My love affair with islands dates back to my childhood. I was lucky and fortunate as a child to have had some wonderful experiences. Originally from Seymour and Milford Connecticut, my love for the beach, the ocean and yes, “islands” began at a very young age. None of this had previously occurred to me until I saw a Facebook post about an island near and dear to my heart, and my childhood. Just off the shore of Milford Connecticut in Long Island Sound, a tributary of the the Atlantic ocean, lies an enchanted place for me, and it’s called Charles Island. So, I suppose my love affair for islands began as a child, riding with my Dad and my Uncle, aboard our family’s 16 foot runabout, on “hot” New England summer day as we approached Charle’s Island for an adventure.Charles Island is a storied place. It’s past includes buried treasure from none other than the infamous Captain Kid, to a salt factory, to a summer hotel and finally to a religious summer retreat. All of this history made Charles Island enchanting.
Growing up on the Connecticut shore during the summer on Bay View Beach in Milford, Connecticut was a carefree time; a time of playing on the beach, swimming, fishing, barbecuing, water skiing, sailing, building sandcastles, making bonfires, having mud ball fights on the sandbar and just being a kid. As I reflect, it was a time where kids could be kids and simply have fun. Some of my earliest memories and my infatuation with islands go back to a time when my Dad and my Uncle Gary, along with my cousins, Sheri and Aimee, used to visit Charles Island. It was time to swim and explore the island, which was always a place of mystery.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I had the chance to truly get to know Charles Island. The group of friends, all summer residents of Bay View Beach (forgive me if I miss someone – Steven, Michael, Dennis, Greg, Joe, Stephen, Sob, Kenny, Laila, Lyanne, Joy, Michael, Jeff, John, Kerry, Chrissy, Kari and so many others), would spend countless hours with our collection boats all rafted up to one another moored in the bay just north of Charles Island. If was a time of coming of age, a time of fun and a time of fantasy. In our younger days, we talked about making a movie about being castaways on the island, along the style of the 1960’s U.S. television sitcom, Gilligan’s Island. We even went so far as going ashore on Charles Island and built a camp on the northeastern corner of the island, although we never actually made the movie. Just writing this makes me wish we did make the movie, because I am certain it would be priceless to watch today.
As we grew older our time moored at Charles Island changed. It became a place of fun and keg parties, back in the day when the drinking age was 18 and the level of responsibility amongst young people was a bit better than it is today. Many an afternoon was spent at Charles Island doing absolutely nothing other than enjoying the company of friends; friends that would be remain lifelong friends to this very day. Just several summers ago, in 2014, this group, the KFTB (the kids from the beach), celebrated our 30th anniversary of the last summer we spent together on Bay View Beach. It is this group, and my Dad, my Uncle and my cousins that really helped me start my love affair with islands.
Throughout my childhood my Mom and Dad would spend their winters traveling south to escape the cold New England winters. I remember traveling to Florida (yes – North Miami Beach – like most Jewish families) to visit Grandma Sochrin, but something was missing. While we enjoyed Florida, it wasn’t an island. Mom and Dad began to explore the Caribbean and sometime in the late 1970’s stumbled upon Sint Maarten, an island that would eventually become my home.
Several years later in 1982, Mom and Dad invited me to join them for the first time on a trip to St. Maarten. I was 14 years old. I remember thinking, as most typical teenagers do, who wants to go on vacation with their parents? This being said, I will never forget my first visit to Sint Maarten. Some how, all those years ago, I still remember getting off the plane for the very first time, thinking someday this place would become my home. I remember walking down the stairs to get off the plane, back in the days of Pan Am, and several Sint Maarten Airport Terminals ago, walking inside to retrieve my luggage. In those days your luggage was retrieved through a large door, that resembled a garage door, as your luggage slid down a ramp waiting for you to pick it up. If I remember correctly, this was three airports ago on St. Maarten.
Back in 1982, we were were staying on the French side back at a place that was called the PLM St. Tropez in Marigot. I remember riding from Princess Juliana International Airport to Marigot, when Mullet Bay Resort was in its hay day. I remember reaching Cupecoy to find the road suddenly became unpaved as we traveled through the Lowlands. I remember waterskiing in the Simpson Bay Lagoon and I remember walking to Don Camillo, my would be favorite Italian Restaurant for dinner. While many of these places are no more, my love affair with islands was once again firmly cemented in the shores and the people of The Friendly Island.
Fast forward to 2007. The corporate rat race had taken its toll on me, in spite of my successes and hard work and on March 6, 2007 I had turned 40 years old. Anyone that knows me also knows that I have always joked that when I turned 40, I was going to retire from career #1 and start career #2. I never thought things would end up this way… radio, etc., but I now know one thing for certain; my love of islands stretches all the way back to my childhood, all of this from recent picture of Charles Island in Milford, Connecticut. I proud to say Sint Maarten is now my forever home. I guess reflecting back, it should come as no surprise that I Love My Island Life!