Chalkboard Columnist Allan Dash offers up some reflections from the mid-1940s about road trips and swimming lessons in the latest installment of Allan’s Alley:
If this was the mid-1940s, my excitement level would be growing daily right about now. That’s because in a few days – on August 1st to be exact – Mom, Dad and Little Allan would pack up the shiny black Buick with its white-sidewall tires and head east for our annual dose of surf, sand and sunburn in Ocean City, New Jersey.
These days, thanks to a boring highway, you can get from Philadelphia to the seashore in a little over an hour. 60 years ago, the two-lane road to paradise meandered through every New Jersey village it could find – places like Dorothy, Buena (“Byuna” to the locals) and Corbin City (population no more than 50, then and now). By the time we reached the salt marshes, with their pungent, bottom-of-the-boat smell, and the skyline of Ocean City hove into view, it seemed that we’d been on the road for days.
Ah, but the wait was worth it! There, towering over the sun-washed streets and striped awnings of the well-tended guest houses were the ranks of windows and red-tiled roofs of our destination – the mighty Flanders Hotel, grand dame of the boardwalk, with its sheltered porches full of ladies in flowered dresses and gentlemen in linen suits and Panama hats, gazing down – wistfully? – on a sparkling swimming pool full of noisy, laughing, splashing kids.
Of course, my first order of business was to join those kids, so within minutes of our arrival I was on the way to the pool. For the first year, however…