My Memories of Beaches in the New York and New Jersey Area
By Barbara Quinn
I’ve been going to beaches for as long as I can remember. As a child I grew up swimming, fishing, and sailing in the Great South Bay of Long Island. Back then, my grandparents had a home on a canal that led out to the bay while my family had a small cottage nearby. My brother and I would take a rowboat out to the bay for a jaunt. The local beach there was a small one that held dances at night and had a playground on whose parallel bars I shattered my elbow in an errant landing. I loved that first beach of my memories. It’s where I first baited a hook, hauled in a crab, and used a flashlight at night to bring eels to the surface for capture. I learned to swim to the anchored float in the bay and to use a net to haul in killies for bait.
As I grew older I explored a number of other beaches in the New York and New Jersey area. I loved going to Jones Beach with my high school classmates. We’d meet students from all over the area. That’s where I first encountered a wooden boardwalk and the many splinters from walking on it. At night, when I went to Jones Beach with my family, we attended soft ball games, and concerts. The days were long and hot and sunny. I still can feel the crust of salt left by the water that dried on my skin. For generations, the day after senior prom was spent on Jones Beach and that’s where I spent mine.
Robert Moses State Park on Long Island became a haunt for my family after I had my son. We’d pack a breakfast cooler and head out early to beat the traffic to this popular beach. The beach is the first one on Fire Island and is accessible by car. From Robert Moses we often hiked through the clothing optional section to Kismet, the first of the towns that is only reachable by ferry. We explored a number of Fire Island towns and enjoyed the ferry rides.
We spent time further out on the Island, exploring the Hamptons with its tony shops and restaurants, and Montauk with its fishing tradition and beautiful lighthouse. As my son grew we began exploring the Jersey shore. Long Beach Island was perfect for a toddler. We could walk home for a nap and be back on the beach in the afternoon. Cape May, with its gorgeous Victorians and quaint shops, made for wonderful trips. Time passed and we migrated to the northern beaches of New Jersey, spending time in Spring Lake, the Irish Riviera of the shore. We eventually landed in Bradley Beach where we decided it was time purchase a shore place.
I love Bradley with its quirky housing stock and old world pavilions. There are bocce courts, a mini golf, and beautiful gardens. On Mondays in the summer you can attend free opera by the sea programs. There are no amusement rides or bars on the beachfront which keeps it quiet and residential. And best of all Bradley is walking distance to a number of cool towns like Asbury Park. So when we’re in the mood for some music we can walk over to the Stone Pony and hear the sounds drifting from the summer stage onto the boardwalk.
I’ve traveled to 47 states and five continents, and I’ve visited a lot of beaches that have captured my heart, but these local ones still work their magic and lift me up whenever I visit or think of them.
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