Monday, August 22, 2011
Some Things Don’t Change…
Last week, I spent the one clear day, among six rainy ones, at Ocean City, NJ with my grandchildren. I hadn’t been to the “Shore” for over twenty years. How do I know this? The last time I went I didn’t wear glasses; this time I had to find a place to stash them when I went for a swim. But that was the only thing that had changed.
Everything else was the same. The bright beach umbrellas, the salty smell of the sea air, mingled with the smell of popcorn, hotdogs, and funnel cake. The children were still building sand castles and drip castles (a refinement of the former), searching for seashells, and digging holes “to watch the sea come up,” a la Robert Louis Stevenson.
Airplanes tugged ads for restaurants across a pristine sky, while kites and seagulls decorated the same sky. The seagulls were a bit more aggressive than I remembered. They came right up to our blanket, greedily eyed our sandwiches, and in one case, snatched a sandwich from a boy’s hand. Maybe they’d seen Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” and been inspired.
A high point of the day was the taffy-making machine at Shriver’s candy store. This store has been on the boardwalk for over one hundred years. I know, because my grandmother used to go there when she was a girl! My grandkids were fascinated to see the great golden globs of taffy being pulled and stretched on one machine, then transferred to another to be chopped into tiny rolls and packaged in not one, but two, different kinds of paper, twisted at each end and popped out ready to be eaten. And the variety of flavors was overwhelming – from root beer to coconut, from mango to chocolate mint. Needless to say, we bought a big bag and our teeth stuck together for the next few hours.
A ride on the Ferris wheel, climaxed the day. A nearly full moon hung over the ocean and the lights of Atlantic City winked in the distance, reminding us of less innocent pleasures available just a few miles away.