6 April

The Cottages And The Sea

by Jon Katz
Cottages And The Sea
Cottages And The Sea

I was born in a cottage by the ocean in Barrington, R.I., in a time when working people could buy cottages by the sea. It would not be remotely possible for a family like mine to buy a cottage by the sea now. In Hampton Beach, I am told, cottages once lined the entire beachfront, occupied by working people who could then afford a small cottage by the ocean, and send their families there to spend the summer.

Condos and apartments line much of the water front now, some of the cottages still hang on defiantly, but they look increasingly conspicuous, even out of place. There is no stasis in America, every cottage is an apartment or condo waiting to sprout.

The Hampton Beach cottages are vanishing, as are public beaches and cottages all along the Atlantic Sea Coast. The ocean is being privatized and developed, the cottages areĀ  disappearing. The cottage in which I was born is long gone, there is a giant McMansion there now, my grandmother would faint dead away.

I loved the cottages in Hampton Beach, they are so lovingly tended, with their Seahorse icons and freshly painted white picket fences guarding a few square feet of lawn. Small patches of paradise, I think. I doubt they will be there for long, it is hard to justify keeping a cottage by the sea that could be a five-story building by the sea.

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