2003-08-15 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway MuseumDedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views of the Rockaways From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

The Old Arverne Bayfront…
Thanks For The Memory!

As we all mourn the passing of Bob Hope recently, the veterans that he gave up his Christmas to be with, will cherish the memory as long as they are still around. All should hang a special ornament on our Christmas trees or Chanukah bushes each year to honor his memory!

Many Arvernites of old still mourn and cherish the memory of the old swimming hole known as Scharmann’s Beach. Scharmann’s was located on the Jamaica bayfront, between Beach 66 Street and Beach 68 Street. However, and unfortunately, pictures of the place are at a premium…and still being sought! Several sent to me were lost in the mail, and I never received these historical items. I advise anyone sending pictures…to send copies from now on!….Please!

Believe it or not, the view appearing today was taken in the 1960’s, when all that was left – after the property was bulkheaded, filled, and partially developed – were the three tri-shaped pilings that made up the north end of the plank walk used for diving (at high tide only).

The camera is on the bulkhead, where there was a ladder to get one up there, and a plank walk secured to several pilings got one out as far as the center pile shown. The last plank went out to the piling on the right. There was a plank to the left for a short time, but the trips and resulting injuries caused its’ removal! To the right of the camera position, a part of the old dilapidated bulkhead was removed, so swimmers and little ones with parents could walk out at low tide. If you don’t know how to swim, you learned by the old tried and true method…you got thrown in until you did! Everyone there was a lifeguard, and our boardwalk was the old sidewalk on Bayfield Avenue.

The favorite game was called, "King Of The Dock," and even the girls played this rough game. Upon diving in, one often came face to face with a blue claw or horseshoe crab, or that big spider crab that liked to hang out in the tri-pile area. Once in a while someone got bit by a crab, which was no big deal, but if you dove too deep the hard bottom was not kind to your face! Diving in and on top of another swimmer was disastrous, and was guarded against by all.

The bay bottom was kept clean by all – "us kids" – we had a float there at one time, we all used truck tire inner tubes as rafts, we had frog fins and face masks, a floating log was our canoe with 2X4 paddles, and rafts that lasted until the first set of rollers (waves) from a passing tugboat hit. We had dangerous fun, but if our parents knew what was going on, we wouldn’t have been so adventurous. Many things we learned helped us in our adult lives, and a few went on to be swimming and diving champions. The Gordon family had Maureen, a first class diver and swimmer.

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