Remembering the way things were

Family Memories

May 23, 2004

We asked Sun readers for stories about their vacations in Ocean City. This is what they told us:

The frustrated teen-ager and the formidable chaperone

"Spring break in Ocean City during 1971 was not what I expected. The weather was perfect, skies were blue, but I was saddled with my 75-year-old grandmother, who was sent to chaperone me.

"Since my grandmother was from Greece, she did not understand what a teen-age girl in Ocean City needs: boys, beach and boardwalk. I had spent numerous hours trying on bikinis, hot pants and micro-minis in order to get noticed on the boardwalk and the beach, but Yia Yia Paulina frightened all the potential male suitors away. While I was lying on the beach, my Yia Yia would sit next to my oiled bikini-clad body, and as soon as a boy would try to talk to me, she would say, 'Connie Mary good girl, she no talka to boys.' Of course, she spoke broken English with a Greek accent, and she wore a black dress with black knee-high nylons with garters on the beach. ...

"My trip ended happily, however, because Yia Yia received a bad sunburn and could not come out on the beach the last two days."

-- Connie Tsakiris, Hunt Valley

Vacation begins at 4 a.m.

"Our trips in the late 1950s from Western Maryland to Ocean City began at 4 a.m., when my brother and I, still in pajamas, were tucked into the back of the big black DeSoto. ... My favorite part was to stretch out in the back seat and to watch the girders of the Bay Bridge pass overhead. Dad never made a reservation. He would stop at a place that looked suitable, ... while my mother prayed quietly in the front seat that Dad and the hotel manager would come to an agreement and our long-awaited vacation would begin."

-- Mary Ann Dunevant, Rodgers Forge

'A timeless place'

"Thirty years ago we moved to Maryland. A day trip to the ocean was a must-do, so we packed up our daughters, ages 2 and 5. ... What a joy to watch them race back and forth, outrunning the waves. Last weekend I packed up my 2-year-old grandson, Sam, and my 5-year-old granddaughter, Adela, and took off for the beach. It was a glorious weekend. ... The ocean is a timeless place."

-- Linda Deluca, Towson

Freedom

"The plan: Check into homeroom. On the way to first period, slip out and cross the field where Steve and his 1979 Chevette would be waiting. Except for the administrator yelling at me as I jumped the fence, the plan worked.

"By 8:15 a.m., we were off to Ocean City, two 16-year-olds flirting with adulthood. Steve's brother had a place on 96th Street. After stopping near Berlin to fix a flat, we arrived at 96th Street at noon. We woke him; the houseguests, too -- girls and boys, all looking impossibly adult. They were 18.

"We hung out for two hours -- ate cold pizza, dipped our feet in the frigid Atlantic, and then headed back to get home before our parents.

"The next day, I was grounded for skipping school. ... Two weeks of being grounded for a six-hour round trip to Ocean City, just to be there for two hours. But whatever the consequences, I had experienced true freedom. Only the beach could have given me that."

-- Evan Balkan, Rodgers Forge

The fat lady's laugh

"It was my first trip to Ocean City at age 6. ... She stood at the entrance of the Funhouse, a ghoulish mechanical fat lady rocking back and forth, her laugh a scratchy record. Everything about her was old, phony, as if she'd been there for ages. Her voice lifted, crescendoed, laughed uncontrollably, caught its breath, and started over again. ... I always hated to leave her because I knew they'd tear her down. Ocean City has never had the same allure since."

-- Ann von Lossberg, Ellicott City

A future husband

"In July of 1936, at age 22, I visited Ocean City for the first time with a friend. A co-worker of my friend introduced me to my future husband, Tom. ... We were instantly attracted to each other. We dated during those two weeks, doing a lot of ballroom dancing and enjoying the ocean and the beach. ... Tom told me later that he only hung around that summer we met hoping the white rubber bathing suit I was wearing would tear."

-- Dorothy H. Wayson, Towson

U-boat attack

"I was 10 in the summer of 1942, and 62 years later, I can vividly recall the blackout of the beach and the seriousness of the measures taken to secure the East Coast [during World War II]. ... One day there was news of a U-boat attack. The incoming tide brought in lifejackets and canned food and water, as well as thick globs of oil that floated like ebony golf balls in the foamy surf. A large wooden raft outfitted with water cans, first-aid kits, rations and more lifejackets washed ashore on our section of the beach. It wallowed in the surf like a great beached whale until the Coast Guard spirited it away. I remember wondering about the men who should have been on that raft."

-- Sally Cartwright, Timonium

The village that was

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