Dan Rattiner's Stories

Nor’easters: Oliver, Quinn, Dwayne and the Fisherman Who Named Them

When the first of the nor’easters hit the area on March 1, I went off to see my friend Dwayne, one of the local baymen here in East Hampton. He lives in a little house on Three Mile Harbor. You have to get past various lobster pots and buoys and an old pickup truck to get to his front door. When I rang the bell, his wife, Marina, answered and invited me in. Dwayne was sitting in the living room at a table, playing solitaire.

“Come rest yer bones,” he said without looking up. He offered me a chair. “Waddywant, Mr. Pencil Pusher?”

“Just wanted to say hello to my old friend,” I said. “Why do they call them nor’easters instead of Northeasters?”

“What’s wrong with that? They come from the Nor’east.”

“Yeah, but they call them nor’easters.”

“That’s right, bub,” he said, “nor’easters. From the Nor’east.”

“But there’s an apostrophe in it.”

“Nor’easter. Like I said. What else you want to know? You come upstreet all the way to ask about that?”

“Why did they name this one Oliver?” I asked. “Never heard of any nor’easter given a name before.”

“I have a cousin Oliver. I called the weather bureau. Told ’em what for, bub. They said okay. Oliver it is. Move that Jack over here would ya?”

“Well, thanks for the info,” I said, “you gonna check your boat at the marina?”

“Nah. It’s okay. You better scat, it’s gonna have a punch to it, this one. Want a drink?”

“Nah,” I said. And so I thanked the missus and left.

Oliver lasted from March 1 to March 3. Power was out. Roads flooded. Snow. Wind. But we got through it. Then came Quinn. It hit on March 6. So I went over there again.

His wife answered the door. But she told me he was down at his boat now, battening it down further.

“And he told me to tell you if you asked that yes, he has a cousin named Quinn. But it’s with one ‘n.’ He’s gonna call them back about that. And he’s sorry he missed you.”

“Wondered why they skipped over a name with the letter P.”

“Don’t know? He’ll be back soon, I think.”

“Nah, I got things to do,” I said.

Quinn lasted from March 6 to March 8. Again, floods and no power. High winds. Lightning. Trees down. Then came a third nor’easter on March 12. I trudged out to his house from my car, through the driving rain.

Wife answered.

“Dwayne can’t talk to you now,” she said. “He’s down in the basement, pumping water.”

“What did he name the third nor’easter?”

“He won’t let me bother him. Sorry. Better get home.”

The third nor’easter lasted from March 12 to March 14. More high winds. Snow. Hail as big as baseballs. Then came a fourth nor’easter, called Toby, on March 19. I’d heard about the name Toby on the radio in my car. So I drove over to again congratulate Dwayne. But nobody was home and the pickup was gone.

There were two notes on the door.

UPS AND POST OFFICE. WE’VE MOVED TO SAN MIGUEL, MEXICO. NO PHONE. NO STREET ADDRESSS. PLEASE RETURN ANYTHING SENT HERE TO SENDER. THANKS DWAYNE AND MARINA.

And

HOUSE FOR SALE. WATERFRONT. YOU’RE LOOKIN AT IT. AS IS. ONE MILLION SMACKERS. BROKERS WELCOME. CALL MY COUSIN TOBY AT 831-555-9121. CASH ONLY.

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