Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brian Scott on Heavenly Saltaire Flapjack Girls and the Hell of the Flapper

Brian Scott Chips in From California:


"They said I should contribute to the Saltaire Blog-- write down some things that I remember all my life about growing up on the Island.

Wow! Could I put it all in print? Will I be arrested?
Will anybody care?

So many memories. And where can I begin?

Can I talk about the most beautiful girls I ever saw?

I grew up on Marine Walk next to the "GREEN ROSE" and two doors down from the Melusos.…

I remember two girls-- sisters -- the most beautiful females I ever met. Godesses.

The older sister made the best pancakes I ever ate- to this day.

I would get up at the crack of Noon and wander out to the deck, bowl in hand, and begin to pick blueberries from the twenty or so bushes that surrounded my house. When my bowl was full, I went back inside and she would make these pancakes with sour cream that were out of this world. Hell, I don't even like pancakes, but they were so much more than pancakes... they were HEAVEN.


Everybody can remember that big flap of skin that was left hanging from the bottom of your feet between your big toe and the second toe when you hit a nail sticking up from the boardwalk. You might go two or three or four summers without getting one, but eventually we all succumbed to the inevitable Flapper.

You could always tell when someone had hit that little nail head sticking up from the boardwalk by the telltale white sock on just one foot. Or you would see an otherwise healthy little kid hobbling around on one heel.

My crazy Cousin “Love you, Dude” once went around the Village for a week with a hammer banging down every nail he could find.

It's funny how I can laugh at such a horrid memory and look back with a smile on my face.

So for all of us who experienced the horror and the pain of the flapper, and to all of those future generations yet to experience it, be advised:

Nobody will escape THE FLAPPER . It is as much a part of Saltaire as that warm feeling of the sun on your face at the beach, or the beauty of the setting sun.
"All hail the flapper."
- -Recollection by Brian Scott;

Brian recently sent us this photo of his dad Allen.
It was taken in Saltaire in the 30's. I would say
that that he looks exactly like Brian in Saltaire
in the 70's. (GF)

Hey, BRIAN: don't you live in California?
...and you are saying that the Saltaire girls, not California girls, are the "cutest girls in the world?"...
Are you saying that blueberry bushes are more romantic than palm trees???
"The west coast has the sunshine
And the girls all get so tanned
I dig a french bikini on Hawaii island
Dolls by a palm tree in the sand
California Girls
As far as the Flapper, I hope Brian Scott did not get any "Flappers" in the summers of 1965 or 1966. I worked for the Village garbage and maintenance crew then. Lenny McGahey and Gottfried Mahler carried a big hammer in the garbage truck and whenever they saw a raised nail they were supposed to stop the truck and get out and hammer it down. On occasion we would specifically drive up and down the boardwalks looking for protruding nails. If the boards were broken, we would replace the broken boards... In theory.
The reason the nails pop up is because the boards on boardwalks are laid diagonally. The wheels of trucks are parallel. So when the front right wheel of a truck passes over a board, the weight presses the right side of the board down. The left wheel is not on the same board, so the left side of the board will rise as a reaction to the downward pressure on the right side. After the truck passes, the board settles, but a nail on the left side that has been forced up does not settle back. Multiply this pressure by four each time a truck passes down a walk and it is just a matter of time that something is gonna pop up.
We all recall lots of ways to hurt your feet in Saltaire:
  • Getting tar all over your feet. You may have to be older to remember this, but a long walk on the beach often left your feet stained with tar. This was probably not very harmful, but gross, and messy and hard to remove. And if the tar got on your clothes, your June Cleaver mom would have an identidy crisis, because it would never come out, no matter how much Washday Miracle she would soak it in. It was a worse nightmare than "Ring Around the collar" for Saltaire's Harriet Nelsons. They would spend the whole week scrubbing in a vain attempt to get those stains out before the Daddy Boat arrived on Friday night.
Before stricter environmental laws took effect in the 1960s, the Fire Island beaches were much dirtier than they are today, because ships approaching New York Harbor would jettison their excess bilge, oil, head waste, skids and shipping crates and whatever else they didn't want to bring to port. The wood had lots of rusty nails, and the tar would be considered an environmental disaster today. Hence, it was pretty much normal that if you went walking on the beach you would get tar on your feet. I used to think the tar was natural. If you were less fortunate you might step on a rusty nail in an old piece of trash that we used to call “driftwood."

Patsy Scanlan recalls: Of course I cut my foot on nails as a kid in Saltaire. I ended up in a hospital because of a splinter (more like a log) jammed into the ball of my left foot. I wouldn't let my mom keep picking at it with a needle. It was way too deep. A month later I was hospitalized for a week over it.
Wearing a white sock was a badge of honor to your hurt foot.
Liz Kelly: "The eyes have it:"
"Tar on the beach. My sister kicked some of that tar around one day when we were out walking and it flew right into my eye socket and lodged there for the rest of the day (AND I had on a white sock from a flapper.) The visiting doctor was to scared to pull it off thinking my eyeball would come out. I had to keep my head in a basin of cold water for hours until it shrunk a bit."
-Liz Kelly
Jean Campbell, all the way from LA, recalls there was a cure for tar on the feet-- but I don't know if it would cure Liz Kelly's tar on the eyeball:
Jean sez: "Let's not forget the antidote to tarred feet - mayo! I'll bet Hank and Vera did a heck of a Hellman's business during those years!"
Thanx, Jean
Jon Lyon: Anything to get out of those swimming lessons with Uncle Pete:
Jon Lyon: "perhaps a bit early for young Brian to remember, but if you decided to skip Uncle Pete's swimming lessons you had better either stay safely out of sight, or put a white sock on if out and about. If Uncle Pete thought you were healthy and shirking your swimming duties there was hell to pay.
-Jon Lyon
Click Below and make your own entries about the Flapper or other injuries to the foot (and if they’re really bad, pass them along to JOH, a personal injury lawyer).


Anonymous said...

Just a few comments on Liz Kelly's post -

1)Too bad that your tar event didn't happen around the time of the annual Halloween Party - You could have used the tar as an eypatch as part of a pirate costume - Frank Markus(a/k/a Mr Halloween) would have given you first prize for the most realistic costume

2)Was that a REAL doctor who was afraid if the tar was pulled off that your eyeball would come out?? I have this vision of the "doc" pulling it off like a glob of silly putty and BOINGGG - out pops your eye - almost like in comic book skit

3)You state that you had to keep your head in a basin of cold water for hours until it shrunk a bit - How much did your head actually shrink??

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