As crazy as it seems, there is now a statue of me, that stands 11 feet tall, showing me riding a lobster along the side of the road where the Sunrise Highway ends and County Road 39 begins. It was put up by a group called Friends of Dan, and they did so, they say, in honor of the fact that I have been writing this newspaper for 57 years. You will see it as you drive by heading east.
What I have noticed since this statue was put up is that there are no statues of any other individuals in the Hamptons. There are monuments and war memorials and the tall Stargazer sculpture, in Manorville, welcoming you to the East End. And there are two statues of people. But both are representative of groups.
Out by the Montauk Lighthouse, there is a statue commemorating the fishermen lost at sea. He wears rubber waders and is hauling an anchor line into a small boat. And in Sag Harbor, there is a statue, on the corner where Madison Street meets Main Street, of a Civil War soldier holding a rifle. He represents all the local sons and daughters who went off to fight for freedom over the years. However, as I have recently learned, there are many castings of this exact statue sprinkled on Main Streets around the country. Those in northern towns have the letters “US” on their coat buttons. Those in the south have “CS” on their coat buttons. Otherwise they are identical.
Whether or not you think there should be a statue of me in the Hamptons, consider that they have me doing the sort of thing I usually do. Riding my lobster and carrying a little sign reading WELCOME TO DAN’S COUNTRY.
Statues of real people are on display in many other communities in America. Go to Block Island. There’s one on a roundabout in the center of Block Island. Or go to Manhattan. Statues are everywhere. Here, given that we have such a vivid history, there ought to be many statues of people, particularly those who made their mark, not only on the local scene, but also on the national stage.
Here are my recommendations.
Teddy Roosevelt. He and his Rough Riders spent a month in Montauk on maneuvers after the Spanish American War. Put a statue of him in front of Third House out at the ranch where military headquarters were when he and the rest of the army were here.
Carl Fisher. A wealthy developer, Fisher bought all of Montauk in 1925 and built a town where none had been before. He built a surf club, a skyscraper, the Montauk Manor, the golf course, the Yacht Club, a racetrack and a downtown with stores ready for occupancy. There’s a statue honoring him at the entrance of the Indianapolis Speedway, which he founded. And I suspect there is one in Miami Beach, which he also founded. In Montauk, put Carl Fisher in the center of the grassy plaza in the center of town. He created that, too.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Put a statue of her, as a young girl, on her horse jumping over a fence on the triangle bordered by Egypt Lane, Middle Lane and Little Egypt Lane. She grew up here.
Lion Gardiner. He was the first English settler in the State of New York, arriving in East Hampton in 1639. He deserves a statue on Gardiner’s Island by the manor house.
Jackson Pollock. Put a statue of him action painting on the back lawn of his home, now the Pollock-Krasner House, in Springs.
John Steinbeck. He lived in Sag Harbor for more than a decade, and during this time wrote The Winter of Our Discontent, which helped him win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Put his statue in the soon-to-be-built John Steinbeck Park.
John Drew. Put a statue of this famous Shakespearean actor on the front lawn of the John Drew Theater in East Hampton.
Ivan Kratz. This Queens native built the Hamptons Subway in 1927 with building materials he had left over from his construction of the Lexington Avenue Subway line in Manhattan. He had purchased double what he needed for the Lexington line and tried to hide that fact from the authorities underground, since he’d had the authorities pay for them. He died in prison in 1947. The system was discovered in 2004 and Hamptons Subway opened in 2006. The statue should be placed on the platform at the East Hampton stop.
Betty Friedan. The woman who was most responsible for the rise of the women’s movement in America lived on Glover Street in Sag Harbor. Put the statue of her in front of her old house there.
Queequeg. A statue of the mythical South Seas harpooner in Herman Melville’s classic book Moby-Dick should be at the end of Long Wharf, in Sag Harbor, facing the sea and poised to throw a harpoon at a whale.
Dan Gurney. A statue of this famous auto-racing driver should be erected in the parking lot of the Bridge Golf Club in Bridgehampton, at the site of the finish line of the old Bridgehampton Racing Circuit. Gurney won the Can-Am there twice during the 1960s.
Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs. This is the American war hero who led the successful raid against the British encampment on Long Wharf in 1777, taking prisoners and burning the camp and its warehouses. Put him at the foot of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor in the middle of the street there where this encampment was.
Walt Whitman. Place a statue of this man, who in his youth taught school in Southold, at the site of the former school.
Albert Einstein. Einstein spent the summer of 1939 at Nassau Point. While here he wrote a famous letter to President Roosevelt urging him to go ahead with research aimed at creating an atomic bomb to shorten World War II. Place his statue on Nassau Point at the site of his home.
William Vanderbilt. He brought golf to the United States. A prominent Southampton summer resident, his statue belongs on the front steps of the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club clubhouse.
The Pelletreau family. Place a statue of the Pelletreau family in front of their silversmith shop, the oldest continuously owned shop in the Western Hemisphere (1686 to the present), on Main Street Southampton.
Pyrrhus Concer. A slave, later freed, for many years thereafter ran a ferryboat taxi in the summertime, taking bathers across Lake Agawam in the late 19th century. Put the statue on the lawn of the house he lived in on Pond Lane by Agawam Park, Southampton.
Thomas Edison. Place a statue of Edison in Quogue where he built an iron-ore separating factory that failed. He did a lot of things that failed in the late 19th century, though other things succeeded. Place a slogan on his statue’s base. It should say “Never Give Up.”
P.T. Barnum. Barnum, the great circus and show entrepreneur, was a frequent summer visitor to Westhampton Beach, staying at the Howell House. Place a statue of him on the front lawn of the Howell House.
Place a statue of a Shinnecock Indian to represent all the Shinnecocks who died aboard the Circassian shipwreck in Mecox in the 19th century. Erect it at one of the entrances to the Shinnecock Indian Reservation.
Wait. Now I’m told there is a statue of a person in the Hamptons. A statue of Winston Churchill is on the estate now owned by Christie Brinkley in Bridgehampton. No one knows why it is there. Churchill never visited the Hamptons.