HOW THE SAND FELT (Atlantic City Memoir 50’s & 60’s)

How did the sand feel

On a six-year-old’s tender feet?

Burning hot

So hot it felt cold

Like playing in snow on an icy day

 

Running into the Atlantic Ocean

Waves slapping high

Jelly fish floating, flashing stingers

Undertow tripping unsteady legs

More danger than the average Nintendo game

My future sons would one day play

 

Susan, my age, also Gypsy

Dancing on pieces of driftwood

Allowed to wear a diklo tied behind her head

Romani-fashion

Unlike me because no one to know

We were now A-S-S-imilated

Americans, not Gypsies

With our pale skin and

Philly accents sounding okay

 

Atlantic City before casinos

When PC didn’t smack us down

In our unsanitized world

Like the Steel Pier Diving Horse

Yes, insane to make a horse dive

From 60 feet in the air

Into a kiddie pool

But with all the complaints

I never hear a word about the

Virgin Sacrifice

The Beautiful Rider

On the horse’s back also at risk

Ouch, if he landed on her today

 

Grandma waking us kids late at night

To walk the Boards, ride the carousel

And head for Mammy’s restaurant

Dipping cinnamon donuts into black coffee

Seminal moments of my caffeine and sugar addictions

Traced back to those wonderful days

 

Glimpsing grunting couples under the Boardwalk

A mere ten years before I, too,

Would be half-heartedly

Pushing away young men’s hands that felt so good

Saying, “No, I’m a virgin”

Do young women still say that? Do they do that?

Or did we early 1970’s feminists bestow our gift to them

By raising the consciousness of others to know

That women are sexual too

We are allowed to be sexual without being labeled

As “tramps” if we say yes

Or “lezzies” if we say no

Our gift of equal access to birth control

Is once again threatened in my lifetime

Will the young do that dance of fighting the hormones again?

Or just keep popping out babies

Into a world that is fast losing resources to care for

Seven billion souls?

The Drifters romanticized being under the boardwalk

But it was an undocumented struggle

To not be shamed in “the family way”

 

Yes, the sand was burning hot

We all burned those middle decades:

Music, war, cities destined for destruction

But through the intense heat

I can still smell the salt in the air

And the cooling grey water of the Atlantic

To soothe the toes and soles and souls

From a time so far away…

 

© 2014 ViataMaja, Laminas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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