Dan Rattiner's Stories

High Officials: Clintons, Bidens and Chris Christie in the Hamptons

For the past few weeks, we were graced with the presence of a Vice President, an apparently wannabe President and her husband, the former President, and an overweight governor hoping to be President. It caused problems.

Vice President Biden was in Southampton at a house facing out onto Lake Agawam. He arrived just as the community was scheduled to re-create a long time ago ferry service that took beach-goers from Monument Square on the north side of Agawam Lake to Gin Lane on the south side, just a short walk to the ocean.

That earlier ferry service ran from the mid-1800s to 1897 when a freed slave, Pyrrhus Concer, ran it as a business from these locations. Concer was born a slave in 1814, worked on a Southampton farm for many years, then was freed when the State of New York made slavery illegal in 1827. It is not clear to me whether he poled a raft across the lake, sailed or rowed a boat across, but either way, he’d charge a few cents and he made his living at it until he died.

We were honoring him by re-creating this service beginning August 20. Except now, when the Secret Service attending Mr. Biden indicated that they would frown on any ferry crossing the lake in front of a deck chair on a lawn into which the Vice President might sit, the launching of the new ferry service was postponed. It was begun several days later after the Vice President left town.

Meanwhile, Bill and Hillary Clinton rented a house in East Hampton for the last three weeks of August. The location of this house will not be revealed by this magazine, but that did not stop a paparazzo from setting up shop on a lawn that he came to believe, because of Secret Servicemen lurking about, was his pay dirt location. According to the village police blotter, the Secret Service had him arrested for lurking about. It has not been revealed who this photographer was, nor whether his camera or film was confiscated, or whether as he was being dragged away he tried to take a selfie with the house in the background, but that is that.

Meanwhile, last Saturday, Hillary signed copies of her new book at the BookHampton Bookstore on Main Street in East Hampton, which was a good thing because everybody wants to save BookHampton, but it’s also a bad thing because Main Street during the signing was all a-snarl with cars, Secret Service, paparazzi, tourists, rubbernecking motorists, traffic police and various others who felt strongly one way or another about Hillary Clinton and wished to make their opinions known.

The incident with the former slave’s ferry brings to mind another incident when Hillary and Bill Clinton, back in 1998, were the guests of Steven Spielberg on Georgica Pond. Once again, Secret Service agents were everywhere.

Georgica Pond, since the English settlers first landed in 1648, has been “let” twice a year by the East Hampton Town Trustees. I’ll explain. Georgica Pond has no outlet. Every six months the water in the pond gets too high. Its banks are just 100 yards from the Atlantic Ocean at one end, and if left by itself, it overflows its banks and inundates the land surrounding it making it swampy. To keep the land dry (for farming then, for living upon now), the Trustees required that able-bodied men in the town go down there twice a year and with shovels dig a trench to “let” the pond out into the ocean. That would make it good for another six months.

The Clintons came here just two months after the pond was “let.” But two days after they arrived, the pond was suddenly let at night—not just down a bit so as not to overflow as would be normal, but all the way down until it was just mud, dead fish and flies. And nobody ever confessed to having done it.

Thus did the Clintons look out onto a safe environment much as did Vice President Biden just this past week in Southampton.

And then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another Presidential wannabe, showed up for a party at Ron Perelman’s home in East Hampton. He boogied the night away. But nothing bad happened because of that.

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