Each spring Nantucket holds its Daffodil Festival. This year we made a last minute decision to attend. It was cold, windy and wet. The only saving grace was being able to spend a leisurely afternoon by the fire in the Brotherhood.
I spent a good part of my youth on the island and I remember well the cold spring weather. It was always about ten degrees cooler than in Boston where we lived. In the 1960’s my father bought a plot of land on Nantucket, about a mile out of town, and in his spare time from his job in the city, he took the ferry over and built a small cape, the first of several houses he constructed on the island. I was lucky to have been able to spend much of my teens and early twenties there during the summer and also over a few cold, very quiet winters helping out with the construction.
Nantucket had a big tourist economy in those days but the island itself was a working-class place. Carpenters, fishermen, TV repairmen, scallopers, plumbers. Those were the people that we knew. In the summer we also got to know some of the rich kids who came in from New York. Kids whose parents were from publishing and finance. We all got along around the bonfires at the beach parties (just like in Jaws) or at the Chicken Box or Prestons. Nobody put on airs. And there were also the famous people. Ringo would tie up his yacht near Straight Wharf. Fred Rogers and the Stillers shopped at the First National, where my sister sold them fruits and veggies. All regular people. No one made a fuss.
But Nantucket has changed since those days. Big money took over. Many working class families have been priced off the island. The merely rich have been pushed out by the mega-wealthy. The old hardware store is a boutique selling designer bags. Land Rovers outnumber Jeeps. Money permeates the place.
So my trip to the Daffodil Festival was both nostalgic and sad. It was great to walk around my old haunts but the island I knew is long gone.