The Shoe Fits

Boyleing Points

It was like somebody having their own weapon turned on them. Famed local photographer, Peter Brady, ripped my iPhone away from me and turned the camera towards my ankles. I was caught, just steps from the shore, wearing sneakers and black socks. A nearby throng, led by George Johnson, crushed me with over the falls, gnarly invective. 

I was called a barney, a kook, a goofy foot, and shoobie. 

They were wiping me out with surf slang which was appropriate enough because I was at the Richie Allen Memorial Surf Classic. I took exception to shoobie, which is what they call DFDs in South Jersey and parts of California. I tried saying black socks were better than white but that just triggered another round in the washing machine.

Then I said I was a working journalist and couldn’t work barefoot. “Fake news!” somebody shouted. Anyway, I really just wore that footwear to keep people from looking at my sun-blistered lip. It was, and still is, gross.

You hope when your lip is part volcano that nobody will notice but that didn’t happen for me. The day before the Richie Allen Memorial, I was at the Clare Droesch Memorial 3 on 3 basketball tournament and somebody asked me if my leprosy-ridden lip was from stress or the sun? I was mortified and hopped on my bike to escape. Only to realize my lock was on, in the spokes. There were witnesses. Gail Allen was first to heap some abuse at me. But that was okay, I really just did that lock-in-the-spokes thing to keep people from looking at my sun-blistered lip. Really, it’s not a canker. I swear.

I took all the abuse at, where else, Rockaway charity-memorial events. Which was perfect. The memorials were Rockaway to the core and I was getting a Rockaway workover. Both events, one honoring basketball legend and friend to many, Clare Droesch, and the other honoring Richie Allen, lifeguard, firefighter, surfer, are the kind of events that Rockaway does so well. Clare and Richie both died way too young and both left hard-to-match legacies.

The Saturday and Sunday events offered kids the chance to compete, kids too young to remember Richie, and some, Clare. But in some ways, that’s what makes these things so great. They send a message to young people that they are following in the footsteps of those who made a difference, those who inspired, those who were selfless and quietly heroic.

The memorials were well-attended, fun, and a perfect reflection of the best of Rockaway. There were laughs, probably some tears, some good spins down memory lane and friendly but pretty fierce competition. They were just great. 

We say it often, that it’s the people here. The people who make Rockaway special. And you know what?  It is the people. God, I love Rockaway. Even when I’m wearing sneakers on the beach.

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