The Mast-Head: Amagansett Gazes

A lot more hip

Amagansett has gotten a lot more hip. A friend from away and I spent Sunday afternoon driving around in a clapped-out Volvo drinking coffee and noticed this was the case.

There was live music in one of the cafes. Sharply-dressed people walked along the street. Others were settled down on the grass in Amagansett Square looking at their phones or eating dosas.

My friend Chris, with whom I had picked up coffee in travel mugs at the new Starbucks machine at East Hampton Library (!), like to spend time this way, tooling around aimlessly, me pointing out sights of interest and local trivia, he sharing stories and philosophy.

Some years back, we discovered that there was a public bench in Bridgehampton on which we could sit and watch diners at outside tables at Bobby Van’s and speculate about their lives. But that is a story for another day, which I will have to get back to, if I remember.

At any rate, the key moment of our Amagansett tour on Sunday was at Grain Surfboards, on the bottom floor of the barnlike red arts center building on Indian Wells Highway. Grain Surfboards is an interesting operation; people pay to build their own wood surfboards there. They can also make skateboards, which is what a group of food writers on a credit card company’s travel junket were doing when we wandered in.

Brian and Ainsley Schopfer, who run the operation, showed us around. About a half-dozen men and women in their 20s were at a workbench, sanding their boards, while another six or so hung around chatting. 

After a while, we all went outside where the board builders each took turns burning the shop’s hand-plane logo into the decks with a branding iron. The first to go, a young man in black-rimmed glasses, pressed a little too hard and was visibly sad about the result. The next, a woman with short black hair, had more finesse; hers came out perfectly. It seemed time to move on. 

Our coffee had by then cooled. We got some food at the cheese shop and ate it at Little Albert’s looking out at the wind-roused bay. Shotgun shells and broken target clays littered the sand. We got out of the Volvo, picked them up, and put them in a trash can. Chris said they might make good bluefish lures if we added hooks. We each pocketed one with the best intention and headed back to East Hampton, where we said our goodbyes.