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Summer Vacations

For my entire life, I have loved spending summer days by the ocean.  As a little girl, my parents would pile me and my five sisters into our old blue Pontiac and drive to my grandparent’s small summer cottage in Wildwood, NJ. I remember the long, hot, crowded drive from Philadelphia but also the euphoric sense of anticipation!

Once there, we would race up to the stifling attic (there was no air conditioner), claim one of the twin beds packed like sardines under the low eves, and stow our few belongings. Quick as a wink, we would change into our bathing suits and race back downstairs, ready and raring to go to the beach.  

Wildwood was and still is a beautiful beach town with wide, white sand beaches.  At 6 years old, after walking the 8 blocks to reach the boardwalk, I remember thinking it took almost as long to walk across the sand to dip my toes in the ocean. But once there…oh what joy!  With my parents and sisters, I spent hours jumping waves, collecting shells, wallowing in the tidal pools, chasing seagulls, and building sand castles. 

When it was time to return home, we would be slightly sunburned, absolutely exhausted, and unbelievably sandy.  We weren’t allowed to go into the house until all of the sand was washed away. Behind the house, we took cold outdoor showers or if my mom was in a good mood she would squirt us with the hose as we ran in circles, squealing at the top of our lungs. Sometimes my mother remembered to fill up an old tin washing tub before we left for the beach and upon our return, I, along with two or three of my sisters, would squeeze into the sun-warmed water for a quick bath and hair wash. The attic which had seemed stifling hot only a few hours earlier felt deliciously warm and soothing after a day in the sun followed by a cold shower.

My husband and I continued the beach vacation tradition with our five children. For years, with his parents and siblings and their families, we visited Bethany Beach in Delaware and later we vacationed at Sandbridge Beach in Virginia with my parents and siblings, our children, and grandchildren. As I reflect back on my childhood beach vacations, I’m curious what others remember. I wonder what memories my children will recall when they are grandparents.  Do you have treasured memories of special vacations? I hope they are as happy as mine!

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