Amagansett residents Hugh King and Loretta Orion share a knack for preserving local history. As the husband-wife duo marched across Main Street, smiling and waving to an audience of familiar faces, they embraced another commonality — serving as grand marshals of the community’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade last Saturday.
“Everybody thinks of us as one person,” said King, 77, who wore a top hat, rounded glasses and a cape, with a green corsage pinned to his lapel. He and his wife are the first couple to share Amagansett’s grand marshal honor, which is fitting, King says, because they are inseparable.
“You don’t know how many years you have left,” he said. “You want to spend as much time with the one you love.”
Their love story began in the heart of Amagansett almost 40 years ago. As a change of pace from her nursing job in New York City, Orion took a summer waitressing gig at a restaurant called the Royale Fish. King, who grew up in the area, met Orion because he knew the owners. The rest was history.
“My biggest accomplishment was getting that woman to marry me,” he said.
Both are involved with the Home, Sweet Home Museum in East Hampton — King as the director and Orion as the landscape gardener. The village museum is housed in a saltbox house constructed in the 1700s.
King, a retired teacher at Springs School in East Hampton, serves as East Hampton's official town crier, speaking at village board meetings and giving tours of historic sites.
Orion, 74, earned a PhD in anthropology from Stony Brook University, and recently published a book, “It Were as Well to Please the Devil as Anger Him: Witchcraft in the Founding Days of East Hampton,” about a litte-known witch trial that took place on the East End.
“It’s almost like they know every square inch of Amagansett and East Hampton,” said Joi Jackson Perle, director of the Amagansett Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the parade. “I think they both have quiet personalities. But when they speak about their specialty, which is history, they become very animated.”
While the two are dedicated to sharing their town’s past, they have left a mark of their own on Amagansett.
“They’re the living history,” said Lee Satinsky, founder of the Amagansett Chamber of Commerce. “They deserve every accolade that the town can give them.”