2009-07-31 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

An Old Jamaica Bay Swimming Hole On A Photo Post Card
From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Many old-timers in the Jamaica Bay shore area can remember their old favorite swimming hole. There were countless spots with a clean sandy beach, where you could spent the day, all along the shores of our Jamaica Bay, until commercial or residential development ended them all.

There were a few secluded spots that were only accessible by boat, and with the disappearance of the marshes of late, many—if not all—have been abandoned.

If these spots were visited at the right tide time (outgoing) before noon, there was plenty of time to play, swim, barbeque, get a tan, or just sit around and shoot the bull with friends. The quiet made it splendid for serious reading or study, and if one had a real close friend or soul partner… aey!

Today's view was found in a batch of photo cards marked Jamaica Bay. The card was not mailed, but it was sent in an envelope along with a letter, as was the practice in the old days. Noted on the reverse was the fact that—"This is where we go with the children where they can go in bathing or play on a sandy spot. It is cooling on a hot day."

The type of bathing suits worn by the boys can date this picture at the 1930s decade. The diving apparatus appears well made and well used by the group of young men.

My old gang was known as the Bay Rats, and we took care of Scharman's Beach at Beach 67 Street and Jamaica Bay. We dove off a long plank walkway that was a foot wide and some fifty feet long. A float or two were built using old inner tubes from cars and trucks, or old drums; if you could find some with the war on at the time. Our dogs went swimming with us, and the entire neighborhood took advantage of this spot. Everybody was a lifeguard and kept the kiddies in line… or else they were dragged to their mother… who did what all mothers did then… wham and bam! Talking was not in vogue.

Hello out there in Waveland. Send in your memories of your old and favorite Jamaica Bay swimming hole for a special in historical views. A photo or two would be nice, but send copies… not originals. Someone sent yours truly photos of old Scharman's Beach, and they were lost in the mail! This was a lousy thing to happen, and I do not wish a repeat on anyone, where family pictures (treasures) are lost. I am still hoping they will turn up someday… you never know, right?

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