In the fall I went on a magical trip, back to a place where I spent a lot of time when I was growing up and as a young adult: Ocean City, MD. I hadn’t been there for many years and I knew that many things would have changed, but many things would have remained the same.
I went there with some relatives and they stayed in a condo up the beach. But I wanted to revisit all my old memories and one of the best memories is the oldest hotel in Ocean City, the Atlantic Hotel, so I stayed there. http://atlantichotelocmd.com/ It could be called quaint and family oriented rather than modern and fancy, but it’s clean and it’s right downtown near the big fishing pier and right in the middle of all the action. It’s been owned by the same family since 1923.
There’s a second floor deck that sits right above the boardwalk, with rocking chairs to sit and watch the people, or the sun coming up, or whatever peaceful thing you’d want to do.
I was happy to visit one of two large arcades and see some of the same rides there that I rode on when I was a little child. My son rode on these too, when he was little. One is a thing that whips you around at the corners and was tremendous fun for a 5 year old. The other is one of the oldest carousels on the east coast. Both are exactly the same as they were when I was a kid.
When we first took our son there, he was probably 4 or 5. We went down to the beach and he was afraid of that big water, cos it was moving and he had never seen anything like it before. I knew that the tide was coming in, so we sat down a little ways away from the water and played with shells in the sand. Soon, magic, the water started to get nearer, a little at a time, and after a while it was at our feet and didn’t seem so scary any more. Shortly he was up and playing in the water and having fun. As he got older, we fished off the big pier and went crabbing sometimes while we were there.
I wasn’t surprised to find one favorite childhood thing gone. Time goes on and technology takes over. The arcades now have metal machines where your coin activates a claw to pick up an item, and if you can drop it in the chute, it comes out. Back then they were made of wood, and to a little kid, they had the most magical things in: little toys, plastic necklaces, whistles etc. (I searched and found that you can buy one of the old wooden machines on eBay for only $20K.) They were mostly penny machines way back then, cos a penny was worth something then. They were so much fun to try to get things out of.
I always had some money for those machines in a little cloth pouch. My Dad would take some change from his pocket a few times a week and give it to me to put in my bank; my special bank where I saved my pennies and nickels to go to the beach. Then I put it in my little pouch and I was ready to go! We would go a couple times each summer, but it was never enough for me. After a while they had to stop telling me we were going much ahead of time cos I got so excited I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
I walked all around the town and saw lots of things I remembered and some things that were different. My dad used to always go fishing out on this jetty down near the inlet. My mother was afraid he would be washed off by big waves and be swept out to sea, but he knew when the weather was good to go out there and always managed to come back.
I’m fascinated with seagulls, and feeding them. Most mornings I was up early, out on the beach, looking for shells and feeding seagulls. I would buy a bag of popcorn the night before since nothing is open yet at the time I was going out in the morning. I could walk part way down to the ocean and find 2 or 3 gulls, throw them some popcorn and soon there would be 50 +. People laughed at my fascination with feeding seagulls, but it’s ok. I just love them.
It was a wonderful, magical time, exploring, remembering, eating at some good restaurants, wandering around with no schedule. I’ll be back at least once next summer, cos life is short and I still love this place so much, for what it is today and what it was looking thru a child’s eyes.