Growing Up in Sconset

reminiscing with Robert Egan

Being 18-years-old in the summer of 1970 brought a tension that young men today do not have to face: the draft lottery. The United States was in the midst of the Vietnam War, and on July 1, 1970, numbers were drawn to determine who would be drafted into miliary service.

Robert Egan remembers it well: “Three of us were sitting in Rick Glidden’s kitchen on Milk Street as they were rolling out the balls for the draft lottery…we were all sweating it out…As long as you got a number higher than 70, you were okay: I got 115.”

Most of the memories Egan shared with us of Siasonset, where he grew up, in 1970 were of happy, halcyon days. “In 1970, it was beautiful…’ Sconset was a bike community for kids. There were two sports here in 1970: football and then a lull until basketball started… there was the ‘Sconset Casino here in 1970, but that wasn’t for us, that was for the summer people who were members. But they showed movies, and those were open to the public.

“And when we weren’t in class, we were working: we all worked here as kids. If you weren’t lazy, you could make a lot of money on Nantucket. I worked for my Great Uncle Earl Coffin—he was the original ‘Gucci Gardener’ of ‘Sconset.”

Robert told us it was 1970 that he had “the realization that there were really wealthy people that could afford to come to Nantucket to play and not work… it made you wonder, is that the way the world is? It motivated kids to work harder…We had a social studies teacher who had been the ambassador to Uruguay. We used to mow his lawn. One day he invited us in for sodas and asked our college plans and about the summer people, he said to us ‘Boys: what you don’t realize is that they work harder than you do. They are just here for a week.’ We thought we were working hard… we didn’t realize until then that we weren’t working hard enough and it motivated us to work harder.” After that “I dreamed of coming back to Nantucket and enjoy the natural beauty without having to work so hard.”

Egan ended up starting his own business on Nantucket the next summer, and worked all through his college days at BU. After that “I dreamed of coming back to Nantucket and enjoy the natural beauty without having to work so hard.”

Robert Egan worked hard to make his dream come true. After decades of running his own businesses here and off-island, he and his wife Marsha have returned to Nantucket. They may no longer work quite as hard in the businesses they started and own, but they volunteer in many endeavors across the island so that the r est of us can enjoy Nantucket.

This season is the 50th year for Yesterday’s Island/Today’s Nantucket. We’ve seen many changes on the island during the last half-century, and over the years we have made many changes to our publication. As part of our anniversary celebration, we are publishing memories of our island in 1970 that readers have shared with us. If you have a reminiscence of Nantucket in 1970 to share, please email it to us at yi@nantucket.net or give us a call at 508-228-9165