Our house has been full of kids this summer, or at least it feels full when, say, three grandchildren are around.
“Three?” a friend asked with what sounded almost like a snicker. “All 11 grandchildren were here,” she said. “We’ve got a big house, but you have no idea what shopping for food, which we did every day, was like.”
The image pleased me. I don’t envy the mayhem that having so many kids under one roof, not to mention their parents and caretakers, has to cause, but it seems only right that the big houses hereabouts, and the wherewithal that makes them tick, should be shared by families.
Of course, there is the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. When teardowns were a relatively new phenomenon here, I sometimes defended the McMansions that replaced them as similar to, if less lovely than, the Shingle Style summer “cottages” that define the Summer Colony (with capital letters) area of East Hampton Village — Ocean Road, Lee Avenue, Lily Pond Lane, and some of the connecting streets. (The Star even had a column of social notes headlined that way.)
The real problem I have had with the new oversized houses is sociological: They were likely to be owned by couples much too young to have large families to fill up all those rooms, let alone grandchildren. I imagine those early 20th-century summer people arriving with big trunks, filling up their houses not only with family but a hierarchy of staff, and staying put for the season. Today’s summer people may not always be resident and too many of their big houses are occupied only occasionally.
One night this week, every possible bed in our house was full and every bedroom, except one, had more than one person sleeping in it. One of my son’s two children had arrived for the rest of the summer. My daughter and son-in-law and their two children were here from Nova Scotia for half of August, with one of the Amagansett cousins adding to the mix a lot of the time. Having everyone’s company is making this summer a real one for me. And Labor Day will come all too soon.