So hot that the tar bubbles up between the stones on the road;
round, shiny, black blobs of goo.
I can smell that flip flop sticking ooze, an acrid gasoline smell assaults my nostrils
and I run away, a way back in time to childhood summers...
I confess that in the heat of July I envied my pals who spent the summer at cottages by cool shining lakes in Muskoka or Haliburton. It seemed to me that all the cool kids had places up north, on a lake with tall trees and big rocks and boats and fishing and all day swimming, and all just two hours away from home. Tales, some of them much taller than others I'm sure, of fishing derbies, water skiing, boat races, swimming competitions and campfires that lasted long into the night, enchanted me.
|147 Oceanside; Mardi Gras parade 1973|
It was always and adventure every year to make the trek to 147 Oceanside. We always dressed up in our fancy duds because in those days air travel was fancy stuff. From Toronto we flew TCA (Trans Canada Airlines, later Air Canada) to New York's Idlewild (later JFK) airport on a Vickers Viscount or Vanguard prop job, a flight that took about ninety minutes.
|Cathy, Mardi Gras Parade Day 1973|
|1961 Cathy & April|
|1960 Mom & her girls|
|Three sisters on the Bayside, 1961|
|Pat & April with the Life Guards, 1961|
|Dad & I, 1969|
We had parties - fancy hat, and card parties at Christ Community Church (Auntie Lilian always won 'The
Basket of Cheer', the one full of booze), fashion jewellery parties and clothing sales (Aunt Lilian hosted and gave the profits to charity). There were friends and neighbours who were always thrilled to welcome the 'Canadian Invasion' each August. One was president of a large bakery in Brooklyn that catered to the Jewish market. When he came to visit he always brought a huge paper sack, almost as tall as eight year old me, filled with breads (pumpernickel and light rye), rolls and chocolate donuts. He was the biggest man I'd ever seen - quite tall but also quite wide - and his shoes were the biggest shoes I'd ever seen - must have been six inches wide and fifteen long. As big as he and they were, his heart was bigger. He spoke slowly, thoughtfully and everybody listened.
|1967, Aunt Lilian on the right|
We had doctors that made their rounds on motor scooters and delivery boys that rode bikes, front baskets loaded with bottles from the liquor store and prescriptions from the drug store. We had cops who drove
|Pat & April, 1961|
|Mom & Cathy, 1967|
We had ferries that we could ride from Rockaway Point to Breezy for free, or take to Sheepshead Bay to check out the catch from the fishing fleet. From there, a subway took us into Manhattan - the United Nations, Times Square, Battery Park, the Staten Island Ferry, and the Statue of Liberty all there to behold. We had fireworks - well of course actually Coney Island had the fireworks, but we could see them from the bayside.
We had the best pizza ever at a real soda fountain store that was just beside the grocery store. We had Ebinger's crumb cake! The competition for the crumbs is the stuff of family legend. Mom bought real butter and the steak, chicken and fish (fresh from the Sheepshead Bay fleet) all tasted better. We had the best food ever at Breezy Point, or so it seemed.
Maybe it was the sand, maybe it was the salt air, probably it was the love.