Winter Wonders on LBI: Blinking Lights and Teardowns
Welcome back, vacationers!
Hope you had an enjoyable winter and are rested up for another beautiful summer on LBI. I was telling my lovely wife that I bet you wonder what it is we who live here year ’round do all winter. She suggested that I really need to find something to do in retirement. But, as a public service to those interested in such things, I decided to enlighten you about what goes on in a typical winter here at LBI … besides, that is, waiting with bated breath for you to come back the following summer.
You might not realize that the first excitement we have here is the “blinking of the lights” festival. The traffic lights are turned off – well, not off but to yellow blinkers. The ones left on are in Brant Beach at Farias and, of course, those leading to the bridge (no, they aren’t replacing it yet). And here’s the best part – the speed limit goes up to 45 mph! Just think, all you vacationers: If you came down in the winter and drove the way you do in the summer, you’d almost be doing the speed limit!
I’m not sure if you came back down after the hurricane evacuation in August (I know, the big guy in Trenton told you to “get the hell off the beach,” but that was just “Chris being Chris”), but right after Labor Day everything just about closes. Those establishments that do stay open offer an opportunity for us locals to experience the fine food available on the Island without the summer “ambience.” At Wally Mitchell’s in Surf City, you can make a donation to the animal shelter while enjoying a wonderful breakfast! My dogs, Lucy and Jake (if you haven’t been following my columns), would really appreciate it.
Speaking of the dogs, once October comes, we’re allowed to take them back on the beach. We also get to collect sea glass without any competition – well, except for that lady who walks her poodle. The sea glass collecting was primo this winter: mild weather, good low tides and plenty of good glass to be had. We appreciate those of you who throw your alcoholic beverage bottles in the ocean: Remember to try to keep them in the 106th to 98th Street area since I am having my other knee replaced next month.
One thing you have to be aware of if you are a winter sea glass collector, however, is the trucks on the beach. There are several fishing tournaments in the off-season, and the trucks really jostle for the best spots. I’m thinking that maybe Long Beach Township might want to put one of those “spiffy” new solar speed limit signs on the beach to remind the truck drivers to slow down. Jake has enough trouble trying to cross the Boulevard in the summer (he’s getting old, you know, as is the guy walking him). I’m not really sure why it is that you need a truck to go fishing. I mean, the apostles were fishermen, and I don’t remember any stories about trucks in the gospels. Maybe I just don’t understand, being from South Philadelphia and all.
Speaking of the Boulevard, we also have been practicing stopping on a dime as you decide to cross the street anywhere you like and think the “crosswalk” law applies to you. We practice our quick-stop skills with the ducks when you’re not around, as well as the feral cats that abound on the Island in winter. You may not see them so much in the summer because I think they vacation in Florida, but once Labor Day passes, they are just about everywhere. They are quite a topic for The SandPaper’s winter hot stove discussions. Some of those cats, such as the 104th Street cat gang, are a bit rough. They have changed the direction of our walks a few times: Lucy isn’t very fond of them, but those cats stand their ground.
We also seem to have a solution to the “bike problem” that occurs in the summer when bicycles seem to be everywhere and cause some traffic concerns. Several weeks ago in this very newspaper, a suggestion was made for a stationary bike path. Ingenious, I know. Several of our residents were taken aback at the brilliance of the thought.
There is always the excitement of construction in the off-season. Observing the demise of teardowns is a wonderful way to spend six months as lovely Cape Cods are replaced by “OMG” reverse-living shore castles. We run a little lottery on what color the new castle will be. And, of course, no winter would be complete without the “ripping up of the streets,” one of our most treasured activities. Besides allowing for better monitoring of your water usage (read more money), neighbors compete for the honor of “most inconvenienced” as construction workers and police close off lanes and then entire streets as they replace whatever they’ve been replacing all winter. There was a point last winter when you could not get out of the Wawa at 132nd Street and get across the street to the bank without going to Fantasy Island!
Of course, St. Francis is open “year ’round” and offers a spiritual respite from all of these worldly happenings. The Christmas Masses were especially beautiful this year, and Sister Kate just celebrated her 95th birthday! God bless!
Well, that was just a touch of what happened this winter here on the Island. The really great news for my back was that there was no snow this year. Unfortunately, all that walking has caused my left knee to rebel so it will be joining my right knee in the world of metal and plastic. Just in time, too. Because as full-time residents know, we don’t come out much in the summer. But, hey, don’t let that stop you from having a wonderful vacation and making memories that maybe you might write about in a newspaper.
See you in September!
Anthony DiSipio lives in Beach Haven Park and recalls boomers having real knees in his humorous book, When I’m 64.