As a child, a teenager and a mom, I always looked forward to summer. Nowadays, without the barometer of children, I realize it’s here only because of the heat, or some summer event like the “Sounds of Summer Concert Series.” And the summer of my winter years doesn’t seem to last as long as the summer of my youth, especially with school reopening practically in the middle of August. Before I know it, summer has come and gone along with unrealized expectations of how I should have spent it.
Some of my favorite summer memories include trips my parents and I made to Freeport where we stayed in a beach house. I haven’t been to Freeport in a very, very long time, but I have a feeling it looks far different from the quiet place it was in the 1950s.
My dad was a tow motor driver at Weingarten’s warehouse on Lockwood and the beach house belonged to his supervisor. We lived in a small, rented duplex so the beach house with three large bedrooms, one dormitory style with lots of beds, and two bathrooms was exciting to me! Our little duplex could have fit inside that beach house with room to spare.
It’s funny looking back but I don’t remember doing anything “special” there. When I became a grandmother for the first time in 1996, I became part of that manic group of baby boomer grans working on Super Star Gran status who planned structured activities for our families and grandkids. By the time, No. 10 came along, God love her, I learned the futility of the “contest.” My point is that my mom didn’t go out of her way to organize our time at the beach house. Just being there was special in itself.
Sometimes we packed our favorite canned sodas and sandwiches in the round red plaid cooler and took them to the beach. We built sandcastles, collected seashells. I chased the waves and they chased me. Sometimes my dad would fish off the pier and my mother would read.
What I really remember is that my mother was a different person, a happier person, at the beach house. I think that’s a significant observation from someone under the age of 11, and significant that I remember it to this day. My dad was handsome, but he had a temper and I’d been on the receiving end of his belt more than once but even he was a different at the beach house. In retrospect, this was probably their time to rejuvenate their marriage.
I still remember that simple, gray, square shaped beach house. I also remember the floor plan - where the beds were, and all those windows that we cranked open to get the ocean breeze. I tried to duplicate those memories for my family in the 1980s, but I found myself “organizing” everything. I don’t know if it’s me or my generation but it’s hard to let things just be – to just exist and play out in their own time without bows, bells, whistles or manipulation. But sixty-plus years later, I can say with certainty that some of the best memories are the ones that just happen. And the ones that just happen will always be remembered.
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.