Born in Brooklyn but raised in Long Beach, Bob Carroll is one of the city’s elder residents who have never left its sand and happily remember what it was like growing up on a once barren island that was originally created as a summer resort for the wealthy.
Carroll especially likes to retell the days when the boardwalk featured an arcade, merry-go-round and other rides. He also recalls when Long Beach was a Navy station for 20,000 sailors, when a mere four houses on his street held the only year-round residents in the West End after Labor Day, and when he was the town’s first paperboy—to which he can still recite the names of his 16 customers. But it is his fondness for the city by an ocean that has kept him in Long Beach for 80 years.
"I always look back and think I'm a lucky guy," Carroll said. "Long Beach is beautiful and I got to grown up and raise my family here. I knew everyone. No matter if it's the , there's a uniqueness that's kept us as a community that's unlike any other."
Carroll's enthusiasm for both the community and sports led him to become the first superintendent of the Long Beach Recreation Center, a position he held for 47 years.
For Alexandra Karafinas, her love of Long Beach ran so deep that she spent her life capturing and showcasing the city’s history and architecture.
"Long Beach shaped my life,” said Karafinas, a resident for more than 60 years and president of the Long Beach Island Landmarks Association.
“If I would have moved to [New York City], I would have been stifled," she continued. "I learned a lot about this community, and I always considered this the best place in the world to grow up. That's why I've worked to save as much of its history and heritage as possible.”
Residing in Long Beach when it was an attractive community during his childhood, when it became run down decades later, and then when it was revitalized in more recent years has only added to the city's evolving and changing environment that Stanley Fleishman never grew tired of.
"Long Beach was like living in two different places in the winter and the summer," Fleishman said. "You knew everyone in the winter, it was a local place. And then summer came with crowds, different faces, and new life every year."
Fleishman, who was born in Long Beach Hospital in 1929, began a successful family business in the area, and spent his life feeling fortunate that he never left.
"I've got sand in my shoes and I don't leave my community,” he said. “God willing, I'll be here for many more years.”