Some of the good zany stories and experiences for the 58 year old kid have come from my background in the Catholic education system. I grew up within walking distance of our church and spend a lot of time serving masses and singing in the choir. I also attended catholic grade school and received my primary education from the Vincentian Sisters of Charity. Now sometimes I questioned their name when they relegated me to the wastebasket facing the corner in the classroom. I had a tendency to talk a lot and crack jokes which didn’t go over real well when one of the sisters was trying to convey a lesson plan to our class. Maybe it was because I made a remark every day when a certain girl who sat in front of me would relieve herself on the slanted floor. Obviously it flowed back towards my chair and I had to raise my feet along with raising my voice. I usually took the butt end of that deal but all part of the learning process. But for the most part, save for a few visits to the wastebasket, the sisters were great teachers including my first grade teacher- Sister Judith who taught me phonix. I must say that class has stuck with me to this day and Sister Judith was undoutedly the best teacher I ever had or so I think. It is my understanding that she still is in a supervisory position at an advanced age. Still very sharp and still leading a productive life. The sisters kept all of us in line and we didn’t cross them very much. They steered a tight ship in St. Sebastian’s Grade School.
So, here I am again at the Jersey Shore with my family and I am enjoying all the sights and scenes of the shore especially from the seat of my road bicycle. As I set sail every morning and head towards Cape May, I see beautiful sunrises, blue heron, egrets, and lots of other birdlife, along with sights of folks crabbing, fishing, and boating. The new craze is SUP( Stand Up Paddleboarding) and I see a lot of these guys and girls out on the bay partaking in this fun looking activity. I see surfers heading out to rather tame looking waves but fun times nonetheless. Most of the time, I take time to stop for a coffee, a sticky bun and relax and enjoy the scenery and the pleasant slow pace of life at the shore. It is a welcome way for me to ride a bike because I usuually end up folowing a bunch of guys trying to beat each others brains out riding up hills and racing along the flats. A lot of the scenery I have seen in my 30 years of riding has been the rear end of some guy in his lycra shorts. As the saying goes, “unless you are the lead dog, the scenery is always the same.” That is the way it usually is in cycling either on a road bike or on a mountain bike with the guys. The shore is always a welcome relief to that unless I meet up with my friend Mike King who still likes to pound the pedals and ride hard every day.
In the years that I have ridden down here at the shore, I have always passed a convent retreat house at the south end of Stone Harbor. I never gave it much attention but this week, I noticed that there was some activity in a garage on the beautiful campus. I rode on by but curiosity was killing me and my wife and I rode our mountain bikes on a little cruise back down to the retreat house and checked out what was happening. It turns out that the sisters were selling some items that referred to “Nun’s Beach.” Nuns Beach T-Shirts, hats that read” Pray for Surf” and other stickers, aprons and various items indigenous to the local area. It turns out that Nun’s Beach is indeed named after the retreat house and it is the local surfer’s beach of choice for the good breaks on the Jersey Shore. In fact, they have had regional surf competitions on Nun’s Beach and the sisters there are actively involved in volunteer activity for the competitions. Janet and I stopped and talked to Sister Rose and Sister Mary who gave us the history of the place and we bought a raffle ticket from them for a surf board with the graphic design that you see above. There is a sister there who creates the graphic every year for the T-Shirts, hats and other items for sale. I only had enough for the raffle tickets so I told the sisters that we would be back.
The next day, I went on a long ride to Cape May with my pals Mike King and Mike Smith and I spent a long time in the saddle that day. It was hot and when I got back, Janet wanted to ride so I said fine and we headed unbeknownst to her to Nun’s Beach. I had told the sisters that we would be back. Janet really didn’t want to ride all the way back down there but when you grow up in guilt ridden hell like I did, you knew you better ride back down there and buy some T-Shirts or somehow the sisters would find out and I would be in trouble again. As it turned out, Sister Rose and Sister Mary were happy to see us again. They were the type of sister who were probably great teachers because they were great conversationalists and had a really great sense of humor. The little sister who sold us the shirts was a sweet helpful soul and yet another example of my memory of the good sisters who taught me in the past. There was of course the sister there helping who couldn’t wait to tell Janet to watch for the rope separating the selling area from the public area and spoke to her as if she was wearing the standard uniform of the grade school girl and would stand at attention to the instructions that she was giving to my wife. These were the types who placed me squarely in the round wastebasket. I wasn’t too fond of those types but for the most part, the hang ten nuns from Nun’s Beach were really cool and friendly. As we walked around the campus we couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the area and I must admit that I felt a little closer to heaven knowing that the nuns were there and we could see God in the beauty of the ocean. As we rode off, I had great memories of my past and felt comforted in a strange way that I got to see the nuns again and that they, for a short time, had another influence in my life. Great T-Shirts too! Hope I win that surf board. Surfs up at Nun’s Beach. Aloha brahs!!!