I never used to believe in the spiritual world. Psychics, seances, Voodoo, Santa Rosa and all the rest always bored me. I guess you could say I didn't believe in Ghosts or the Supernatural.
What changed my mind about all that was a strange event in my life. It happened the summer after my 25th birthday. It was a warm August day. A couple of my friends and I decided we'd crash a local nude beach.
The only place where clothing optional beaches on Long Island where I live, were either difficult to get to out in the Hamptons or, in the Fire Island National Seashore. Everyone I think has heard of "The Hamptons." That's where the summer elite play and some live year round.
I'm not going to name everyone who had vacationed over the years. Just about anyone who has been anyone has spent some summer time here. I've personally seen the likes of Natalie Wood, Lorne Green, Ron Silver and many more partying the summer away in years past.
Guy Lombardo had his headquarters here and lived in his later years in Freeport. Billy Joel calls Long Island home, to mention someone you might know.
But as I would guess, unless you are on in years, the first ones I mentioned might be unknown to you. Of course in the limelight today, I'm sure you've heard of Long Island's own, Natalie Portman and the ever infamous, Lindsay Lohan.
I only mention the names of a few of the famous and not so famous people who have inhabited Long Island. There is another person who I'm sure you know. That is a person who had visited Long Island almost 250 years ago, George Washington.
Many times during the Revolutionary War, he visited Long Island to check on his troops and encourage the men in the Continental Army. George Washington Slept Here, is a familiar claim noted by many road side historical monuments all over Long Island.
And that is the period I am referring to, our War For Independence. My change of heart about the supernatural is directly related to that War and the misdeeds of the British to wounded Continental Soldiers.
But let me return for a moment to my friends and my quest for the sought after nude beach. You see, being from the western part of Long Island, it was for us, like driving to the end of the earth to get as far out as the desirable beaches of the Hamptons. So we opted for the very famous nude beach on a spur of the Fire Island National Seashore.
Even so, it was over an hours drive from our starting point in Carle Place. Long Island has a few fairly good high speed roads and well, it was a hop skip and a jump to get on one of our Parkways or Expressways to burn our gas getting to Smith Point Park and access to the Seashore's sought after beach.
In our minds, we decided to take towels to lie on, NEAR the beach and spy on the nude wonders frolicking on the sandy beach. Well, we got to a point of no return where the naked and the clothed separated.
To be honest, no one in our group decided to nude it all out and we stood at the sign on the beach that plainly said, "Nudity Required Beyond This Sign."
Ooops. Our plan faltered. We wanted to see and not be seen. Well, it was just as we were pondering our fate when a Ranger came up behind us.
He knew just what we had planned. He told us so. He also told us it wasn't going to work. No way. He did suggest though, taking a tour. Not a tour of the NUDE BEACH but a guided tour of the National Seashore.
It actually proved quite interesting. Long Island is steeped in all types of history as I already mentioned and that brings us full turn to why I included that one line about the British and their misdeeds to Continental Soldiers.
One highlight of our tour of the Seashore was a little sand bar of an island just north of the spit of land the Seashore covers. Hospital Island.
Now if you are squeamish, you might want to close your eyes for a second and skip down a paragraph or two and continue reading there.
Hospital Island got its name because it's a tidal sandbar. Low tide, there is access and at high tide, it is covered.
Why is it called 'Hospital Island' you ask? Well, the British really didn't have much in the way of desire to use their meager medical supplies for their enemy. So for the wounded that were not mobile, they told them that they would be taken to "Hospital Island" and the Continental Army would pick them up.
Needless to say, the severely wounded soldiers bought into the idea and at low tide they were placed on the island to await rescue. The British didn't want to KILL the soldiers. It wasn't humane to do that in war.
No, the British didn't want to do that even to their enemies. So they let the tide do it for them. I'm not sure how they felt a slow agonizing death was any better than a knife or a bullet. But that was their chain of thought. At least they wouldn't have to do it themselves.
So, Hospital Island got it's name during Continental Times because of what the British did. But they had one little problem. Every once in a while a Continental Soldier was strong enough to evade the tide and would make it back as the tide came in. So they had to station a few guards to make sure NO ONE came back.
The Guards often spoke about the sounds of agony that came with the night mist as the doomed passed from the world of the living to the one of the dead.
As the Ranger told us the story, we were standing on the shore right by Hospital Island. He told us that very often as the tide rolls in, you can still hear the cries for help from the Island.
Now, I can tell you, the hair on the back of my neck tingled when he said that. I was not really inclined to believe the Ranger. In all seriousness, he said that the next high tide was just after sunset, around 10 pm. "See for yourself," he told us.