Why is it that when a group of guys of a certain age get together over drinks, odds are the conversation will turn stupid? So it was earlier this week. One Negroni in, and we were talking about dumb teenage exploits we had participated in and ones we had been too chicken to try for ourselves but knew other people who did.
My teen years here in the 1970s, in retrospect, seems a halcyon time. It was in some respects. Even though we complained about the summer people, we looked forward to their arrival, especially since it boosted the pool of members of the opposite sex of about our age. Not that we had much of a clue what to do about it.
Summer days before we were old enough to have jobs were spent at Indian Wells, whole knots of us kids sprawled up near the snow fence to the right of the parking lot. It was our zone, far away from the parents who preferred to be closer to the cool air near the water. There might be a backgammon game going on, but mostly it was chatter; I haven’t the faintest recollection of what we might have talked so endlessly about.
This was long before people “armed” their houses before going out. There were few answering machines, and only one property in the village with an always-closed gate on its driveway. This made us highly suspicious, and we referred to it as the “Mafia House” and considered it a significant point of local geography. I suspect that no one attempted one local off-season pastime there.
Bored, as kids got once the weather turned and the summer folks went away, some would sneak into summer houses to drink the liquor, sometimes spending a night. The Star police reports might tell of a resident returning around Thanksgiving to discover that someone had made brownies from a box of mix and left the dirty pan in the sink.
Petty crime that it was, I think it also was a way teenagers tried to mark their space, kind of the way dogs lift their legs on certain trees as if to say, “I was here.” But that may be my reading too much into it.
Kids were not alone in this, however. Late in October 1975, a police officer and radio dispatcher left their posts and stole a box of frozen shrimp from an unlocked seafood store in Amagansett. They then went to the firehouse to cook them, then returned to police headquarters to share the feast with the rest of the night squad. We kids could never have had the guts to pull off anything like that.