Before Hurricane Sandy struck Long Beach, Jeff Singer, an Oceanside resident, was working on publishing a guide to the boardwalk’s more than 700 memorial benches. The storm’s destruction, though, hasn’t deterred him from continuing his project.
Singer’s guide will include stories and photographs of about 150 people to whom the benches have been dedicated.
Singer said he has thus far collected 60 stories of roughly 250 words apiece. Once completed, the guide, which is expected to be called “Reflections,” will sell for about $25 each, which will reimburse him for the $6,000 to $8,000 it will cost to publish the collection of stories. The rest will go toward the bench restoration fund, he said.
Each bench was purchased by family members at around $2,700, Singer said.
He originally expected to compile all the stories by Dec. 15, he said, but the hurricane pushed the deadline to Feb. 1. As the city starts to demolish the boardwalk, it will store the benches until a new boardwalk is built, after which they will be restored to the same locations. Only a handful of the benches were lost in the storm, but they will be replaced.
Singer hopes to have the guide ready for distribution around the time the new boardwalk is completed. He expects to start by publishing about 500 guides in color.
Not all the benches are in memory of loved ones. One of the benches was dedicated to Singer by his wife in celebration of his 60th birthday 10 years ago. He said he has mostly fond memories of the boardwalk as someone who often used it for speed walking. However, he said he broke his femur bone about nine years ago when he tripped over a part of the boardwalk that is uneven.
“It’s been a big part of my life and I hope to make it a part of other people’s lives in terms of memories,” he said.
Anyone wishing to tell their stories behind the dedicated benches may email Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org.