After 24 years, and more than 1,200 Up Seatuck Creek columns, it is time for me to step aside and hand the baton to someone else. This will be my final column in The Southampton Press—May 1, 2014.For 24 years I’ve kept a “column file” on my desk where, during the week, I would post notes to myself, press releases, posters, emails and other information I received so I would have the information at my fingertips when I sat down on Sunday afternoon to write the column. No matter where I found myself on a Sunday, I would write and file an article. Greetings from Jefferson! Greetings from Florida! Greetings from the Maine coast! Greetings from Williamstown! Greetings from New Hampshire!
On Saturday afternoon I sat down and reread some of the 1,200 columns and realized that yes, they were about Eastport, but they were also about my life, things that were on my mind, important events in the world, lessons learned, emotions felt, the passage of time, life in general. They covered births, deaths, anniversaries, milestones, grand openings and closings. They covered school, church, bake sales and fundraisers. They reached from kindergarten through high school graduation and beyond. They covered Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They followed the change of seasons and the changes in the world.
I have a few favorites (well, more than a few). The boy from Eastport who got a kidney transplant from a stranger in Colorado. The one about the barbershop in Patchogue where I took the boys for haircuts when they were little. The story of the blind boy in the bakery at Christmas. The funny column about cats in general, but mostly about our cat, Boomer. The first day of kindergarten. The loss of my friend John and my friend’s friend Matt. My final trip to our family homestead in Jefferson before my dad sold the house and the column about my dad, my hero, that I dedicated to him on his 85th birthday. College hunting. The 100th anniversary of the Eastport Fire Department. The first anniversary of the death of my sister. When my sons went off to college. The time I sang “The Messiah” for the first time. Feeding the homeless in New York City. Camp Quinipet. The Secret Mud Trail at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
Over the years I have run into people at the grocery store or bank or library who read Up Seatuck Creek every week even though they don’t live in Eastport. You guys know who you are.
Thank you to Dottie D., Laure and Mark, Mrs. Halsey, Gayle, Linni and all of the others who always made it a point to stop and say, “I really liked last week’s column.” I have a note from one friend who wrote to me on August 7, 2008. I kept it. It said: “Only Laurie Pitcher could get me all choked up by reading a newspaper column about a family attending a baseball game. Brilliant job!” Thank you all.
Thanks to the editors for putting up with my never-ending sentence fragments and for not cutting certain things I really wanted people to read. In exchange, I never missed a deadline in 24 years.
One of the recurring themes in my columns had to do with letting out the kite string of life little by little in order to experience all life has to offer. With each twist of the ball of twine there is a sadness that goes with the joy. I am ready to cut this particular kite string now and see where I can soar to next. Look for me!