June 1, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Jones Beach, 1965"

Last week I shared a postcard poem, and postcards from the Boston Public Library's Tichnor Brothers Collection. I then found a postcard image of a place I remember from my childhood--Jones Beach on Long Island, New York.

Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park, Captree State Park, Fire Island, were all places where I spent lots of time on the beach. Reading, perhaps, but mostly I remember being prone on a blanket baking in the sun. That was a time before sunscreens--ignorance was bliss!

The postcard above triggered memories of the summer days I spent at the ocean beaches and inspired this list poem:
Jones Beach, 1965

Blankets edge to edge
to edge with barely a
foot's-width between.
Salt air--sticky on your skin,
fishy in your nose.
Hundreds of transistors
tuned to one AM station.
The same summer song.
The redolence of Coppertone--
the only suntan oil anyone uses--
slapped on, rubbed in,
washed off, applied again.
Fear-tinged screams
of delighted children.
Taunting ocean waves.
Pruned skin, chattering teeth.
Sand in cracks and places
sand should never be.
The flap of an umbrella.
Wicker baskets shade
tuna fish sandwiches.
Thermoses full of
sugar-laden Kool-Aid.
Waxy paper Dixie cups.
Nectarines--juice running
down your arm.
Mincing steps along
the edges of blankets so as
not to burn your soles.
"Oops, sorry. Sorry. Ouch!"
The shooosh of a shovel
thrust deep into wet sand.
Clinks of sea glass in a tin pail.
Shouts from parents.
Italian ice. Lick, lick,
lick, lick, lick, squeeze.
Whispers behind hands.
The sun, the sun, the sun.
Baking 'til what can only
be described as a shiver
runs across your skin.
The unacknowledged urges
just under the surface
waiting to ride the waves.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

Carol's Corner's the place to be for the Poetry Friday Round-Up, so be sure to visit.

If you're in the southern NH area, tomorrow is the 29th annual Friends of the Library of Windham Strawberry Festival and Book Sale. Stop by the Nesmith Library's table and say hello--my stint is from noon to 2:00.

Postcard courtesy Boston Public Library.


  1. Wonderful poem, Diane. Love all the sensory images. I can smell the Coppertone, hear the umbrellas flapping and the screaming kids. And yes, sand has a way of getting into places it should never be. :)

  2. What an evocative poem, Diane! Thanks for sharing. You caught so many experiences across so many age groups.... :0)

  3. For me it was Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA. Thanks for taking me back, Diane!

  4. What a great poem, Diane! I could smell the salt and feel the sun baking me until I shivered. And the memories! Wonderful!

  5. The sun, th e sun, the sun...indeed! A feast for the senses, this poem.

  6. I have no ocean memories from childhood, but oh, the nectarine juice running down my arm! I'm working on a swim meet poem that features juicy nectarines!!

  7. I'm so glad you all enjoyed it. I think, with the possible exception of the AM transitor radios, and the obsolete materials such as wax paper and tin, that the scene could be repeated even today! Now the music streams from one tiny device into one pair of ears. Each song is different. I guess I miss the shared cultural experiences of everyone listening to the same song, watching the same tv program, reading the same magazine.

    The memories of juicy fruits seem to pop up in a number of my poems over the years! I happy you could relate to the nectarines, Mary Lee!

  8. Oh Diane,
    I grew up on Long Island and we spent some days at Jones Beach, but more nights. Before AC we used to go in the evenings in the 50s and walk on the boardwalk, breathe the salty air, listen to the waves crashing in the soupy night and wish we could go down to the water. We lived directly north in Glen Cove, but we didn't get those ocean breezes at night. I spent time at Fire Island Pines and Hither Hills in Montauk and the bay in East Hampton, long before it was "the Hamptons". Even now, when I visit family we head to Jones Beach for the day whenever we can, but not on weekends. This time hovering under umbrellas with sun-protective fabric. And we read, nap and remember. I loved your poem. You really brought back those carefree sunny days. I miss the shows at the Jones Beach Outdoor theater, though!!!! I have always been drawn to the water and I am positive it is because of Jones Beach. Thanks for a great start to my day.
    Janet F.

  9. Your poem is rich with details, Diane! Very vivid. Thanks :-)

  10. Janet F.--did you also head down to the marina for submarine race watching?

    Those of you who didn't live near the water, what euphemisms did you use for the local "parking" spot?

  11. I love this! So much sensory imagery!

  12. This poem does a wonderful job describing that beach scene. Many of the references remind me of my childhood in the 70s. Thanks for sharing.