Ocean Lifeguard: Reflections from a Son of the Beach

Biographies & Memoirs

By Bob McNesby

Publisher : CeateSpace

ABOUT Bob McNesby

Bob McNesby
I am originally from Atlantic City ,N.J. During the !950's-60's, I served as an ocean lifeguard as a member of the famed Atlantic City Beach Patrol.

In1967, I married and moved to Hyde Park, N.Y. where I became an elementary school teacher. In 1979, I moved back to Atlantic City More...



Okay, c'mon now, be honest. You always thought of lifeguards as total goof-offs whose only mission in life was to seek out and score as many chicks as possible. And in a sense, you'd have a point. But what if I also told you that during the 1950's and 60's, when I served as an ocean lifeguard with the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, we averaged 5000 rescues a summer. With a lifeguard force of approximately 125 men, with two to each station, and 62 stations, we averaged over eight hundred rescues, per crew, a summer. Many of these rescues were routine, some serious and others downright dangerous. You will witness and experience all three categories as I take you along for the adventure.

But basically, your initial assumption had some merit. This was a fun job, the envy of all who came in contact with us. As observers of people, we were privy to an unending goldmine of characters. A case in point was our thirty, something year old mascot whose job, he thought, was to make life as difficult as possible for us. There was the attractive lady who showed up one day to serenade my partner and me and then wouldn't leave. You'll get to know a group of women who fondly became known as the "bitches." Or, of the lady, who, in her search for ocean treasures, got much more than she bargained for. Following a lifeboat crew, you'll engage in the rescue of a bare bosom woman whose "heroic" Lothario deserts her, for the safer confines of shallow water. There is much more however...

Romantic liaisons, between guards and gals, were a common occurrence and I would prove to be no exception to this inevitability. My soaring love affair came in the form of a beautiful dancer and model, from Manhattan, whose beginning held the promise of an enduring soul mate love match, only to be scuttled by unforeseen events that would lead to heartbreaking consequences.

Where else could you work where each day brought a new set of surprises; like the day Dean Martin showed up to shoot the breeze. Or when visiting movie screen goddess Esther Williams, swam for publicity shots and some of us were picked to accompany her. And there was Bert Parks, who came each summer to emcee the Miss America Pageant and parked his belongings on our lifeguard stand before setting out for his daily stroll along the beach. Each September brought in the beautiful girls who would compete for the coveted title of Miss America. These same girls stayed at hotels that lay just beyond our lifeguard stations where they'd come each day for publicity shots.

Additionally, we had the boardwalk with its Convention Hall that housed the famous Ice Capades, billed as "Magic on Ice" and came to the city every summer for forty years. There was the World Famous Steel Pier, featuring all the top name bands and celebrities of the day e.g. Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra. Farther south was the Million Dollar Pier, a virtual fantasy land for kids featuring two movies, stage shows, a haunted house, a huge horizontal revolving "barrel" to try and walk through without falling, and best of all, a Giant Slide, that for the stout hearted became the ultimate test of one's manhood--or--womanhood.

The night life was second to none and only complimented the already glamorous existence of an Atlantic City lifeguard. Places like the Opus 1, Senator Bar and Grill, Lafayette Lounge, Georges Hometown Tavern and The Tropics Cocktail Lounge, just to name a few, all offered their own unique brand of excitement. But for the most part they engaged in a healthy competition of seeing who could attract the most females, in turn attracting the most males-who drank. It was not unusual for an enterprising male to try his luck with several girls a night. Like a taxi service he'd shuttle them to and from his apartment until the Bingo light went on. My college roommate held his master's degree in musical girlfriends.

You'll read all this and more in this highly adventurous, exciting, romantic and humorous memoir.

TITTIES IN A TEMPEST Roy loved his working relationship with Joe, which he described as “never a dull moment.” The two were having a lot of rescues due to holes that had formed in the oceans floor over the winter. Historically, Ohio hadn’t been a dangerous beach and still wasn’t for the most part. But under certain ocean conditions they found it necessary to keep bathers away from the holes located to their down-beach side. Roy was now gaining valuable first-hand experience working with Joe, who was a seasoned veteran. It was an unusually overcast warm and windy day that Joe and Roy had a troublesome offset brewing. There were many bathers because the ocean temperature was ideal. The two guards were kept busy whistling people up-beach, away from danger. The guys were having success, except for a clueless couple who paid little attention to their warnings. The twosome, he especially, was more intent on pursuing a sexual agenda. He kept reaching for areas of his partner’s body that she coyly parried--unconvincingly. They were so distracted, by their lustful quest that they kept getting closer to the offset. Just in time they’d heed the whistles shrill blast and unwittingly move away from the danger. After recovering from each whistle warning they became more carried away by desire. Finally, during one passionate exchange they threw caution to the wind, groping each other, while heading swiftly toward the offset. This time the whistles had no affect as they were hurled into a deep swirling vortex. When they realized their plight they tried heading for shore. He was a good swimmer but she was a member of the come-get-me-stroke school of aquatics. It was seldom our experience not to see a guy choose the heroic role and try to save his damsel in distress--not so Chick. As he headed for the beach she screamed, “Chick Chick,” but Chick was having none of it. Chick had turned tail and was stroking like a champ, as if a shark was on his ass. She continued yelling, “Chick, Chick” but Chick was more interested in saving his own sorry butt, leaving his amorous partner to fend for herself. As Joe and Roy ran for the boat, Roy was having trouble containing himself. While the Chick and chick show had unfolded Joe was carrying on a running narrative of the event. Roy, by now, was addicted to Joe’s humor and was finding it hard to control himself. He told us later, “Here I was going on a rescue and could hardly launch the boat because Joe had me in stitches.” They reached the woman who was flailing about, still calling for Chick. Roy tossed a perfect donut strike and reeled the woman to the boat. The woman was very heavy and Roy was having trouble getting her into the boat. He tried to get her to lift a leg to the gunnel so he could use her weight to roll her in. Finally, Joe had to leave his oars to help Roy pull her aboard. When they got her in the boat they realized her top was down--compliments of Chick. With each heave of her chest her mammoth breasts flopped from side to side. Roy was beside himself. While the poor woman gasped for air Joe casually asked if she could please put her boobies back in her bathing suit. Not being quite lucid the woman said, “What, what?” Joe added, “You know, your boobies he said pointing… just as she looked down horrified… back in your bathing suit.” Poor Roy was bent over his oars, out of control, as the woman pulled her top up. As soon as the boat touched shore the woman scrambled from the craft and hurried up the beach. She spotted Chick, who, incredibly, was waiting dutifully by the stand. “You dirty son of a bitch, bastard,” she yelled, along with some other more inspired profanities. The woman pummeled Chick about his face and body. She called him a no good coward as the rubber-necking crowd, who had witnessed the entire event, looked on with bemused interest. Joe was back on the stand, but Roy who was still trying to regain his composure went back down by the water to whistle bathers away from trouble. An hour later when all had settled down Joe and Roy were discussing the bizarre incident. Suddenly, the heavy lady was back in front of the stand to extend her thanks. Upon seeing her, Roy’s sweatshirt went back over his head as his body convulsed. Turning to leave, with a look of concern, the lady said, “Please don’t let this get in the newspapers. My brother is Captain of the Ocean City Beach Patrol” (a sister patrol about fourteen miles south of Atlantic City). That did it for Roy. He leaped from the stand and walked up the beach holding his sides. The woman must have thought he was nuts.