March 26, 1976 Buy Reprints
OCEAN BEACH, Fire Island —It was a wretched day here last Sunday, with gusty winds and piercing rains and everything else that can go wrong on a March day, but nothing could deter the three young women from the city from seeing “Snug Cozy.”
The three—Karen Shevell, Deborah Joseph and Cher Goldman—were, performing the Manhattan singles’ rite of spring. They had driven out from the city on a miserable day, caught a crowded 1:15 P.M. ferry from Bay Shore on the mainland, and joined the hordes of other singles who were doing the same thing here—searching for a summer house they felt they could love.
And when the three saw “Snug Cozy,” it was love at first sight.
“It’s so cute,” said Miss Joseph, a 25‐year‐old secretary at a Manhattan advertising agency, as she looked around the weatherbeaten, gray‐shingled, casually furnished, four‐bedroom house, which was about a fiveminute walk from the beach. “The only thing that bothers me is that the shower is outside on the sundeck.”
Well, rarely does one find perfection in a rented singles’ summer house; roughing it is half the fun. And so the three young women decided to become “groupers” and take part shares in “Snug Cozy,” which means that for $375 each they will be allowed to spend every other summer weekend there, with a group of 13 other hopefully amiable “groupers,” no more than 8 of whom will be allowed per weekend.
It seems to happen about every March 1, a sort of panicky feeling among singles about how hot and stifling and unbearable it will be to spend the summer in the city. For many of them, the only affordable answer is to become a “grouper” and rent a share in a summer house.
Thus, for the last few weeks, thousands of them have been streaming out to the two most popular summer singles’ paradises—Fire Island and the Hamptons—to look over the available crop of summer houses. These houses rent for anywhere from $2,500 on up through $20,000, depending on size, proximity to the beach, and whether they include such amenities as a tennis court and/or swimming pool. Most, however, tend to hover in the $3,500 to $8,000 range.
What makes the singles run to these places?
“If I didn’t have a place to relax on the weekends, the pressures and the constant ‘on’ of the city would get to me after a while,” said Dr. Arthur Ashman, a divorced Manhattan dentist who was searching for a summer house to share in East Hampton last weekend.
The three young women visiting Fire Island said they had heard about “Snug Cozy” through two male friends who had signed the lease with their fingers crossed that they could get 14 other groupers to share the $6,000 rent.
“What appealed to me is that they said it would not be a crashing house, meaning no sleeping bags all over the floor or that whole scene,” Miss Joseph said. “And there won’t be any big deal about cooking in the house. Everybody’s on their own.”
Miss Goldman, 25, an administrative assistant in a Manhattan engineering firm, said she was looking forward to a good summer in “Snug. Cozy” too, despite the fact that she had recently met two young men bicycling in Central Park who told her, “All you get on Fire Island is drugs and sex.”
“All the Upper East Siders put you down if you go to Fire Island,” she said, somewhat defensively.
While the Hamptons may have more snob appeal in certain singles’ sets, being there is going to be a little harder this summer. The Town of East Hampton, for example, enacted an antigrouper ordinance last Oct. 1 that stipulates that no more than four unrelated people can share a summer house. Before, up to seven unrelated people could share a summer house, a rule that still applies in the Village of East Hampton.
The new ordinance is presently being challenged in Federal Court in Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, four young groupers huddled in the Red Lantern real estate agency in East Hampton the other day, trying to decide which of the houses they had seen that day would be their retreat for the summer. They finally rented a $7,000 house with five bedrooms and a swimming pool in the Village of East Hampton, which has the seven‐person limit.
“We plan to have 10 people on a weekend, oops, I mean seven,” said a smiling Lee Munzer, 32, of Westbury, L. I., a data consultant for the New York Telephone Company. Like many other groupers, he knows that the antigrouper ordinances are seldom enforced.
Mr. Munzer and his friends said they had decided to rent a summer house together again this year because they had been in a “fun and successful one” last year in nearby Amagansett.
“We really got along well last year,” Mr. Munzer said, “except for one girl who was on a diet. She had to eat oranges, grapefriuts, tangerines and salad, and she felt she wasn’t responsible for paying her share of the food bill. We felt she should because she used toilet paper, toothpaste and paper towels.
“We finally worked it out,” he said. “She kept her food in a paper bag with her name on it, and no one else touched it, and she paid half of a regular food share, and the other members absorbed the remaining half.”
Although finicky eaters have been known to cause havoc in a grouper house, the thing that can really ruin one, according to Marsha Kaplowitz, is two house members dating each other.
“It can be very sticky if the couple breaks up and then each one starts bringing other people out to the house,” said Miss Kaplowitz, a 28‐year‐old school teacher from Floral Park, Queens, who is a member of Mr. Munzer’s house and plans to spend her entire summer there. “It’s best to keep your dating in the city, and not go out with people you meet in the Hamptons until after Labor Day.”
According to veteran groupers, the most popular singles communities are Hampton Bays and Amagansett in the Hamptons, where a car is a must to get around, and Ocean Beach, Ocean Bay Park, Kismet and Davis Park on Fire Island, where cars are banned and islanders like it that way.
Many summer houses in these areas are filled through classified ads that run in The Village Voice under a heading called “summer shares,” and read something like this:
HAMPTON BAYS. Co‐ed summer house, ovt tennis ct., beach & dock. May 7.0ct. 1, S475 full. S275 half. Call Jim nites, 879–9732.
A call to Jim elicited the information that that very evening, 40 people who had answered the ad were getting together for “a five‐ or sixhour drink” with the eight returning members of the house. Afterwards the eight, whom Jim described as “very congenial professional people,” would decide which of the 40 they liked best, much in the manner of a fraternity blackball system.
“We have room for 12 new members,” said Jim, who in reality is James Rosasco, 33, a Manhattan engineer. “The hardest part is the weedingout process. You try to make as many apologies as you can.”