This is an excerpt from the second of my beach stories. The working title is New Jersey Beaches, Part II, High School. It is much longer in its entirety and actually is a true adventure story. I have chosen only a few paragraphs to post. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. The boardwalk in Seaside Heights is now just a memory. How sad, that Sandy left such devastation.
.............. When school ended we headed to the JerseyShore,
SeasidePark to be precise.My mother and sisters and I would head for
our trailer with the nifty bunk beds and the minuscule kitchen. They didn’t
call them mobile homes then and the one we had couldn’t have moved if we had
wanted it to.Dad came on the
weekends.We were a short run down a
sandy lane past the real beach houses to one of the most beautiful beaches I
have seen in all my travels.There,
life took on a whole new dimension for me.
cousins, who were sisters, were our neighbors at the shore.They came from the wrong side of a big town
and went to a tough school. Theirhigh school had a lower
set of standards and tolerated behaviors different from those at Chatham High School.
They were a little wild and very street-smart and they talked funny. One would ask “Why we goin’ home so early
– it ain’t even 10:00?” and her sister would respond “Don’t make no difference
They were so different from my Chatham
friends that I loved hanging out with them. Time flew by and our skin darkened
and our hair lightened as we enjoyed the beach with our families all day. Sandy
bologna sandwiches from earlier years were still a lunch staple, but the wax cartons of birch beer
had been replaced by bottles of soda that we would religiously gather up at the
end of the day to return for the two cent deposits. We’d spend it later playing
ski-ball at the boardwalk.
After the sun
went down we headed for SeasideHeights and “the boards.”
I can still imagine and crave the taste of JerseyShore pizza. A piece was
huge with an airy crust full of bubbles and the most delicious toppings of
sausage and peppers.We washed it down
with milkshakes and ended the night walking around with French fries in a
newspaper cone sprinkled with malt vinegar and lots of salt.
In "The Heights", without my mother and little
sisters, it was easy for me to step into the rebel without a cause mode and hang out with the wrong crowd which,
of course, included my big city cousins.
Our routines rarely
varied and, except for weather glitches, life was literally a dayat the beach. At the shore my cousins were
the top dogs of the boardwalk scene. The boardwalk crowd consisted of the
townies who worked in the restaurants or helped run the carousel or the Ferris
wheel on the boardwalk. Add to that, the summer people who weren’t rich and
were shunned by the popular crowd on the beach who hung out with the lifeguards
in their Jantzens.Had I lived in a real
beach house and not in the trailer, I might have been part of that crowd.
Because I liked my
cousins and they didn’t mind me tagging along, I followed them to their turf. I
was clearly a minnow among sharks – a position that was unnatural for me.I ratcheted up my makeup and shortened my shorts
and wore my hair up to fit in.I learned
to swear, and to flirt with the greasers who hung out on the boardwalk just
looking for someone to take to that night’s beach party. Beach parties
consisted of a big bonfire, a lot of beer and no responsible adult in attendance
- everything our Chatham
mothers warned us about. It made summer a lot more exciting and naughty and
just a little dangerous.
To be continued................
Someday I'll publish the whole series of beach stories, starting from childhood to today. (As soon as I finish cleaning out that one last closet.)
Reading the papers today got me thinking and blinking mad. Read about the Hollywood and TV set designers brought in to Tampa to "create the illusion of a likeable Mitt Romney". He is what he is. Let it go.
Next - in the business section a two page profile of a guy who gets paid to write phony, positive reviews for self published authors. He is making a fortune and he no longer believes ANY reviews that he reads.
How about the phone app that lets you send yourself a phony phone call so you can lie your way out of a date? Just be honest and walk away.
Political campaigns are buying Twitter followers to pump up their perceived popularity. Don't blame the guys selling the followers - it has become a hot market.
The Polish store in Lincoln Square is trying to pass itself off as German to better appeal to the locals.
My bank changed its ethnic name to an Americanized version. Who are they kidding?
I get numerous Facebook and Linkedin requests to connect with people with whom I have no connection and don't even know. Guess what they are up to?
I did run across a profile of someone who is for real. She is a 73 year old Chicago triathlete who actually admitted that her second place finish in the last triathlon was because there were only two contestants in her age group. She is going out today to better her record. I wish her well. In the article she decries how kids nowadays all get trophies at the end of the season even if they didn't win anything. Homework projects that look like the parents did them also irk her, as they irk me, as well.
Hers is an inspiring story of firsts, hard work and grand results. I recommend you read it in today's Tribune in the Sunday section- well - at least they aren't still calling it the magazine, bcause it isn't really a magazine anymore.
See what I mean? Nothing, well, almost nothing, is real anymore.
Today I got mad enough to sit down and write about it. I've been leaving my footprints on the southeast corner of the Oak Street Beach for decades. My beloved piece of the beach was a refuge where I could read, do crossword puzzles or just veg out. In April and May it was pretty much me and the seagulls. After that is was me and my beach friends or my kids. In September and October it was back to blessed solitude. It has gradually been getting more populated, probably a result of a combination of the economy, the lack of crazed volleyball players and, sadly, the violence at North Avenue. More and more young families are now Oak Street beachers. We welcomed them and their $1000. strollers and their crazy excess of beach toys.
It was okay when Bruce the "massage guy" set up shop at the head of the boardwalk. He's a good guy and his clients quietly enjoy their therapy under his awning. It really wasn't okay when Anthony put up the restaurant, but we learned to live with it because it was classy and actually had good food. We made fun of his prices, but we liked him and his staff. Also, he was so kind to the elderly Gold Coast grandmas who loved his Sunday buffet. The city did not renew Anthony's lease and instead gave it to a well connected restaurant group who has turned it into a gaudy, cheesy overpriced concession stand. Then came the vendor with the outrageously priced rentals of lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. Taking up good beach space and practicing sporadic hours - that's good business?
Today was the last straw. I got there before my friend, Marcia. I settled in, opened my crossword puzzle, oiled myself up and sank into my chair. I got about 30 minutes of solitude. Then they came..... the tourists including the foreign ones with no clue about protocol or courtesy, the locals with their abundance of pricey toys, and about a million 20 somethings who belong many beaches north of here. They set up too many volleyball courts, tossed around too many footballs in high traffic areas and displayed way too much skin (and flab).
The so called restaurant started some amplified "music" that interfered with my brain - was trying to complete a crossword puzzle and read a book. Then I finally got it. 36 years of sacred space down the drain. It happened gradually, but today it hit me smack in the face. Oak Street is turning into North Avenue - or even worse - Coney Island
Technology is amazing. The electronic voice instructed me to" Please proceed to register 8." I did as I was told. I unloaded the contents of my basket onto the counter. The young, artistically tattooed cashier started scanning my $80.52 worth of items and bagging them. All this while engaging in a lively and flirtatious conversation (gripe session) with the young, artistically pierced cashier at register 7. I swiped my credit card, followed the prompts, signed the box, picked up my three expertly balanced bags and proceeded to the exit. There was no eye contact, no "hello", no "goodbye", no "Thank you for shopping at Walgreens,"
Next time, I''m not going to do what I'm told. I'm going to wait for register 1 where a gentle, older woman -with a sparkle in her eye and who works from a seated position, will greet me, engage in conversation and thank me sincerely. It may take a minute longer than register 8, but I'll feel better and hopefully, so will she.
After leaving a breathtaking and mostly perfect Aida at the Lyric, we jumped on the #20 bus to Michigan Avenue. The crowd at the bus stop was bigger than usual. The bus, which is usually empty, was packed.
The crowd on the curb waiting for the bus were geezers with Aida programs. The packed masses on the bus were 20 somethings from all races, ethnic groups and fashion groups. Some were coming from the Hawks game, some probably from work or other activities.
As the geezers started to enter the bus, the 20 somethings started jumping up out of their seats to give them to us.
I used to say, "thanks, but it's a short trip." Now I say, "thank you and thank your mother for raising you the right way.
We have never left the opera early. Not until last week. Rinaldo by Handel. Beautiful music at times. Act One:
Repetitive, very Handel-like. Sort of like an organ recital with costumes and special effects.
Can't appreciate counter tenor voices. Everyone sounded alike - men and women - come to think of it they looked alike too. Intermission One:
Decided over champagne that we'd leave at the second intermission. Act Two:
Finally, some action and some male voices - well, one bass voice. A superb vocal and dramatic performance by Elsa Van Den Heever as the evil Armida ended with a bang. Really, a bang.
It almost made us change our minds about leaving at intermission. Well, almost. Intermission Two:
We left. Walking into the balmy Chicago air. Yes, balmy.
The #146 bus home. Stage right. Obese Lesbian couple PDA being observed by a Judgemental Geezer in a suit with a chamber music program in his pocket. An old fart hitting on a young woman with crutches. Stage left. No English spoken here VERY LOUDLY.
Center stage. Frantic woman with suitcase madly searching for something in her purse all the way up Michigan Avenue. Bicycle messenger not able to load his bike without help from driver.
Hmmmm. I see an Opera in this bus drama. Really, see what we'd have missed if we had walked. Really.
Skip Rinaldo and take a bus ride.
It is the day of the Michigan and Arizona primaries. I am loaded down with groceries and can't walk the 4 blocks to the bus. Cabbies don't like to pick up people carrying grocery bags. They want people with luggage. Finally a strikingly handsome cabbie with a well tended beard and a beautiful, bright orange turban not only picked me up, but also helped load my groceries in the back seat.
I notice a Ron Paul sticker in the back seat on the notice that lets you know who to call with compliments or complaints.
Me: "You know someone put a Ron Paul sticker in your cab?"
Cabbie: "Yes, ma'am. Yes I do."
Me: "Okay, just wanted to make sure you knew."
Cabbie: "Know why I leave it there?"
Cabbie: " Driving a cab makes you a student of people. I have been studying all those guys. Ron Paul. He is the only one who isn't lying to us."
Me: "Thanks for the smooth ride and the clean cab. And I think you're right about Mr. Paul."
Cabbie: "Have a great evening."
.....As he helped me unload my groceries from his cab.
Surprisingly pleasant interlude. Yes, I gave him a great tip. I take back everything I've said about cabbies in Chicago. Well, almost everything.
Keys Disease ___________________________________________
From Lynnkipedia - a totally bogus free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Locks Disease
Keys Disease (Clavis Morbus) is an infectious, but rarely fatal, disease affecting humans ( homo sapiens). It is believed to be air borne. In some instances felines (cats) especially the feral variety are affected by or may be carriers of the disease. The infection causes several days of euphoria and high excitement, followed by malaise and an indifference to time commitments and obligations.
Keys disease is a severe plague on organized activities and the ability to move projects ahead at any rate of speed. In its most infectious state it is capable of totally destroying the concept of a deadline. Most susceptible to contamination are boaters, fishermen, sunbathers, lap swimmers, conch lovers and just about anyone who wanders below mile marker 126.5 on the Overseas Highway, also known as U.S. 1 in the farthest southeast reaches of the United States.
Causes/ Signs and Symptoms
Ocean breezes. intense sunshine, abundant fishing and a party atmoshere are thought to cause Keys Disease. Some researchers are studying the part that coral reefs may play in the proliferation of the disease. Although there is evidence that Native Americans came to the Keys as early as 3000 B.C., it was not until the 16th century that others arrived there. The first settlers were Spanish fishermen who came from Cuba, a mere 90 miles to the south. There is no documentation of Keys Disease in those early days.
The earliest symptoms can be traced back to the days of Ernest Hemingway. Many of those affected have outward symptoms of "Hemingway Wannabe", which is most often contracted by over the hill retired men from the Midwest. Other symptoms include uncontrollable urges to sing "Wasting Away in Margaritaville" with a longneck in hand and a plate of deep fried something or other in front of you.
Bare Feet, often with ankle bracelets and/or toe rings
Unshaven faces on men
Over- sized sunglasses on women
Deep tans, often with creases around eyes and mouth
Tropical or Harley themed tattoos
Absence of timepieces
Ignorance of national political news
Treatment must take place on the mainland. There is no effective way to fight Keys Disease while actually in the Keys. For short term treatment, a trip to the craziness of Miami traffic may provide temporary relief.
Long term treatment must involve travel to the North or Midwest, preferably during a snow storm, and for longer lasting results, a blizzard.
Unfortunately, the only permanent cure for Keys Disease is abstinence from travel on the southernmost reaches of U.S. 1.
Fortunately, since the disease is not fatal, periodic travel to the Keys is not physically or mentally life threatening and may, in fact, prolong life for those who expose themselves prudently.
Monday's Tampa debate was the worst of the lot. The Mitt and Newt show that Brian Williams allowed for the first interminable minutes was a travesty. Talk about a schoolyard spat between two petulant brats.
The only two grownups in the room were Rick and Ron. Thank heavens they are gentlemen who chose not to twist and shout about being ignored by NBC.
We get who these people are. Does the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" sound appropriate? Maybe we are ready for some "absence makes the heart grow fonder" time.
NO MORE DEBATES. And whomever takes credit for the Super PACs should be run out of town on a rail. I fear I am out of words on this subject. So are the candidates, but they just keep talking anyway. There's got to be a better way. Any ideas?
I was experiencing some balance problems and pains in the neck and head, my doctor referred me to a neurologist. She could find nothing wrong with me except low B12 so she prescribed B12 shots over a period of several months. As I was leaving, she said, "just to be safe, let's schedule a brain scan." Pretty scary being in that MRI trap for over an hour. Results - brain is fine, lots of arthritis in my upper spine and neck. Solution: watch your posture when at thecomputer and keep taking B12 - not shots, a nasal spray. Result - no more head pain. The scariest thing was the bill. The other scary thing is how cavalierly doctors refer patients to very expensive procedures.
Fast forward about 6 months. I am having some weird symptoms, similar to what could be described as a lead up to a heart attack. We get in a cab and off to Northwestern's E.R.. As soon as I related my symptoms I was whisked to a room, not a bed in the hall, as I have heard from others. They must also have suspected heart problems. Remembering back to the brain scan bill, I started taking notes on what happened next. While in the E.R. I was attended by:
guard who greeted us
Chest X-ray tech
Also while in ER I received:
A nitro patch
anti -nausea meds
advice that I'd be expected to do a stress test
advice that they might be "working" on my carotid artery
A chest X-ray
at least 2 blood draws
After looking at my blood results and all my other records from NWM hospital they concluded that:
I had recently successfully completed a stress test
My carotid artery wasn't bad enough to "work on"
My chest X-ray was clean
My magnesium was so low that it caused heart attack-like symptoms
My blood pressure was a bit high (wouldn't yours be?)
I would be admitted for the night
I was then given:
An IV with a bag of magnesium
A heparin shot
I blood pressure pill
In my room that night and in the morning I was attended by:
2 techs who checked vitals every 4 hours
3 RNs to administer injections and IV bag
The doctor on duty
The food guy
The pill pusher
While I had to practically be carried from the cab upon arrival, I felt so good upon dismissal that I walked home at a brisk stride. What a difference a little magnesium makes.
The second to scariest part was that the blood pressure pills made me so dizzy I couldn't walk across the living room , so I disposed of them. The scariest part was the bill. Well over $15,000. I could have had a suite at the Peninsula for that.
Just wondering if I was existing only on Social Security and didn't have expensive Medicare supplements:
Would I have been referred for a pricey brain scan?
Would they have hopped to with all the pricey tests at the hospital?
Would I have been relegated to a bed in the hall of the E.R.?
These are two instances of how chemical imbalances, B12 and Magnesium, led to over $20,000. in medical expenses.
I'm not drawing any conclusions - I'll leave that to you.
But----- What to do with those 90 minutes? Here are a few suggestions:
Language Arts: Practice having a 5 minute conversation without saying "like" or "awesome".
Hand write a 100 word essay using full sentences without textisms.
Social Studies: Take a field trip on public transportation. Instruction on standing for disabled people, keeping voice down and once off the train or bus, walking on the right in pairs, not five abreast.
Geography: Identify North Riverside, North Dakota, North Korea,Northern Ireland and the North Sea on a map. Next week work on southerly locations, including Chicago's south side.
History: Learn about where your grandparents came from and why they left there. Visit the Chicago History Museum on the suggested field trip.
Math: Figure out how much change you get back from a dollar after making a 32 cent purchase
without using a calculator or your fingers.
Compare the cost of buying Chicken McNuggets vs. buying a whole chicken to cook at home.
The Arts: Send them out to paint flowers and rainbows over the graffiti.
Physical Education: Any activity to use up excess energy. JUST KEEP MOVING.... and make them check their mobile devices at the door.
Today's College Bowl Games made me think back......way back. In the 50s, I was the eldest daughter of a father with three daughters and a wife who hated sports. I loved my father and while my sister Pat shared his love of fishing and Jan was too young to be anything but cute - I was the only one who would sit with him on New Year's Day and watch the bowl games. I never pretended to understand football. We had only soccer in our Chatham, New Jersey championship soccer high school. Even as a cheerleader for the lackluster University of Arizona football team, I had no idea what the hell was going on - only that my job was to produce enthusiasm for the cute but ineffective players.
Fade to the 50s. My father is ensconced on the couch in our den with the red wallpaper with the birds on it. One of the birds had a splot of white under it, resembling "you know what". I can still picture it. Daddy sat in the big chair with the TV (no remote) tuned to the bowl channels. Only Rose, Orange, Sugar were the features. I sat on the couch with my Nancy Drew book hidden under a pillow. I knew he'd be so absorbed as to not notice. He was a damn hard worker and he deserved to have company for his bowl watching. I did this - with no involvement in the outcomes for many years. I especially remember the season before he died at age 49 - watching it as he laid in bed while I secretly cried.
Fast forward. Over the years, we have entertained family and friends who really cared about the bowl games. All I had to do was cook and keep the beer coming. Joe never cared that I didn't care - and I would only have cared if Arizona had ever made it to a major bowl game. Now we are alone. Son and sons-in-law with their own families and friends. Today is bowl day.
I decided to make the effort to watch with my husband so he wouldn't feel alone. What surprise. I actually saw, and enjoyed two good games. ( I was secretly reading a New Yorker.) The outcomes were in my favor also. Outback Bowl: How could I not root for State when my Sparty son-in-law made me the best chicken liver pate in existence for Christmas. Besides - I love to root against southern schools.
Rose Bowl: Next up: the Rose Bowl Okay - Oregon is where Amanda went to school, it is in the PAC 10/12, Dungee's son plays for them. AND Wisconsin was the least friendly host of all our Arizona Alumni games several years back AND (where was the adult in the house?) - their marching band is coached to shout Fxxx Yxx many times during their performances in the home stadium. Hope they weren't allowed to shout it on national TV. I'll forgive Oregon the stupid uniforms- but only for this year. Get real.
I'm a 70ish grandmother, ex- banker and professional beach bum. Currently enjoying retirement to the fullest while trying to discover what the next phase of my life might be. Loving having the time to write and rant about life, people and this fair city of Chicago.