Thirty years ago I was skiing with the then President of the Guides of Chamonix, Jean Claude Charlet. The Charlet family has been a prominent family in the Chamonix Valley for over 600 years. That day he told me about how one must respect the region to maintain its beauty. He explained it was his job as the President of the Guides to preserve the “naturalness and purity of the region” known to the outside world as the Mont Blanc Massif, a region with perhaps a hundred glaciers and many cathedral like peaks the French call “aiguilles.”
On the east end of Long Island there are historic towns that were founded mostly in the mid 1600’s. Reading Henry Hedges history of the region, there is always one main theme, the respect as a local leader both he and his historical family had for the region. He talks about the purity of swimming in Georgica pond he experienced as a boy in the early 1800’s. He talked about being “raised at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean,” and all that meant to a single digit boy. Over his years that expanded the whole 1800’s Hedges gave many lectures about the history of the Hamptons that he witnessed with his own eyes. Many of these lectures were given on the 4th of July celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence an event that happened only just 30-something years before his birth. The United States of America under the U.S. Constitution (ratified June 21, 1789) was less than twenty-years old when he was born December 12, 1805.
Respecting the integrity of the Hamptons and the whole of the east end of Long Island now is bestowed upon all of us and our local leaders. As a journalist for the last 17 years out on the east end I have always enjoyed writing about those who understand respecting the region, preserving the integrity of the region. Through the years I have had different editors who have assigned me numerous stories about local folks doing all they can to keep the east end beautiful. All one has to do is talk with John Halsey to understand this. John still some 17 years after my first of many interviews with him is still at the helm of the Peconic Land Trust, an entity that he founded to preserve the importance of local farms, local produce and open lands on the east end. It was John who gave me a newcomer to the region in 2002-2003, my first glimpse of the battle to maintain the essence of what the east end must remain.
I remember attending a Concerned Citizens of Montauk meeting in 2005 as a reporter for the now defunct Montauk Pioneer (the original Dan’s Papers) and a woman stood and said and about building up the village, “It’s up to us to make sure Montauk doesn’t become like Brooklyn.” Everyone in that meeting agreed, and that was bout all everyone agreed to at that meeting that was about moving the village away from the ocean, something they still talk about to this day many years later.
There have been many editors of many publications who have all published articles about respecting and preserving the integrity of the Hamptons over the last two hundred years. I have felt honored to be the originator of some of those pieces approved by some of those editors. I am most proud of all of those articles understanding the message of respecting the east end.
I sail in my old 1976 22’ Catalina sailboat nightly in Gardiner’s Bay and look at the natural beauty of it’s shores. I always say to newcomers to the world of Gardiner’s Bay that it does not contain a single eye sore along the miles of it shores. I hope to continue to play a part in keeping it that way. I want to help preserve both the east end and all its bays as a wonderful place for my new granddaughter and perhaps some day 70 years from now, her granddaughter to visit and see it like Henry Hedges did.