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Sixty-Something: Loved Living In The Ditch Plains Trailer Park

T.J. Clemente

Author in front of the trailer he lived in for 4 years. (Courtesy Photo)

Some of the best days I ever had living in the Hamptons happened while I was living in "The Montauk Shores Condominiums," or as it's affectionately called the "Ditch Plains trailer park." It was here that I experienced some of the purest Hamptons moments one can ever have.

In 2004 I was writing for both Dan's Paper's and the Montauk Pioneer, as well as delivering Dan's Paper's to Southampton, Sag Harbor and Shelter Island. All of this had come about from one conversation with David Rattiner in front of the Golden Pear in East Hampton. Dave was the Editor-in-Chief at the Pioneer, so eventually we were working together daily. When he purchased a Ditch Plains trailer, he offered to rent me a room for the summer, which I declined but then took it full-time in the fall.

Living in Montauk in the off-season took some adjusting. After 9 o'clock you couldn't buy aspirin or anything for that matter. Yet in no time I had many friends who I was able to spend time playing bocce, singing karaoke, or kicking back and going out for a beer to all the off-season places. I celebrated birthdays and holidays many times as the guest of Gurney's thanks to Paul Monte and Ingrid Lemme. Once again, I want to thank them publicly for their kindness, hospitality and friendship.

Amazingly in the winter those Montauk years there was karaoke five nights a week at places like Gurney's, Liar's Saloon, O'Murphy's, Lenny's Clam Bar and The Sail Inn. We had a karaoke posse and would hang out together and sing along with each other which was quite fun.

In the summertime I was always sailing when I wasn't delivering or writing. Many of the bartenders, waitresses, workers from the store's/shops, along with fellow writers would sail with me. But I always ended up back at the trailer in Ditch Plains. The trailer had a master bedroom, one small bathroom, my tiny bedroom and the kitchen/living room. There was no air conditioning and minimal heat. However all I remember now is laughing and just having great nights talking with David about what we did that day and what we were going to do tomorrow.

Also living with me in the trailer was my beagle, Bo. Walking this wonderful dog in the mornings and evenings along the ocean was pure magic. I saw whales, I saw seals, along with lots of striped bass. Then there were the always amazing birds including osprey, piping plover, seagulls, and once a colorful male pheasant. Sometimes in the off-season deer would just show up at the beach in the early mornings and early evenings.

Every clear night I would not go to bed until I saw at least one shooting star over the ocean. Seeing the stars at night over the ocean in Montauk is phenomenal. You can actually see galaxies in the Milky Way without a telescope.

The trailer had a deck and, on the deck, we had a $50 charcoal grill that gave us $1 million worth of fun barbecues with all our friends. When you live in Montauk or East Hampton you take the fresh ocean air for granted. But the memory of those beautiful summer breezes off the ocean during those barbecues along with the crazy music from our iPods still brings a big smile to my face.

Living 452 steps from a premier Atlantic Ocean surfing beach has its pluses and minuses. In season on weekends it could get crazy busy. However after Labor Day is great!

Eventually David decided to sell the trailer and I remember telling the next buyers that the last four years living in the trailer were of the best of my life. The very last month that I lived in Montauk I met the woman (Cindi) who is now my wife. When I first met her, I told her I lived in a rented room in a trailer. I didn't tell her it was the famous Montauk Ditch Plains trailer park, I just told her I lived in a trailer. Usually when I would say this, I would scare women off, however Cindi is now my wife and we live happily in our own home. Living in the Montauk Shores Condominiums was such a positive experience for me I had to share.

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