Recent Stories: Columnists

Jack Graves
December 13, 2017
I remembered Tony Demmers as I tried this morning to read upside down and backward the headlines of The New York Times’s first section that Mary, as usual, was reading with avidity.

I remembered Tony Demmers as I tried this morning to read upside down and backward the headlines of The New York Times’s first section that Mary, as usual, was reading with avidity.

Even with more avidity than usual, for it’s hard for common, everyday, ordinary people these days to keep up with all the goings-on, from the horrific to the banal, which confront you in about equally mind-boggling portions.

You’ll want to know something about Tony Demmers. He was the one who put the lines of type in the galleys in the hot-type days, and he could read as fast — or faster — upside down and backward than you or I can read right-side up and forward.

Carissa Katz
December 13, 2017
First of all, I want to say thank you, Santa, and all your helpers for fanning out across the globe in these weeks leading up to Christmas to help keep the magic alive. It’s not easy being in so many places at once while also making your list and checking it twice. All those decked-out halls can get pretty noisy when the squeals of excited children are fueled by candy canes and sugar cookies. It’s enough to drive anyone to distraction.

First of all, I want to say thank you, Santa, and all your helpers for fanning out across the globe in these weeks leading up to Christmas to help keep the magic alive. It’s not easy being in so many places at once while also making your list and checking it twice. All those decked-out halls can get pretty noisy when the squeals of excited children are fueled by candy canes and sugar cookies. It’s enough to drive anyone to distraction.

David E. Rattray
December 13, 2017
Looking through a box in the Star attic the other day, I noticed a narrow, cloth-bound ledger that looked interesting. A handwritten note tucked inside the front cover identified it as the Montauk Lighthouse visitors’ log from August 1908 to September 1910. Whoever had left the note indicated that the entries included an “auto run” in 1908, complete with the makes of the cars.

Looking through a box in the Star attic the other day, I noticed a narrow, cloth-bound ledger that looked interesting. A handwritten note tucked inside the front cover identified it as the Montauk Lighthouse visitors’ log from August 1908 to September 1910. Whoever had left the note indicated that the entries included an “auto run” in 1908, complete with the makes of the cars.

Flipping through the pages, I had the vague memory that someone had asked about this log some time ago, that it had belonged to a grandparent who had left it at The Star years ago and whose family had wanted it returned. I asked around; no one could remember who that might have been.

Helen S. Rattray
December 6, 2017
For some forgotten reason, I receive “1600Daily” emails, which come from the White House and offer a spin on the news that contrasts totally with that of the information sources I more regularly rely on.

For some forgotten reason, I receive “1600Daily” emails, which come from the White House and offer a spin on the news that contrasts totally with that of the information sources I more regularly rely on.

According to Tuesday’s “1600Daily,” President Trump wants us Americans to know that we have already gotten an early Christmas present, thanks to recent Republican legislation: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed on Monday at a record high (24,290), because traders were, the bulletin said, “buoyed by news from over the weekend that Republican senators had voted to pass sweeping tax-reform legislation.”

Jack Graves
December 6, 2017
O’en, our cream-colored golden retriever who doesn’t retrieve, but who is as handsome as all get-out, has taken great strides forward.

O’en, our cream-colored golden retriever who doesn’t retrieve, but who is as handsome as all get-out, has taken great strides forward.

Frankly, we had begun not to take Matty Posnick, ARF’s trainer, all that seriously when he would say not to worry, that O’en, who had until fairly recently treated training sessions as mixers requiring him to work the room, would come around. 

Mary’s thrown her back out a couple of times in trying to restrain him. He loves everyone equally and fervently, and is as strong as an ox.

Joanne Pilgrim
December 6, 2017
It happens so fast — the dark I mean. One day it’s a bright afternoon and you’re swimming. Then suddenly how silly it seems, the sandy towel still in the car.

It happens so fast — the dark I mean. One day it’s a bright afternoon and you’re swimming. Then suddenly how silly it seems, the sandy towel still in the car. 

How the curtain has drawn around our days, leaving us snatching at the bright hours, the light already fading at midday. The bare-bones grip of early dark and cold tightening each day until solstice. 

And then — well it’s a long time until time again expands. Always I try to remember the stretching is slow, daily, and accumulates. But there’s a long fallow time, the underground seep. 

The peace of a quiet day in a snow globe of soft and continuous motion and the chittering of birds. And yet — the yearning for light. 

David E. Rattray
December 6, 2017
There was a traffic jam on Tuesday morning on Main Street. A lone heron had found a happy roost on a Christmas tree stuck in the middle of Town Pond, and several drivers had stopped for a look.

There was a traffic jam on Tuesday morning on Main Street. A lone heron had found a happy roost on a Christmas tree stuck in the middle of Town Pond, and several drivers had stopped for a look.

I knew what was up in advance because my sister had phoned while I was getting a cup of coffee and left a voice message about a great blue heron atop the tree that has blue lights and that it would make the ultimate, if cheesy, Christmas photo for the cover of The Star.

By the time I got there about a half-hour later, Main Street was at a stop. Two people had pulled over on the James Lane side as well and were on the pond’s edge taking pictures with their phones.

Helen S. Rattray
November 29, 2017
Something’s going on with me. The other day I remembered there was a working, but unused, electrical outlet under the living room couch so the first thing I did was move a table and lamp from their perfectly appropriate place next to a wing chair to the couch and plug in the lamp. It didn’t look right, so I moved them back and went looking, in the bedrooms, for a small table that would fit nicely next to the couch.

Something’s going on with me. The other day I remembered there was a working, but unused, electrical outlet under the living room couch so the first thing I did was move a table and lamp from their perfectly appropriate place next to a wing chair to the couch and plug in the lamp. It didn’t look right, so I moved them back and went looking, in the bedrooms, for a small table that would fit nicely next to the couch. 

With mission accomplished, I found myself removing the best ceramic lamp from a bedside table and placing it on the newly sited one in the living room. That, of course, required juggling things some more; the bedside needed a lamp, too.

Jack Graves
November 29, 2017
Leaf sucker, leaf sucker, What do you say? Do me a boon, visit me soon, Suck them away, suck them away.

Leaf sucker, leaf sucker,
What do you say?
Do me a boon, visit me soon,
Suck them away, suck them away.

 

Leaf sucker, leaf sucker,
Do as you did 
In the village today,
For all that we pay
You’d think we’d see more
Coming our way.

 

Leaf sucker, leaf sucker,
Don’t pass us by,
We’ve raked to the road
By our humble abode,
There they will lie,
There they will lie.

 

Bagging’s a pain, 
There’s a strain 
In my ass,
I’m middle class,
Please come up here fast,
It’s starting to rain.

 

Judy D’Mello
November 29, 2017
The only thing that breaks the predictability of Thanksgiving is watching the yearly metamorphosis of your offspring, from minor to major.

I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving for only about half of my life, as I moved to America some 25 years ago. But already I’ve decided that, like Christmas, Thanksgiving is nothing more than a set of repeats: Its uniqueness is its groundhog nature. Same food, same faces, same tablecloth, same fancy china.

The only thing that breaks the predictability is that if you happen to be a parent, which I am, you get to watch with each passing year the metamorphosis of your offspring, from minor to major. 

David E. Rattray
November 29, 2017
Fall turned, twisted, and curled on the stem and lingered in the air much longer than usual.

The leaves are for the most part down from the trees in East Hampton. They were late in falling, it seems, though I was not watching the calendar all that closely. 

But I think fall turned, twisted, and curled on the stem and lingered in the air much longer than usual. No fall storms to speak of came through to tear them away. The mild temperature that lingered until it was at least Halloween held off the trees’ torpor.

The last of the leaves from the trees above the Star parking lot fell as if dumped from a truck over the weekend. The black cherry that in summer drops its fruit onto the cars released its yellow cargo all at once.

Helen S. Rattray
November 22, 2017
The first time I visited the house I live in now, the shelf at the bay window in the dining room was filled with great, big flowering Christmas cactuses on a painted, dark-green copper tray. They brought color into an otherwise dark wintertime room and, taken as an entirely natural holiday decoration, they were perfectly suited to my taste. Their brilliant red flowers and deep green foliage were enough to perk up any cold afternoon.

The first time I visited the house I live in now, the shelf at the bay window in the dining room was filled with great, big flowering Christmas cactuses on a painted, dark-green copper tray. They brought color into an otherwise dark wintertime room and, taken as an entirely natural holiday decoration, they were perfectly suited to my taste. Their brilliant red flowers and deep green foliage were enough to perk up any cold afternoon.

Jack Graves
November 22, 2017
But what to say? Ah, it’s Thanksgiving, time to give thanks for Kitty’s torte, which I swear will be the death of me. The ingredients are not arcane, store-bought devil’s food cake mix, a box of Nilla wafers, two bags of walnuts, light brown sugar, butter, plenty of that, and whipped cream, yielding a crunchiness, creami­ness, sweetness, and softness that taken all together are nonpareil.

Well, I’ve stared at Montaigne long enough. It’s time to begin. 

But what to say? Ah, it’s Thanksgiving, time to give thanks for Kitty’s torte, which I swear will be the death of me. The ingredients are not arcane, store-bought devil’s food cake mix, a box of Nilla wafers, two bags of walnuts, light brown sugar, butter, plenty of that, and whipped cream, yielding a crunchiness, creami­ness, sweetness, and softness that taken all together are nonpareil.

David E. Rattray
November 22, 2017
Approaching Indian Wells, I stopped my truck on the beach to look at a flock of small sparrow-like birds. It was about a week ago. I figured I would take a few last casts of the season into the ocean. Big bluefish and a few striped bass remained around, or so I had heard.

Approaching Indian Wells, I stopped my truck on the beach to look at a flock of small sparrow-like birds. It was about a week ago. I figured I would take a few last casts of the season into the ocean. Big bluefish and a few striped bass remained around, or so I had heard.

Small birds are not my thing. To me, all the sparrows and warblers look pretty much alike. Not that I wouldn’t want to be able to tell the varieties apart, it’s just that I didn’t learn about them as a kid and that there are too many of them that move too fast to truly get to know at this busy point in my life. Seabirds, gulls, raptors, these I take a stab at identifying.

Helen S. Rattray
November 16, 2017
In my mind’s eye, Thanksgiving Day looks — as it probably does for many Americans of a certain age — like a famous Norman Rockwell painting, “Freedom From Want,” that appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post during World War II.

In my mind’s eye, Thanksgiving Day looks — as it probably does for many Americans of a certain age — like a famous Norman Rockwell painting, “Freedom From Want,” that appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post during World War II. My father was a Post subscriber and a fan of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose inaugural speech in 1941 invoked four necessary freedoms: freedom from want, along with freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear. Rockwell painted all four, which he turned into consecutive Post covers in 1943.

Jack Graves
November 16, 2017
It would be about now that the football season would be winding up, assuming we had a football team.

It would be about now that the football season would be winding up, assuming we had a football team. 

David E. Rattray
November 16, 2017
Sunday was one of those days, you know, the kind that get people saying that’s why we live here.

Sunday was one of those days, you know, the kind that get people saying that’s why we live here.

It had started in an ordinary enough way. My friend Hammer and I had decided to go oystering. Hammer had even bought a new bottle of quality vinegar and shallots for mignonette in anticipation of watching the hapless Giants later accompanied by a dozen or so on the half-shell.

Helen S. Rattray
November 9, 2017
The time has come for us to get a dog. I’ve had many over the years, and a rescue dog is now in order. The problem is the difference between our perceptions of what would be a perfect pet and the perceptions of the highly meticulous staff at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons as they size us up.

The time has come for us to get a dog. I’ve had many over the years, and a rescue dog is now in order. The problem is the difference between our perceptions of what would be a perfect pet and the perceptions of the highly meticulous staff at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons as they size us up.

To be sure, some would call us elderly and might therefore be suspicious of our ability to care for a dog. I bristle, of course, when I hear myself described that way and point out that elderly is a changeable concept. 

Jack Graves
November 9, 2017
Recently, I listened for eight of 11 waking hours, sitting in on a Killer Bee reunion on a Friday night and, the following morning, attending an equally long Hall of Fame induction ceremony at East Hampton High School.

Recently, I listened for eight of 11 waking hours, sitting in on a Killer Bee reunion on a Friday night and, the following morning, attending an equally long Hall of Fame induction ceremony at East Hampton High School. 

It was, I thought, a new world record for me. I’ve had a long love affair with my own voice, beginning in grade school when I first began to wave my hands wildly whenever questions were posed — at least in English, history, religion, and foreign language classes. “Teacher, teacher!”

Perhaps that is why I became a journalist, sensing I needed to balance out a proclivity to proselytize and to blurt out answers with some attentiveness to others.

David E. Rattray
November 9, 2017
I only realized later what had happened. On my way to drop Ellis off at second grade, I decided to stop quickly to vote. Election District 12, where I was registered, never has all that much of a line, so I figured we would be in and out of the Amagansett Firehouse quickly.

I only realized later what had happened. On my way to drop Ellis off at second grade, I decided to stop quickly to vote. Election District 12, where I was registered, never has all that much of a line, so I figured we would be in and out of the Amagansett Firehouse quickly.

At the E.D. 12 table, however, I was told that my name did not appear on the roll. I could fill out an affidavit ballot instead, if I wanted. My immediate thought was that the Russians were messing around in United States election databases and had penetrated the Suffolk County Board of Elections. I mentioned this to one of the poll watchers. “Maybe so,” he said.

Helen S. Rattray
November 2, 2017
Anyone who reads this column will have an idea of where I stand politically, but they haven’t heard much, if anything, from me about religion. My first husband and I used to say we had the same religion, by which we meant none. Our notion was that my Jewishness and his Protestantism were entirely secular. (It will remain for our children to say whether they missed a religious upbringing.)

Anyone who reads this column will have an idea of where I stand politically, but they haven’t heard much, if anything, from me about religion. My first husband and I used to say we had the same religion, by which we meant none. Our notion was that my Jewishness and his Protestantism were entirely secular. (It will remain for our children to say whether they missed a religious upbringing.)

Jack Graves
November 2, 2017
I just know that this so-called tax reform plan, if what’s been intimated comes to be, will gore my ox, and probably will gore the oxen of numerous other members of the middle class here, this being a high-tax state where middle classers itemize.

I just know that this so-called tax reform plan, if what’s been intimated comes to be, will gore my ox, and probably will gore the oxen of numerous other members of the middle class here, this being a high-tax state where middle classers itemize. 

Doubling the marital deduction won’t do it. Retaining the mortgage interest deduction while erasing real property tax and state income tax deductions won’t do it. In other words, when all is said and done, we, the middle people, at least in these parts, will be saddled with a tax increase, not a tax cut, as is continually being promised.

David E. Rattray
November 2, 2017
Paul Manafort has a nice pool. I should know, I swam in it once at a children’s birthday party. The water was fine.

Paul Manafort has a nice pool. I should know, I swam in it once at a children’s birthday party. The water was fine.

I met Mr. Manafort, too. It was at a small St. Patrick’s Day gathering at a house in Northwest. Things were pretty well underway, the corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes already arrayed on the sideboard, when Mr. Manafort and his wife drove up in a fancy car. 

He did not say much, if I recall, but I was struck by the cut of his dark suit, his grumpy demeanor, and his thick head of hair as he sat in a corner of the room. I probably shook his hand; I don’t recall much other interaction. Uncle Paul, if that was what they called him, spoke mostly with family members that day.

Helen S. Rattray
October 26, 2017
Thirty-eight members of the Cory family, if you count spouses who may or may not use that surname, arrived at a Pennsylvania resort at different times from different places in the country for a reunion last weekend — and what an event it was.

Thirty-eight members of the Cory family, if you count spouses who may or may not use that surname, arrived at a Pennsylvania resort at different times from different places in the country for a reunion last weekend — and what an event it was.

Here’s how we got to 38. Five siblings in the oldest generation came with five spouses. They accounted for nine kids, now adults or young adults as the case may be, and they came with seven spouses and brought 12 children, if you count one who attended on Facetime and another in utero.