Taylor's Island Cabin at Dawn
Link to a slideshow with these remarks in the soundtrack

Transcript of a recording made during the All About Andrew Arkin Celebration:

P.A.T. Hunt:

Welcome to Taylor’sIsland. I want to introduce our guests to our guest of honor, Andrew Arkin, who we’re celebrating today for his stewardship of this place from 1958 to 1980, 22 years. Andrew came from NYC via seaplane which is out on the causeway there.

Our bake is going to be opening shortly and I was hoping that some people that knew Andrew the years that he was here will have a little something to say; and I want to welcome so many of our returning guests; and we have a lot of new people here today; and thank you for being here and celebrating with us and contributing to our efforts to restore the Smith-Taylor Cabin and the property around it.

This community has really come forward, this community and beyond, in giving us support. We have brochures which give a little history of what’s been happening since our Committee was formed in 2005, and our Foundation in 2006. We’re on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. As you can see, a lot of people are here supporting us.

Andrew I met at our Open House two years ago. He brought his swim trunks - that’s what he always did when he was on Taylor’s Island - so he went for a swim; and we have some of the press from Newsday and our Reporter that are inside, as well as some pictures of the Arkin Era. And then many of you signed quilt squares, - it’s a signature quilt that we also used as a fund raiser and that is hanging in the bedroom with the wooden paneling. It has an archival photo of the original builder of the cabin, in 1900, Francis Marion Smith, and the reproduction fabric of the civil war era, mid-late 1800s, issurrounding it.

I really want to thank Andrew for making the effort to be with us here today and his sweetheart, Edie Gladstone, who also accompanied him here in the, was it the 60s or 70s, Edie, something like that.

There are some people that wanted to speak about Andrew. Sid Beckwith is here who recently celebrated his 90th birthday here on Shelter Island. Sid, would you take the mic and remember your buddy, Andrew?.

Sid Beckwith:

What can I say about Andrew? Well, number one he’s one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever met. He used to call me up for me to arrange a golf match with him. We were reminiscing about one particular day on Gardiner’s Bay Golf Course and pretty humorous I think.  But anyway we were on the eighth green, he was on the eighth green and two and we had a little bet going and he putted and it went off the green into a bunker and he got in the bunker and he took a couple of shots and it still was in the bunker he finally got on the green and then he free putted. So everytime I come around to that eighth green I think of Andrew Arkin. And I play the golf course quite often so I’m thinking of him a lot. But this is all about Andrew today. It couldn’t happen to a finer gentleman. I feel honored to have known him. I really mean that Andrew. Thank you.

P.A.T. Hunt:

I was wondering if Miss Edie would maybe say a couple ofwords, Edie Lechmanski. She’s here with her sons, Larry and Scott, who worked with their Dad taking care of the property when Andrew was here.

Edie Lechmanski:

I really don’t have anything profound to say but I do remember when my husband, who was a teacher, worked here in the summer, he was the caretaker, and I never did one bit of work over here but every year dear Andrew would let me come in to his Seventh Avenue show room and I could pick out a designer dress and my husband used to say, “How come I do all the work and you get the dress?” I said, “Well because you wouldn’t look very good in one dear.”

But the point is I benefited and my husband and our two sons spent three or four of their summers practically over here doing a lot of workand enjoying this place and my son, Larry’s really the one who has memories. You want to tell them about the model day. Yes.  This is a good one, this is a good one. He loves to talk anyway so.

Larry Lechmanski:

One of the rules was, when Andy was here, that he didn’t want you mowing the lawn and being here working on the weekends that was the time for him and the models to be here. Well, it was one of these weeks where it rained all week and my father and I couldn’t get over here and the lawn was like eight feet tall and my father says we got to go over and mow the lawn if we wait ‘til Monday, we’ll never get through it. So he called up Andy and Andy agreed and we said we’d do it as fast as we could.

Well, you can see the picture in there with all the chaise lounges, that picture’s from the 60s ‘cause I can remember the chaise lounges, they're empty there but they weren’t empty out here then.  They had the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen at the age of like 14 I think I was like 13 or 14, the models from the City and that rock garden over there didn’t have all that growed up trees in it then it had like nice flowers and some low bushes and they were all out here in the lounge and I pushing that 22 inch mower and I was looking at everything but the lawn and I rode the lawn mower right up into the rocks there was sparksflying, my father comes running out, “Keep you damn eyes on the lawn mower, will ya.” It was tough but that was one of the great stories when I was out here was piling the lawn mower into the rock garden.

But we had a lot of great memories, cleaning the generator shack and the guest house that’s no longer here. And keeping the cobwebs, main thing was to keep the cobwebs out of the bunks in here ‘cause the models would sleep in the bunks and they were afraid of spiders so my job every Friday was to go up and get the spiders and lighting the… my father used to stick me underneath the refrigerator cause it was gas powered ‘cause there was no electricity except for the generator, the matches were like this long, he’d turn the gas on and stick me underneath with the match and say light it. You can get under there, you’re portable. I thought all those years one of these days I’m gonna come out of there one big ball of fire. We lit it every year for like six years and never blew up.  We had a lot of fun.

P.A.T. Hunt:

Andrew’s son, Jason, is here with his wife, Laurie, and their 9 week old son, Damien, so Andrew is now a grandfather. Jason, would you take the mic. Actually I have something. We, um, I don’t know, does this look familiar to you? Ah, no. No, okay we found this under the porch when we were repairing it and I thought maybe, maybe it was from your childhood. It’s Damien’s.

Jason Arkin:

Hello. And thank you for braving the water to get here. It seems much smaller 35 years later when I wasn’t his size. It’s very strange to be back here. The house used to be red, didn’t it? Okay, good. Memory serves, slightly. Ah, it’s a thrill to be here with my son and we have three generations of really difficult Arkin men together on a small island. So, it’s just ah it really is a thrill and I don’t know most of you but thank you for coming and for celebrating what I consider my father’s island. I mean it is Taylor’sIsland but it’s Andrew Arkin’s island as far as I’m concerned. So, thank you. No, Damien doesn’t want to say anything. Okay.

P.A.T. Hunt:

Is there any one else that would like to come forward and remember the Arkin Era or? No. Okay. Yes, Julie Ben-Susan, she’s one of our Foundation members.

Julie Ben-Susan:

You can’t keep me away from a microphone. I’d just like to say something about Pat. No one does this by themselves. Pat has developed a phenomenal support group all around the island and has breathed life back into this and she’s just been a wonderful leader and is a visionary and has saved this place. It would be gone. And it’s just, I’m just, I think we all owe her a huge round of applause.

P.A.T. Hunt:

Here comes Andrew.  I can just get it [the microphone] this far.

Andrew Arkin:

What a thrill for me to be on this island again to see so many people whom I knew in a different era and people often ask me how did you find this island, how came you to have those years on it so I thought I might just tell you briefly the story of our being here today. I had a summer place in Westhampton and someone told me about beautiful houses on Shelter Island.  So I rented a seaplane, I’m a fan, and we came out to Dering Harbor and we looked over a lot of houses but nothing struck my fantasy or fancy and as we were flying back we passed over Coecles Harbor and I said to the pilot ala Baron Richtofen of World War I, “Down.”

We pulled on to the island there was a little beach over here which is now seagrass and I got out and it was a very disheveled island. There was a window broken next to the front door I could reach in and unlock it and I did. I came in. I saw breakfast dishes on the table and a newspaper from three years before. That’s the kind of attention that the island was getting.

Well, I tracked it down andI found a young fellow in Philadelphia, Stephano, whose family made specialty cigarettes and his uncle, S. Gregory Taylor, had left him the island supposedly with money to keep it up for when he would be buried here but he had put the money into a Greek tanker and when the boy buried him here there was nothing to keep up the house and the island so I made him a proposition I would rent it on a several year cycle and I would restore the house. There was one other facet to the deal, his mother, a very elegant Stephano lady, could visit the island and her brother whenever she wished. It went along fine I put a lot of effort, time, money into getting it liveable and cleanable and one day we were out here at the fireplace having lunch and I get a call from Buzzy that there was somebody on the other side wanted to talk to me, Buzzy Clark that is, and it turned out to be Stephano’s mother, the sister of Gregory Taylor. I dropped what I was doing. I took my little speed boat went in and got her and her two friends and brought them out here brought chairs to the grave side and set them up with ice tea and looked in on them for the period they were here and then escorted them back to their car. The next day I get a call from Steve. My mother says you’re the man that Gregory would have liked to have the island.  It was quite a thrill for me.

Gregory also wanted Shelter Island to have the Island and that’s the next thing we’re working on. My contact mostly I have with Pat Hunt and I’ve been managing to keep up my end in a small way in keeping it restored and now it’s going to go to the people of Shelter Island and it will live up to his recommendations and hopes. To have you here today on a most beautiful day of the summer means that somebody approves of our plans. I thank you, each one of you. Some names have been difficult for me to recall but the incidence and the friendship and the warmth of Shelter Islanders, Hareleggers, as they were called, will never be forgotten by me. Thank you.

P.A.T. Hunt:

Paul Speeches, a caretaker during the Arkin Era would also like to recount a story and then I think we’re close to the bake opening. Here you go, Paul.

Paul Speeches:

Thank you.  I just want to say one thing about Andy. I used to be the garbage man over here and come across that causeway all the time after all the parties and everything and help him out with the parties and many, many times, he’s laughing over there, many, many times I had to bring the wrecker over here because the tide came up when Andy was trying to get across so we towed the cars off, towed them to the station and then somebody else took care of them. But one time I do remember Andy had a party over here and he had all his models sitting down there like Larry says and I was working at the party and George Dickerson happened to drive up with his airplane like that, flew in here and somewhere along the lines Andy and George got together and Andy got in the airplane with a pair of skis and they went way down the mouth of Congdon’s Creek and Andy got out, got behind the airplane on the set of skis all he had on was those little showercaps and a little pair of glasses to protect his eyes and they took off behind George’s airplane and when they went past here the airplane was airborne and he was doing over a hundred miles an hour. Now if he ever fell the poor guy would have broken his neck. He wouldn’t be here on Taylor’s Island. God bless him.

P.A.T. Hunt:

Thank you all and the bake’s ready to open, so let’s eat.

August 9th, 2008