Ron Vernon

Lifelong stickball player and Coney Island lifeguard for 48 years

Ron Vernon
Interview Date:
January 25, 2018


Born in 1949, Ron Vernon grew up on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island playing stickball and since his retirement to Florida has played in the Palm Beach County Stickball League, which has eight teams. For him and 120 other guys, it's like being 15 years old again, he says. "People ask, where are you from? Most people say 'from New York,' some people say 'from Brooklyn,' I say 'from Coney Island.'" Vernon shares boyhood memories of the song of the Knish Man, his Russian immigrant grandfather, who was a winter swimmer and taught him how to swim, and working on the scooter ride on Surf Avenue. At 17, he got his dream job of being lifeguard and worked his way up to Chief Lifeguard, a job he held until retiring in 2015. He was also a high school basketball coach and phys ed teacher, and is still called chief, coach and Mr. Vernon by those who worked with him.