who lived well into his nineties loved to tell me about the times prior to the Long Island Expressway just after WWII when he used to watch massive convertible limos of that era with uniformed capped chauffeurs driving well-dressed socialites around the Hamptons especially in August. Now I gaze at huge multi-million dollar yachts, private helicopters and private jets perhaps in the same wonderment as John did back then. He always used to say, “that’s real money,” but I now say with all that money, the very rich chose to come to vacation for a few weeks in August, while I get to enjoy the east end all year round and August 2021 has just started.