• Shanna Kelly

Seven Mile Island: It’s all here for the taking

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

There’s always the option to sample all both towns have to offer



Amy McIntyre Kramer | Seven Mile Satellite


Originally published 18 August 2019

 
McIntyre Kramer on 80th Street. Photos | Amy McIntyre Kramer

If you’re looking for my heart, most days you can find it right smack in the middle of 80th Street between the “Seashore at it’s Best” and “Cooler by a Mile.” You see, I’m a to-and-fro girl: half my heart in one town and half in the other. One fond memory from 94th Street is instantly challenged by another that happened on 42nd Street, or an outstanding meal at Jay’s on Third will stand right up alongside The Diving Horse on Dune Drive.


I suppose if I was pressed, if the winds of decision were to swirl around me and tip me one way or the other, my body and soul would fall north to Avalon, but there’s no guarantee. After all, I come from stock that was split down the middle.


When my mother passed away four years ago and was buried at Resurrection Cemetery off Rt. 83, we had “Cooler by a Mile” engraved under her name. We couldn’t resist that epitaph because at age 84 she died a supremely cool lady, but more than that, she was an Avalon girl at heart.

My father on the other hand, who today is 93 years old and who yesterday told me that he thinks Stone Harbor has the upper hand, tends to lean south — and this is a guy who owned two homes in Avalon and none in Stone Harbor — so go figure.


There’s an aesthetic quality, of course, that has our collective scales tipping one way or the other, but it also comes from our experiences — talk about to and fro. For many of us, it’s downright ping pong. There’s Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream in Stone Harbor since the days of Prohibition where you can get a delectable hand-dipped cone, and 62-year-old Avalon Freeze if you prefer a softer side.


For Springer’s, my memories instantly go to — what else — the line outside, and how in days gone by a few of us from my husband’s family would sometimes let our tweens walk up and brave the line by themselves. Their younger siblings would be in tow while we sat drinking wine at my in-laws’ a stone’s throw away.


Up north, where Avalon Freeze sits, it was one July day in 1969 when my little face morphed from a gigantic grin to full-on tears in a matter of two minutes after I dove into the hardened chocolate on my vanilla soft serve with a little too much gusto, causing the hard candy shell to crack down the center, hit my white T-shirt and finally land — kerplunk — on the sidewalk at my feet.


And later, in my 20s, once I became too cool to stay at my parents’ house on 11th Street, I’d rent houses for the whole summer season with my friends and cousins. We’d secure our jobs and then, we’d traverse the entire island all summer long. My cousin Sally and I had a thing for that delectable chicken and herb pasta salad at the Green Cuisine on 96th Street. The ladies there used to laugh out loud when they’d see us walking through their door, again.


And our weekly romp at Touché. Oh, Touché. Our high standards and limited budgets had us obsessed with that place. It was a beautiful, classy nightclub right there on Shelter Haven Bay. It’s no wonder it’s predecessor, The Reeds, ended up in the same spot and then, took it one hundred notches up the swank ladder — I’m convinced it’s because Touché left its classy karma behind.


We tried to soak up some of that karma, making our weekly trek to Touché the first thing we’d plan each week. We’d choose our prettiest dresses or our most eye-catching pant and top combos — provided they had room around the waistline since we always showed up at Touché hungry and ready to eat. How could we not when their Sunday happy hour saw a scrumptious spread of complimentary fare. Sometimes it was my first meal of the day. Sometimes it was even my last. I used to feel bad about the amount of food we consumed, so I made sure to give them plenty of free advertising in return for the free food: “You guys! You wouldn’t believe it. Touché, best happy hour ever. The food is all free. Meet us at 5:00. See you there!”


And if we were in a dress down mood, we’d head to Fred’s on 96th Street, braving three or four deep at the bar and invariably seeing ten people we knew. Or we’d stay in Avalon and hit up the Princeton. The “P” back then was not what the “P” is today — talk about dressing down. You had to because the crowd was so thick at times that if someone dropped a beer bottle on the floor and it shattered, there was no way you could bend over to see if it was blood or just warm beer rolling down the side of your calf. Your legs would have to wait. Upright was your only available position and you were usually drenched in sweat. And yes, we lived for every single minute of it.


But then, your soul calls for quiet, no matter your age, and both Avalon and Stone Harbor have options in spades.


From the massive jetty just off of 6th Street that looks out over the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean, to the lovely stone commemorative benches that dot the space just beyond 122nd Street, Seven Mile Island is home to myriad parks, gardens, bird sanctuaries, gazebos, public docks for dipping your toes in, a fabulous boardwalk that’s perfect for strolling and two beautiful libraries — one in each town — each outfitted with lofty chairs that allow you to sink in and enjoy quiet time with a favorite book.

So, you see, it’s all here, in both towns: seven glorious miles of fun, of sun, of experiences that will help you to create memories that — trust me — will last a lifetime.


Amy McIntyre Kramer is a writer for the Seven Mile Satellite. Contact her at sevenmilesatellite@gmail.com.