Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week at the shore

It was the summer of my 13th year.  My father's cousin, Alberta, asked me if  I would like to spend a week at the shore (Ocean City, NJ) with her and my friend Linda Speer.  Linda was Alberta's neighbor in north Philly, and a pen-pal of mine. 

I know you all are thinking, "Why a pen-pal?  She only lived in N. Philly, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Runnemede."  That's correct, but I had been writing letters to Linda for several years, and north Philly was a long trip for a child of  9 or 10 to go alone.  I did, however, see Linda occasionally when my dad visited Alberta at her home.  I probably should have said rarely, because we didn't go see Alberta very often.

Moving along.  Of course I wanted to go to the shore for a week.  What 13-year-old girl wouldn't, especially when that 13-year-old was in a family that didn't take vacations?

So we went to the shore in early August.  We stayed in someone's house in a rented unit.  This unit was in the basement, and the kitchen was under the front porch.  That's about all I remember about where we stayed.  I know it was a one-bedroom place, and the under-the-porch kitchen is still vivid. 

This all came back to me a few days ago when I bought a huge cantaloupe from a local farmer.  You see, Albert was quite fond of cantaloupes so when she told Linda and me on that first morning we were having cantaloupe, Linda and I laughed.  I mean, who ever heard of having cantaloupe for breakfast?  Cantaloupe was a dessert in our house!  We overcame our laughter and ate the cantaloupe, which was delicious, I might add.  We also added a bowl of some cereal to go with the fruit.

I know that in this day and age cantaloupe is a common breakfast fruit, but back then, I lived the sheltered life of a preacher's kid and we didn't get much cantaloupe, so mom used the fruit for dessert.

I recall one day we went to a very large hotel on the boardwalk.   I was in awe of the place.  And the was huge.  The Flanders Hotel is still there and is still a beautiful, elegant hotel.

Well, after a week at the beach I had acquired quite a tan and I was, I admit, so proud of that tan.  I had tans before, but this was the best.  And I didn't use any tanning lotion.  And I didn't burn.  I rarely got a sun burn.  Must have been those Mediterranean genes.

I have to say that back-yard tans never come close to week-at-the-shore tans.  I never had a week at the shore again, just day trips.  Thank you, Alberta, for a great week!


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