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Ray and Jane Cunningham were among the original homeowners on Figure Eight Island, building their house in 1974. It became their getaway home, a place to enjoy coastal living. Whether at the beach or at a lake, Ray liked to waterski on a chair. Ray loved to fish with Jane and his kids. “We would see him out on his porch rehearsing his lines for ‘Matlock’ back in the day,” says Susan Owen, one of Ray and Jane’s daughters. “It was fun to watch him rehearse his lines and move his hands all around.” Cunningham recalls how her friends, also named Griffith, used to live near Andy Griffith, who chose not to label the mailbox at his house. “He liked to be left alone, and we all respected that,” she says. One day, painters arrived at the wrong Griffith home. Her friends saved their house from an unwanted paint job just in time. She remembers hearing that whenever Paul Newman used to scope out houses on the island to rent, his ultimate test was checking the fridge to see if the house was stocked with his namesake salad dressing. The Cunninghams’ time on the island wasn’t all run-ins with glamorous celebrities, but there were plenty of other fun times. “It was a place they loved to entertain family and friends,” Owen says. “We loved playing bocce ball in the front yard. We biked a lot. We swam, we waterskied. Dad had a brown wooden disk he could stand on behind the boat. He got to where he could put a chair on it. The brown disk would sink and all we would see was a man sitting on a chair, being pulled behind a boat.” The Cunninghams spent many holidays on Figure Eight, including one memorable Halloween when the island was still sparsely populated and 16 WBM february 2017 PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CUNNINGHAM FAMILY


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