Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: Hot times in New Jersey

RICHARD LOMUSCIO PHOTO | In New Jersey, signs warn drivers when senior citizens are out and about.
RICHARD LOMUSCIO PHOTO | In New Jersey, signs warn drivers when senior citizens are out and about.

I just returned from a week of baby-sitting two grandchildren in New Jersey. It will take me some time to recover. And that’s to recover from the long and exhausting trip and all the energy it takes to keep a 2-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl  occupied and happy.

You must remember that this was last week when the temperatures were above 90 each day. But I was determined to get them out in the fresh air and not glued to a TV in the air-conditioned comfort of their home. So I planned some events.

I really wanted to see the ocean, which is very close, but my granddaughter wanted to go to a pool. I told her that I’d buy her and her brother beach chairs to bring to the beach. This seemed to her to be a good idea.

But when we arrived at an ocean beach, she was having no part of the sand and surf.

“I want to go home,” is what I heard.

Rather than argue, I decided to head back home.

Meanwhile, the 2-year old was busy playing with his cars. He always has two or three Matchbox cars with him wherever he goes. As I was lifting him and locking him into his car seat, I placed his plastic beach shoes and cars on the roof of the Jeep.

As I was driving on the road leaving the parking lot, I noticed the shoes and cars bouncing on the road after leaving the roof. I was unable to stop right away so I drove on and found a suitable spot to make a U-turn.

With the four-way flashers blinking I slowly drove and scanned the road. I found one shoe. My granddaughter spotted the other one the weeds. I stopped to get it and noticed one car flattened in the center of the road. The other two were OK.

“Car crash,” my grandson said as he held his squashed Corvette.

So I drove them home and they spent the rest of the afternoon going under a sprinkler attached to the garden hose. They were having a ball — even sitting in the new beach chairs.

It was time for lunch and I made the mistake of asking what they would like.

“I don’t know,” was the reply.

So after running through a litany of what I had available, I just put jars of peanut butter and jelly on the table. I made sandwiches on whole wheat bread and they gobbled them up.

In the evening, they insisted on bringing the beach chairs inside — so comfortable for watching TV.

They got ready for bed and I planned the next day.

I had heard about a nearby amusement park that had rides suitable for these kids and figured a visit would be a good outing. I think it was the hottest day last week and the amusement park was the hottest place around. The sun was almost blistering the paint on the kiddie rides and bubbling the macadam walkways.

They went in boats, cars, motorcycles and rocket ships. The biggest problem was that the little guy did not want to get out of the ride. When I took him off the rocket ship, he bolted from me.

Here it is 100 degrees and bright sun and I’m trying to catch this frustrated 2-year-old. I finally caught him and hauled him back to the car and blasted the AC. He was not very happy. It took some doing to get him into his car seat. We finally made it back.

When the time came for dinner, my granddaughter said, “Let’s go to Sonic.”

I have never been to a Sonic nor did I know how to find the one near their house.

But I felt adventurous and drove on a main thoroughfare for a while until I heard my granddaughter yell,”Pop-Pop, there it is!”

I did not realize that it had car-hop service with waitresses on roller skates. When the waitress came to take our order, she remarked about how she liked my Jeep. I thanked her for the compliment. It was a bit later when my granddaughter noted that she thought the Jeep was cool because it was the same color as her hair! I never noticed.

Remember how one of the benefits of going to New Jersey was saving money on gas? No more.

Prices are now about the same as here … except that it’s always pumped for you.

And crosswalks are very senior citizen friendly with lower speed limits and bent over-figures with canes.

That’s the way seniors are depicted on some signs.