November 18, 2015

Edie Lester's Gift From The Attic

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Edith Mary Lester grew up in a close family – that's for sure.

East Hamptoners know the finest kind: the Bennetts, the Millers and Lesters, the bubbies whose names fill the local history books.

Edith (Edie) Lester came from one of those families. Her dad was Captain William J. Lester, one of the famous Posey Boys of Amagansett.

He married Lottie Wood, daughter of Elsie and Elmer.

"She never talked about her parents," Edith recalled. "People of that generation never dwelled on the negative. There were 11 brothers and sisters in that house – they were together all the time."

The "negative" no one talked about was the deaths of her grandparents.

Elsie Miller, who was born in 1890 married Elmer Wood, a union that ended far too soon. "Grandpa died and she died 21 days later," Lester said matter-of-factly.

Life went on. The old homestead on School Street in Amagansett remained a vibrant center for the family.

Eventually Edie's Mom passed on. "One day, while cleaning the house in Amagansett, I found a bunch of letters in a trunk. I kind of scanned through them and then put them in a box," Lester related.

The letters were written by Elsie during World War II, some to her sons who were fighting, bringing them up to speed on local news.

The more Edie Lester thought about the family dynamics, the more she realized she had been robbed of something very special – the love of her maternal grandmother.

"Something kept calling to me, so I went back to that box and started reading. That's when I fell in love with my grandmother."

The letters were a treasure trove of not only family memories but also details about life in a small fishing town and the tight knit families that made it a community. "There are so many little details about so many local families – these were the people who fished from the Promised Land and shopped at Daniel's Store (Dan Miller, now the Springs General Store).

Lester launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to start a book, and recently completed her labor of love, A Gift From The Attic. Sunday she will hold her first book signing at the Springs Presbyterian Church.

Those interested can also purchase the book directly from herby calling 631-604-6807 or visit Lulu.com.

The most poignant letter of the collection wasn't written by her grandmother but by Edith, who penned a fitting farewell letter to Elsie after reading all the letters.

"I'm quite sure it wasn't an easy time for you . . . Grandfather wasn't getting any better. It wasn't easy for him not being able to care for his family," Lester penned.

Elsie's beloved husband, father of 12, "never made the fall fishing" again. As Lester wrote to her grandmother, "How sick he must have been . . . he kept trying to take care of his family. I'm sure your heart was broken."

You see, Elsie was harboring a secret as well – she was dying, too, and broken up by the fact her husband wouldn't be there to care for her in her final hours.

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