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The Beach
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The Beach
The Misadventures of an Army Brat. Second in a series.
[1,233 words]
Robert W Carlomagno
I am a former Navy and Merchant Marine sailor and an Army brat. IF YOU READ A STORY, I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY COMMENTS, GOOD OR BAD.
[March 2002]
[email protected]
Southern Comfort (Non-Fiction) The Misadventures of an Army Brat. Third in a series. [2,029 words]
Star Truck (Short Stories) My name is Jaime T Quirk, captain of the Star Truck Enterprise... [1,449 words] [Science Fiction]
The Arm (Non-Fiction) The Misadventures of an Army Brat. [3,756 words]
The Beach
Robert W Carlomagno

    Although we lived in Lakewood at the time during the summer of 1944 my mother rented a cottage in Point Pleasant, New Jersey only a stone's throw from the ocean. I don't know how she could afford it and at that time I didn't really care. My purpose was to thoroughly enjoy my time there. The cottage was neat with a large, screened porch, four bedrooms and two baths You just walked across the street, and up a wooden ramp to the boardwalk and there was the clean sandy beach and the ocean. Living in Cliffwood Beach, N.J. for the first seven years of my life had been terrific for me. One of the best parts about it was the smells. Seaweed,dead fish,crabs. You never get those smells out of your nostrils. If you haven't lived near the sea then you'd probably think those smells were be pretty bad, but I loved them. Another wonderful sensation was the feeling of the warm sand sifting between my toes. Also the noise of the waves washing up on the shore has stayed with me forever.
       I was now 10 years old and had been away from the ocean for three years. I had very little supervision and did as I pleased. Skinny and not very strong. I hadn't played much sports. The one thing I could do though was swim. The other sports would come to me later and one day I would make the varsity basketball team as a freshman in high school.
    All along the boardwalk there were different kinds of games you could play. Throwing darts at balloons, baseballs at bottles, and a bunch of others. Some cost a nickle, some a dime. Nothing was free of course so I had to figure out how to make some. I couldn't get all I needed from my mother plus I wanted lunch money so I wouldn't have to go home every day at noon.
    The first way to make money was quite simple. I crawled under the boardwalk and searched around in the sand for change that the game players above had dropped between the two-by-fours. There wasn't much room between the sand and the bottom of the boardwalk so being skinny came in handy.
   Another way I was able to make money was from one of the games itself. This game consisted of life size dummys that went around in a circle. The dummies were Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Hirohito and a and a few other notorious monsters. They rotated around a wall going in one door and then back out the other. There was metal peg sticking out of their nose on which was placed a bottle. The customer got three baseball throws for a dime to try to break the bottle on the dummies nose. Most of the time the customers missed the bottles and hit the dummies, but that was okay since nobody liked them anyway.
    I figured the game owner would need a supply of bottles, so I made a deal with the him for a penny a bottle. Each morning I would get up and find as many bottles as would fit into my bushel basket and deliver them and collect my money. Usually I would have to make two runs. Whiskey bottles were the best since they had thin glass but no coke bottles. Only Cleveland's fast ball pitcher, Bob Feller could break a coke bottle with a baseball.
    One other way of making a little money dropped into my lap by accident. On the boardwalk there was a small stand where you could get change to play the games with. Most games cost a nickle. One day I went up to the woman who gave change and placed what I thought was a dime on the counter. It was actually a steel 1943 penny. But they looked like dimes and she couldn't see well. She gave me two nickles in return. I took advantage of that several times. I'm sort of sorry I did that, but then I could walk downtown and see a movie, which in those day cost only a dime.
    I only had my towel and bathing suit and not much else. I would lie on the towel getting a tan that was admired by people passing by. I could hear them comment as I lay there with my eyes closed. When I got to hot I went for a swim. I liked to body surf but you had to be careful. If you stayed with the wave to far you ended up with your chest scraping a line of small stones and seashells. If you let up to soon the wave sucked you under until it hit the shore. I learned that when that happens whatever you do don't panic. Just ride it out and the wave will let you go.
    The only bad time I had was when I got sick for about three days. Later we thought it was probably one of my first attacks of rheumatic fever. At the time I didn't know I even had it. In a few years it would come very close to killing me.
   One of the thrills I experienced was when some pilot would buzz the beach a couple of times a week at 50 to 100 feet in a P47. He would fly along the beach maybe 100 yards out then do a slow climbing turn toward the sea. He would start a loop and at the top do a half roll and dive back to the water. The maneuver is called an Immelmann. He would get back to 50 to 100 feet and head home. I guess he had a girl friend that lived there. You could hear that P47 coming from miles away. I don't think I have ever heard a louder engine. To this day when I hear a loud engine I always say "That sounds like a P47".
    One day I met a couple of town boys and we started to hang around together. I showed them how I got my money and they in turn showed me where they hid theirs. There were a flight of four or five stairs every 100 yards or so along the boardwalk that dropped down onto the beach.. Underneath one of those stairs they had a stash of money hidden. It came to about $20.00. They said that we could take money from the stash if we needed it but if we had any extra we would add it to the pile. It was toward the end of my stay in Point Pleasant so I never made any deposits but I did make a withdrawl.
     On our last day at the beach getting ready to go back to Lakewood I ran down to the boardwalk and took all the money and ran back ready to head home. For some reason my mother kept dilly dallying around and I was getting nervous. I kept looking out the window expecting those two guys to show up at any minute demanding their money back and beating the hell out of me. But finally we left with me feeling scared and ashamed. I don't remember what I did with the money. Today they would send me to an analyst to try to find out why I took the money but the reason was simple. I wanted that money.



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© 2001 Robert W Carlomagno
November 2001

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