Fire Island is a barrier beach, 22 miles long and only ½ mile wide at the widest which is where the only sizable town, Ocean Beach is located. It is a long narrow pencil line off the south coast of Long Island, separated from the mainland by the Great South Bay, where at one time 40% of all the hard shell clams in the country were harvested. I went there first when I was still in school when my sister and her husband had a small beach cottage in Fair Harbor, one of the towns.
There are no cars allowed on Fire Island and most of the communities, I think there are 14, are separated by sand walks. There is nothing fancy about Fire Island, few stores no golf courses or tennis courts ( a few exceptions). People get around by walking or biking. In short it has a long and spectacular sand beach and modest beach cottages up on stilts. It is fragile. In 1938 150 homes were taken away by a fierce hurricane and like the Outer Banks of North Carolina it is prone to the destructive forces of wind and weather.
When I was young I, along with a friend, who is an architect, began to buy some lots in a town called , yes believe it, Lonelyville. The lots were cheap. The first one I bought for $5,000 with $1,200 down payment, all I had. I had a friend Curt Davis, AKA Bud who was a third generation house mover. We bought condemned houses from the government, floated them over to Fire Island and set them up on locust posts, renovated them.
All of which is to tell you we sold the houses all but one, actually two that I put together and still own. #2 son loves Fire Island and gets out there a lot. We don’t get out much anymore. We rent the house out and I open it, close it and spend weekends when the ocean is beautiful in late August.
I was out on Fire island this past weekend. It was a glorious Indian Summer, still warm enough to swim and walk on the beach. I however went about closing up the house and put a ladder up to the roof to check on a leak in a skylight. Long story short as I was coming down the ladder the bottom of the ladder went out and I went down, hard. At first I just lay there trying to decide whether anything serious was broken. My hand hurt as did my back, I think I landed on what the Daily News used to refer to as the “fleshy part of my lower spine.” But I thought I was fine until I stood up and found a laceration on my shin that was spurting blood. I taped it as best I could and put ice on it but it wouldn’t stop. An EMT came looked at it and said “police boat over to South Side Hospital in Bay Shore NOW.”
My neighbor Tom and my son did the hard lifting and for that I am grateful. Tom also saves egg cartons for me and when I haven’t been out in a while I find them stacked up in my kitchen.
Well I got stitched up, 5 stitches, a broken finger and a bunch of bruises but otherwise a wonderful Weekend on Fire Island. There is a lesson here I know but I don’t want to hear it!
I’ve posted some pictures taken from the roof before my unfortunate decline and one of the oceanfront 200 yards away.
Now back to Clove Valley where I belong.