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Lazy, hazy, crazy days.

January 14, 2008

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“Back in the day” (oops! see #12 on this list), my family used to spend time each summer at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Rehoboth was a great beach. Not too big, not too small. Family friendly. Boardwalk. Funland. Miniature golf courses a-plenty. For many years as I was growing up, our trip to Rehoboth was the highlight of my summer.

We had family friends who owned an apartment less than a block from the beach, and they graciously let us stay there each year. At the time, I took such luxuries for granted. Today, I can see how incredibly fortunate we were.

Some of the best times at Rehoboth were the mornings. Things didn’t really get hopping down at the seashore until the late morning, so there were several hours when we could go down to the beach when it was nearly empty. I’d feed the seagulls, comb the beach for shells, and watch the people going over the sand inch by inch with their metal detectors.

Of course, we always had to stop about block up from the boardwalk at “Ye Olde English Doughnut Shoppe” for some great sugar-laden treats. Back then, you couldn’t pay me to eat a regular glazed doughnut… no, sir, what I wanted was two (two!) chocolate cake doughnuts. They were basically a heavy devil’s food type of cake, with sort of a white sugary glaze on them, and they were fabulous. Anyone in my family can tell you of my love for food… and I loved those doughnuts. I have very, very distinct memories of eating them while sitting on the white painted benches that skirted the boardwalk – the benches that had the back that could swing from one side to the other, so you could sit facing the beach or facing the boardwalk itself – and I’d have some milk in a styrofoam cup (yuk) to go with my fabulous, rich, fried chocolate cake doughnuts. If I was feeling particularly generous, I might have thrown a tiny morsel of my doughnut into the air for the seagulls to catch. Except not. Did I mention that I loved those doughnuts?

Another great memory of mornings on the beach was when we would rent bicycles for an hour or two. There is something wonderful, albeit hard to explain, about riding a bike up and down a boardwalk. No cars to worry about. More free space than a sidewalk. That distinct sound and sense of rubber tires rolling over the thousands of boards beneath you. Sometimes I’d ride all the way to the end of the boardwalk, and that was something! First there was one section where the boardwalk got narrower than it was in the “main drag,” and then it just ended as a sidewalk went on ahead. And the beach got boring after that point, so I would turn around.

Once the beach started filling up with people and blankets and umbrellas, a different kind of fun began. Of course, I’d have to go back to the apartment to get “suited up” and get the requisite amount of Coppertone lotion applied. I am not sure what was worse: some of the righteous sunburns I acquired when I was little, or the thought of having suntan lotion rubbed on my somehow always-sandy body by my poor mother.

On to the beach! The sand was often quite hot by the time we arrived, and I recall doing the “eech, aahch, ooch” dance in my bare feet as I crossed the sand to the chosen spot where we would set up camp for the afternoon. Then the day became a blur of digging for sand crabs, building castles, looking for shells, playing in the breakers, and occasionally being completely laid out by an incoming wave (we called it being “decked”). I didn’t do as much swimming as I did the other things, mainly because I’ve always had a certain fear of water that I can’t see through. Dad and George did a lot of body surfing. Mom did a lot of watching.

After a long day in the sand and sun — when you’ve got red shoulders, sand in places you don’t talk about in polite company, and when every breath you take gives you a certain ache in your lungs that you only get from playing too many hours in the water — there’s nothing like a good shower, a change of clothes, and a trip to the boardwalk for an evening of junk food and trinket shops.

Rehoboth had its share of great places to eat (“great” meaning, at least, that the food tasted good when you were exhausted) including Gus’n’Gus Grill, and Grotto Pizza. By evening though, I was usually more interested in an ice cream cone, dipped in magic shell and sprinkled with “jimmies.” Then I’d lose myself for hours in one or more of the little shops, fascinated by the shell crafts for sale, poring over the eight thousand different t-shirt designs, and reveling in the chill of the air conditioning in the stores. What fun it was to cross the threshold where hot and cold air met!

But there was an even bigger source of fun on the boardwalk…

Still to come: details about Funland, mini golf, and other memories of Rehoboth Beach. To be continued…

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