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    To beach or not to beach on a May day

    Michael Prevett read “The Hobbit” on Ipswich’s Crane Beach.
    Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
    Michael Prevett read “The Hobbit” on Ipswich’s Crane Beach.

    IPSWICH — There’s just something about going to the beach when you’re supposed to be somewhere else.

    “It feels naughty,” said one woman at Crane Beach on Thursday who declined to give her name because she was definitely supposed to be somewhere else (as were her children). “Taking a skip day is as naughty as it gets for a suburban mom like me.”

    Playing hooky is a year-round pleasure, but it becomes most prevalent this time of year, when the first baking days of sunshine arrive and an office chair does not sound quite as pleasant as a beach chair.


    And so it was Thursday, when May finally stopped acting like November, and temperatures reached a record high of 95 degrees for May 18. The majestic stretch of sand along Crane Beach in Ipswich was jammed with people, many of whom looked ghostly when approached by a reporter asking if they were supposed to be at work.

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    “I earned this,” said one man who would say no more.

    “You don’t really think I’m going to tell the Boston Globe that I’m skipping work to go to the beach?” asked another.

    “Fair enough,” replied a reporter who had come up with a ruse to do the same. You do what you have to do to get your toes in the sand.

    Of course, not everyone had used an excuse to get out of life.


    “I called in this morning and asked if I could take the day off,” said Adam Walsh, a UPS driver from Boxford. “When they said yes, I felt guilty. Like I should be at work. But I never take days off.”

    His wife, Melissa, felt less guilty.

    “Everybody else is at work and we’re here. How could it not be better?”

    That feeling of guilt was something that came up again and again in conversations with people at Crane Beach. The guilt was there, but it was also part of the pleasure, a key ingredient in that feeling of getting away with something.

    Scott Farrell played a song on Crane Beach.
    Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
    Scott Farrell played a song on Crane Beach.

    “There was definitely a guilty smirk on my face as I was driving north and everyone else was driving south into the city,” said Scott Farrell, who had driven up alone from Somerville with a chair, a book, and a small guitar. “Sure, it would be nice to have some friends here with me, but hooky beach is better than weekend beach.”


    Frank Mamone, a consultant who lives in Ipswich and was enjoying some time between projects, said you have to temper your enjoyment on such days, knowing not everyone else gets to.

    His partner “is mad that I’m at the beach,” he said. “You have to be careful talking about it. There are so many people who have to go to work, or have kids, or whatever. So you feel guilty.’

    “A little bit guilty.”

    Jessica Yurwitz was not about to let kids get in the way of her skip day, so on Wednesday night, with the first scorching day of the year in the books and another coming right behind it, she e-mailed a bunch of friends and made her pitch: As a former principal and current troublemaker, she wrote, I am encouraging you to let your kids skip school and come to the beach with us.

    “And not a single one would do it,” she said, mock offended. “What a bunch of sorry rule followers.”

    Undeterred, she woke up her own children in Essex on Thursday and introduced them to the pleasures of the skip day.

    “I was confused when she said, ‘Hey, do you want to stay home from school?’ ” said her son, Wyeth, who is in the sixth grade. “I didn’t really understand.”

    When he got his head around it, he was totally on board. “Frankly, it surprised me that this is the first time she’s ever asked me to play hooky.”

    His brother, Miles, who is in the second grade, was all in.

    “Playing hooky on the beach is amazing,” he said, as he held up a dead flounder he’d found in the surf and wondered what would happen if he threw it at someone.

    Pierce Juckett walked his dog Boston through the water of Wollaston Beach at low tide on a hot spring day.
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Pierce Juckett walked his dog Boston through the water of Wollaston Beach at low tide on a hot spring day.

    Billy Baker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.