During the 1950’s and 60’s my grandmother was in possession of prime beach club real estate on a narrow spit of land on suburban Long Island.
A much coveted corner cabana at the El Patio, we were treated to unobstructed vistas of the clean white sandy beach and could breath deeply of the refreshing salty breezes coming off the ocean.
Protecting El Patio’s sandy shores was the whistle blowing-pith Helmet wearing-Bobby Rydell -look-a-like lifeguard.
With his deep, dark Sea and Ski tan, his nose and lips thick with white zinc oxide he looked like he had just come from performing at a minstrel show belting out a rendition of Swannee.
Perched high on his wooden white lifeguard stand, his 6 foot frame towered over everyone, his trained eye sweeping the beach for any infraction to the rules posted on large print for all to see.
The omnipresent lanyard braided in a box stitch with the whistle clipped on it that he wore around his neck, ensured all that he was at the ready, poised to jump heroically into depths of the ocean in a moments notice.
That is , once he put out his ever-present cigarette.
Cold War Beach Control
Another fixture monitoring the nearly deserted beach was Sol Rubin, a solitary figure with a perpetual Roi Tan cigar jutting from his mouth who spent the day ensconced on his folding webbed aluminum chair scanning the ocean in hopes of spotting a Soviet submarine operating off the coast.
Craning his neck to stare through the massive waves with his high-powered Bausch and Laumb binoculars with the Touch-O-Matic focusing bar, rotund Mr Rubin was our first line of coastal defense in case an enemy sub might sneak close enough to our shore.
Even as I innocently built a sandcastle with my metal shovel and pail, enemy submarines might be taking radar fixes on our shores and possibly interfering with our missile testing.
Was that battery propeller noises a school of fish or a Russian submarine?
Club members were used to his false alarm sightings which more often than not turned out to be the bobbing petal bathing capped head of a swimmer who had drifted too far out. Since there were no defenses against incoming missiles, the only way to stop a submerged sub was by detecting them.
So while his cronies were busy dealing cards, rolly polly Mr Rubin made certain that our shores were secure against any Cold War surprise attacks.
The club motto was “…You know you’re safe with Sol.”
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
- Beach Club Paradise on Parade (envisioningtheamericandream.wordpress.com)
- Cabana Set Boys of Summer
- Beach Club Paradise Protected