BI Club, Winter, 1965
BI Club, 1965
By Martha Ball
One afternoon in winter, 1965, there was activity in the field behind the Bayside, the summer boarding house where David Hawkins, a young teacher here for one year, lived. Finding housing was difficult even back then and the little apartment is remembered as impossible to heat.
It had been cold and then came a thaw, turning the ground soft. There may have been a hint of spring in the air and the thoughts of men - young in age and in spirit - turned to driving across fields for no discernible reason. The gas truck was out, perhaps the driver was reconnoitering the future location of the Block Island Club House, more likely just driving around because it was winter and that empty field was too inviting.
Today, the field is not empty, but this was 1965, before the BI Club brought to the site the old Lifesaving Station that had been decommissioned in the late 1800's and relocated from a spot overlooking the Old Harbor “inland” to High Street. It was before that building was moved down the Neck, before Mystic Seaport had a replica created, transported to the island on a barge and exchanged for the original which was taken back to the Seaport Museum where it remains today. The land had been purchased by the Club and there was a dock but there were no rows of boats wintering over on the brown grass. The tennis courts had not been built - nor had houses near the Coast Guard Station across the water - but perhaps most striking is the land.
It was winter, views are always wider in winter, but that whole field behind the Bayside was clear, only the scrub by the walls hinted of the future; across the pond the now nearly hidden old Hippocampus building on the Beane family property was clearly visible.
The Island was sleeping, waiting to be brought to life by spring and sooner than we knew, development.
(the truck was un-stuck with the aid of the winch on a power wagon truck, perhaps more of a production than needed be, but it was winter and it was 1965)