Connections: Still Here

The Revolutionary-era farmhouse was built by Capt. Jonathan Barnes of Amagansett

The word “community” came to life under sunny skies on Sunday afternoon at the East Hampton Historical Farm Museum, where a large party of locals gathered around outdoor tables for a turkey dinner that included everything you could ask for: scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, baked beans, and an eight-foot-long table groaning under a score of home-baked pies. The meal cost $10 (or the donation of one of the aforementioned pies) per person.

This week’s “Mast-Head” column, below, is about the same event, from a different perspective, but I wanted to focus on the historical objects that are now part of the museum — and on Prudence Carabine, the person who gathered them and who gathered all of us together.

Ms. Carabine’s credentials as an East Hampton political and civic activist are unbeatable. On Sunday, she served as what might be called the master of ceremonies, wearing a cowboy hat that had once belonged to Fanny Gardiner as she plunged into the audience with a cordless microphone to gather stories about the late Bonackers the annual event was dedicated to this year.

The farm museum, if you don’t know it, sits at the intersection of Cedar and North Main Streets, opposite the Emergency Services Building. The barn there is full of 19th-century tools and wagons, even an antique tractor. Much of the equipment came from a now-gone Tillinghast family barn (a few pieces even came from our barn behind the Star office, which we cleared out before it was carted away for restoration by the East Hampton Historical Society). A flower garden at the back of the spread is maintained in memory of the late Matthew Lester, who died as a young man after planning the garden as part of an effort to save endangered honeybees.

The Revolutionary-era farmhouse was built by Capt. Jonathan Barnes of Amagansett and sold to Selah Lester, who moved it to the site. At the time the parcel was acquired by East Hampton Town, it had been used as a private residence. With Ms. Carabine leading the charge, the committee that set about restoring the interiors of the house decided to set it up to reflect the early 1900s, and so it features a double porcelain kitchen sink and wood cookstove. The furnishings are true to the period and can almost tell a story of their own. Ms. Carabine explained that the committee chose to focus on the early 1900s because the period was the “stepping off point” for the new century but “still had enough flavor of the Civil War — and the 1800s.” It is a charming place, evoking a simplicity that many of us yearn for in these days when we feel overburdened with possessions, with simply too much stuff.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the turkey dinner transported us back to another, more kindly century, but it was a heartwarming few hours to be there among friends and old families, those who remember when everyone in town knew one another, and — though it isn’t easy to keep a foothold here as the cost of living skyrockets and skyrockets again — are holding fast and staying put.