The other morning, my girlfriend and I were reminiscing and discussing our childhood memories of summers spent at Bethany Beach Delaware during the 1950’s.
I grew up in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. It was customary for my parents and many of their friends to celebrate summer’s arrival by renting beach houses for a week or two in Bethany and Rehoboth Beaches in Delaware or in Ocean City Maryland. I have wonderful, wholesome memories of those uncomplicated times…the picnics eaten on blankets in the sand when we gobbled down cream cheese and olive sandwiches, drank homemade lemonade and enjoyed freshly baked cookies. At dusk (commonly referred to as “cocktail hour”), my parents and their friends would gather together, sit in their beach chairs and enjoy martinis, while we children happily built sand castles, or chased the scurrying sand crabs into the surf. Maybe that evening ritual was where the term “Happy Hour” originated?
We had no cell phones, video games or computers to entertain us, so as kids we used our
imagination. When not hanging out on the beach, we played games like “Kick the Can”, “Mother May I” and “Hide and Seek.” Almost every evening was topped off by the arrival of the white ice cream truck with its clanging bell (The Good Humor man)
Our skates had keys which we wore on a string around our necks. Or, we rode our bicycles, usually decorated with flowing red, white and blue ribbons. My friends and I stuffed a deck of playing cards in the the wheel spokes to make a wonderful clicking sound as we pedaled about the sleepy little town. It was a family vacation place with children and dogs everywhere. Those magical weeks spent at the beach there had a Norman Rockwell feel. No one locked their house or car doors and neighbors ran back and forth between the houses regularly. There were no bars there in the 1950’s (the town was dry) Several restaurants, a toy store and a wonderful donut shop/bakery were located on the short main street. I would ride my bike into town (3 short blocks) to purchase bags of the freshly baked, delicious treats and bring them home to share with my family at breakfast. I don’t know what it is about the sea air, but I remember always being ravenous.
Rehoboth Beach was a few miles north. It was a larger town than Bethany and more populated with its own wide boardwalk that housed the iconic Dolles Salt Water Taffy shop. No trip to Rehoboth was complete without a visit there, and eating a chocolate covered taffy paddle. Walking on the boardwalk was a special treat for children and adults alike. We could buy ice cream cones, bags of fresh popcorn, pink or blue cotton candy and other delicious treats. For me, going to the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk was the exciting climax of my summer vacation in Delaware and the memories have lasted for decades.
Until my next inspiration…ciao.