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Sixty-Something: A Crazy Hamptons Winter Weather Story

T.J. Clemente

It was only two years ago at this very same time the Hamptons was in an extended deep freeze with parts of Montauk Harbor and Three Mile Harbor frozen solid. (Photo: Nicole Barylski)

Just this last Sunday (January 12), the early January weather flirted with 70 degrees - setting new daily high records in every East End hamlet some by over 20 degrees! It was only two years ago at this very same time the Hamptons was in an extended deep freeze with parts of Montauk Harbor and Three Mile Harbor frozen solid. However, this last Sunday saw dogs fetching balls for their owners at the beach, with many beach visitors wearing summer shorts and light cotton shirts. I can testify that the seagulls loved the warm weather, because they were everywhere.

I am so happy this phenomenon of extreme weather variances does not happen in mid-summer! I don't recall it being below freezing on a Sunday in July in the Hamptons ever!

I am a firm believer of the science behind global warming; living on the ocean like I did for 4-5 years you could see the rising tides and erosion almost daily. However, my Hamptons winter memories were of very cold weather not anything like last Sunday's heat blast. In fact, I will share a funny story looking back that wasn't so funny at the time.

When you rent year-round in the Montauk Shores Condominium Park (Ditch Plains Trailer Park), you are attuned to the weather. In the summer, those metal container-like homes can get mighty warm inside and in the winter, the electric heat is marginal at best, although during the day the sun heats the place up a touch. Now I shared a trailer with my friend who was the owner and his girlfriend both then in their early twenties and cost conscious about the electric heat. However, when it was really cold, they would stay at his parent's home in East Hampton - especially if the parents were staying at their NYC apartment. So I would be under orders to keep the heat down.

One weekend I mentioned I had to go to Greenwich, Ct to visit a friend for Saturday, but would be home very early Sunday morning to cover some Montauk Pioneer writing assignment interview of a new business owner, with the story due with a 10 AM Monday morning deadline. I mentioned that to my landlord buddy that I would put the heat down to low. That's all electric heat has is Low-Medium-High. I knew the temperature was going to be in the single digits and wanted to protect the indoor plumbing.

I arrived back in Montauk before Sunday sunrise to beat the traffic and not be late for my early Sunday interview. I parked the car in front of the trailer and rushed in to use the bathroom, without even turning on the lights. Some lighting in the trailer park lit the trailer up enough to make my way to the bathroom to relieve myself after the long two hour plus drive. I had two coffees along the way on the drive. When I arrived it was very cold in the trailer, but it always was cold early in the morning. While in the bathroom, I immediately knew something was wrong, the sound was different. Then I felt the below my knees part of my pants getting warmly wet. In horror I reached to the wall switch and turned on the light and saw the damage. The toilet bowl was frozen solid as was all the water piping for the washing machine and kitchen sink. To add insult to injury was a note from my buddy scolding me for leaving the heat on while I went up Island, a note to this day he feels stupid about because of the thousands of dollars of damage that night he had to pay for due to his error of turning the heat off just because he knew I would be up Island for 10 hours.

I don't ever remember it ever being even close to 70 degrees on any of my 4-5 years of winter nights in Montauk, but I do remember that night and having to use my complimentary Gurney's V.I.P. Health Spa pass (thank-you Ingrid Lemme) to shower, shave, etc. for about a week until the plumbing was repaired.

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