The last time I went to the beach specifically in order to spend the day swimming was, believe it or not, on Groundhog Day. Mary Anne, Steve, Mark, some friends of theirs and I went there for a Polar Bear Club fund raiser. If we were ever to go there around this time of the year, on a bright sunny day, eating watermelon and having a leisurely enjoyable time, and suddenly from out of nowhere, hail were to start falling onto us, it most certainly wouldn’t be even the least bit difficult to find something else to do. Of course there’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t stay on the beach so maybe we could go to someplace like either the Coffee Nut Cafe or Gentle Brew in order to get something really nice to eat or to drink. Those are both exceptionally good coffee shops on Park Avenue in Long Beach. We could even do what we did after our jaunt on Groundhog Day. We could very easily come back to the house and have a few drinks or coffee, or both, right here. It would be difficult to get there but at least we could stay indoors and have something enjoyable to do until the storm abated. Since the beach is only around a half mile walk from here it’s never the least bit difficult, although there would be quite a few other disgruntled people to have to deal with under such a harrowing set of circumstances. The only thing that would make it unbearably aggravating, would be that, since the beach is so close to here, we would most probably have walked there. That would mean that we’d have to walk away in such unbearably miserable weather. Even in a car, we’d be forced to drive so unbearably slowly in order to avoid any trouble. For people who have to travel an even reasonably significant distance to the beach, of course, things wouldn’t work out the least bit well. Of course that’s all assuming it’s only a moderate hailstorm. If it gets very bad, we’ll have to hide under the boardwalk.
It’s so hard to believe right now, but summer will soon be upon us, and I’m truly looking forward to it. I simply can’t stand cold weather. Although I don’t, so far, have any specific plans, I shall be so happy just basking in the warmth of the sunshine. Ever since I was twelve years old I’ve always lived very close to water. Long Beach is well known for its beaches. I can take a half-mile walk down Lincoln Boulevard each day, and go to the beach. Even if I don’t go into the water, the boardwalk can provide me with quite an amazingly impressive view. In Wyoming I lived very close to the Susquehanna River, and it was very quiet and very enjoyable, with such fine scenery. In Lindenhurst I was right across the street from a few nice canals. They were also known for being so epecially picturesque. Since I’m still fairly new to Long Beach, and quite unfamiliar with it, the summer months will give me quite a nice opportunity to get out and to travel more throughout the city. Although I shall absolutely dread the traffic congestion because of all the people on vacation, it will all be worth it. I was always quite involved with my parishes in Queens, Lindenhurst and the Wyomings so now I can take advantage of the warm weather out here to start getting really busy with St. Mary of the Isle too. Maybe I shall go to northeastern Pennsylvania to to see my father’s relatives for the long Fourth of July weekend. Perhaps then I can relive our infamous blueberry picking fiasco of yore. I’ve been doing so much walking lately anyway. Out there, especially in the nearby Poconos, I shall be able to do a lot more walking because there are a lot more wide open spaces. Besides all the fattening food and crowds on the Independence Day weekend, the main thing I may have a bit too much of a problem with will be the sunburn. Because I’m a bit pale complected the sun, if I’m not very careful, can take quite a toll on me, mostly if I spend a significant amount of time either in a pool or at a beach. Over the course of the past eight years in the Wyomings I got a chance to meet a lot of people and to make quite a few friends. I can even visit them too. Most certainly I shall have to visit my mother’s relatives. I’ll say hello to Uncle Frankie and Fran, and all of Aunt Lauren’s family. If things really work out well I can even take a few trips to Jackson Heights and Lindenhurst to visit my old stomping grounds. Most importantly of all the weather will be warm. All I really want now is to have as much sunshine as possible. Unfortunately it will be my first summer since my parent’s deaths. I shall have to get used to each set of circumstances, as it comes up, without them. That will be the only seriously sad thing. As much as I dislike change, it’s an ongoing inevitable occurrence. Both good and bad keep happening. Instead of complaining, I can consider my first Long Beach summer as yet another lopsided adventure.
It occurred to me that because I’ve been visiting my sister’s family in the City of Long Beach, New York, for so long, I should maybe write about life in Long Beach. Officially I’m still a resident of the Borough of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, though. I’ve gotten to know Wyoming quite well by now having lived there since April of 2006 and I still don’t know all that much about Long Beach. My parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania and I’d visited the region quite regularly since my earliest childhood, until moving there a while ago. I’ve always really enjoyed the Wyomings. It’s an exceptionally picturesque region with extremely nice scenery. Wyoming and West Wyoming-they share a common zip code, 18644-are such an exceptionally nice little suburban region. There are a lot of local businesses, including stores, restaurants, doctors, hospitals and lawyers, within driving and even walking distance of my neighborhood. They have an exceptionally nice mall only six miles away. The borough is very close to both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. In northeastern Pennsylvania there are churches-Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox-all over the place. There are many towns in the region that literally have several churches on each street. I’d always been quite involved with Our Lady of Sorrows on Eighth Street, and St. Joseph’s on Sixth Street. The parish is now known as St. Monica’s. The churches, along with all the equally prominent secular organizations, contribute a lot to helping the poor, and to making things run smoothly in general. Having met quite a few exceptionally good people in and around the Wyomings I know that the borough’s residents are as good as any I’ve ever met although they can also be as offbeat a bunch of characters as one could expect. Considering that it’s the kind of small town where everyone knows other people’s business there’s the problem of too much gossip. On special occasions the borough’s representatives have parades and other events to commemorate whichever milestone is referred to. Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth President of the United States, even visited the Wyoming Monument, a landmark from the U.S. Revolutionary War. He was only the third United States President, besides Rutherford B. Hayes and Theodore Roosevelt, to visit the monument. There are also a few drawbacks to life in the Wyomings, though. Northeastern Pennsylvania is a very mountainous region and winters are inevitably bitter cold with a seemingly endless supply of snow, rain and ice. Driving in bad weather is treacherous. Flooding isn’t so bad in the Wyomings but when it happens the surrounding boroughs are subject to quite a significant amount of damage. Because it’s so close to the Susquehanna River, fog is quie a major problem too. Because there are countless potholes in the roads driving even under the nicest circumstances is quite a chore. Wyoming Avenue and other roads have a lot of traffic congestion. Because of their history of coal mines, northeastern Pennsylvania typically has a higher than average percentage of deaths attributed to cancer. There is a lot of radon, as well as other carcinogens in the environment. Luzerne County in general is politically very corrupt. If I were the mayor of the Wyomings I should be determined to make the Wyomings as safe as possible from any excessive damage from flooding. I should also want to get something done about the potholes and traffic congestion, and to invest as much as possible into affordable health care. The wear and tear on people’s vehicles is an absolute nightmare. In spite of all the relatively minor inevitable drawbacks and inconveniences the Boroughs of Wyoming and West Wyoming are quite an interesting likable environment.
This year Groundhog Day fell on a Sunday. It’s also the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple so I went to 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Isle on Park Avenue. That specific day also happened to have marked two other very distinctive occasions for us. It was also Super Bowl Sunday. This year was Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. That’s also the day each year during which the local members of the Polar Bear Club have their annual fund raiser in Long Beach, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. After Mass I came back to Mary Anne’s and Steve’s house to find cousin Mark here. He and Steve were hanging around getting ready for the big day over at the boardwalk. Each of us put his bathing suit on and after a few shots of Jameson’s Irish whiskey , that seems to have become quite a staple for us by now on special occasions, we went, with Mary Anne’s friend Lynn, to the beach at the boardwalk. On the way we met another friend of theirs, Liz, who comes from Brooklyn each year to join them. Because of bitter cold weather and precipitation over the course of the past few days, and a very foggy morning, it was quite a surprisingly nice day, although horribly cold. Everyone had a nice time and the Polar Bears made quite a lot of money for the Make A Wish Foundation. As always, though I was seriously aggravated by all the endless walking.
Unfortunately I got out of the habit, for a while, of making entries into my blog. A lot has happened since November. The first Christmas since my parents’ deaths turned out fairly well. Steve and I drove Michael here from Long Island City and Sam was here from Hofstra. A while before that Steve and I went to Union Square in Manhattan where, among other things, we got some of the Christmas presents. It was an especially harrowing day for me because we first went to St. Peter’s Prep, where Steve is on the faculty. It’s a Jesuit high school. As soon as we first got there I went to 7:30 a.m. Mass in their chapel. After Mass I met some really interesting people, most of whom were on the faculty. None of the bathrooms in that entire section of New Jersey was functional that day so we were all sent home early. Ultimately, though, I really enjoyed the trip to Manhattan. I’ve always really been interested in that type of environment. We went to a big outdoor market where they were selling all sorts of funky esoteric things. We got much of our Christmas shopping done there and stopped to get something to eat. On Christmas morning we all went to Mass at St. Mary of the Isle Church on Park Avenue in Long Beach. Micheal, Sam and Bridget all wanted to open their presents that day instead of Christmas Eve. Late that afternoon we all went to Mark’s and Laura’s house in East Setauket for a Christmas party. I finally got a chance to meet Laura’s brother Harold. Mark has always told me about Harold’s being as much of a Beatlemaniac as I’ve always been. Harold and I did quite a lot of talking about the Fab Four. Frank and Autilia were there with their kids and I saw a lot of other familiar faces too. Because I didn’t have to drive I even drank some bourbon. I got both my annual Christmas cards too, one from Carole and one from Grace. Unfortunately Carole’s husband Bob died on October 2. I also got a lot of Christmas cards this year which my parents would have gotten. A while before Christmas I first started growing my beard, the first time I’ve ever really let it go for significant length of time. Alas the highlights that were once such a nice shade of red have since turned grey.
A while after my mother’s death my father and I got things ready to put a marker upon her grave. We only got a few chances to visit her grave together and to take care of a few official details. He died on November 7, 2014, forty five days after her death, after having been suddenly taken ill. He was rushed to the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilkes Barre and died there. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see him on his last day because he told me on the phone, at about 7:30 a.m. , not to bother to drive to the hospital in the bad weather. It was raining and very foggy that day. I went to the hospital after his death to sign some paperwork and to make official arrangements to get certain things done. Uncle Frankie, Fran, and Mary Anne and her family all showed up a very short time after his death to help with the funeral arrangements. His funeral, as well as my mother’s was at Our Lady of Sorrows Church at St. Monica’s Parish on Eighth Street in West Wyoming, and Gubbiotti’s Funeral Home in Exeter. Father Leo McKernan celebrated the Mass. Many of the same people at his wake and funeral had also attended hers. Because he was a veteran of the Korean Conflict, there was a very impressive military honors ceremony, with some men from AMVETS, at the gravesite. The aftermath of each death was a busy time because of all the people calling and visiting and all the extra responsibilities that accompany that kind of change. I spent my first Thanksgiving since my parents’ deaths at cousin Michelle’s house in Dallas. All of Aunt Lauren’s family were there. I spent Christmas with Mary Anne and her family in Long Beach and have been here ever since then. Life without either of my parents has brought with it many very drastic changes.
Steve’s fiftieth birthday is tomorrow so my parents, Fran , Lisa & I went to Long Beach on Friday to attend his party. Fortunately there was only a little too much trouble with traffic in Douglaston on Friday & absolutely none whatsoever yesterday. Mary Anne, his mother, & the kids arranged a really nice time for one & all. His family, as well as friends of his & Mary Anne’s from work & their neighborhood were there. Jonathan & Maria were there too. They remembered me. Jonathan even said he remembered me because of my guitar & my lifelong obsession with John Lennon. One of the major disadvantages of a party like that is that I always make quite sure I eat & drink entirely too much for my own good. Mary Anne & Steve recently got a dog, a mixed~breed terrier named Sadie. It’s really nice & quiet. I have never liked animals but I don’t mind having it around because it’s so exceptionally well~behaved. It was abused by a previous owner. In certain ways Long Island has changed quite a bit since I lived there so it was very interesting for me to be able to check out all the new things that have been going on around there. The Sunrise Mall in Massapequa is under new management. The shopping center where Barnes & Noble & Tower Records once were is now entirely different. Mark & Laura were their with their kids. So were Frank & Tillie with their kids. I was especially happy to see Gary & Maria, & Larry & Rose & their son Eddie. Right before the party my parents & I, along with Larry & Rose, went over to Amityville to visit Aunt Norma. Maria showed up while we were there. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the Carmelite meeting, so I left a message with Barbara’s husband asking him to explain my circumstances. I also called Donna asking her to cover for me because I was supposed to lector at 4:00 Mass on Saturday.