Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
- Community Blog
- Shelter Island
No Shelter At’all
I see Point Loma as an interesting amalgamation of rich people looking to raise their children in a small neighborhood with other rich children, the boating industry, including the prestigious America’s Cup fleet boatyard and training facility and the various workers, mostly Portuguese, working on the fishing boats and in the boatyards. There’s a subdivision of the lower class here, the boaters, who worked the odd job, took advantage of the cheap moorings and got drunk. My father belonged to this last category.
He had brought our small family of three to the commercial basin because mooring rent was only thirty-five dollars a month and there was a free hose on the dock. Soon the free hose would be removed because of the rise of property value making the small potatoes residents of the moorings an eye soar to developers eager to pull the welcome mat from under their feet. There were other hoses in the area where boaters could, for a fee, fill up their jerry cans, but my father took this as one more sign of hostility from a cruel world that had never wanted him. His full-blooded Finnish complexion turned slightly redder than usual since his petition to keep the hose had been ignored by the port authority.
But I didn’t care about that, when I was a kid the best thing about being a boater was my swing. Converted from a Bosons’ chair the swing hung from the spreaders at least thirty feet high and possessed a full range of motion. Grasping the rope, I jumped up and glided my legs through the seat holes. With a strong kick back I was air born and the boat began swinging imperceptibly back and forth like a pendulum. Gaining momentum I was soon yards over the water, laughing in the face of the Fiddler’s Green restaurant glaring down at me from its expensive perch overlooking the bay, unintentionally glimpsing my home.
I don’t live on a boat anymore, but once a boater always a boater. Cruising back through old Shelter Island I can’t help but notice that the port has given itself a face lift. Its like running into someone you haven’t seen in awhile and being a little freaked out by their frozen foreheads and fish lips. I missed Crazy Larry and his hearty welcome from under the hose where he took showers for at least fifteen years. Reminiscing all the way to the very end of Shelter Island I consider the bell given to us by Japan as a token of friendship. It reminds me of the wealthy ladies and their pulled back faces and their old lady hands. The first time the City tried to ring it it cracked right through. It stands in a pagoda surrounded by water, inaccessible because they removed a few of the cement steps, like a monument to the cracked unreachable hand the Island offered to its least affluent members.