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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.

Snow King Roy Leitz 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.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Great story, Nancy. Tell me, was that the summer you learned how to do Irish dancing? ;)

Could be, GM. I know after spending a week with 9 kids I would have been ready for a dancing lesson....OR a trip to the Crown!

Nancy - Wonderful story!

Nine kids and two adults crammed into that apartment. Good grief!

(I hope there weren't any snorers in the group.) - Sandy

What a warm and wonderful story Nancy....like ALL of your stories. What an open and loving lady you are; and apparently always have been. You're that MOM that every kid prays for...unconditionally accepting and full of love and fun. Beautiful.... ~Joy


I'LL never tell!

Could be ME!

Do you think that's why the Anderson twins turned down our invitation the next year?

You are one great mother. Perhaps when I was younger I could have stood in line for the bathroom, but not anymore. How times and our bodies change.

Because no one spends much time indoors when at the beach I can see why having that many kids in a tiny cabin worked with one exception; only one bathroom for 11 people? I think Grannymar's question about Irish dancing had to do with the jig you were doing while trying to control your bladder. So funny.

Great story Nancy. I have always loved going “down to the shore.” However, no one would be happy to be going there this weekend. As a matter of fact, much of the New Jersey shore area residents and tourists are being ordered to evacuate with the very real threat of Hurricane Irene. I had no plans to visit the shore, but did plan to see Master Class on Broadway this Sunday. Awful as it is, one can imagine how the shore could be affected by this storm……but NYC??

We once spent a week at Rehoboth Beach, Del. with 4 adults and 8 kids crammed into a
vacation place and I don't remember feeling crowded at all--I'm sure there was only 1 bathroom. Now I watch HGTV and EVERY renter or home-buyer-- even young, 1st-time buyers-- thinks they have to have "at least" 2 1/2 baths!

Hi Joy,

Thanks for your nice comment. I always look for you and am happy when I see your name come up.

You couldn't have said it better, Johna. There is NO way I could live with one bathroom even if we only had two people in the place..

So, that is what Grannymar meant, Darlene. Good for you for catching that. It went right past me. I must be "losing the plot" as they say.

I know, Claire Jean. My son,the very same Steve who invited the twins, was forced to evacuate Ocean City yesterday after being there only one day. They had packed up the whole family,two little babies included,and were supposed to be there for a few days and ended up spending only hours at the beach when the evacuation orders started.

Sorry about your Master Class disappointment. Did you get a rain check on the tickets?

About NYC being in the path of the hurricane, I am waiting to see if we hear from Mary Follett. She comments almost every day from NYC and I hope she is OK in the storm.Let us know, Mary.

Lyn, I watch HGTV,too and loved the episode where the big gun from CORE realty was looking at rentals in the Hamptons. He ended up with 8 bedrooms and 7 baths and the place rented for $15,000 a week. That was $14,500 more than the place I wrote about in the story. I'll bet HIS drapes didn't fall down.

I don't know what was better -- the tales of the "Snow King" or the actual point of the story, ending with Steve bringing the Anderson twins. I am still rolling the floor. Nancy, you're the best!

Oh, Annie, you would have loved hearing the Adventures of The Snow KIng.

He could spin a yarn that would have the kids enthralled and praying for more snow.

To read a true adventure of Roy and his triumphs over snow, read my story about him making sure that I got to the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy in a 17" snow storm.

Thanks very much for your nice comment.

To heck with waiting in line for the bathroom. Just wade into the ocean up to your waist. (How far from the water were you??)


Where were you when I needed that advice, lo those many years ago?

Please read Darlene's comment re Irish Dancing.

Actually, we were far enough from the water that my Irish dance steps might have been noticed by the locals as I tapped along the boards to get to the surf.

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