Living life on the east end is a treasure of opportunities. Opportunities to make money, enjoy a high quality of life, find true love and nurture it. It is both a wonderful place to raise a family and a wonderful place to retire.
Over the last two decades I have been fortunate to get to interview, meet and in some cases become friends with some of the iconic figures of the east end. Whether they be artist, political folks, business people, or just concerned citizens one thing was always constant, that being their love of the east end.
Long Island is a unique place to live with many believing the east end is its jewel. With the ocean beaches, amazing wildlife, and huge acreage of parks it’s hard to argue that point. If you live on the east end long enough you get to see the changes happen, sort of the passing of the torch, the turning of the pages of living history.
Yet change is what happens as history is made. Over the last twenty years change has come many times to the east end. There is a saying “the more things change the more things remain the same,” that too is true about the east end. There are still the founding families tucked away in their 400 plus year homesteads. They are the pillars of the east end. Their family history is the history of the east end. They have seen how the area has really changed over time. I actually remember one interview when the fella said, “they were a more recent family out here, arriving in the mid 1800’s.”
The east end has a topography that enhances spirit and has a soul, People who can’t live on the east end buy second homes just to spend as much time here as possible. Some people drive out as much as they can, just to walk the beaches, parks and villages. Finally, there are those who come to live out on the east end to stay as young as possible as they age. Eventually everyone must age. It is a fact of life. The choice you do get is how you choose to age.
In Montauk these days now exist the old surfers. Folks in their late sixties and early seventies who still get out to ride the Ditch Plain waves. It is said that back in early 1960’s the surfing craze has a national phenomenon across the nation with young men and women heading to places where the surfing was best. They went to Hawaii, California, and a few choice places along the east coast such as Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk. They took any job they could get just to be able to surf as much as possible all year round. The wetsuits were invented and perfected to expand the surf season into the winter. The wetsuits were so effective that one brand used the phrase, “It’s summer all year round when you are wearing this brand.” Back then in the early 1960’s nobody other than perhaps in Hawaii had been surfing for all their lifetimes. Not true now 60 years later. You can see the white hair folks wearing those black wetsuits. I remember one then older surfer, Lee Beiler saying, “I never surf in water colder than my age.” Funny thing is he said this me in 2006 as he was selling the Blue Parrot and I was writing up its history. Now he lives full time in Hawaii where the water is always warmer.
For me personally it is sailing that is keeping me young while get older. When I am in Gardiner’s Bay with a nice breeze, nothing hurts, my senses are keen, my soul opens up, my smile comes easy to my face. Time doesn’t stop, but somehow while sailing, I feel as good as I did filthy years ago when I ran with the football, raced around the bases, and wondered what my life would be when I grew old.