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If not in cannes, Capri or the Costa-Brava this week, an Easterner, to be in the proper swim, would more than likely be found negotiating the summer sea in a watering place known collectively as The Hamptons, a narrow isthmus of sand, socialites and chichi on the south shore of Long Island.
A sort of corner C�te d'Azur, The Hamptons begin at Westhampton Beach 80 miles from Times Square and from there run for 35 miles in the general direction of Spain, through Hampton Bays, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Amagansett, ending in a fish-town hamlet called Promised Land, 10 miles from the island's end.
Of these salt-water-licked, tree-shaded seaside cities, only Westhampton, Southampton and East Hampton really figure. The others must be classed as suburbs and appendages. The summer swimmer picks his Hampton according to his means of livelihood (artist, merchant or mogul), his wife's preferred dress (jeans or jewels) or his way of life (flash or heaps of old cash). Discussing the difference between them, an old-time resident of Westhampton was saying the other day that his Hampton is the friendliest, East Hampton is the richest and Southampton the snobbiest. But a Southampton businessman, born and bred in the community, put it this way: "If, for the sake of argument," said he, "the Duke of Windsor should come down here, he would undoubtedly visit East Hampton. But he would stay in Southampton, and he wouldn't stop in Westhampton at all."
All of which might explain the preferences of the Duke, but it throws absolutely no light on the curious differences in the naming of the communities. A Mrs. Pennypacker of East Hampton leans to the theory that the original settler " Hampton" gave his name to the cause. The trouble with this is there was no Hampton ( Hampton Bays came later) for South to be south of. Most likely, the original settlers, who boated in from New Haven Colony in 1640, were thinking of the English seaport when they christened their town, just as a group of reformed Southamptoners, who called themselves "Proprietors" and headed east nine years later, named their new home Maidstone, after the town in Kent. The name eventually changed to East Hampton, for the very likely reason that it was east of its honored predecessor.
The logic of this is so irrefutable that it seems a shame to bring up Bridgehampton and Westhampton Beach. The former got its name after Josiah Stanborough, who had acquired land outside of Southampton in 1656, led a group of settlers there over a sturdy bridge he had built. But Westhampton Beach? It is as west as East is east. It must not have felt that way however, otherwise at the least it would have hyphenated.
Whatever the reason, it is not likely to offend present-day Westhampton Beach, a lively community where the waves wash the night-tarnished glitter of the celebrities pried loose from the caf�s of Manhattan, the houses are built on stilts to protect them from the rambunctious sea and the fire engines are embossed in gold with the legend: "Sons of the Beach."
Although the monstrous hurricane of 1938 all but wiped out Westhampton, sent whole houses floating out to sea and killed over 22, the lively rebuilt community now includes the Kriendlers, who run Manhattan's smart "21" Club, Philip Le Boutillier, chairman of the board of Fifth Avenue's Best & Co., P. G. Wodehouse and Arthur Treacher, the perennial cinema butler who shows up at local functions and bars with old Hollywood cronies long thought to be packed in moth balls. His recent house guests: Charles Ruggles, Joe E. Brown and Frank Fay. The community also includes the macabre New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, for whom Westhampton's history of disaster and hurricane only make it seem like home sweet home.
Cave for Castaways
Perhaps Addams' largest creation fills one whole wall in the bar of Dune Deck, a flossy cave for castaways from Broadway that rather resembles, in the flood of summer, a Lindy's-by-the-Sea. It has 54 rooms (all with bath), most of them either right on the sand, overlooking it or within a broad jump of the crackling waves. It takes its guests by the week and duns them anywhere from $38 to $45 a day for two, food included. There is water-skiing on the bay, which is just across the road, and there is tennis; but mostly there is the sea and the sand. Dune Deck—walls, boardwalk, deck chairs, settees, beach tables and outhouses—is bathed in a coat of bright turquoise paint, and on days when the Atlantic takes on the off-blue hue of the Mediterranean it would be hard to tell at first glance where the sea leaves off and Dune Deck begins were it not for the strip of sand between them.
For this season Dune Deck has added a sumptuous living room, which, with its Japanese screens and prints and trappings from old Nippon, is a study in Oriental modern design. This same d�cor has also been used by the Hampton Inn, a newly rehabilitated small hotel in Westhampton fraught with Japanese umbrellas over the cocktail tables, Oriental waiters and a beaded bamboo curtain through which a customer might very well expect to see Anna May Wong come aslinking, albeit in a shocking-pink kimono. A glance at both these Oriental dens at the beginning of the season moved TV Comic Peter Donald, a Hamptons' habitu�, to open his arms expansively and exclaim, "Ah, Yokahampton."