The Sheltered Islander: Change Is Coming

Change is coming

“…think it’s time we stopped, hey, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down…”   —Buffalo Springfield, circa 1968

The Island is changing, actually, it’s always changing just like every other hamlet on the East End, you only notice it as you age.  I recall when the Island had an abundance of year round rentals because no one wanted to live in such an isolated place and deal with the winter ferry rides—as they pushed through high tides and ice flows, they could be scarier than any rattling jerry-rigged traveling carnival ride. Now, the cheapest rentals start at $1,000 a month and pop up to $5,000 a month and more for June, July and August. It forces many Islanders to be marooned off-Island during the summers and jostle and beg for the few rentals in winter. Nothing is as certain as change and nothing can ever be how it was when we were younger and couldn’t appreciate what we had. Such is the nature of societies everywhere I suppose.

Funding for Varsity Cross Country running had to be cut from the school budget this year. I felt sad to learn that. I have fond memories of watching the boys running and training all over the Island in those cute shiny shorts. When I was in school in the 70’s, the coach, whose name escapes me, had the boys run on the beach in the soft sand all the time. What a workout for the legs!  And I bet many of us remember getting gas at Picozzi’s and being served by guys with big ankle weights on their legs. We saw them all over town with those big thick cuffs around their ankles to build up those muscles. It must have paid off—the Island did well in Cross Country then.

This week, I read in The Shelter Island Reporter how domestic violence is way up, too high for such a small population. What’s happening here? Are we going forward in technology and backward in civility? Something to ponder.

Yet, would we go back in time if we could? Often people say yes, but regardless of the additional challenges of today, I say no. There are too many things we didn’t have in the 70’s.

No personal computers, no cellphones.  No SPF in anything—we slathered baby oil on ourselves and then laid on the beach with the transistor radio (the highest tech at the time) tuned to 77WABC where Cousin Brucie would play the hits and announce his “tanning time schedule,” letting us girls know when 15 minutes had gone by and tell us all to turn over. He did that for his whole four-hour show and was responsible for some of the best tans on the Island. We brought gallons of Sun-In to the beach to spray on our hair and create lovely blonde streaks that later in the fall turned orange and broke off.  We lived on Tab and Fresca, all cans had pull tabs and we made chains from them. Pull tabs were all over on the ground, anywhere you went.

Tampons were brand new and uncomfortable. But worst of all, since the womens’ movement was in its infancy, there were no women doctors yet. Every male doctor we ever saw insisted that menstrual cramps were in our heads. Cramps did not exist. Millions of American women were imagining them. Like a group hysteria. Millions of women spent two days a month bent in half with pain, all for attention—right. It wasn’t until women started to become doctors that cramps became the formal diagnosis of dysmenorrhea, and finally in the 80’s, Motrin, originally for arthritis, was developed and saved us all from calling in sick two days a month.

It’s good to remember what wasn’t so good when reminiscing, keeps things in balance. It’s nice that Dan’s Papers is still with us, back then and now. It’s kinda like when we had Johnny Carson. Up or down, thin or flush, we always had Johnny to watch at 11:30. I guess we’ll have to clone Dan to keep the paper going. But I’m not sure how we’re gonna clone the hat…

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