As a kid, I welcomed a horribly hot day like a wino waking up and finding a half-pint stashed down his sock. I wanted to be in water so bad in July & August if I saw the temperature was headed over 90 I’d do a jig. Only this extremity could push the dice my way.
Mom had psoriasis and wanted no one to see her legs. She was not taking us anywhere near water. Mom could page a calendar in winter and start sweating reading the name of the months: June, July August… She hated heat and looked for shade like an old farm mule. Our apartment lights only came on at night for reading. Dad didn’t sweat until he put his head under a car (rarely, he didn't own one). In the Navy he slept under a steam pipe and spoke warmly about it when repeating that memory (often).
Only a forecast of 90 and over got my parents in gear. Their brains got scrambled and sound decisions got mushed up with impaired judgment.
There was a scale of increasing value when it came to getting to water.
Tub ~ Dad not home, Mom ain’t leaving the house, she ran a tub for Rory & I and we took turns sliding in and out.
Roof ~ Mom’s two sisters would talk Mom into pulling the baby pool up to the 83rd Street roof and we all took turns sticking ourselves in it.
John Jay Pool ~ a relative other than Mom took us and Dad only did it with great reluctance. He hated public pools.
Rockaway Beach ~ this is where the 90 degrees came in, though Dad didn’t sweat he did love body surfing. When it hit 90 his fudged up brain stirred up his memories of the beach and we took a cab to Woodside (without Mom) caught the Rockaway Park bus to 116th Street where we jumped off and ran to Curley’s Bath House.
Lakes ~ Sparkle & Davies Lakes were the standout destinations but this only happened on the weekend when a relative with a car felt sorry for us and dragged us along. Dad would come to the lake but make a face all day that said, “Why didn’t we go to the beach?”
Jones Beach ~ Nirvana! Only Aunt Joan & Uncle George took me, and it was only the three of us. No faces whining about the heat, just three beach lovers with food & drink packed with magical Scotch Ice. Cold tuna from heaven, mayo, cheese, good bread, soda, juice, milk. Rough waves, perfect for body surfing, and the place looked like ancient Egypt with the obelisk and decorative buildings. The Land of the Pharaohs!
Joan lived at 321 E. 85th St, and if I stayed over in July or August and the weather was right, 6am we were gone before the rest of the neighborhood woke up.
This past Saturday, I went to Jones Beach and it was just fine. Photos below and a link to gallery of 145 photographs of the beach. It's still a magical place.
Thank you, Joan & George for taking me there.