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Sixty-Something: Living On The East End Made Everything Come Up Roses

T.J. Clemente

Make sure to take the time to stop and smell the roses often. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

There is a saying: "stop and smell the roses." It's supposed to mean to take pause and appreciate what positive stuff is going on in your life. All sixty-something folks understand what this means all too well. Hopefully at this moment of our lives and at this moment in time, everything has come up roses; meaning with all the complicated things going down both locally and worldwide, things have worked out just fine.

Most people out on the East End are not from here originally. There still are members of the founding families sprinkled about, but for the most part, most folks on the East End came from somewhere else.

My story is almost unbelievable. Living in Manhattan, I did a friend a favor by driving to Hamptons Bay to pick up a refund check for a sailboat she was going to purchase, but ultimately decided not to. While waiting on the seller's front lawn for him to fetch the deposit check, I made a snap decision to buy the sailboat myself. That one second decision changed my life.

In a series of not planned in advance moves, I ended up working and living on the East End. After the sailboat was cleaned and made seaworthy, I went out into Gardiner's Bay for the first time. It was then that I finally stopped to smell the roses. It's funny how many other folks have a similar epiphany moment that landed them permanently on the East End. In almost every interview I have done over the years, the interviewee always says they remember the moment when they decided to live out east.

For me, it was the beauty as seen from Gardiner's Bay that first summer. Everything was new, I had never sailed before, never even had the desire to ever own a boat. Now, 17 years later, I can truly say that decision changed my life so much for the better.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, many people are buying homes in the Hamptons. The sales numbers are establishing new real estate records. Many people are making the decision to invest in all that the Hamptons has to offer. I will admit it is not hard to fall in love with the lifestyle and state of mind the East End fosters up. The fresh farmstand produce, along with the fresh caught fish - both so readily available, are just two examples of what the East End has to offer. The many beaches, bays, and beautiful country roads are factors. Historical figure of the 1800's Henry Hedges wrote how the British, while occupying East Hampton, didn't want to leave after the American Revolution ended. In fact, they stayed for almost three full years - until they were summoned by the Crown to go fight in India. I remember reading a letter from the period where a British officer writing his memoirs or a letter home called the Hamptons: "most agreeable and joyful with a dynamic natural beauty." I just remember chuckling when I read that because I understood what he meant more than 220 years ago.

While smelling the roses, I came across one I couldn't resist. She was standing there talking to Judy McDowell's 92-year-old mother. I remember telling some folks at Liar's Saloon in Montauk some years that if I ever have the desire to get married again to toss me into the harbor to make me come to my senses. But after living in the Town of East Hampton for sever years, I met someone who instantly changed all that. Events now have me living with her as my wife up island. However, from late May to early November, I still spend four to five days a week sailing in Gardiner's Bay. A local once pointed out the wild roses growing in the Springs Dog Park. I stopped to smell the roses. There is no doubt in my mind living out east gave me the right state to mind to have everything come up roses.

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