Summer fun

Robert Moses Boat


My mother was born August 15 and as a child we’d celebrate the day by going to the ocean.  We lived on the North Shore of Long Island with the Long Island Sound a quick drive from our home.  That was our everyday beach for swimming lessons and sunset walks along the shore.  The Atlantic Ocean was reserved for special occasions with wild waves and riptides threatening to pull you under.  Looking back, I shutter just thinking about how dangerous my childhood was.  We’d all pile into a car like clowns at the circus.  The more the merrier.  I’m not sure when seat belts were invented but they were definitely not part of my childhood.  I had the window seat only once and that time I accidentally opened the door while we sped along.  My brother held my feet as the rest of me exited the car.  He managed to pull me back in and I’m sure my mother had a few firm words to say.   After that, I was doomed to the middle seat for a number of years.

Robert Moses Beach

Once we arrived at the beach and our territory established with umbrellas, cooler and towels, we were set free to go where we pleased.  I was a horrible swimmer but that didn’t stop me from heading into the surf.  More than once, I was pulled from turbulent waters gasping for air by a cousin or a complete stranger.  Defying death was all part of the magic of the day.    At some point, an Entenmanns sheet cake would appear with black and white icing and candles.  For those not from Long Island, Entenmanns cake was a local bakery that expanded into a factory.  The cakes were made of Crisco, flour and sugar.   Not a gourmet delight by any stretch of the imagination.   We’d sing as the melted icing would catch sand particles adding an extra crunch.   Dare I tell you that my mother’s birthday was the highlight of summer fun.

Robert Moses Lighthouse 1

This past week my mother would have turned 80.  My sister Lisa and I took off for Robert Moses State Park yesterday to sit by the edge of the ocean.  It was chilly so we didn’t tempt fate by jumping into the surf.  Instead, we talked and remembered with laughter what once was.  Salt and sand lightly coated the cherries I had brought and all seemed right with the world.

This entry was posted in Essay, Memories, Mother, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Summer fun

  1. tw says:

    This is a lovely insight to your past Mae, and the many potential scrapes with death during your childhood! I don’t remember seat belts either and we often piled into the car with my parents and grandparents, easily going over capacity on passengers vs seats! Those days somehow seem much simpler, more innocent and free from harm – though obviously they weren’t. Thank you for reminding me of times that meant a lot to me, by sharing times that meant a lot to you.

  2. Don Ostertag says:

    Beautiful memories, beautifully written, Mae.

  3. LB says:

    I’m sure many of your followers, or at least I hope, many of your followers remember the years before seatbelts, doors that parents could lock, and Entenmanns (didn’t they also make cake donuts with chocolate frosting?).
    What we didn’t know back then definitely didn’t hurt us (that we know of!).
    Glad you and your sister gathered to celebrate your mother!

  4. Colleen says:

    We lived like we could be easily replaced…not such a bad thing I suppose.

  5. K C Eames says:

    Great writing Mae! Naive flirtations with danger seemed to be the norm in my childhood as well. I can remember sleeping in the back window deck of the family car, as comfy as a cat in the sun, while traveling with my family. No one seemed to imagine me as a human missile if the brakes had been applied.

  6. John says:

    It is a wonder any of us survived to adulthood, with the ‘unsafety’ of cars … we used to stand up in the backseat, until we grew too talk to stand. And, there is something glorious about sticking your head out of the window of a fast moving car.

    We don’t have oceans here in Colorado. And, since it isn’t as dreadfully hot and humid as AZ or TX, there aren’t a lot of homes with in ground swimming pools — unless you’re very rich. Our water adventures were limited to inflatable swimming pools, where there was little risk of a tidal pull.

  7. maesprose says:

    I remember standing too. That was fun.

    You are right. As long as you weren’t swimming with ice picks I’m sure all was pretty calm!

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