2009-10-01 / Letters to the Editor

Traditions, old and new

I have been coming to Jamestown every summer since I was four months old, and that was 41 years ago. Almost every summer was idyllic, as I came to stay at our old family house at the end of Narragansett Avenue.

Two summers I lived in the house, one while in college (and I worked at the brand-new Marriott in Newport, open for the first time that summer), and one the summer after college, when I relaxed a little and worked at Cumbies and watched the new playground being built.

When I was growing up, we would go the half-block down to what we always have just called West Ferry – my grandparents were of the generation that took the ferry, and my grandfather lived in the house with his mother as a boy, during the war. It is still foreign to me to call it Dutch Harbor. We would go down and swim at the little beach, and my grandparents would take a bracing morning swim each grey dawn.

Over the years, Jamestown was “discovered.” Beavertail went from a rough old road where we would go to gather mussels to an official state park with parking lots and smooth pavement. And West Ferry grew more and more crowded with boats and activity. Cars lined the street in front of our house and beyond as boaters parked to go out for a sail. Huge boats crowded the parking area and were difficult to see around at sunset.

So, imagine my surprise and delight to find this year that West Ferry had returned to the way I remember it being when I was growing up. Once again, there was a full view and the little beach was uncluttered. Even on Labor Day weekend, no cars lined the street, as they now had room for parking at the end of the road. And I so enjoyed the one thing that was new (that I know we would have loved when I was growing up) – the Shack.

Various family came to visit while we were in Jamestown, and we all loved the food there, and certainly the ambiance – a simple picnic table with a spectacular, uncluttered view. The brothers running the Shack were friendly and professional, and seemed to be working so hard! Best of all, the food was excellent, so this was a wonderful new addition to our beloved Jamestown.

It was so nice, on our last morning there, to walk down to West Ferry and enjoy the view, hear the sound of the halyards slapping the masts and note the quiet comings and goings of Jamestowners getting their morning coffee and treat at the Shack. I look forward to taking my daughters down to the little West Ferry beach just as my grandparents took me.

And perhaps I will even develop the fortitude to take a bracing morning swim!
Geri Ayrault
Santa Fe, N.M.

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