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Hanging Onto a Piece of the American Dream

Last week our family left our home in the northeastern most portion of New York State and traveled to the southeastern most part. It is a trip I have made almost every summer since I was 12, to spend a week at my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Jim's cabin on Little Peconic Bay in Southhampton, Long Island. Unfortunately there won't be many more trips to this cabin. In fact this may have been the last one. Skyrocketing property taxes in the Hamptons are making it impossible for a retired tile layer and a kindergarten teacher to hang on to their piece of the American dream.

I cherished every moment at the camp; my storehouse of memories is full to bursting. The cabin itself and the beach remain virtually the same as they were the first time I laid eyes on them as a spindly legged 12 year old: it was hard to believe that 32 years had passed since then. I hadn't known my Uncle Jim very well until that first summer, and the truth was I hadn't really wanted to get to know him. I had met him a few times as the husband of a distant cousin named Betty. But she had died of cancer in her mid 60's, and their daughter suggested that he contact Barbara Holck and ask for some pointers on living single.

My Aunt Barbara had lived her entire adult life as a single kindergarten teacher. She was fifty years old, and I believed she would live alone forever. As the middle child of her baby brother, I got nearly all her attention. And that included a week at her New Jersey home each summer. I have to admit that it wasnt the most generous feeing Id ever had when I heard the news that she and Jim were to be married. My heart sank.

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