Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Saturday, May 6, 2017

buffaloes and pirates

 When I was small I spent my summer afternoons in the sand. Almost every afternoon after Mom got her housework done we went to the beach. The beach, for us, was almost always Sammy's beach. That is what we called it but turns out that isn't the correct name at all. No, it should have been " Sammis  " beach named after an early owner of the property. Sammis or Sammys' whichever you choose to call it was just about a mile or so from my home. Just a quick drive down the Springy Banks road and a few turns on roads I no longer recall. Oh, I'm certain I could drive there to this day, barring drastic changes that may have occurred since my last visit some ten years or so ago. When it is your hometown I think a lot of us never know the name of the roads anyway. Directions were usually given by landmarks or started with, you know where Damarks is, well that's too far, that sort of thing. Funny how looking back it doesn't seem like that many summers. I'm guessing that really only took place for about a five or six year span in the mid-sixties.
 Sammis beach is on Gardiners bay on the eastern tip on Long Island. The beach is nice but a little rocky near the waterline. It isn't the smooth sand found on the Ocean beaches it is a coarser grit. At the high tide mark there ran a strip of seaweed lying dried up in the sun. I can smell that seaweed to this day. Further back on the beach was a small rise going up to the road. It was just enough of a dune for small kids to play in. I would lie inside the folds of the dune and stare at the water imagining pirate ships off the coast. You know there was a day when you could have seen a real pirate ship, the famous Captain Kidd himself at the helm, right there off Sammis beach. That would have been in 1699. It is a well known story. Kidd did bury treasure on Gardiners Island, it was recovered and sent back to the Queen in England, well most of it was anyway. Mr. David Gardiner attended St. Lukes church as did I. He took the members of the junior choir, I was a member of that, to his island for a day trip. I believe I went twice. Having toured the island and hearing the stories just fueled my imagination. But I'm getting off course here.
 A lot of the other kids went to Main beach, that's on the Atlantic Ocean. I was never one much for swimming or playing around in the ocean. That surf was no place to play in my estimation. That is why they had lifeguards posted on that beach you know, it's dangerous. We didn't need lifeguards at Sammis. Main beach would be crowded anyway and I don't like crowds. Mom didn't want to deal with all that stuff either. She would pack us a lunch, bring along a thermos of something cold to drink and we were all set. We kids had our inner tubes and beach towels. Mom had one of those little wooden beach chairs, you know the kind, with a striped canvas seat and back. It was all plenty enough to tote down to the beach. We met the same bunch of folks down there every day. Looking back it was a very nice time in life, so simple and yet so rich. I can only recall a single instance of my father coming to the beach at Sammis with us. We built a fire and cooked. Guess they would call it a clambake in the movies but we didn't call it that, it was just cooking on the beach. I remember gathering the rocks, the driftwood and the seaweed. Yes, we had clams that we steamed and corn on the cob. Hot dogs were roasted. Well I guess it was a clambake after all.
 Hard to realize that was about 52 years ago. A half a century has passed and yet it seems like only a little while ago. It was where I grew up. On an Island surrounded by water, the bay on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other. The tales of pirates were very real to me, the history was there before me. I had walked upon Gardiners Island myself in the footsteps of Captain Kidd ! My own Grandmother worked on that island for a short time, although it was long after Kidd had been there. I knew that story well. Did you know there were once buffalo on Gardiners island ? Yes, Mr. Tommy Gardiner was trying to breed buffalo with beef cattle way back then and so kept a herd. Those buffalo were also kept down to Northwest woods and I played in the buffalo wallow myself. Would go ice skating on a small in that very spot. All that was long ago now but not to me. I still see them all, buffaloes and pirates.