Bidding the Beach Club Goodbye
Labor Day signaled the last call at my Grandmothers Long Island beach club.
Just as white shoes would make their final appearance of the season, so it was time to bid the sandy white beach goodbye as the summer of 1961 came to a close.
End of a Mid-Century Summer
By late afternoon on Labor Day, the wind at the beach club had picked up and the whipping sound of the flags snapping in the wind grew louder as the choppy surf grew rougher, spraying salty mist in the air.
Like a sailor lured by the siren call of the sea, the late afternoon beach beckoned.
The tide had gone out making it ideal conditions for serious sandcastle building and I couldn’t wait to get my hands into some wet sand, patting and pummeling it into submission.
Kodak Moments To Remember
These would be moments to remember and Mom grabbed her Brownie Starflex camera, frowning in annoyance that Dad had left it without film.
After being out in the bright sunshine it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness as I followed Mom into the dim changing room of the beach club cabana with its floor gritty with sand and powder, to load the camera with film.
Once she was done threading and winding the metal spool and had snapped the lid shut ensuring not a ray of light would strike the Kodak 127 film and ruin any of the 12 black and white shots, she let me turn the cranking knob winding the film until the start appeared in the ruby-red window.
With her flowered plastic lined beach bag packed with some fluffy freshly laundered towels, a change of suits for me and enough cracker jacks to see me through some serious construction, Mom slipped on her matching beach jacket and thongs and I clutched my colorful metal sand pail and we headed for the beach skipping with great care over the mollusk shells dropped by the seagulls on the brick walkway.
The end of the day belonged to the scavengers .
There was Ned Brodie who broke the tedium of the day combing the perimeter of the beach with a Geiger counter in one hand and a metal detector in the other, hoping to hit the ultimate jackpot of a radioactive coin.
Then there was the daily parade of brazen sun worshiping seagulls.
The birds would be teetering and tottering on their skinny pinkish legs, bottle caps glittering greedily in their hooked yellow bills, those brazen gulls conducting surveillance, holding summits, squabbling over territory, leaving a paper trail in their wake.
The end of the day beach maintenance men followed these white-headed interlopers and their colorful trail of green spearmint, yellow peppermint and teaberry pink gum wrappers scooping them up along with the Dixie cup lids, bottle caps and popsicle sticks, that the scavenger gulls pulled out of trash cans littering the beach.
But the late afternoon belonged to the no see-ums, those imperceptible biting sand flies that were the bane of my mothers existence.
These went beyond merely a simple brush off; they required an entire swat team to rid the beach of these pesky bugs.
At the end of the day as umbrellas were lowered, bathing suits rinsed, sands shaken out of shoes, and bets settled up for the day, the no see-ums nipped at your ankles.
By days end the medicinal mentholated smell of Solarcaine filled the summer air, as mothers gently rubbed the thick, soothing lotion into their children’s flaming sun-scorched bodies relieving their agonizing suffering.
Too much fun n’ sun? No need to worry. The searing pain of sunburn had no place in modern life.
We would have to wait a full year to do it all over again.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. 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.