Sandy Toes

I have sandy toes this week, and it’s wonderful.  No matter what beach I go to, it will not be the same as Bethany Beach.  Life at Bethany Beach takes on a certain rhythm that we fall into so naturally as if we spend our time like this every day of our lives.  Bethany Beach is a special place where our family has time to kick back and just be together.  We have spent time in Bethany Beach almost every year since I was 6 years old, which means for 44 years.  My mother came here when she was growing up.  Except for a few years here and there, right after college, some of the early years of marriage, and some years when we went to England, we have always come to Bethany Beach. 

The first few years we stayed in a cottage on Ocean View Parkway.  That cottage is still there, and looks very much the same as when I first set eyes on it as a child.  It’s one of the “original” beach cottages … it had two bedrooms and one bathroom, a kitchen and a living/dining room.  I remember it had knotty pine paneling, no phone, and no TV.  I remember one year my parents brought a TV, and it didn’t work because there was no reception.  This was long before anyone had heard of cable.  That’s all changed now.

Then my grandfather bought a house on Ashwood Street.  There may have been a house they rented on the beach one year before that, but I don’t remember if we stayed there or not.  I do remember my grandmother hung up a Confederate Flag beach towel to signal that lunch was ready and we would come barrelling into the house.  I’m pretty sure my cousins were there with us that year.  The house on Ashwood Street was really pretty, also one of the original beach cottages.  It had two bedrooms and a bath downstairs, and two bedrooms and a bath upstairs.  It also had a bedroom/bathroom off the kitchen, where my cousin stayed for the years when he was a member of the Bethany Beach Patrol.  This house had holly bushes out front, and a white fence, and it was named Holly Cottage.  It is no longer there… someone bought the lot and had the house torn down to build a new house.  There were lots of memories in that house.

After Holly Cottage, there were a few years we didn’t come to the beach as I mentioned before.  But when we started coming back we rented a cottage in Sussex Shores, that one is no longer there, either.  Then for some years my parents started renting again but this time back on Ocean View Parkway in the Riddick cottage, about 2 doors down from the original cottage we started in. About this time Amy came along and we started coming back to Bethany on a more regular basis.

We think that it was 1994 that Mom & Dad started renting the Martin cottage in Sussex Shores, called “Four Winds.”  We heard some of its history the other day while talking to the owner’s daughter, Sandy.  She told us that her dad, a civil engineer, bought the lot for the house we rent and the house next door in 1955.  They built the house next door in 1957 and “Four Winds” wasn’t built until 1988.   This is a great house, it’s 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room, dining room, Florida room and a wrap-around deck.  It shakes and sways whenever anyone comes up or down the stairs, and you can hear every word everyone says, even when the doors are closed.  The kids tell us that they can hear us snoring in the bedroom below, and I don’t think it’s because we snore that loudly.

Life on the beach is great, we have gotten to know the neighbors pretty well over the years.  There’s Owen Smith who heads up the Sussex Shores lifeguards in the summer, and works construction in the winter.  There’s John across the street who lives with his two Labradors and he brings them to the beach every evening for a run and a swim in the ocean.  It’s so much fun to watch him toss a tennis ball and watch his lab dive into the surf to get it.  She brings it back, drops it, most often just drops it in the waves when he shakes herself off, and then has to go after it when the waves get it and carry it away.  There’s the Kelly family who owns a huge cottage on the dune, and there are always loads of kids, grandkids, friends, cousins, you name it, who come to stay for a while to enjoy the beach.  They always have a great time, and their kids are boisterous and fearless in the water.  There’s Pam next door, whose dad Ralph died a few years ago, and she comes here with her kids.  Pam came over the other day with some really pretty fresh flowers out of the garden.  I have always admired Ralph’s garden for years.  There is a lawyer from Rockville who comes down every year and he has just arrived. 

Those are my thoughts about Bethany Beach for now.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get the Bethany Beach sand off my toes.  

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