A Very Close Call!

I have commented many times that my summers as a young girl were almost blissful…to me, at least. And maybe to my older sister as well! But probably not so much for my parents, however!

It’s funny when I look back on those days. Summer rooming houses at the beach back in the 1950’s may seem a little primitive by today’s standards. For example, most small families lived in one large room, which we basically slept in. The whole point was to go to the beach as much as possible, being that we were less than a block away. Not to stay too long in the room.

There was a small kitchen unit in each room, including a stove, but not an oven, as I remember. I guess we had a lot of fried food those summers and anything else we could heat or prepare on the stove.

My sister and I could sleep late, but Mom got up early to make breakfast for Dad, and Dad had to go to Brooklyn to work each week day.

Mom had to stay in the room much more than the rest of us. She did our laundry, organized our things and cleaned the room.
And it wasn’t that cool in the room!

In addition, there were three floors in the rooming house and only two bathrooms per floor. Imagine not having a private bathroom and sometimes having to wait on line to use the bathroom or take a shower!

My dad could put up with anything because he loved the beach and the ocean. I was just like him and, in addition, I was excited to be free for the summer. My sister had a few good friends and enjoyed her time off, too. So my mom probably had the most challenging time. Yet, she managed to enjoy shopping on the boulevard and going to the beach when she could. My sister and I went to the beach almost every day, either with Mom or our aunt and our cousins.

I guess, once you know the background of our summers at the beach, it is easier to understand why, one day when my dad had the day off, he decided to go swimming with my sister and me, despite the fact that the weather was cloudy and damp.

I loved to watch my dad run into the water. He was a good swimmer and seemed fearless! I guess I inherited his love of the ocean and even its rough waves. I loved to dive under the waves, bypassing those that looked formidable. Often, I could determine which was too rough and which seemed just tight. But, unfortunately, not always. On that particular day I couldn’t seem to perceive the difference!

I dove under one wave finally and tried to avoid its force before it came towards me, but I just didn’t time it right! As a result of my poor judgment, the wave pummeled me, and I wound up struggling in deep water.

In addition, there was something pulling me down, and I was caught in the riptide. I quickly panicked, and the more I tried to swim towards shore, the more I was pulled into the deeper, darker water!

Since I didn’t know then about the wisdom of swimming parallel to the shore, I kept trying to swim towards the shore. If they say that, doing the same thing again and again, but expecting a different result, is a good definition of insanity, then I was acting like one who is insane.

I must have started to move in another direction finally after praying silently and frantically because I felt myself moving towards shore. Slowly, I made progress until I could eventually pick myself up.

I was exhausted, drained and ready to collapse. My father was frantic since he had lost track of where I was. My sister was upset but eager to find me in good shape. I was just happy to be alive!

Yesterday two New Jersey cousins, aged 15 and 12, respectively , were caught in an ocean riptide, too. The older girl died, and the younger cousin is fighting for her life while on life support. I can identify with their struggle!

There were no lifeguards when the girls went into the water and no lifeguards years ago when I went swimming with my dad and sister. Never should any of us go swimming without lifeguards present! Also, diving under the waves, as I did, is reckless and foolhardy.

If we want to enjoy and survive the summer months, we have to practice safety measures and have proper respect and even a healthy fear of nature’s strength and risks. It is paramount that we understand and act upon these simple truths! To this day, I feel such gratitude to God that I survived that day and I am still here to tell this tale!

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