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Editor's Notebook: Remembering Long Beach

What are your memories of Smithtown's Beaches? Post a comment below.

There is one reason why I would never leave Long Island — the waterways.  Sure, the sand and water isn’t the same as you would find in a tropical paradise, but Long Island’s beaches have something else — beaches that are tailor-made for anyone’s beach adventure.

Jones Beach and Robert Moses have Atlantic ocean waves; Smith’s Point has an outer beach that you can drive on; the Hamptons Beaches offer an opportunity to see a celebrity and then there are the North Shore beaches, sitting along the edge of the Long Island Sound. This is where I grew up.

Smithtown has three North Shore beaches that I called home in the summer throughout my childhood: Short Beach, Long Beach and Little Africa (as it was once called).  The beaches are rocky, the water cold, the sand super hot, and waves that only form after a boat passes by, but my memories of those beaches are full of happy times.

I forgot about these beaches until recently.

For some time, I have been taking my children, who are 3 and 6, to the sandy South Shore, where they can frolic in the waves and build sand castles in the soft sand.  Then, on recent Sunday afternoon, I joined my parents, who still make their home in Smithtown, and some old high school friends and their kids at at Long Beach.

My kids ran out onto the beach in anticipation, only to stop short of the shoreline, searching for waves and whining that their feet hurt from all the rocks.

I let out a laugh  — “Buck up kids,” I told them. “This is where mommy grew up and why I can walk around barefoot without letting out an ‘ouch.’”

They tried to build a sand castle and to their dismay, their castle kept falling down with every scoop of sand — just too many rocks.

I urged them to get creative as I did back in the day.

Sure enough, they started getting the hang of this new beach. They put on their Crocks to protect their feet, explored under every rock with hopes of finding a sea creature; used seaweed to top their rock castle; and even ventured out to catch a “wave.”

The next weekend, I packed our beach bag and asked the kids which beach they wanted to go to.

“The rocky beach,” they yelled out.

I smiled because this is what Long Island is all about — beaches that offer something different depending on how you feel that day.

What are your beach memories?  Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

Jomeyer July 31, 2012 at 11:47 AM
I took swimming lessons over 45 years ago at Long Beach, and I too grew up on all 3 Beaches Mentioned in the article.....the memories are so vivid....I remember picnicking in the shade of Little Africa, and buying Red Licorice at the stand at Long Beach before the bus, yes!! The bus came to take us home from the days lesson....Thanks for sharing
Erica Jackson (Editor) July 31, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Jomeyer, Yes, I had many friends who took swimming lessons there. I never did. I took lessons at Hauppauge High School pool. But I remember being at Long Beach trying as hard as I could to swim out to the sand bar.
Mary K. Weismann-Lucy July 31, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I grew up in Nissequoge from the 50's until I went to college in the early 70's. I remember the old pavillons at Long Beach... also further down at Little Africa, the clams at low tide at Short Beach, and the many horseshoe crabs at the Head of the Harbor beach at the end of Corwood (?) Road... near the White Estate. Also, the ice cream man that came down to that beach on hot summer days... what great memories!
A Concerned Resident July 31, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Mary, I too remember going to Long Beach (with Annie) and clamming at low tide. After the fire at the Pavillion it was rebuilt into a very nice brick pavillion. I recently went there with my kids and was so disappointed that it was not open. We used to meet our friends there and have a hot dog and fries at the beach. Those were great memories. Would love to see the Town open the pavillion once again for another generation of kids to enjoy. Diane Wiese Narr
A Concerned Resident July 31, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Does anyone remember the float at Cordwood Beach and the old windmill that burned in the 60's?
Mary (Durkovich) Canter July 31, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Living in Virginia, some of my best teenage memories were made at Little Africa and the Pavillion at Long Beach. I'm sorry to hear that it is gone now. Last year when I was in St. James visiting, I drove my own two, now teenage, daughters to where Mom used to hang out. They were so shocked to hear that my parent let me go on my own, different times back then.

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