THE LAST HURRAH!

Summers in our family have always been spent on Long Beach Island, in one way or another. For the first part of my childhood, we would come down every Friday night and leave every Sunday night to go back home. I have no idea what we did during the week – probably played outside or read. But then Friday would roll around again and we would pile into whatever station wagon was the car de jour and drive 2 – 2 1/2 hours to get to south jersey.
Driving down, I’m sure I slept at least part of the way as my motion-sickness has long been a part of my make-up. I know we’d try to be awake when we passed the drive in movie theater on Route 72 because we wanted to see what was playing. Conversely, on Sunday nights, we would again try desperately not to fall asleep until we passed it on our way north.

Once we hit the causeway and the briny air entered the car, we’d start having a contest to see who could see the beach house first. It didn’t bother us that we were at least 30-45 minutes left to go, although it may have driven my parents crazy! Finally, FINALLY we’d reach my grandparents house in Beach Haven, never knowing which of our cousins and aunts/uncles had arrived yet.

The weekend would be spent on the beach or on our bikes, tearing about Beach Haven. Parents didn’t worry that we were out roaming around because traffic wasn’t heavy and bikes ruled the streets.

Then there was the glorious summer that we came down one weekend and never went home again. Every Sunday night, we’d sit outside the dining room waiting as my parents discussed whether or not to return home. And every weekend it ended with Dad going home to go to work during the week, and us remaining behind.

I don’t know what was so magical about being at the beach. None of my friends were there and there were no TVs or radios, and personal computers had yet to hit the big time. There was the library. Beach Haven has a tiny little library in a wonderful old building and we would go three or four times a week – trading in our books for new adventures. They all had the cards in the back so we could see if any of our cousins who lived there year round had checked them out.

Of course, there was the actual beach. Finding the perfect spot where you could drape your towel and hunker down with a book was key. If it was low tide, we sat with our backs up against the boulders of the jetty, which had been warmed by the sun so you felt it radiating through the material of the towel. If it was windy, we buried ourselves in the dunes and covered our legs with another towel.
Regardless of what happened during June/July/August, Labor Day was the day everything ended. We never started school before Labor Day so we would stay until the last possible moment, late in the day, to leave. My mother loved being there as much as we did so she would push off the time until even she had to admit we would never get up the next day. Some Labor Days are hot and sunny, and some are like this year’s – cloudy and chilly to the point of needing a sweatshirt. The early hint of Fall made it perfect for making Elevator Lady Spice Cookies (the best ever spice cookie recipe from Peg Bracken) for my mother’s birthday. And so, another summer comes to an end. But always in the back of my mind is the reminder that there’s always next year, and the thought of reading good books in the sun gets me through the cold of the winter.
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One Response to “THE LAST HURRAH!”

  1. PG Says:

    What wonderful memories and so beautifully written! I was there, with you, checking the library books to see who had borrowed them, and reading at the jetty.

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