The Mast-Head: Goodbye, Cam

Cam Jewett was 102 when she died of pneumonia on Jan. 27 at Southampton Hospital — and what a fine, long life she had

    Main Street in East Hampton will never be the same for many of us now that Cam Jewett is gone. Mrs. Jewett was 102 when she died of pneumonia on Jan. 27 at Southampton Hospital — and what a fine, long life she had.

    I first got to know Cam, as she was known by just about everyone, when I was just a child. My grandmother would take me over to Cam and Edward Jewett’s house to play backgammon. The house, where she lived right to the end, is just to the south of the Maidstone Inn, overlooking Town Pond.

    To me, a boy of perhaps 10, the Jewetts seemed impossibly aged, which is funny to think of now, as they were then only in their 60s. Then again, I do not recall Cam’s appearing to age from then to the last time I saw her, perhaps at the front gate of the Ladies Village Improvement Society Fair last summer.

    After my grandmother’s death, and during the years I was away at college and working in New York City, I certainly did not see Cam much. But once I returned to East Hampton, and to the Star office in particular, we had frequent chances to chat.

    One thing that I could entirely depend on was that if and when a car ended up in Town Pond, and I walked down for a look, Cam would be there, usually with her camera. She told me she believed that she had a photograph of every single vehicle that had plunged into the drink there since she and her husband first lived in the house. Cam said she had a box of the photos somewhere and that one day she was going to dig it out for me to take a look at. For years afterward, she would recall this when I ran into her here or there and again promise to find it.

    If there is a secret to longevity, thinking about Cam suggests that a sunny disposition must be at the heart of it. She was unfailingly upbeat, ready with a smile, and a pleasure to talk with. As I have with many older people here, I had made a mental note to stop by and maybe have a cup of tea with her. I also intended to remind her about those photos.

    I’m sorry I did not get to say goodbye, but the decades of hellos that Cam and I shared were lovely enough.