When Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said this the other day, we knew two things: 1- A lot of Philadelphians were going to ignore him this weekend. 2- He’s not from Philadelphia because a Philadelphian would’ve said, “Don’t go downashore.”
Like Farley, I did not grow up around here and I don’t have summer downashore in my DNA. My Philly friends have it, and I understand the Shore isn’t just sand, sun and water. It is memories of family gatherings, of first dates and summer loves, of walking the boards or hanging at Memories or Tony Mart’s.
Farley was raised in Westfield in North Jersey. I don’t know where he went to swim in the ocean, but it was the beach. In Brooklyn, I went to the world-famous Coney Island, which had baby waves because it is located on a bay, not directly on the Atlantic Ocean. It was the beach, loaded with Popsicle sticks, chicken bones and cigarette butts.
As it was part of New York City, it was always a day trip, no one had a summer home there. Although it had a very long boardwalk, and amusements, and roller coasters, it was a completely different experience than the South Jersey Shore, where I have had friends with homes, where I was welcomed in years past.
But I wasn’t so keen on it because I did not have the nostalgia, and I also don’t like sand in my bathing suit. I know, crazy, right?
Mayor Jim Kenney — who does understand the Shore — also implored Philadelphians not to go downashore because, he said, they will bring back the virus and kill their family. That assumes they will not keep social distances, because they’re in as much danger, if not more, at WalMart.
I enjoy Philadelphia during the summer because it empties out — easier driving and parking, more space in restaurant and theaters, fewer hassles.
Farley wants to keep everyone here, and went out of his way to pick a fight with the governors of New Jersey and Maryland for opening their beaches. I don’t speak for them, but they obviously believe it is not as dangerous as does Farley. Who’s right? I don’t know. Time will tell.
But for Memorial Day, I won’t be leaving town.