Spotlight on Grown up Islanders: Clayton Baker
Clayton Baker was born an islander. His parents were living in St. James City, where they had been since the 1980s. He remembers there having been far fewer people when he was growing up on the island than there are now. According to the longtime islander, the small population lent itself to freedoms and liberties no one really imagined not having.
“You could do whatever you wanted to, without having to worry about anybody,” said Baker, adding that fishing is not what it used to be on the island. “Everybody’s fishing these days — there’s fewer fish to catch and we’ve had water problems.”
Baker said he feels the population increase is accountable to some degree for current environmental issues on the island and admits his hope is that it will get better. — although he said he believes the issue is a multifaceted one.
Like most island kids, Baker said he had his own boat by the time he was 12 years old. His school-aged memories are filled with rushing home with friends to go fishing on the boat he built with his father.
When he wasn’t on the water, or playing golf with his grandparents at Alden Pines, he said he was playing baseball for the Pine Island Little League.
“I started playing as soon as I was able to,” said Baker. “I was probably 5 or 6. I played through to about 15.”
Feeling fortunate to have grown up as an islander, Baker said he would never have had the freedoms he did, such as running four-wheelers all over the island, had he been a city kid. He also credits the close-knit community experience he’s had for fostering his adult business ethics.
While most may feel a small island town wouldn’t hold much promise for a new business, Baker reasons in the opposite direction. Having just opened an auto repair shop in a place where everyone knows the kind of man he is means a great deal to him.
“If I was to open an auto repair shop in the Cape, no one would know who I am,” said Baker.
If a large sum of money was in his future, Baker said he would likely buy a bigger boat and spend more time fishing.
To those thinking of moving here, or just visiting, Baker said, “Don’t change Pine Island.”