Swimming at Rockland's beaches

By Terry Economy | Jul 22, 2011
An old barge.

Growing up in Rockland during the 1940s, children in the South End of the community, when it came time for summer swimming had two choices of cold salt water spots on the Atlantic ocean. One beach we used to visit quite frequently was Dix Beach. How it got its name, I really don't know. It was, and it still is, the largest beach in the city. It had a lot of sand and it was quite deep.

The problem with Dix Beach was its access. There was no road right-of-way. You would have to cross a field on Mechanic Street and walk approximately 100 yards. No fun if you had to carry items for a picnic; therefore, Dix Beach was never too popular except for us kids who just wanted a cold swim.

Alongside Dix Beach was the remains of an old granite wharf. Tied up to the wharf were two old barges. Jumping off the granite wharf was just for older experienced kids and a lot of them did swim off "the granites."

The beach that was most attractive was, and still is, Sandy Beach, located right off Ocean Street. Sandy Beach was famous for little children because it was smaller and shallow. It had large rocks around it for sun bathing and observing. The big problem that Sandy Beach had was that the city sewage discharged a few yards out in the ocean. It wasn't uncommon swimming at Sandy Beach and seeing human waste floating around you. Despite this problem, to my knowledge no one was ever affected, healthwise, because of sewage sweeping out in the ocean.

In the fall of 1940, a great white whale washed up on the shore of Sandy Beach. It attracted a lot people to see a dead whale. In later years, us kids used to say during the summers," let's go to Sandy Beach, maybe we will see a dead whale. "

We never did.

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