|Recalls a childhood on Long Island as the counterculture sixties were sliding into the seventies and the Hamptons were still a middle-class sanctuary.
The Kingdom of the Kid is a memorable portrait of an indelible childhood on Long Island’s South Fork from 1967 to 1972, when the Hamptons were still a middle-class paradise. In six short years, journalist Geoff Gehman was changed forever by a host of remarkable characters, including Carl Yastrzemski, his first baseball hero; Truman Capote, his first literary role model; race car champion Mark Donohue, who conquered a wicked track nicknamed “The Bridge”; Henry Austin “Austie” Clark Jr., fabled proprietor of a candy store of vintage vehicles; and Norman Jaffe, the notorious architect who designed a house seemingly built by masons from outer space.
Gehman’s childhood kingdom was ruled by his father, a boozing, schmoozing social bulldozer, who taught his son how to pitch, how to sing barbershop harmony, and how to mix with potato farmers and power brokers. Then, burdened by manic depression and bad investments, he abruptly ended his son’s reign on the East End by selling the family house in Wainscott without his wife’s permission.
The Kingdom of the Kid is not just another baby-boomer coming-of-age memoir about baseball, beaches, drive-in movies, rock ’n’ roll, fast cars, faster women, alcoholism, mental illness, divorce, suicide, and redemption. It’s a pilgrimage to a special place at a special time that taught a kid how to be special. It’s for anyone who has lived in the Hamptons or has wondered about living in the Hamptons, anyone who remembers the thrill of riding shotgun on the tailgate of a Ford LTD station wagon, anyone hungry for a juicy slice of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
“…[a] deeply felt love letter to the East End.” — Dan’s Papers
“In this memoir Geoff Gehman remembers what it was like to be a ten-year-old growing up in a small, exclusive section of the Hamptons—Wainscott and the Georgica Association—in the late 1960s. He brings this gentle, long-ago time to life with astonishing detail and accuracy—I lived much of it too—and proceeds with a sweeping, beautifully written tale of these years with friends and family, bicycles, softball, swimming, the ocean, wealthy neighbors, locals, pranks, celebrities, scandal, legends, and divorce. How did he remember it all? It brought me back to that era of innocence in the Hamptons, and it will bring you there too.” — Dan Rattiner, Founder of Dan’s Papers and author of Still in the Hamptons: More Tales of the Rich, the Famous, and the Rest of Us
Geoff Gehman is a former arts writer for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Down But Not Quite Out in Hollow-weird: A Documentary in Letters of Eric Knight. He lives in Pennsylvania’s Northampton County and thinks about the long-lost Hamptons every day.
Table of Contents
Keys to the Kingdom
The Dead Store
The Sweet Spot
Mike & Me
Yaz, Dad & Me
Sex, Booze & Barbershop
The Turnaround Year(s)
The Way of All Bone and Stone
Notes and (Re)Sources
About the Author