One of the main advantages of living on an island is being surrounded by beautiful beaches.
I grew up in Plainedge, a short car ride from Jones Beach, with its expansive sand, plentiful snack bars and old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
My connection to this eclectic beach started when I was a child in the 1960s. Most Sundays, my parents packed a cooler, beach blankets and towels, and off we went with my sister, Judy. Jones Beach, with its crashing waves, was the best amusement park for this little kid.
Sometimes my Aunt Nancy took me and Judy along with her four sons to spend the day. Reflecting on those times, I think my aunt was very brave. Four boys kicking up sand and scrambling in and out of waves were surely enough to control without adding two little girls.
My cousin Allan, the oldest at around 10, caused most of the mischief. “Come out of the water and sit down, you crazy kid!” my aunt would exclaim. But that was a tall order for a boy who never sat.
When my niece, Kim, was about 12 years old, I introduced her to the joys of Jones Beach. We strolled the boardwalk, played paddleball, and visited the old-fashioned ice cream parlor at Field 5.
We enjoyed soft ice cream as we sat at a table close to murals of celebrities from the 1950s and ’60s.
I pointed out a mural of a bus from the great old TV show “The Honeymooners,” identifying cast members Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney and Joyce Randolph.
On the far wall was a mural of the fiery redhead Lucille Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, the stars of “I Love Lucy.” On another section of wall were photos of James Dean on a motorcycle and Marlon Brando looking up a staircase.
On one visit as I reviewed the celebrities, a young man asked if he could sit in. He seemed entranced by these entertainers of times gone by and the footnotes I supplied on each. My niece was impressed that our lesson took on another student.
The Fourth of July was always special at Jones Beach. In the 1990s, Judy and I shared many happy memories of dinner at the snack stands or the sit-down restaurant. We’d tour the boardwalk until it was time to stake out a piece of beach for the show of fireworks.
After I met my husband, Gregg, in 2000, we spent our first of many July Fourths at the beach. On that particularly cool night, Gregg wrapped his sweatshirt around my shoulders. We fell in love beneath a kaleidoscope of shimmering colors bursting overhead.
In 2001, Gregg and I visited Jones Beach on a sunny Memorial Day to marvel at the acrobatic stunts of the Blue Angels.
I have experienced so many highlights of my life there.
Long Island is blessed with many shoreline getaways, but Jones Beach sets the standard.
Reader Barbara Anne Kirshner lives in Miller Place.