You know you’ve had a good vacation when you have already forgotten what day it is the day after you’ve left home. That’s how it was for me last week when I made a sentimental trip back to my old stomping grounds in the Midwest—skipping, I might add, only my second Chatterbox column since I took this job over 11 years ago.Since this was the kind of vacation only a weirdo like me could like, I’ll spare you all the details, other than to tell you I nicknamed it the Rust Belt Tour and spent an awful lot of time in rundown cities and small towns in my home state of Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan, all of which are struggling to survive in the post-industrial economy.
A highlight was taking the S.S. Badger, a 410-foot ferry that makes two round-trip crossings each day of Lake Michigan. It’s a coal-fired steamship that has run afoul of environmentalists because its owners have done absolutely nothing to reduce the amount of pollution it spews into the air and lake, despite repeated orders from the state.
That pollution takes the form of coal ash, and I was introduced to it soon enough, when I joined other passengers sitting in the sun on the stern of the boat. After a half hour of that, I noticed that I was literally covered with black cinders, the likes of which I had not seen since my dad took me on a railroad fan trip when I was a little boy and we rode in a big open car behind the steam locomotive. I found it ironic that a portion of the load the Badger carried that day consisted of three huge cylindrical pieces of a wind turbine. Go figure.
Oh, one other thing you learn to do when you go back to the Midwest is to slow down. It took me 10 minutes to pay for a candy bar and bottle of water at a convenience store because the two young clerks were otherwise engaged, chatting with an older woman who was discussing the subtleties of different brands of chewing tobacco. I figured I could learn a thing or two from them—not about chewing tobacco, but about patience, something I find myself desperately needing as I stare another summer on the East End in the face.
***Carey Millard, the co-chairwoman of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, has asked that I let my loyal readers know that the committee meets monthly (most of the time, that is) in the Community Room of the Bridgehampton National Bank, and that its members would love to hear from Bridgehampton residents.
The next meeting is on Monday at 7 p.m. Bob DeLuca, the director of the Group for the East End, and Councilwoman Christine Scalera, will be the guest speakers. The committee will discuss the town’s sustainability plan, “Southampton 400+.”
The Bridgehampton Historical Society will hold a reception on Friday, June 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Corwith House Museum to celebrate the opening of the second of two summer exhibits, “Next Stop, Seaside Board,” which reenacts the boardinghouse era from the innkeeper’s perspective.
Boardinghouses opened well before the railroad arrived on Long Island’s East End. When it was finally extended to Bridgehampton in 1870, the hamlet began marketing itself as a summer retreat. Join curator Julie Greene for one of her popular curator’s talks, or stop in for tea, observe the owner’s preparations for Independence Day, and see a local villager weaving a basket for beach picnickers. The museum will be open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt will hold another in its series of full moon hikes, this time for the Full Strawberry Moon, on Sunday, starting at 8:30 p.m. Participants have been asked to meet in the South Fork Natural History Museum parking lot on the Bridgehampton Turnpike. After a one-hour stroll around Vineyard Field, hikers will be serenaded by accordionist Barry Glick and treated to strawberry shortcake. Call Jean Dodds at (631) 599-2391 for more information.
The clearance sale continues at the Bridgehampton Association’s Book Bay this weekend. All books are just $1 each. The shop, which is in the old ambulance barn next to the Community House, will be open from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday and Sunday, and from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Speaking of books, the adult summer reading club starts this Saturday at the Hampton Library with a light lunch and discussion of what to read this summer, starting at 1 p.m.Also on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m., nutritionist Janet O’Grady will discuss “The Science of Staying Young” and offer tips to senior citizens to help them adopt healthier lifestyles.