23shirt-600PLENTY of examples exist of the divisions between tourists and locals in beach towns, but the T-shirts in the window at Johnny’s Tackle Shop here are a good place to start. True, a “Kiss My Bass” T-shirt grabs the attention of both anglers and day-trippers wandering Main Street in this town at the east end of Long Island. But shirts like that can be found wherever in the world rods and sinkers are sold.

Another shirt hanging at Johnny’s more tidily illustrates the perennial South Fork tension between latecomers and locals, the one that responds to 12 commonly asked day-tripper questions with a tartly inhospitable edge. “The lighthouse is that way,” the shirt advises, before going on in a cranky litany to note that Johnny’s does not sell coffee or the newspaper and that the fish that draw a lot of folks to Montauk bite at night and bite in the morning, and bite on the ebb and bite on the flood, and bite on porgies and also on eels.

The remaining replies to tourist queries are phrased in ways that defy polite paraphrase, but the gist is something along the lines of bite on this.

Exclusivity, as much as sun and sand, is part of the gravitational pull of the Hamptons, where Them and Us divisions are as fastidiously tended as a billionaire’s privet hedge.

The superrich secretly detest the group-house yuppies. Families with long claims on ancestral farmsteads privately sneer at hedge-fund nouveaux riches perched in seaside mausoleums. Members of the private clubs at the top of the local social pyramid turn up their noses at the socially unfavored.

And the hard-core surfers, who not only brave the rocky right break at Camp Hero in Montauk but also do it in winter, openly disdain the ankle-leashed newbies who turn up each July at Ditch Plains, noses slathered in zinc-oxide, unblemished boards tucked beneath their arms…

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