February 12, 2011

Sand in my shoes

Is there a place you want to be when you are bored; when your stressed- when you need to escape; that place when push comes to shove you alway go back to time and time again? Is it your favorite city, the mountains, the town you grew up in, grandma's? 
For me it's the beach. 

I love the beach, its no wonder- when I was a small child my parents and my Aunt Gen and Uncle Howard bought a house at the beach on Long Island's south shore. We spent every summer at that house both families, my cousins Pat, Genevieve, Mickey, my brothers Paul and Gerard and me;  boy did we have fun- we were fortunate children. I'd come home from school on the last day for summer vacation to the trunk of the car open and packed for our summer there. Four adults, six kids, and three very large shepherds-even the dogs got along!

The town had such character, there was Harry's Candy Store, when I was a child you could buy penny candy there. WOW how neat was that. And the bathing suit store up near our corner which was a seasonal store called Weinstein's, was stacked and packed with summer wear as high of the ceiling. You could go in there with very little money and come out with a bathing suit for every day of the week. And Lucky Twins that was a large vegetable/ fruit store where everyone did their shopping. Just about every block had a bar on the corner beach go-ers get thirsty after all. Shines was probably the oldest and most established, there was a lady who cooked there named Helen, she made the most heavenly chicken dinners. Bel-Air Pizza was the best, Vito had a place right on the beach by the board walk, my cousin Mickey was a driver-pizza maker there. There was The Butcher Shop, The Shoe Repair Shop, The Drug Store, The Surf Shop no chain stores or malls in the west end, just small neighborhood stores, some stayed open all year round, some were seasonal businesses.

There were families that came back summer after summer to “the block” Families from other towns on Long Island, upstate NY and NYC. We were small children and we grew up together summer after summer, writing letters over the winter to keep in touch. We played on the beach for hours and hours every day as children, surfed, sunned ourselves until golden brown. On the narrow streets and local boardwalk we rode bikes and made friends with the locals, boy and girl alike. We played tag, football, cards, we jogged, flew kites, we spoke to each other at night by cans attached to strings strung between our houses, had sleepover, scary movie night- we even went to church together.

We’re adults now, with kids of our own. One of our group died young of MS, her loss was tragic-sad. The rest of us- the kids from "the block" for the most part are still friends. We see each other are much as possible, and boy do we laugh; like a bunch of kids. There isn’t a beach that feels quite as good to me as this one; I guess it has to do with the memories- they are sweet.


  1. Oh what memories your blog brought to mind. I just picked up the attached picture of patrons at the bar in Shine's taken in 1949 when I stopped to get some scratch offs at the liquor store by C-Town and thought you might like a copy. What wonderful Sunday afternoons we all had there. I liked Helen's meatloaf and hamburgers best and we went there right after last Mass on Sunday as a group. Will send a copy of picture to G, P & H. I wonder if they remember it as well as you and I do?

  2. Hey Jen. I too remeber the days in Long Beach with the whole family. And I don't know if it's just me, but still, to this day when I drive down California Street, knowing the house is not the same, I still look for the monkey in the window. Just throwing that out there!

    Love you Man!


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