There were flowers, balloons, hugs, and a wind-up jumping plastic frog Friday at Bucket’s. Friday was the day when Everett Griffiths’s 33 years of running the place came to an end and the still youthful-looking deli man and his wife, Angela, got ready to take life a little easier.
At lunchtime friends hung around the door to Everett’s tiny kitchen waiting to wish him and Angela well. It was from here that he had served up thousands of egg sandwiches, made the salads, and provided a willing ear to those who had something to say.
The jumping frog, according to the regular customer who brought it in, was intended to remind Everett that he was no longer going to be doing the back flips for others, that it was going to be someone else’s job to wait on him for a change. Hearing this, Everett and Angela erupted with laughter and wiped the mingled tears of sadness and amusement from the corners of their eyes.
I had gone in to get one last sandwich and offer my thanks to the Griffithses and their staff. It is impossible to get close to an estimate of how many lunches I got there over the years, but considering that I went several times a week while in high school, missed about a decade due to college, work in New York City, and other things, but got back on track in 1998, it is safe to say the total is in the thousands. In the last decade alone, as I calculated today, I probably had 1,400 Bucket’s sandwiches, which, with a bottle of seltzer and perhaps some pretzels, cost me about $10,000 in all.
Philip Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who lives in East Hampton, extolled Bucket’s in a poem we printed in these pages last week. Mr. Schultz wrote, “When Augie, our 12-year-old, told me about the sign / on the door he looked away, maybe from the idea itself — / he already knows things change and sometimes disappear.” In a place like East Hampton, change is not all that often for the good, which is one reason Bucket’s ending is so bittersweet. There are fewer family-run businesses here every year. Losing one, especially this one, reminds us of what helped define our sense of place.
I’ll miss the food, I’ll miss the laughter, and I’ll miss Everett, Angela, and all of those who made me my lunch over all the years.