Monday, October 18, 2010

Small Town Southampton

Filling in with some background information during a letter-writing hiatus from October 6 to November 9, 1949, as June recuperates at the hospital from a ruptured appendix…

Oil painting by Art of a scene in Noyack.

Although the Hamptons were already popular as a resort area in the 1930s when Art was growing up, this aspect of the community was fairly easy to ignore for many of the locals.  In most other respects, Southampton was simply another small town in America.  Rich people would come in the summer but their lives rarely intersected with those of the old-time locals.  They lived in different worlds.

Art's grade school class.

Art's drawing of his
grade school class.

In 1931, when Art was four years old, the family decided to rent out their house on Cooper Street for the summer so they could retreat to the old family grounds in Noyack, a less developed area of Southampton located along the Peconic Bay inlet on the northern shore of Long Island’s south fork.  Conditions were primitive in Noyack.  Their cottage was next to a small pond fed by a larger creek that led to Noyac Bay.  It was a world of frogs and clams.  There was a small chapel built for the little community by Mrs. Russell Sage, a wealthy relative who lived nearby in Sag Harbor.  The chapel held services on Sunday afternoon, led by the Presbyterian minister from Sag Harbor.  Art’s mother taught Sunday School, and his father played the organ, which had to be constantly pumped by the foot pedals.

For Art, summer was playtime in Noyack.  The rest of the year was dominated by the public school schedule. Art started at the school on Windmill Lane then moved to the newly built grade school on Pine Street.

Although the family’s roots were Presbyterian and Episcopal, a lively young minister attracted Art’s parents to the Southampton United Methodist Church in 1938, where they quickly became dedicated and very active members.

(On Thursday, June goes to college…)

Countdown:  Correspondence resumes in 21 days.

© 2010 Lee Price

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