Thursday, July 28, 2011

Little Slice of Heaven

Breezy Point Beach, MD/Snack bar and bath house

Much of who we are can be traced to events and places and people from our childhood. I spent more hours than I can count and much fewer than I desired at Breezy Point Beach on the Chesapeake Bay. I have memories so vivid that I can remember how the air smelled or a particular expression on a persons face from those days. The snack bar and bath house and the beach out front were the scene of so many memories:

  • Jumping off the wooden rafts that were chained to log poles in the water into the waiting arms of my father. I remember he would lift us up and throw us out into the water or let us climb up on his shoulders and jump off.
  • My first job in the snack bar making cotton candy and how hot and sticky and sweet it was. I remember strands of cotton candy floating in the air and getting caught in our hair.
  • Groups of teens sitting in the sand making plans for a bonfire on the beach later or to drive over to a neighboring beach to hang out with other kids.
  • I remember the songs on the juke box. Mony, Mony and Wipe Out and the Beach Boys played while we sat at tables in the snack bar and played Canasta and Rummy in our bathing suits. 

Many lessons of life were learned here at the beach in the summer months. One Friday after football practice, my brother and his friends arrived and spent the weekend eating everything my mother put in front of them. The next week we were stunned to find that one of them had taken his own life.

Another time, we piled into cars and drove to the hospital when my other brother and a friend were in a car accident.

There is a Facebook page for those of us who spent our summers here. The girl who started it has scanned in hundreds of photos that bring back memories of a time when our world was so small. I realize now that the world was still tragic - these were the years after Vietnam and Watergate. But those things didn't seem to touch us here like they might in the other three seasons of the year. When we were here it was searching for sharks teeth and water skiing and crabbing and bonfires. It was dancing on the weekends to Junior and the Crystallaires in the Snack Bar. It was holding hands and walking home past the house where our parents were gathered and we could hear that Smitty was playing his guitar and they were singing, "Please release me, let me go..."

I don't think I thought a lot about these things for years, but somehow reaching middle age leaves me nostalgic for the small things and moments that shaped me. The first bite of a summer peach reminds me of the boy I fell in love with the summer I was 14, because a bunch of us would meet up at the peach orchards! Because some of us settled here, we run into one another from time to time and shake our heads about how much freedom we had; none of us willing to loosen the reins on our own children in the same way.

When I look through the pictures that are being posted of that time I realize how blessed we were to have this little slice of heaven. When I see the comments others have posted it's obvious that little fact is not lost on any of us.

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