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The Long Island Oak Beach Inn
The Oak Beach Inn, or OBI, was located on the south shore of Long Island between Jones Beach and Robert Moses State park. It was Long Island's equivalent to the Moulin Rouge and had a thirty year run. Live music, cheap food and drink, and great crowds made this the place to be on the weekends. The taste of clams on the half-shell always takes be back to that place.
OBI was the birthplace of the Long Island Ice Tea, though we just called it "Ice Tea". "Long Island" was added to the name when the drink caught on around the country.
In the '70s, drinking and driving was tolerated if not encouraged. As long as you were sober enough to sit upright in the driver's seat, you were good to go. Luckily the road home was the Ocean Parkway, which was straight as an arrow, surrounded by sand dunes, and lonely as a health food buffet on Super Bowl Sunday. Please don't try this at home unless you find yourself driving around in the 1970s, then go for it.
Today the site is a 9-acre empty lot that is home to an unofficial car show every Sunday morning.
The Morning After
I remember "hooking up" as they say, with a girl at the Oak Beach Inn. My next memory was waking up in the basement of an unfamiliar house. I thought I'd just sneak out rather than deal with awkward conversation, but the door at the top of the cellar stairs was blocked by something on the other side. As I applied more force, I heard the deep-throated (no pun intended) growl of the largest dog I'd ever seen. I opened a basement window, crawled out through the tiny opening, and ran smack into the path of the lawn sprinkler. It was a rather rude way to wake up, but at least I was out. Drenched to the bone, I made my way to the street. We didn't use the term "dude" in those days but if we did I would have said to myself "Dude, where's my car?". I would later find out that my car was still in the Oak Beach Inn's parking lot.
This is the kind of thing that makes real life so much more interesting than fiction. My friend Dave Grant happened to pull up on his motorcycle as I start walking home. We exchanged pleasantries, like "What are you doing here" and "where the hell am I?". He offered me a ride home just before the bike's engine conked out. We walked home together. This was not the first time I had run into Dave in an unexpected place.
Dave and Another Dave
friend named Dave (who I've known since
I rented a house on the water in Freeport.
I had an old wooden boat that was only 16 feet long but had about an
beam. It was very stable, very heavy and grossly underpowered. One
evening, Dave and I, and our girlfriends, loaded up the boat with
and headed out to Short Beach; a very small island in Reynolds Channel. A
romantic weekend on an empty island for two couples was what we had in
As I approached the island, I raised the outboard engine and nudged the bow onto the sand. Dave, and the girls jumped onto the beach and I handed them all of the gear and supplies. I backed the boat out into the channel and set the anchor. I dove in and swam to shore when the fading sun was only a faint glow in the western sky. As I approached the island, I saw that there were four figures on the beach. I emerged from the water to see Dave (roommate). and the two girls talking to Dave Grant (motorcycle guy). He had come to the island with a bunch of friends, all of whom I knew from high school. He was carrying a box of wine, which was brand new technology at the time. He was very enthusiastic about this breakthrough and spent the next few hours discussing its merits at length. In the morning he was far less enthusiastic however.
We set up our tents around a bonfire.
In the morning, we went for a walk on the beach and I discovered that the soles of my feet were badly burned. This was a mystery to me but apparently not to anyone else who was present. I also found that the tide had gone out, leaving my boat high and dry. It was about 50 yards from the water which meant that we were going to be on the island for a while. On the way back to the campsite I stumbled across Motorcycle Dave, who had apparently passed-out next to his tent wearing only his shorts. Mosquitoes had made a feast of him as he slept; his trusty but empty box of wine was at his side.
Someone, whose boat was not land-locked, offered to take us water skiing. This seemed like a good idea to all of us hangover-stricken reprobates. I went first. Up on the skis and waving to people on the island, I leaned to one side to pick up speed and the next thing I knew I was tumbling through the air. When I stood up I was standing in ankle-deep water. I picked up the skis and walked to the beach.
The sky darkened as we waited for the tide. By the time we were able to head back, the waves were about six feet high and the wind was howling. Between the heavy, overloaded boat, and approximately one thousand pounds of barnacles stuck to the hull, the grossly underpowered craft could barely keep up with the waves. It was scary and it took us a long time, but we finally made it back to the dock.
And that's all I have to say about the Oak Beach Inn.
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