Today’s column marks 100 pieces that I have done for the Reporter. Since Eye on the Ball has hit the century mark, I was trying to think of something different for this edition. Going over the columns, I found myself just thinking about what we’ve done in four years of columns.
This is how it all started: Peter Boody, the editor of the Reporter at that time, called and said they needed something more for the sports section. He asked if I would be willing to write something about the people of the Island and the role of sports in their lives. I had just retired as the golf professional at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club after 50 years of service. Since I have a strong love for writing, it was a no brainer.
I sit back in amazement at how many people we’ve found on the Island that have a sports history in their backgrounds. Meeting these folks and talking about the fascinating things that have happened in their lives was pure joy for me. I don’t know if you would call me curious or nosy but I do know that it’s a lot of fun for a retired guy.
It’s easy to see that I have no formal background in the art of writing. What I have done is listen to the people who have had both training and success in writing. I call it my win-win-win job because I can make my subject happy by giving them positive publicity, make the readers enjoy reading about their friends and, of course, make me happy, which is definitely the third win.
When I pass people on the street and they say they read and enjoy my column, it fills me with pride to have created enjoyment. Be aware how much this writer enjoys hearing your compliments or even your criticisms, as long as you are trying to make things better.
So, I would like to convey to my friends and readers on the Island that I am aware of just how lucky we are to live in a place like this. My wife, Anne, and I came here 54 years ago with every intention of this being just a stepping stone to bigger and better things that would come later. It didn’t take us long before we realized that this stepping stone might be the last step.
In those 54 years, the Island has changed quite a bit, but not nearly as much as other towns on the East End. Somehow we have managed to maintain our small town charm. I wonder if people realize that we can travel all we want and still never see a traffic light or a fast food restaurant anywhere on the Island.
We still live in a community where people know how to say words like “hello,” “please,” “excuse me,” “can I help you,” “have a nice day,” “how are you” and just plain “thank you.”
Sure you occasionally run into the abnormal situation when this is not true. I am willing to take a bet that those characters with the bad manners do not own a home on Shelter Island.
My personal analysis of why people are usually so happy and friendly is that they say, “Once I take the ferry, I seem to leave all my problems and worries on the mainland.” Unfortunately, heading back west on a busy Sunday night, they pick them up again and that doesn’t help their mood.
They find out that once you take that ferry to the Island, we have it all. Shelter Island will keep you busy with all its activities, entertainment and sports. With over 25 restaurants between the ferries, the quality doesn’t take a back seat to any eateries on the East End. For the summer months the beaches and water sports are as good as any place.
During June and July our Shelter Island Bucks play in a collegiate baseball league with home games three to four evenings a week. It just so happens at this writing, our guys are in first place. For sports we have two golf courses, Gardiner’s Bay and the Shelter Island Country Club, boating, tennis, kayaking, the FIT Center, Pilates, canoeing, running, yoga, mini-golf, paddle boarding, cricket, sailing, bowling and fishing along with beautiful Camp Quinipet and Mashomack Preserve.
Being surrounded by water allows many of us who are lucky enough to have waterfront or waterview homes to enjoy just lounging or reading a good book.
We have places to go food shopping, stores, the pharmacy, gas stations and many coffee shops to meet new people and get a taste of the local color. We have our own newspaper along with an excellent school system that provides small classes from K through 12. The school has just about all the sports that boys and girls are enjoying at any age.
It is obvious that spring, summer and fall are beautiful and everything is open, but most folks like to travel south during the cold winter months. Not us, we even love the winters when just about everything is closed, it’s freezing outside and the Island is quiet.
I guess my point for my 100th column is that I couldn’t be happier in retirement. I don’t hold any jealousy for anyone else’s life because I am living in the greatest place with my many friends and people who also enjoy the same things.
As I write this paragraph, I have just watched the best year of fireworks that I can remember. Way to go Shelter Island!
In two weeks we start on our second 100 columns.