OLD LYME, CT. _ The coast belongs to the rich.
Of course, we'd known this before driving from Niantic to Old Saybrook, a stretch of Connecticut coastline where Long Island Sound meets the open ocean.
But seeing is believing, and in 25 miles or so, we saw mansions galore fronting the water, with little roadside signs warning passersby against coming any closer.
"BMW in the driveway," Uncle Chet advised as we approached another cedar-shake behemoth overlooking the slate-blue sea.
"I don't even think that's the house," Alice said.
"Look at that one behind it."
"Looks like a country club,"
I peered at an elegant three-story brick edifice surrounded by six-foot-tall privets and flower gardens.
"You'd need a staff just to keep the lawn mowed," Alice said.
"I'd be happy with the garage," Hon said.
"Me, too," Buddy said. "Can we buy the garage?"
"As soon as we find a million dollars," I said.
"Way off," Uncle Chet said. "Even a little shanty like the one we're in would cost a quarter million. I'll bet that garage and an acre around it would go for 10."
"One million, 10 million; what's the difference?" I said. "Buying anything within sight of the water is out of the question."
We kept driving, on our way back to the little rental cottage we had taken at Hawks Nest Beach. Here, the remnants of the middle class return each summer to recharge their batteries in the salt air.
Since the late 19th century, the Garvin family has held this precious waterfront, building efficient three- and four-bedroom cottages on the beach and in four rows behind it. If you want to go to sleep to the rhythm of the waves and wake up to an ocean view, you may pay $3,000 a week.
But if you're willing to walk a hundred yards, carrying your beach chairs and umbrella, a party of eight can rent a cottage for about $1,800 a week.
Naturally, we walk, and in our party, everyone contributes to the kitty.
It seems to work the same way in the other households here, as generations gather at the shore _ grandparents, teenagers, parents, toddlers _ down by the water during the day and sit on large screened front porches as the sun goes down.
No one locks their door. Kids run freely from yard to yard and ride bicycles everywhere as if this were America in 1955. Neighbors do look out for each other, and no one drives faster than a crawl on expeditions for groceries and sightseeing.
Our sightseeing jaunt took just an hour and a half, but we all breathed easier as soon as we got out of the car.
"Can we go to the beach now?" Buddy asked.
"As soon as you find your bathing suit and sun hat," I said.
"Who else is coming?" Alice asked.
"Bruce and the girls are already down there," Hon said.
"I'm going," I said.
"Me, too," Uncle Chet said and disappeared into his room to change.
A few minutes later, we grabbed some beach chairs and headed to the water, ready to soak up the sun and a superb view of eastern Long Island. Sailboats, kayaks and a few motorboats dotted the Sound, braving the white caps and strong current.
Our neighbors on either side of the little roadway were pouring out of their porches, as well, carrying towels, boogie boards and rafts, getting their money's worth in this hottest year in recorded history.
"Can you imagine if the whole world looked like this?" Uncle Chet asked. "Everyone in a similar house? I mean, some houses nicer and bigger than others, but nothing, say, 100 times better than average, and no one homeless. Would that lead to world peace, universal health care and longer, more contented lives?"
"It would, but they'd call it communism," I said.
"There's a dirty word," Uncle Chet said. "A much better one would be community."
Cooperstown Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week. For more of his columns, visit www.thedailystar.com/tomgrace.
OLD LYME, CT. _ The coast belongs to the rich.
- Big Chuck D'Imperio
Gilbert Lake a jewel among N.Y. parks
New York does quite a few things right, and misses the mark on things almost as many times. But nobody does a state park quite like New York does.Continued ...
- Baseball cards: Different spokes for different folks
- It's just a short drive down my memory lane
- Sept. 11 Museum is sobering, inspiring
- Remembering the singing cowboy
- Gilbert Lake a jewel among N.Y. parks
- Cary Brunswick
'Insurgent' or 'patriot' can be hard to define
A common perception may have been that writing human history is a mere description and explanation of events. We know better now, however, that even the driest facts are colored by the language and ideology of those doing the writing.Continued ...
- Gaskin and The Farm filled a void
- We shouldn't be surprised by Iraq's turmoil
- Brunswick column on hiatus
- Two-tiered Internet is a bad idea
- 'Insurgent' or 'patriot' can be hard to define
- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
Baseball Hall of Fame evolves, but remains as relevant as ever
I am often asked how the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum continues to be successful, year-in and year-out. The answer is simple: relevance. Our methodology to remain relevant is straightforward: preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations.Continued ...
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- Like it or not, the curriculum needed reform
- Police must crack down on motorcycle noise
- SAFE Act won't help get the lead out
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- Lisa Miller
A view from above
Fire towers in the Catskill Mountains have always been destination points, built to capture some of the region’s best views. These sentinel stations served an important role for the earliest possible sightings of forest fires in the remote mountain ranges. But the fire towers and those who manned them fulfilled a multitude of other roles as well.Continued ...
- Being a parent is a constant learning process
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- A family era ends with close of Potter series
- Independent stores make up for loss of Borders
- A view from above
- Mark Simonson
Lure of local off-track betting gained little foothold
From now until Labor Day, many from across our region will take a trip to Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Some will go to take in the sights and sounds, others for the "swag" that's given away, and of course some will place their bets on a favorite racehorse.Continued ...
- Future Hall of Famer Mack visited Oneonta in 1924
- Successes, train derailment were newsmakers in July 1984
- Oneonta street boomed to prosperity in 1893
- Local landmarks, new conveniences made news in summer 1954
- Lure of local off-track betting gained little foothold
- Rick Brockway
Good old days revolved around a good old swimming hole
As I've told you many times, I grew up on the family farm outside of Laurens. During the summer, we spent many hours each day putting hay in the barn for the cows. It was hot and sweaty work, stacking the bales in the mow when temperatures were in the 90s and the humidity was about as high. But at the end of the day, we headed up the creek to a favorite spot â€" the old swimming hole.
- Sometimes hungry animals just come with the territory
- There's plenty to do at the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves
- Fireflies never cease to amaze as nature's night-lights
- Waterfalls are worth the trip
- Good old days revolved around a good old swimming hole
- Sam Pollak
Garagiola shows that nice guys can finish first
Through the long decades, I have managed to retain the ability to really, really annoy people, especially, it seems, nice people.Continued ...
- Macho, crazy America sticks to its guns
- My father is in my mirror, my dreams
- Being president doesn't look like much fun
- Some changes are just style over substance
- Garagiola shows that nice guys can finish first
- William Masters
Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues
As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.
Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner
An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.
Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity
Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.
Romney shows little regard for common man
The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.
Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists
The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.
- Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues