I’ve probably forgotten more about my past then I remember at this point. That’s one of the best things about having a partner who is younger and has a memory like a steel trap. The more CJ learns about my history the better the chance is that I will actually remember it going forward. To my recollection I had been to Montauk either once or twice in my youth. My Mom confirmed it was only once and that I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. The most significant memory I had of that trip was that my Dad took me out on the beach by the Point during a terrible storm (much to my Mom’s chagrin I’m sure). That storm was the tail end of something tropical that blew up the East Coast. I think there is a picture somewhere of me in a hooded windbreaker with my Mom’s giant sunglasses on my face. If I find it at a later date I will post it as a follow up to this blog and maybe it will even be date coded. For now I rely on a little research and the process of elimination.
There is this great web site operated by Unisys that keeps archives of all Atlantic tropical storms dating back to 1851. After reviewing the storms from 1971 to 1974 there was only one that occurred in late July or early August that brushed Long Island so by the process of elimination I figured that I was introduced to to being on the beach during a crazy storm in 1973 during the tail end of Tropical Storm Alfa on or about Wednesday August 1st. That would fit perfectly because in pictures I look to be about 9 years old and since it was a Wednesday it would jive with us leaving Montauk to head back to Pelham for a day before starting our two day journey via car back to Michigan arriving on there Sunday. Ah the power of the internet and information.
Since that time I have often retold the story of how my Dad took me out to Montauk Point during a hurricane. My memories are probably slightly exaggerated but nonetheless it instilled in me a love for the power of Mother nature and I get so excited during storms especially if I am near the water or the beach. In a twist of fate Mother nature blew up a tornado warning this past week while we were in Montauk and I sat out on my cousin’s deck watching the driving rains and the powerful winds. It was awesome and maybe heaven sent!
So if I was in Montauk in the summer of 1973 I was a mere 9 years old and I have foggy memories of a place my cousins told me were the Soundview Cottages. They look nothing like they did 39 years ago. Erosion and development have changed the feel but nonethelss when we drove past there last Friday there was a flicker of familiarity. The mounds of sand looked about the same. The place called Gosman’s Dock is still there. In fact it’s been there since 1943 and the tartar sauce that my cousin used for the fried fluke for dinner or for her tuna salad for lunch the other day was just as good now as it was way back then!
The most I could remember about the Soundview cottages was that they were yellow, had screen doors, dark brown paneling and that I slept on a bed low to or actually on the floor. Photos I saw this week confirmed most of those recollections. I don’t remember much else but if I had to speculate I’d say there’s a safe bet we got scolded for making too much noise late at night. After all my Grandma Do and Grandpa were there and as much as I might love the memories of them I also remember that after 8:00 p.m. children were to be seen and not heard.
Somewhere though I also remember laughter and joy and sun and water. My cousin Hal who I spent countless hours with in the summers of my youth had an amazing collection of old photos that he had scanned in on his hard drive. While we were scanning through them one morning I noticed this photo of me my Mom and my Dad playing in the surf. I’d say that it captures a moment in time that words can’t describe so I won’t even try. I’ll just leave you with the evidence of late July 1973. The entire trip to Montauk this year would have been worth it just to re-visit this moment…