Trip East – Remembrances

Of course, at the top of my list is time spent with friends and family reminiscing about the past, what’s going on now, and just hanging out together.

Next on my list, I would have to say is eating a lobster roll. Not just any lobster roll. It has to be a genuine New England-style version. The type where the meat is unadulterated by mayo or butter. Betty, who is my Mom, knows this and keeps her ears open. She had heard of a new place to try, a fishing shack right on the water in Guilford, Connecticut. The lobsters were caught a few hours ago, boiled to the right consistency (not too mushy or too tough) and shucked immediately from the shell.

New England-style Lobster Roll: It was so fresh, yummy and pure.

Growing up in Connecticut and near Long Island Sound means that when I visit I welcome any chance to be near, smell or touch salt water. So, Mom drove me to a favorite spot – the Stony Creek ferry landing which is the starting point for trips to the Thimble Islands (see photo below). They’re a series of roughly 100 really small, granite rock islands which, in the last century, were popular yet complicated places to build summer homes. They were summer-only family escapes when I was a kid, but many have been winterized for year-round use.

Stony Creek Harbor in Connecticut. You can see one of the older Thimble Island homes is in the distance. (photo: New York Times | George Ruhe)

I also visited with my longtime friends, Melinda Stein and Tom Tobin, who live in Rye, New York which is another Long Island Sound community. Aren’t I lucky? Water again! Melinda and I had lunch at a neighboring town’s waterside café on Steamboat Road. We could see the ferry below which I took every summer to Island Beach, a two-mile ride from the town’s shore.

Island Beach ferry | Greenwich Harbor, CT.

Melinda and I also had the chance to visit the Bruce Museum and see “White on White: Churches of Rural New England,” an exhibition of large format, black-and-white photos of New England churches. I have many pleasant childhood memories of the old town greens I’ve seen with their pristine white wooden houses of worship.

Old First Church in Old Bennington, VT. as seen in the exhibition
“White on White: Churches of Rural New England” | Photographs by Steve Rosenthal
Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT.

Melinda and Tom are sailing enthusiasts and had planned a treat they knew I would like, and invited my brother Pete to join the merriment. We had drinks and dinner at a beautiful spot, the American Yacht Club, overlooking the Sound. You’re getting the theme that my friends and family are consistently feeding my love of nature and water found back East.

Drinks on the patio at the American Yacht Club | Rye, NY

Lightnings – 19 feet craft | Class of sailboats we raced as kids on Long Island Sound from the Milford Yacht Club and Camp Avalon on Cape Cod (Chatham, MA.)

But, not all my time was spent on the water. I also enjoy revisiting New Haven and looking at the buildings that made a big impact on me as a kid. At the time, I didn’t realize the architecture was so iconic and significant, but I did know that I was mesmerized by how it looked and felt. I felt great inside architect Eero Saarinen’s Ingalls Rink where Dad taught me and my three siblings how to skate. Because it seemed – it really did –that you were inside the belly of a whale. Hence, it was nicknamed by others as the “Yale Whale.”  See what I mean in the photo below:

“Yale Whale” (opened 1958) with its spine rising from an imagined sea| Architect: Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) | Photo: Tory Burnside Clapp

“Yale Whale” – Sketch from Yale University Library archives which has cataloged and preserved its extensive collection of drawings, photographs, and other materials by Eero Saarinen

Then, there is another building that meant (and still means) a lot to me.  It’s the Louis Kahn-designed Yale University Art Gallery which was the architect’s first major commission. He shook things up in New Haven. He forever changed the look of Yale which until Kahn had only honored the traditional Neo-Gothic and Georgian architectural styles. When I was in grade school, this is where I took my first art appreciation classes.  The outside and inside construction was like nothing else I had ever experienced; and I liked it, plus the art and teachers.

Yale University Art Museum (1953) | Architect: Louis Kahn (1901 – 1974)

Part of the purpose of my trip East was to celebrate the 4th of July with my brother, Pete. We watched the town of Nyack’s fireworks. Across the Hudson River on the opposite bank, we saw other small towns light their firecrackers, the timing slightly staggered in their launch to keep the light show going longer.

Fireworks over the Hudson River | Nyack, NY

It also seemed fitting for my July 4th Independence Day trip to visit the 9/11 Memorial. Pete and I did this together on my last day in New York City.

Site of World Trade Center: Aerial view of the 9/11 Memorial.
South and North Pools were built over the footprint of the two fallen towers. (Artist rendering by Squared Design Lab) 

Note to my Dallas friends: Peter Walker, who is the landscape architect for the Nasher Sculpture Center, designed the 9/11 Memorial landscape. You’ll sense the similarities in the grid layout.

A thirty foot waterfall drops from beneath the black railing where the people, in the photograph above, gather to read the names of those who are commemorated.

The 9/11 Memorial is inclusive, honoring all 2,982 who died in terrorist bombings at the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, those who were on the planes hitting the North and South Towers, Pentagon and Pennsylvania field, and the First Responders working in the line of duty or volunteering. An online guide maps and locates all the names inscribed in the black granite railing. See close-up below.

Photo: Getty Images

Here’s an important tip for all of you who plan on seeing the 9/11 Memorial. Get your tickets online for a specific day and time (30 minute intervals) because you will otherwise stand in a long line with no guarantee of gaining access that day. Tickets are free. Here is the link:

The day after I got home, I returned to one of my favorite Dallas radio shows. KERA’s Think with Kris Boyd. She interviewed Dave Isay who was promoting his new book,  All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. Dave founded StoryCrops as a way to record and document as many Americans “at their best” life stories as possible. The focus is on the positives of love, courtship, commitments and the importance of others in one’s life. People are invited to talk about how they found love and meaningful connections. The underlying message is that we all matter to someone. (Here’s a link to the uplifting podcast.)

The message completed the circle of this trip East where I was able to eat and laugh and be with those who mean the world to me.

Until next week, enjoy.