Gordon Hesse


even how to bite into a whistle as you blew for attention-getting impact.  Complementary partners could anticipate each other’s  actions in a tight spot.  Over time, many of them -- through shared experiences, both good and bad -- forged a bond on a beach that seems as eternal as the tides.

It is not uncommon for guards from one decade or one beach patrol to share experiences with those of another, particularly among those who have shown themselves worthy of the brotherhood.  They have experienced the most basic and primitive aspects of life held in the balance and had the opportunity to swing the weight towards life by pitting their wit, muscle and grit against the ageless natural elements.  They have seen the look sweep over a face that is confronting immediate mortality and have won the confrontation.

All Summer Long is a collection of reflections from lifeguarding -- at times it may be as ethereal as the joyous squeals of small children splashing in the low tide foam or as obvious as a shore break.  It is an attempt to record a part of the oral tradition and culture of lifeguarding.  The accounts are little more than tiny tiles, but when one stands back, they offer a mosaic colored by their own experiences.  Although most of these reflections are snapshots in time from a small stretch of coast, ocean lifeguards from practically everywhere or anytime may find a microcosm in these accounts.

This book teaches lessons hard-learned and records the deeds of small and mighty men and women.

© Gordon Hesse 2003

All Summer Long: Tales & Lore of Lifeguarding on the Jersey Shore is a contemplation of the beach, the sea and the shore scene told by those who have watched it the most: Lifeguards.  Based on the personal accounts of more than 30 lifeguards with experience spanning six decades, it presents the craft of safety training and experience that was passed along by a strong oral tradition from one lifeguard to another.  It also looks in depth at the evolution of lifesaving equipment, preparation and training.  It also depicts the camaraderie and traditions of beach culture.  

For nine summers and part of a spring, the author was an ocean lifeguard.  With only the horizon as a boundary, on most days it was great work.  When the water was calm, the job offered zen meditations amid warm breezes as bathers communed with a mysterious part of their past, the light chimes of children at their determined discovery, and the muted, dreamy tempo of the folding waves.  

Bench partners came with different experiences and styles. The veteran partner who broke you in helped to shape the kind of guard you became.  You learned how to spot developing hazards, deal with the public, and