Saturday, May 1, 2010

Farewell Field 6

I'm not acknowledging the reality of moving away from my native New York to North Carolina just yet. It will be soon, very soon!

This suspended state prevents me from starting to pack, and I am still showing the house to vetted parties. The place is spotless and that feels a teensy bit unreal. My list of 'next steps' is ready--policies and services to be cancelled or migrated, intricacies of banking across two states, aligning the movers without putting down a deposit just yet, deciding what's coming with me for the car ride south, comparing listings by e-mail and phone with my NC realtor, etc...

What to do on this sunny first Saturday in May when there's no yard work, no appointments scheduled for the morning, and hours to pass until the Run for the Roses at 6:30pm? 

I decided to drive out to Jones Beach, 40 miles and 30 minutes away on Long Island's south shore. I don't think it's the last time I'll EVER be there, but it will be a long while, to be sure. I could spend a whole day photographing the personality of various Fields (sections of beach), the Boardwalk, West and East Bathhouses, the masses of daytrippers, the tan and leathery regulars, etc...but I just wanted to relax, breathe the salty air, hear the gulls and the surf, read a book, nap and digest my near-neighbors' snippets of conversation. "I told huh..." "YESSS I'm annoyed, they have the whole back, the whole front-a -dis beach and they plunk down on top of us! I will NOT calm down."  (Are we having fun yet?)
The "Toll Plaza"

The fee crept up from $4.00 to $8.00 in 2006.

The wooden lightposts send me back to my childhood! Many have been replaced.

We were not a beach-outing family. My father was in the Navy, but he's not a water guy. Not a shirtless, shorts-wearing kind of guy. Dad would golf or work on the house on Saturdays. Still does. Mom loved the sun. Still does. She would pack the red Coleman coolers with tuna fish sammies, plums, fruit juice, Fritos, Chips Ahoy's and Oreos. She'd load the 4 kids in her white Pontiac convertible, and head to Ransom and Stehli beaches in Bayville (North Shore/LI Sound.) There was always some discussion about whether we could bring home periwinkle snails, razor clams or some other stinky shells we'd collected. No, but rocks and empty shells were fine.

I tagged along with neighbors to "the ocean", but I think my mother took us kids to TOBAY (Town of Oyster Bay residents' beach at Jones Beach) just a few times. Probably too many blonde heads to keep track of, and big waves...when an exhausted mother just wanted to tan, read and take a nap. Imagine sleeping while your 4 children float away toward Europe...

Approaching the water tower, commonly called "The Needle"-- time to start thinking about which Field. There are 10 miles of beaches! There's an old brown sign that has the numbers of the open fields posted. You have to look fast as you drive by, but it's usually 4, 6, 10 and West End.
I took the easy way out today, Field 6. It has facilities (I prefer not to tinkle in the ocean) and the beach is more 'narrow', meaning the water is closer. Families prefer this field so they don't have to walk 1/4 mile across hot sand (Field 4) with crying babies, moody teenagers or spouses, and heavy coolers. Everything is better once the blankets are down. On one end of Field 6, there's the Boardwalk and restaurants. A faithful blog follower reminded me of the ice cream guy! I forgot about him! He'd walk for miles carrying a styrofoam cooler that was covered by a terry cloth towel. He'd save you the trip back to the concession stand, calling out "Ice Cream. Snick-iz. Frohhhzen Fruit Bahs!" He'd roll with the times, and switch his pitch to, "Ice Cream. Chipwich. Frohhhzen Fruit Bahs!" He was there even if I returned after a few YEARS. I think I heard he paid for college and bought a house for cash.

Anyway, at Field 6 I veered off to the far opposite side, so I'd be away from the stream of "Where? Here? This is good, why not here? Sal, just pick a spot!" Too early in the season for the ice cream guy.

Field 4 has both the bay side and the ocean side, and a massive, weedy concrete parking lot. All the kids scream and whoop in the connecting tunnel. It was always clammy and dark in there, with random standing water. Don't want to get that in your flip flops  ;-(   West End is "the surfer's beach" with bigger waves, and it's quieter. 
Field 5 is parking for concerts, Field 9 was closed in the 70's for erosion, Field 10 is the fishing piers. TOBAY is for Oyster Bay residents and Gilgo is for Babylon residents. $30-$40 per day if you are a non resident!

Any Long Island readers who can tell me what's at Field 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8?  Cousin Chris??
Field 6, 9:00am The calm before the throngs. And thongs.

Flounder is running.

Ubiquitous Jones Beach wastebaskets.

I scooped up some sand as I left at 1pm. Might put it in a little jar on a bookshelf in NC. I'll have lots of beaches to explore there, but will always have my memories of Meadowbrook Parkway and Jones Beach.

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