Summer is here, and so are my languorous sunset walks and swims on North Lido Beach with my husband. Larry and I met on this beach when we were only 19 back in the days when few people ventured much beyond Lido’s north parking lot. We hiked to the far north end where there were no bathrooms, snack bars or pavilions. It was legal to go topless and bring dogs back then, and while I wore a top and a bottom, I was always barefoot and accompanied by my scruffy mutt, Watkins. We were a community and knew the regulars—like Paul Rubenfeld’s (Pee Wee Herman’s) parents, Judy and the cigar-chewing Milt, reading their New York Times; and the small coterie of beautiful, lithe and topless French women who lived in a house off a side street and drank wine, smoked cigarettes and felt perfectly comfortable revealing their bodies. Everyone had a Frisbee, a tan and a friendly wave.
After a day in the sun, we’d head to our cars parked in a shady, grassy lot by the beach. (A house as big as a hotel is parked there now.) We’d rinse off, using an outdoor shower at a home that was always empty in the summer. Then we’d head to the Holiday Inn across the street and drink ginger ale in a bar that was blissfully cool and dark.
Those free-spirited days are long gone, but North Lido, with its acres of sand and its nature walk through the woods, remains our favorite beach—even though now it’s a favorite of countless others. We’re a community of strangers now, but sometimes a hundred or more of us gather to watch the sun melt into the water. And while I prefer solitude—especially on beaches—I love seeing people standing quietly to say goodbye to the day and feeling grateful for another 24 hours of consciousness.
I’ve been feeling grateful about something else while working on our cover story about exceptional women. It’s been almost 100 years since women won the right to vote, and we owe that to those revolutionary figures who marched in their long dresses, corsets and big hats, braving violence and imprisonment. Still, the fight is far from over. The wage gap remains, even when education levels are equal. Women rarely occupy the corner office (although I’m proud to say our company is headed by a strong female CEO). Alarmingly, our bodies are still discussed and legislated. But our voices are being heard—witness the record number of women in Congress now—and they are making changes in politics, science, the environment, business and philanthropy with a common goal to make the world a better place. You can read about the women who are the changing the world in our region here. I’m grateful that they are sharing their humanity and talents under the same setting sun.