Scott Hirsch’s Second Chance

Anyone who’s spent a single day or night in Ocean Beach has at least a story or two to tell. But imagine 50 years of stories.

Scott Hirsch, owner of the Island Mermaid on the bay at Ocean Breeze Walk in Ocean Beach, arrived in town by chance nearly five decades ago and never left. On July 30, his memoir novella, a story of his love affair with our village, is being released after 10 months of effort.

“Everybody has a book to write,” said Scott, “ if they want to dig deep enough.” He’s had a desire to write about his Fire Island experience for years, but struggled to find a way to tie his thoughts together into something cohesive. A common thread finally came to him last year.

“Fire Island has been so good to me and my family,” he said. “And time after time, looking back over the years, I see now that I’ve been given a series of second chances. Twenty times, probably more.” He said everything came together and he was able to start writing his 120-page story centered around that theme.

The focus of the book is on Fire Island, its characters, its places, and the way Scott’s life has been woven into this place. But his story starts on Long Island before he arrived here with friends at 17. The opening chapter details a complicated relationship with his father as he came of age on Picture Lane in Hicksville and later in East Islip. In speaking with Scott, it’s clearly apparent writing the book was a form of therapy, bringing posthumous healing in his relationship with his dad. The book is dedicated to his memory. He says writing the book was “cathartic” in this regard.

The memoir, titled “Paradise Earned: A Fifty Year Voyage,” tells stories on a mostly chronological arc from the disco era to the COVID era. Scott gained employment at Town Pizza on his first unplanned trip with high school friends, later working at other establishments in town. Over 30 years ago, he cemented his place in the business district with his purchase of Goldie’s, which he renamed the Island Mermaid. He’s been looking out over the incoming and outgoing ferries and Ocean Beach’s downtown ever since.

An attorney based out of Hempstead, Scott said he’s long been criticized for his writing style.

“Being a lawyer for 35 years, you write for a living, but it’s all legalese,” he said. “I’ve always been criticized for writing like I’m writing a novel. I would always try to tell a story. For me it was always more prose than legalese.”

The names in Scott’s book play like a who’s who of Ocean Beach personalities – mayors, business owners, folks we saw on the walk in years past and still see every day. Any of us who live here or spend time here are woven into his stories and will relate to his experiences.

Scott will be donating all profits from the sale of his book to the Ocean Beach Fire Department in memory of his father. Copies will be available in local shops throughout town starting in August.