Monday, July 11, 2016

1969, The Summer That Was ~ #MondayBlogs

Late in the summer of 1969 my parents put me on a plane to Miami where I was going to spend some time at my Grandma’s place — she lived in a residential hotel in South Miami Beach. I was terrified of the plane ride (first time ever) but excited about my “grown-up independence”. One of the other grandmothers living in that hotel also had arranged for her teenage granddaughter to visit from NY around the same time so I even had a prearranged buddy to hang out with. And hang out we did.

So long as we let our grandmothers know where we were going and were back by their specified times, it was an adventure spent on the beach, shopping on Lincoln Road, going to the movies and so many things WITHOUT adult supervision, Woo-Hoo! (Although I did find out in later years that my grandmother had her spies, lol.)

The hotel was literally across the street from the beach and we spent almost every day soaking up the sun. I remember that there was an absolutely hunky lifeguard who guarded that particular section of the beach; my friend Carol was absolutely gaa-gaa over him and believe me it was obvious. So much so that even when a Hurricane pelted the Florida Keys and Miami Beach had heavy winds and rain spurts, we still spent as much time across the street as possible. Because of the huge waves and reports of sharks close to shore we had to promise our grandmothers we would not go in the water above our knees.

We were good to our word, but we didn’t count on waves that covered us up to our necks and we certainly weren’t prepared for Carol to be on the edge of a sand-bar and shelf (where the ground literally just drops away). So when Carol got sucked suddenly into the waters and swallowed mouthfuls of salty ocean, she needed help. I was there and the lifeguard wasn’t responding, so I jumped in and pulled her back to shore. After she coughed up what she had swallowed and caught her breath she was, thank goodness, well enough to be furious and approached the lifeguard who had never moved. She literally croaked instead of yelling. He admitted he saw what happened but just assumed she was trying to get his attention! Then he told her she had been nothing but a nuisance for days. I was furious when I heard that.

Of course she was trying to get your attention, you jerk. She almost drowned. I could have drowned trying to save her. All because you are so full of yourself!”

I think he finally realized how serious the incident was. BTW, neither Carol nor I had ever pretended to be in need of his lifesaving skills before. There was NO reason whatsoever to assume we were pretending and to ignore his responsibilities. Finally Carol and I went back to the hotel, she was in tears; our grandmothers were seated on the porch and Carol blurted out what had happened. When Carol’s grandmother got angry, really angry, I was thankful that neither of us had disobeyed any rules to bear the brunt of her ire. It wasn’t long before her grandmother went down to the beach and we never saw that lifeguard on-duty anywhere on the beach after that.

I never forgot the close call we had and years later as a first responder (with the Auxiliary Police and later as an EMT on a volunteer ambulance) I never doubted someone’s cries for help. Oh there were some that weren’t sincere but my attitude was that I would prefer to cluck my tongue over the abuse later rather than ignore someone who might really be in need.

It is on that note that I want to express my appreciation for all of our nation’s first responders who give of themselves every day to protect and save lives. We have some of the finest Law Enforcement, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services members out there.

It is with special remembrance and gratitude that I send hugs and a piece of my heart to the Dallas Police Department and share with them the pain they suffer. News reports related how they sheltered and helped strangers on the street while in the direct line of fire, their courage and heroism will not be forgotten.

Rest in Peace

Senior Cpl Lorne Ahrens
Sgt Michael Smith
Officer Brent Thompson
Officer Michael Krol
Officer Patrick Zamarripa

"I refuse to see hate live, while love dies."
~ Officer Bryan Woodard, Dallas PD

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