Dumpster Chronicles 3

The Dumpster Chronicles: A Whimsical and Irreverent Guide to Nantucket, Being Part 3


I first came to the island with a group of friends some thirty years ago. We rented an old cottage on the bluff out in Tom Nevers; it and the old Navy Base were the only buildings out there at that time. It was a perfect spot to enjoy our summers.

As we were the only folk out there, we had never thought it necessary to bother with bathing costumes; if we wanted to go for a swim, it was a short walk from our house down to the beach. One afternoon after lunch, we decided to go for a dip. It was a perfect summer day with a cloudless sky, soft breezes, and the gentle lapping of the waves along the beach; not a discarded beer can in sight. All was right with the world as we lay in the warm sunshine on the empty, endless beach. We were remarking on how lucky we all were to have this sanctuary with not another living soul in sight, at which point we noticed a movement on the bluff leading down to the beach.

After a few minutes we could clearly make out the shape of a woman and two young children slowly descending the pathway. The entourage arrived and plonked down a bewildering assortment of beach chairs, towels, picnic chests and various beach bags along with a large transistor radio playing heavy rock music. With the entire beach at their disposal, the group ensconced themselves just a few feet from our spot. I could not help but feel a sense of foreboding; these were the first people who we had ever seen out here.

The lady wearing a brightly-flowered stretch one-piece bathing costume settled the children, and then with a determined stride, heaved her considerable bulk with all the inevitability of a centurion tank in our direction. She came to a halt and, assuming a military stance, fixed us with a withering stare. In a voice that sounded like a corncrake with a throat infection, she demanded that we immediately “cover up”!

We tried to point out that we did not bring bathing costumes because there was never anyone else on this particular beach, and anyway, she had ample alternative space from which to choose another more acceptable spot, free from our offensive nudity.

We were treated to a tirade of how disgusting we were and assured that if we did not immediately remedy our nakedness she would call the police. It was all so ludicrous that we decided to simply pretend that she was not there and continued with our sun bathing. Off she wobbled with her entourage back from whence she had come. About half an hour later we saw to our amazement the lady and a police car on the bluff. It seemed that she had been as good as her word.
Our quiet relaxing afternoon was destined to be short-lived. Since we had no form of attire, we were at something of a loss as to how we should proceed. One of the girls found a pair of socks in her bag, which we used to cover our private parts. We walked up the bluff to face the lady and the local constable.

The officer assured us that the law was on her side. “I don’t know who the hell she is but she is a fanatic and if you don’t immediately go and put on some clothing I will have no choice but to arrest you all and you will spend the night in the pokey. Now do me a favor and offer a courteous apology and then get the hell out of here; I have better things to do.”

We were left reflecting that our once sacrosanct beach had been forever soiled by this uncalled for intrusion.

Nowadays one can sunbathe on almost any of the beaches wearing the briefest form of beach attire which covers very little and leaves little to the imagination.

So welcome to Nantucket. You will find that there is much to entertain the curious visitor.

To be continued . . .

Kerry Hallam was born and raised in the North of England. He was elected to the Royal Society of Artists and later established his first studio in the South of France. Kerry has lived and painted on the island for the past thirty years. He is represented internationally by Chalk and Vermilion of Greenwich, and has held extensive one man shows in the States, Japan, France and the U.K. His autobiography ‘Getting to Nantucket’ was recently published, and in the past few years, he has issued seven C.D.’s of own written and performed music. All illustrations are by Kerry Hallam. This column will appear regularly.

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