Uncle Curtis Remembers:

Despite the depression, a hurricane, and a small stirring of the coming civil rights movement, Bridgehampton was an idyllic playground for several of us preteen boys.

During the summers, traffic was light and the influx of a small group of summer residents along with the annual flow of the farm help from the South had little effect on the daily activities of our preteen group.

Our parents were busy keeping economically afloat and had little time to be bothered by a bunch of loud, restless boys. It was perfect! We rode our bicycles each day either to the ocean or Peconic Bay. Sometimes a pickup softball game with a great deal of shouting kept our interest. It was not until I moved on to other pursuits and left the area that I realized how fortunate we all were to be so free of adult supervision.

The community had built a town tennis court and at times an adult did show up to give us all a tennis lesson. This was the same individual who bewildered us all later one summer by trying to get the state government to establish a day care center for the children of those farm workers who crawled on their knees all day picking potatoes.
Their children hung around all day amusing themselves however they could. The day care center would be for their benefit.
Some farmers supported the idea of a day camp and others did not. There were some heated arguments which had little or no effect on our daily activities.

One of our favorite places was Kellis Pond. We would often go there to construct forts and even a tree house in the woods that bordered one side of the pond. A beach was located at the East end of the pond. Here we would lie around telling tall tales and frequently going in for a swim.

The most recent war America had participated in was World War I. Hence, that was the one we discussed. We knew it as the Great War. There were two men living in Bridgehampton and whenever our pack encountered one or the other we pestered them with all sorts of questions. Our favorite one had been a fighter pilot and we hung on every word as he answered some of our questions.

The other veteran had been in the trenches and so he said, had been gassed. His sense of reality was a bit different then ours. We were a bit shy around him and did not stay too long with him. He went into New York right after Pearl Harbor to join the army. He came home very upset. The army had turned him down. He said it was because of his teeth and out would come his false teeth which to him were fine and it was the army's loss.

We never gave thoughts to the every day struggle of the farm workers. When a group of farm workers picking potatoes decided to stop working after the farmer lowered their pay from three cents a bushel to two and one half cents a bushel we, as well as everyone else, were flabbergasted. Farm workers just didn't strike nor did they ever worry about how much they made - did they?

However, the farmer decided it was in his best interest to pay the three cents per bushel and the workers went back to work. Later on when the black minister decided to run for a position on the Bridgehampton School Board the whole town just could not understand what this minister could be thinking.

Things soon settled down and we, again, moved around on our bicycles enjoying the warm summer days. One day coming home we were met by our parents who had worried expressions. Two boys from school had come down with polio. This was a scary time for everybody.

The end of summer meant going back to school. I went to the two-room
Hayground School. There were two teachers for seven grades, later to become eight grades. There were approximately twenty-five students in the school. One September day we noticed the rain was becoming very heavy and the winds were blowing very strong. There was no phone at the school nor any means of transportation but the Hurricane of '38 had arrived.

After several hours I spied my father out in the main road. He had walked to school to get me and he waved down two cars and these cars became our rides home.

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