Friday, July 2, 2010

The Islander

Once upon a time on an island called Gwynn there was a magical fairyland known as the Islander. Sitting on some of the best real estate in Mathews, the Islander was surrounded by water and million dollar views.

There was a full-service marina, which attracted boaters from all over the world. Sometimes my friends and I pesky locals would sneak into the boathouses to step aboard admire the yachts and wonder about the sorts of people who owned yachts that sat in boathouses most of the time.
In addition to the marina, there was a motel, a restaurant, a lounge, a swimming pool, and a Lance snack machine that fed me and my sisters for approximately ten summers straight because my mother left us there with no food and no money a playground.

The great thing about the Islander was they allowed locals to purchase pool memberships. For people who lived under a rock didn't get out much, it was a great way to see new people and a heck of a fun way to spend a summer.

Above is the entrance to the restaurant (left), the motel (background) and a boat slip (that section in between the row of poles on the right and the next row of poles--now filled in with sand). That isn't just any boat slip, let me tell you. That particular boat slip always housed The Biggest Yacht You've Ever Seen--slick, sleek and loaded with every possible gizmo and gadget imaginable, though I never saw people aboard. That primo spot assured the invisible passengers an easy stroll to the pool and other amenities. The slip used to be deep - plenty deep to accommodate such a huge boat.

Now, after so many storms, including a hurricane (Isabel), a tropical storm (Ernesto), a hurricaneaster (Ida, which "they" say was a nor'easter but I say was a hurricane), and countless other storms, the Islander has lost all of its former glory, and the premier boat slip for The Biggest Yacht Ever is nothing more than a small beach.

Below is a shot of the spot where boaters convened to admire the Islander's fireworks every July 4th.

(OK, really it was intended to be a shot of an osprey at sunset, but that didn't work out so well. So only a part of the body of water is shown here. This painful superfluous aside is now over.)

Boats of every sort would anchor and await the always-wonderful fireworks. Some of the best nights of my life were spent on this patch of water.
In fact, most of my best summer--and life-- memories involve the Islander.

I miss her.

A lot.

p.s. On my desk I have a brochure for the Islander from back in her heyday. Guess whose picture is inside? But that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother day.

Do you have any Islander stories?

Do you have fond summer memories of a place you spent in your youth?


Do you have ties to the film industry so we can begin work on the movie that is just begging to be produced about the Islander? Bueller? Anyone?

19 comments:

Ann Marie said...

oh you mean we were only supposed to LOOK at those yachts??? opps.

stories...soooo many stories.
I was just telling someone yesterday that I spent my spare time in the summer painting boats there with a good old friend and the times we had.. see fun could be had there after the pool was shut down.

Mathews Mark said...

Was the large yacht the 68ft Super Pickle? CBW I have a million story's (as you know) about the Islander (was that you that kept stealing mu Bugles out of the Lance machine) but no time . Back in the day before NO WAKE signs were present we use to do a water ski show on the Narrows. I did a clown act (busted my butt a few times I might add) .We even had a ski chair with a cooler attached on the back, you could ski while sitting down and enjoying a cold one, the come heres loved the show. You never know if you can get about 3 rescue squad units on stand by maybe I will do the clown act for blogfest don't dare me, I bet I can did it last year for miss Pookie well half of it anyway. MM

Pueblo girl said...

This post makes me sad. Faded splendour. You can hear the echoes of life and happy voices in those photos.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I had the same reaction as Pueblo Girl... it makes me sad when a place so lively and fine ends up fading into the sunset. Curt and I went to one such place last Sunday - used to be this giant destination for dining and also there's off-track betting... but the decor hasn't been updated since the first Busch administration, at least, and the half-full dining room just looked a little tired.

Who's in the brochure???

Anonymous said...

What a timely post for the Fourth. I used to pack the cooler bright and early to get a good spot for the fireworks. Kids and I would spend the entire day there playing in the pool and watching them set up. We would end up being there 10+ hrs and had a great time.
(The rest of the summer we were there only 8 hrs a day...no cooler...we ate from the snack bar or Seabreeze every day!). sigh.....I wonder how I managed to convince my husband that the kids and I needed to be there 40+ hrs each and every week! What a great place and what great memories!!!

AHR

Ann Marie said...

recommenting so I can get my emails...
CBW... I will call you later.. I need that drink later today..

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

**sniff**
<><

Trisha said...

It certainly sounds like the Islander story would make a neat movie.

foolery said...

I'm getting a "Wonder Years" meets "Caddy Shack" vibe, with a lot of "Bad News Bears" thrown in. Never been to a place like that, but I wanna.

Mental P Mama said...

Maybe with all the royalties from the book, you can reopen it!!

Lynne M said...

My Dad was a member of the Gideons when I was small, and they always had the dinner meetings there. I thought it was so cool that I could look out the window and see the pool and the bay... It was especially pretty when it was windy/stormy/rainy when I would look out the windows... I appreciated those views even as a young child

Aspiring Carrie said...

Most of my memories of summer include spending days at the Islander...being dropped off with a snack, money and a towel. Forget sunscreen...we didn't believe in that then. Hours of Marco Polo when I was younger turned into shy flirting with boys across the pool a few years later. Dreaming about taking off in the orange and blue Cavalier Edition (although now as a die-hard Hokie fan, what was I thinking?!)...Very sad to see it has lost its original glory.

AverettLadyNana said...

Many fond memories at "The Islander" I had a summer pool membership for a few years. Dances by the poolside...wedding receptions, birthday parties, fireworks, meeting up with friends when home from college, on and on...

Anonymous said...

Many good times there...back in the day! It was a really hopping place on July 4th. I was talking about it recently. Such a shame it is not up and running again, it is a gold mine! The last time I was there was for my 10 year MHS reunion in 1993. Thanks for the pic's and good memories!
Trinia

deborah said...

So sad..I hope someone sees the value and reopens it. Is there a chance?
We have something similar, Dreamland. It was fabulous when my mother was young, it had a ballroom where bands like Benny Goodman played. That part burned several years ago, only the pool remains. Not the same at all.

Country Girl said...

What an interesting childhood you had. Maybe you don't think so, but to an outsider, it's like a movie I want to see.
Will this be on the tour?

marta said...

Back in 1965 or 66 was when I first started going to Gwynn's Island. My best friend Sharon's grandmother owned a cottage on Seaside(?) and used to let us go down there once we could drive. Of course there was no TV there so Sharon and I would go over to the lounge at the Islander and watch TV. We got really hooked on the Little League World Series and watched most of that. Not a single other person ever entered the lounge during the days we were there.

Tom Thacker said...

For the early 80's, the large yacht was probably the "Hummingbird", a 70-some-foot Trumpy. I think the Super Pickle was later (Tim Pickle's boat?).
A lot of good memories from the Islander and surrounding areas. All of my teenage summers were mis-spent there. Ours was probably one of the boats you were checking on from time to time, lol.

Chip said...

We came to The Islander most years in the early-to-mid 70s for our vacation, years when I had not yet reached double digits in my age. My biggest and fondest memory is of the playground, which I loved. My sister remembers all of the jellyfish there.