A common question from telephoners seeking accommodations in the Hamptons is “Where can I find an oceanfront resort?” For those who aren’t familiar with the area (or whose idea of the Hamptons is influenced by the TV show Royal Pains), it seems logical that somewhere considered so glamorous should have restaurants, hotels and condos lining the ocean, Miami-style. I spend a lot of time giving such callers a history lesson of how the South Fork was developed, beyond its farming origins (which date back to the mid 1600s). The area now known as the Hamptons grew as a retreat for the Manhattan’s wealthy, and as such, we now have “summer cottages” (read: mansions) lining the beach…not condos, and not hotels.
Of course, the presence of the wealthy means there is a large service class that serves them. (Chris, of course, has literal experience in this realm, as it was his butler profession that brought us to the Hamptons in the first place.) I tell guests that they can spend many a pleasant hour walking or cycling down the streets in the estate district, and the only people they are likely to see are the landscapers that maintain Hedgeville. But in the presence of so much, it sometimes comes as a shock to know that there are those who have very little out here, too. And I was reminded of this forcibly the other day.
A few times during my morning walks (from A Butler’s Manor through the estate district down to the beach), I have seen an older man on a small Motocross-type bicycle who pulls a wheeled plastic trash can behind him. Yesterday, after dropping guests at Cooper’s Beach, I finally saw why: He stops at all the trash cans that stand at the resident-permit beach entrances and sorts through the trash, pulling out recyclable bottles and cans. Seeing him wordlessly sifting through the detritus of someone else’s languid day at the beach, with the profile of a large shingled estate in the background, really brought it home that, visible or not, more than the wealthy call the Hamptons home.
Quote of the Day: Happiness is not having what you want. It is wanting what you have. — Rabbi Hyman Schachtel
P.S. If you watch Royal Pains, that big castle in the opening credits? It’s Oheka Castle…in Huntington, Long Island (about one hour west of us). NOT in the Hamptons. Don’t believe everything you see on TV!