THE SLED...STORIES ABOUT LOCAL LIFE IN THE HAMPTONS--PART 1
Here is a "slice" of life in The Hamptons---Many locals are around and yet not really accessible to others. So, my stories about Fred, a local farmers son, may give one a sense about this beautiful part of the country. This is the 1st in a series about life here. Complicated lives make us all a little more distant with our neighbors; our engagement with them can be a cursory "Hello, how are you?" and then move on. But then there are times when there is more--this is one of those times:
I had an experience today that made me feel like I got an answer to a question I have been asking of late: "What can I do that will make me feel less anxious, less fearful of life in general?" I have been feeling at a loss recently as to what to do with the concerns that I have now.
I came very close to death without realizing what was happening; now I am making changes in my life that really matter.
I have put off a lot of things until now. One of those things is writing. I love to write and so that is what I am doing--telling stories of the way life really is here in the Hamptons.
I need to start somewhere, and this is the place.
I moved out of a house in November of last year that was filled with mold and free-floating asbestos. I have been in the process of healing---I still don't know if I am going to be OK.
This was a life altering experience and my head is filled with thoughts about how close I came to never find out about the problems in the house. I was just getting sicker and sicker...kind of like the frog in the pot of water; slowly the heat was being turned up and I was boiling to death, without knowing it!!
I had reached the point of constant back pain, internal digestive issues, breathing problems, thyroid failure and because certain mold breaks the blood/brain barrier I was having major panic attacks...It was literally killing me slowly. The sickness is all encompassing and since it is considered a mycotoxin, mold can be deadly if not removed professionally--no playing around with it because it is microscopic and cannot be seen.
I made the move to this new house a few months ago and the relief I feel is palpable--my health issues have all but disappeared. I feel like a new person!
When the following happened the other morning, it was like an "AHA!"
I have a friend whom I will call Fred--He is about my age and he never ceased to amaze me with his new ideas and his perseverance in life. Fred was the one who told me I needed to "Get the Hell out of there!" when I had a test done and toxic mold and free-floating asbestos was found. If he had not been so forceful in his insistence on my leaving that house I may not have had the courage to do so--I was in a very bad way!
Fred has been a dear friend for many years--I watched as he moved from his farm in Sagaponack to a little house here in Southampton Village some years ago. It was a sad time for Fred, but he went through it all without saying anything to anyone. I had no idea what he was dealing with--Fred was an extremely private person and not many people knew his story.
Word was that his family lost their farm after some 300 years of working it--an outstanding landmark in Sagaponack, this farm was completely decimated by an out of town developer--There had been an old agreement made between a man from Manhattan, a tenant on the farm in one of the many cottages on the huge farm. The agreement was made between Fred's father and the tenant--a Gentleman's agreement that turned into a nightmare as time went on. This man became a developer in his later years and he forced the sale of the ocean front part of the farm and proceeded to split it into 12 huge private estates with brand new modern houses. This left the front acreage without access to the primary home and farm buildings. Fred never told me until many years later about the law suits, the relentless pressure for his father to live up to an agreement that was thoughtlessly made many years earlier with a young man who was a tenant on his property. There had been no lawyers involved in the initial agreement--an agreement to the right of first refusal of the strip of ocean front land in the event the farm, or a portion was ever to be sold.
It was an epic story of deceit and ruination the way it ended. I did not hear the whole story until just recently. Fred never talked about his early life--it was almost as if it never happened.
Fred has had a few set-backs and he always manages to pull himself up by his boot straps and get going again without too much of a complaint--In fact his set-backs always seem to propel him into new ideas about how to make others’ lives a little easier.
Today when he came by to see if I needed help with getting my firewood inside, so I can use my fireplace in this terrible weather, I was really surprised! Fred has just been in the hospital for a very serious treatment for some form of cancer. Here he was, in my yard heading over to pick up the snow-covered wood for me...
"Happy New Year Fred!" I yelled from my back door as he trudged through the snow drifts in my back yard. Happy New Year to you!" He yelled back over the growling of the wind. "I figured you might need some wood brought in..."
"Yes, Thanks" I yelled back, and he trudged ahead to the fence row where the huge pile of wood has been made even higher with all the snow. He was pulling some contraption behind him that appeared to be a big square box of some sort--about 3 feet high and it had skids on it too so that it moved smoothly through the heavy snow.
I watched him as his bent figure cleared the snow away with his hands and as he pulled out log after log, dusted it off before he carefully laid each one in his make-shift sled. I could see that he had a saw in his hand and sure enough, he started to saw one of the bigger logs in half to fit it in the sled.
It took him about 30 minutes to get the right amount of wood in the sled and to head back toward the house. When he got close enough I could see he had a bandage on his one hand and his face was very drawn and thin now since I last saw him. It just snowed yesterday, and we got 16" here in Southampton plus a very low 4-degree temperature this morning. The Hamptons is not accustomed to this!!
"I think this is so nice of you to do this--on a day like today and after you just got out of the hospital!!" He stopped right at the steps and said "Well, you know I feel better when I can do something that is needed. Not too much right now that anyone needs me for!"
"So that is why he is here!" I thought, "what a kind man to be thinking of what he can do to help others while he is so sick".
"Well, no one can tell me what to do to make myself get better, so I figured it out myself: I just need to find a way to fill a need---someone else’s need!"
I thanked him for his kind help and brought some of the wood inside the back door to dry off---I watched him as he unloaded more of the wood--"Please take some of the logs for yourself, Fred" I knew he had a stove that he could burn wood in. " I see you made your own sled! Must be nice to be so handy!" He looked at me and said in a very low voice "Thank you so much--that will help out a lot! I know the weather is not going to warm up for a while, so this will be helpful!" then he stopped and looked down at the sled.
"You know, my Dad showed me how to make a sled when I was just a kid. It's really easy as long as you have old cabinets with drawers---That's all I did--I took the biggest drawer in the old cabinet in my garage...put skids on it---used some wide electrical tape, the silver kind and I just stuck that to those skids, added a rope pull and there ya have it!--a good sled to carry a heavy load in deep snow!"
He smiled then, a big broad smile and then he said "You know what? I haven't felt so good in a long while... Really surprising how just doing something for someone that no one else can do helps to heal your mind and your body...."
I watched him as he walked away in the deep snow, proudly pulling that makeshift sled and feeling like a million bucks doing it!
I am going to do that--I want to find something that I can do that no one else can do for others--and then I will do that, just to feel that feeling that Fred talked about!
That is what brought me to my writing, and this is where the story begins.
**ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY. The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995; Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York
Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005
Click here to see my Hampton's website to see all my listings; please email me or call me for all your real estate needs in Southampton, Bridgehampton and Watermill: http://www.elliman.com/paulahathaway
MY REAL ESTATE SHOWS: