Griping about the downfall of the Hamptons is right up there with tennis and shopping on the list of most popular East End activities. Many of today’s inhabitants blame relatively recent phenomena—hedge funds, Real Housewives—for mucking up the place. But the truth is, the area’s blueblood summer folk and full-time residents have been bemoaning the riffraff for decades.
“It’s chaos—an invasion of the divorced groupies and… single people from Maxwell’s Plum,” sniffed Amagansett store owner Bert Greene to W in August 1972. In July 1982, Lee Radziwill mourned the area’s growing reputation as the setting for “a series of drunken cocktail parties,” and the influx of both people and cars. “It looks so suburban,” she lamented.
Shared disdain for outsiders, though, has never prevented East Enders from trash-talking one another. As W noted in July 1978, East Hampton residents have long enjoyed contrasting their discreet wealth with the alleged ostentation of Southamptonites; the latter, meanwhile, point out the snob factor of East Hampton. In the 1978 article, East Hamptonite Connie Hoagland, relaxing at the ultraexclusive Maidstone Club, declared of her town, “It’s more family-oriented, quieter. We’re not as Palm Beach–ish.” East Hampton residents, she added, partied less lavishly and incessantly. Mica Ertegun was one Southamptonite who disagreed; a year earlier she had told W, “I know people in East Hampton who are very social. The same things happen in both places.” Radziwill, who spent childhood summers in East Hampton but later moved to Southampton, was firmly on Team South by 1977 when she proclaimed, “People in East Hampton love to think they are Old Guard, but they’re no more Old Guard than my dog.”
Yet everything is relative. By 1982, five years after Radziwill made those statements in an article touting Southampton’s low-key nature, Nina Griscom had abandoned the town for Bridgehampton. “It’s so much more informal, relaxed, here in Bridgehampton. In Southampton,” she told W, “I felt you had to put on a wig to go buy a newspaper.”