The Pride of the Pridwin – the Genthner Family

July 15th, 2011

The Genthner family at this year's July 4th cookout.

The pride of the Pridwin Hotel is the long-standing return guests and families we have hosted throughout the years. No family typifies this more than the Genthners who started visiting the Pridwin in the early 1960s. An incredibly handsome, fun-loving and great-natured bunch, the Genthner’s are Pridwin royalty. We mourned this year the passing of Dr. Dan Genthner, the father who started their tradiiton. We remember him as a towering man whose unimaginable gentleness added to a heroic aura. We were very happy to see the Genthner’s return this year with a new generation of great-grandchildren to experience the Pridwin. Dr. Dan’s wife, Ursula Genthner, has been very kind to write a guest blog of her earliest memories of the Pridwin. We gratefully post them here.

The first time we came to the Pridwin was in 1962 – the first year of the Frost -Mobius-Petry management of the Pridwin. We came with our young sons from Pennsylvania. It is now 2011 and we haven’t missed but a few summer visits in all these years!

My husband Dan, who passed away last year, discovered the beautiful Shelter Island when he was only 15 years old when he and his other young friends from Southold would row a small boat across the water to explore the island.

Early on in our marriage, Dan wanted to share Shelter Island with his family. In those first few years we were housed in a small, rustic cabin where the ‘newer’ cabins now stand. The beds were covered with nubby pink chenille spreads – with a large ‘P’ in the middle.

Three meals a day were served in the Dining Room. The chef today would laugh at the dinners we enjoyed then – except when our sons gagged on the ham with raisin sauce!

One chef was a true ‘dessert king’ and displayed his art on long tables where we picked our favorite sweet of the day.

On the weekends, a husband and wife team and a third friend played dance music in the small barroom; the wife played drums. This was a tiny spot found through the same entrance of today’s long bar, but entered through wooden beaded curtains! We danced on the porch overlooking the water.

When my husband first proudly turned into the driveway I was far from impressed by a large porch that extended across the front of the hotel with elderly couples and single ladies rocking complacently, while taking in the magnificent view of the Bay. I am sure that they were dreadfully unhappy with the arrival of two small boys!

We had some rainy days that first visit, but a kindly night watchman set up a card table for a jigsaw puzzle, and then lit a fire for us in the Lobby. Our boys made friends with the owner’s sons and were thrilled to run up and down the stairs, peer into rooms, and generally make pests of themselves. These raucous games came to a not-so-gentle end at the stern request of an elderly retired school teacher.

As the boys grew older water skiing became the highlight of their days. The farmlands of Pennsylvania had not prepared them for this new sport, but after many headlong plunges they learned to hold their own and have great fun.

Every year Dick Petry and Paul Mobius made changes and improvements to the hotel and grounds and more activities were added and the chefs outdid themselves with new menus. And each year we joyfully renewed friendships with other guests that we had met on previous visits. And there of course is nothing like a a summer romance to make the return to school more difficult!

As time went on, and we continued our yearly visits to the Pridwin our grandchildren joined us, and now our great-grand children.

One grand-daughter befriended a great but fearsome chef. She became the only ‘outsider’ allowed into the Kitchen, where she was always met with warm hugs from the chef. And then we became the only table to be served not-on-the-menu treats thanks to this wonderful friendship. The chef;s wife made her an afghan that she still has even in her post-college years.

Everything in life changes, but not always for the better. Certainly Francis Meyers would be pleased with the redecoration of the Lobby as he was when he first opened the doors in 1927 as we are today!

Each year, the 7 minute ferryboat ride from Greenport to Shelter Island allows us to shed away any anxieties and problems – leaving them on the mainland. And the ride in the opposite direction usually brings tears, followed shortly by wonderful memories

–Ursula Genthner


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