Around our house, Jones Beach might have been Waikiki.
Mom liked to take a dip but my father was philosophically opposed to sand, sea and bathing suits.
We have 16 mm movies of him at Breezy Point, in Queens, in khaki slacks, short-sleeve shirt and Florsheim oxfords. Everyone else is swimming or sitting on blankets finishing off a picnic hamper of egg salad sandwiches and kosher dills. Dad is wandering around, a Philip Morris stuck in the side of his mouth, smiling faintly the way people do when there is no reason left to complain.
I mention this because my wife, Wink, and I traveled three times to Jones Beach in the past several weeks — more visits than I made in an entire Brooklyn childhood.
To remove any doubt, we are not members of a senior Polar Bears club yearning to frolic in the frigid, midwinter Atlantic surf as though it were the warm Caribbean and a waiter stood at water’s edge with plush towels and round of daiquiris.
As a kid, I would see newspaper photos of those intrepid swimmers and, in an early instance of self-revelation, told myself, "Gee, along with snake handling and sword swallowing, there is something I’d never want to do."
But, yes, of course, we were at Jones for the precious COVID-19 shots.
Bad weather closed the vaccination site on our first try. Our next two appointments — Pfizer injection No. 1 and follow-up three weeks later — put us in a couple of mean traffic tangles but, once we reached Emerald City (Parking Field 3), we were good to go.
A moment’s pause here, please, for a word about the people working the operation — kind and lovely, all of them, from the entry booth greeters to medical folks in the vaccination tent.
One nurse named Felicia reassured us. "You’ll be fine," she said, explaining what came next.
"We love you," I sputtered. "Thanks for doing this." Felicia touched her heart.
The night after our second shot, Wink and I got stupefyingly tired — totally zapped for 24 hours — and a little chilled. But no complaints, believe me.
Vaccine distribution is getting better but we know people in eligible categories still struggling to get appointments. One drowsy day was small price to pay for virus protection. To all those searching websites, good luck. We’re rooting for you.
Let’s get through this thing.
Along those lines, I heard a mental health professional claim on radio the pandemic is making people think more deeply about priorities, particularly seniors who are saying, hey, this isn’t such a great point to lose a couple years.
No question, the pandemic has been inconveniently scheduled. Truthfully, though, I didn’t need a global crisis to suffer mortality tremors.
Just anticipating my annual physical is enough to trigger a flight response and subsequent bolt for the Canadian border. Ads for prearranged mortuary services also can ruin an otherwise acceptable day. And don’t let me stumble on an actuarial table indicating the life expectancy of American males.
Far ahead in the worry department, I strongly urge a halt to the search for universal truths. Whatever mysteries persist at this point likely will stay in the "unsolved" file. Referring to life’s imponderables, actor Anthony Hopkins recently told a New Yorker magazine interviewer: "It’s all smoke."
But, come on, enough now, let’s lighten the mood.
Lately, I have been collecting cheery nuggets from the inside pages — un-breaking news, you might say.
Fascinating, for instance, is that archaeologists in Egypt found a beer factory dating to the First Dynastic Period (3150 BC to 2613 BC). The idea of fellows in knee-length kilts lining up for Saturday night IPAs — as their cargo pants counterparts do today — was a welcome hint of cultural continuity.
"Fancy another pint, Semerkhet?"
"Set ’em up again, Anedjib. It’s the weekend."
Also inspiring was word that four young women from Long Island were among the first to earn Eagle rank in what once was the Boy Scouts. This former Second-Class scrub — undone by a faltering ability to tie two half hitches — says, yowza, girls, and well done.
Not to be overlooked: The Bernie Sanders snow sculpture in Northport village.
As Newsday reported, a likeness of the Brooklyn-born Vermont senator, complete with glasses and mittens, showed up on a bench downtown.
Artist Brandon Osman said he wanted to provide a "magical moment."
He did, and at just the right time.