The Old Man of the Rockaways


After a string of nighttime drownings in the Rockaways, the New York Times sent reporter Javier Hernandez down to the beaches there to see what went on past 6 p.m., after the lifeguards leave the beach and swimming becomes illegal. Hernandez actually found a vibrant, happy nightlife on the sand, including friends meeting for snacks, co-workers taking a break to drink sodas and debate politics, and families fishing in hopes of a nighttime catch. Also, he found Quint from Jaws:

In the darkness, he looked disoriented as he groped his way down the beach with what looked like a cane. He stopped here and there, bending over to inspect the sand, assess the tide and scold teenagers as they dipped their toes into the water. As he walked away from the waves, the light from the street brought his profile into focus: a metal detector in one hand, a scooper in the other and a satchel around his waist. The sky was darkening, and Richard Fisher, 65, was at work at the edge of New York City, the seven-mile coastal stretch in Queens known as Rockaway Beach. “The waves sneak up on you at night,” he said. “They pull you in and you’re dead before you know it.”

Somebody's got to go out into that water and kill those waves, once and for all.

The Appeal and Danger of the Beach in the Dark [NYT]