I wrote earlier about how my family spent the fall, winter and spring going to museums in New York City to look at art collections. Well, in the late spring and all summer and maybe a bit of early fall – we went to the beach.
My father was a sun worshipper – he believed there was nothing healthier for you than a super duper excruciating bright red blistering sun burn.
There was no such thing as sunscreen back then so every year we’d all burn. I remember not being able to sleep from the stinging heat of the burn – all we had was some Solarcaine to spray on (which has a drug in it to numb pain). When the burn started to peel, I did enjoy pulling long strips of skin off; the bigger and longer the better. Eventually we’d all tan and freckle to a deep hearty color – my father turned a spectacular mahogany.
My Dad was happiest at the beach because 1. he suffered from eczema and the sun helped clear it up a lot, and 2. his happiest childhood memories were summers spent at Rockaway Beach, so he felt more relaxed at the beach than anywhere else. (it happens to me too now – the beach is like a Neuralyzer for me).
One of the regular places we went was Rye Beach in Westchester County. Rye Beach was a pleasant drive from our house, maybe about 10 miles.
It was a very fun place to go (and probably still is).
There was a swimming pool for those who prefer chlorine to salt water (I got to swim in it once that I remember), a long boardwalk with lots of fun booths with games and foods, a long dock for loud booming ferries (I called one ferry the Noisy Boat as a kid because its horn was deafening) and of course Playland – an enchanting amusement park.
When I was little and my Dad still felt flush with money – we would sometimes get Italian Ices from the Boardwalk or ice creams from some guy who walked around with them for sale.
And a couple of times we even went to the amusement park – the scene of a tragic occurrence where I lost my red pom pom hat on the kiddie roller coaster, never to be found again. That ended the day with tears and I never forgave that roller coaster or went on it again.
One thing my Dad never forked over money for was the magic, scary, mystical fortune telling Zoltar. When I saw the movie Big as an adult it was a rush – first off I knew Zoltar right from the start – that was the guy I was always terrified of, but drawn to, at Rye Beach… then when the movie actually ended at Rye Beach I nearly burst in the movie theater!
Zoltar! my Zoltar was in the movie! (only they’d moved him a bit from where he’d been when I was a kid). Too bad my Dad was too cheap to pay to get my fortune – I might have had a life as a Fairy princess or Japanese princess or maybe both.