Friday, 26 August 2011
A Week at the Beach
By Nancy Leitz
Even when money was tight, we always tried to squeeze out enough dollars to take a place at the shore for a week every summer. Ocean City, New Jersey, was where our kids liked to go because most of their friends who went to the shore also went to Ocean City.
Every January, usually in the middle of a blizzard, Roy and I would set out for the seashore in search of a place that we could afford. It had to be reasonably inexpensive and sleep six.
That really wasn't a difficult task because there were hundreds of places to choose from. The trick was to find one that was close to the beach, affordable, at least as clean as we kept our own house with four teenagers living in it and available the week that we wanted it.
We usually left for the two-hour drive while the snowflakes were piling up because the snow scared most people into staying at home. But not Roy who the kids called The Snow King.
At the first sign of snow, he was in the driveway just waiting for it to get deep enough to be a real challenge and then he would head down the street like a snow plow, sliding and swerving but undaunted. He would come home about an hour later full of tales of his exploits on the snow covered roads.
He would swear that an ambulance couldn't get through till he went ahead and cleared the way. His was the only car that made it up the steepest hill in town on the first try. Then he went back down and helped others get up the hill.
We only believed about half of what he told us but the stories were so entertaining we encouraged him to tell us more. Many cups of tea and hot chocolate were enjoyed by all of us as he related his Walter Mitty tales of snow adventures.
When Chris was about 16, I heard him remark to Carol that with Dad it was always a long story because he had to make it up as he went along.
So, in the midst of the blizzard we would head "down the shore" as we called it in Philadelphia. We would be the only people in the real estate office so we got great service.
They would show us several places in our price range and we would choose one, sign the lease, write a check (no credit cards in those days) and be on our way.
It was fun to stay overnight in one of the few motels that stayed open for the winter. It was so different from the rush and crowds of July or August and we enjoyed that.
When we moved into the place in August, it was usually in very good condition. The carpets were clean, the curtains were in place and the kitchen was ready with big spaghetti pots because the owners knew that spaghetti was going to be your main dish for the week.
Nobody went to the beach to cook. No, you made huge pots of things the kids liked and went out for dinner a few times during your stay but mostly you ate spaghetti and meat sauce.
In fact, as you crossed the causeway into Ocean City, you didn't smell the sea air. No, the smell that wafted into your car was the same aroma that caught your attention in front of Tony's Pizzeria and Pasta Restaurant. Ocean City was the Napoli of the East.
You moved in on Saturday and about Tuesday you would hear a small crash and notice that the drapes had fallen down. You looked at the rod and realized it was held in place by a small ball of putty.
Now you knew what that can of putty was doing in the kitchen cabinet so you dutifully fixed the drapes so it would look nice for the next tenant and put the can of putty back in the kitchen for the next Tuesday when YOUR drapery job would fail.
On the Thursday of your stay, the brighteners they had put in the carpet cleaner would give out and huge spots of previous grape juice spills would appear. At that point, you knew it would be a battle to get your $25.00 security deposit back. Oh, well, all part of the Ocean City experience.
With this background, I'll tell you the story of one year's fun in the sun.
The apartment we chose that year had two bedrooms and one bath. It was a boom year and everybody had money and that was the best we could do. We had waited too long for snow that never appeared and missed our opportunity for a bigger place.
Chris came to us one day and asked if he could invite his friend, Bob, to go with us and I said, "Yes.” Carol overheard that conversation and said that she should be able to take her friend, Joanne, if Chris took Bob. I had to agree.
Next came Jerry who mentioned that his friend, Tim, should be included along with the other pals. Okay. Then along came Steve. "Mom," said Steve," if all the other kids are bringing somebody to the shore, can I bring somebody, too?"
I answered, "Yes, you can bring somebody." Steve smiled and said, "Good, I'll ask the Anderson twins."
So we all squeezed into that tiny apartment and had the best time. They all loved the spaghetti and the weather was great.
It was just hard to get an appointment to go to the bathroom.
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