The Mast-Head: The Spoils of Work

The Star pack rats

I am not sure if I can speak for even a small subset of newspaper people, but those of us who work at the Star office like to surround ourselves with things we pick up or have used in our work.

Chris Walsh, a reporter who covers East Hampton Village and the town trustees, has, among other things, a Leaning Tower of Pisa by his desk constructed of every issue of the paper since he started working here.

Files and official documents figure heavily in my co-workers’ stashes. Taylor Vecsey has in her possession a copy of the original Sag Harbor Bulova factory apartment conversion plans, for example. Taylor also occupies the late Rusty Drumm’s desk, one corner of which is covered in interesting-colored stones and ones shaped like hearts that he had picked up on many beach walks. Next to them you can see a short length of logwood, neatly chewed to tapers on both ends by a beaver.

Carissa Katz, our managing editor, has a large set of the late Richard Hendrickson’s typed monthly weather summaries, dating back at least a decade. This, of course, represents only a small fraction of his eight-plus decades of watching the skies. She also has a Wilkinson Team magnetic snack-bag clip, and she recently gave away a rare anti-Bill Gardiner for town board bumper sticker from 2003.

Over on Baylis Greene’s desk you can find one of Michael Galileo’s Real Time Earth Clocks in need of a battery. T.E. McMorrow, our cops and zoning reporter, proudly displays a genuine Town of East Hampton Building Department stop-work order. 

Jack Graves has kept nearly every one of his retired cameras, which are a lot considering that he started working here in 1968 or so. Among Helen Rattray’s items is a truly lovely gear out of the old Star press, from when we printed each edition in the back shop. She also has the original bill of sale of this newspaper, and all its appurtenances, for $100 from Geo. H. Burling to Edward S. Boughton in 1890.

I am perhaps the worst of the Star pack rats. My office is crowded with animal skulls, shells, old bottles, wooden fishing lures, and, cradled in an Old Seaman ashtray, two pieces of a chrome door handle I picked up at the site where the comedian Jerry Seinfeld flipped one of his sports cars onto its side at Skimhampton Road. Durell Godfrey, one of our photographers and an illustrator, featured a drawing of my workspace in her new adult coloring book, “Color Me Cluttered.” You’d think I’d take the hint, right?

Anyway, the hands-down winner for honors of the single greatest piece of memorabilia at The Star goes to Joanne Pilgrim for a piece of East Hampton Airport Runway 4-22 pavement, which she uses as a paperweight. After writing about the airport and all its controversies for too many years to count, at least she has this to show for it.