|Location||Trip Time||Travel Type|
|New York||1 hour|
For more content, click the "Explore this Tour Remotely" button below.
Click here to see a transcript of this story.
Click here to hide the transcript of this story.
Jones Beach was built in 1929 by master planner Robert Moses and remains one of Long Island's biggest tourist attractions. It has provided powerful memories for generations including those who worked there. Reggie Jones was the longest working lifeguard at Jones Beach from 1942 to 2004. This story shows us how dangerous being a lifeguard can be. I kept swimming after Jimmy Lockland. I lost sight of him, he kept going but I could hear the voice. The line I was pulling there was such a terrific west sweep it started to pull me backwards. And I said "well I'm going nowhere except backwards," so I unleashed the line and now here we are both of us swimming out with no equipment. We get nearer and nearer to this voice and I cannot believe it, to this day. I look at this guy – he was a behemoth! He looked like Sidney Greenstreet from the old movies. And he was going up and down, and he's going "help, help!" And I'm saying to myself "how in God's name did this guy get out here." Well, at any rate, Jimmy gets him under one arm and I get him under the other, and we're yanking him along, and we're not really going anywhere with this big monster we're not making much ground, or swimming. And we were heading towards Jones inlet, and we knew it was an outgoing tide. And as you know if you go around that jetty in Jones Inlet and you've got an outgoing tide, you're going straight out. You're not coming in. Well I start getting pretty worried and so did Jimmy. And I said "Jim, I don't know if anyone knows we're out here." He said "Yeah, they probably don't Jonsey." He said "I'm going in for help." I said "who the hell elected you!" "You're twice the swimmer I am, Jimmy don't leave me!" He said "Jonsey, I'm going in." So he started kicking off in that fog and I was not only angry, I was scared. So he went in. Now I've got Sidney Greenstreet under one arm. He goes down. I'm going up. We're really bobbing up and down here and I'm really getting scared, and as I said I was just 18. As we're heading towards the inlet I really started to get worried and frankly, I'm no hero, believe me. I got very scared and I figured I've got to save myself. I could not leave him. I really couldn't. Cause I knew if I left this guy he's gone! That's it. Well, fortunately, I'm bobbing up and down, I'm getting more worried, and I hear whistles – toot too, toot toot. And I look up and there's my old Captain, Hank Daly, in one of those great big Jones Beach wooden dories. And he's got two 9-foot oars and he's dorying out there. And the waves are fairly big and he's hollering "Jonsey!" and I see him – Well that was the greatest sight I saw in my entire life was that boat coming through the water. I said "Hank! Hank! I'm over here!" "Hold on Jonsey! Hold on!" Well he got over to me and I said "oh boy, there is a God." You needed a derrick to get this guy into the boat. Obviously we struggled. Fortunately, Hank was a big, strong guy. We got this guy into the back of the boat. We started heading in, and Hank turns to me and in his clipped way he says "Jonsey, Lockland left you, didn't he?" Of course I wasn't too happy with Jimmy Lockland, so I said "yes, sir, he did." He said "we'll see about that when we get ashore." Well we go bouncing in. We're almost at the inlet and we land and there's a crowd on the beach. And the boat splashes in and we got Sidney out of the boat, he was ok. And big Hank walked over to Lockland. And Jimmy had the old suit on like this one. We had those old-fashioned suits we had back then. And they were made of wool. And Jimmy was standing there. And Hank walked up to him and he grabbed the strap on his shoulder, like this, and I don't know how this guy did it, but he broke the strap, pulled it right off his shoulder. And he broke it and he said "get out of here." He said "you're not a lifeguard, you're not even a man. You left him out there." And wow. At any rate I didn't say anything and he came to me and he said "Okay Jonsey, go over and get a hot shower we might have a couple more of these today." I said "good God!" Ready for more stories? Our next stop is Babylon, where you will learn about Superstorm Sandy. This program is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Robert W Gardiner Foundation.