Taking stock of all that Sandy stole

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It sounds strange, I know, that we might find sentimental value in a treadmill, a sterile piece of machinery that stares back at you with nothing more than digital readouts. But it was special.

We bought it on the Fourth of July this year. It was the final element that we added to our family room, the last room in our fixer-upper house to be redone. It was a celebratory moment for us, representing a 10-year effort to redo a home that was clearly dated –– antiquated, really –– when we bought it. My wife and I had done much of the work, except electrical and plumbing. We decided to splurge and have someone else put the treadmill together rather than assemble it ourselves.

Everyone ran on it over the summer and into the fall. My wife loved how convenient it made exercising. Descend a flight of stairs and it was there. You could run no matter the weather. The kids loved working the buttons to program it.

My daughter decided to run cross-country at Merrick Avenue Middle School this fall, and she trained on the treadmill daily over the summer, preparing for a pre-season running camp upstate –– her first time away from home. She was having a wonderful cross-country season until Sandy struck, and the final meet was canceled. Her soccer season was canceled as well. Two teams in her Catholic Youth Organization league were from Long Beach, the hardest-hit community on Nassau County’s South Shore. CYO officials felt it wouldn’t be fair to them to continue. Agreed.

My son loved running on the treadmill so much that he decided to try to start a track club at Levy-Lakeside Elementary School in Merrick, where he’s in fifth grade. He created sign-up sheets and posters, and even met with the assistant principal. He was supposed to bring her a final proposal on Oct. 29, when Sandy turned Long Island upside down. School, of course, was canceled that day.

Last week I removed the treadmill, which had been underwater. Mold was growing under the tread, parts were corroded, and rust had set in. I unbolted it, section by section, until I reached bolts that were sealed by salt. Then I smashed the treadmill to bits with a sledgehammer and dragged it to the curb, piece by piece.
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