When we baby boomers write our memories, they truly sound like another era, another world. That’s why we like this piece from Baltimore’s Susan Reid. It’s about a summer only slightly less than 50 years ago. But the way the world has changed, it might as well be 500.
“The Satellite Motel is still there,” I wrote to my close friend Stacie, about an oceanfront motel in Ocean City, Maryland, where she, her mother, and I vacationed in the historic summer of 1969.
Like many people did that summer, we traveled to the nearest ocean resort for suntanning, walking, swimming, shopping, and eating in a relaxing, fun-filled place. For us, that was Ocean City, a nine-mile-long town on the Atlantic Ocean, about a three hour drive from our homes in Baltimore.
Maxyne, Stacie’s mother, drove us there in her 1963 Lincoln Continental. With the convertible top rolled down, the wind blew through our long hair.
From the outside, the motel’s office looked like a place George Jetson might fly his family to. After we signed in, we unpacked and went to the wide, sandy beach facing the beautiful but treacherous Atlantic.
On Ocean City’s beach, we suntanned. Maxyne used Bain de Soliel to darken her olive skin. “I used baby oil with red iodine because the iodine helps tint your skin,” said Stacie. I can’t remember what I used. It may have been Coppertone, a popular tanning lotion known for its picture of a tanned, pigtailed girl having her bathing suit bottom pulled down by a puppy, exposing her white backside.
On the crowded beach, Stacie and I strolled through the sand in our bikinis, holding in our stomachs as tightly as we could. We passed lifeguards with zinc oxide on their noses, children building sandcastles, and other teenagers listening to transistor radios. We avoided the crowded beach at 9th Street. It was a mini-Woodstock before the real one: hippies, love beads, and drugs.
“In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans, and ”Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells, were popular songs on the radio and in nightclubs where Stacie and I drank near-beer.
As a teenager, Stacie learned about the Atlantic’s siren song. “I got caught up in the riptide,” she said. “It scared the …. out of me.” Maxyne tiptoed through the almost-white sand, getting splashed in one of many bathing suits she had packed.
While she tanned and napped, Stacie and I walked the two-and-a-half miles of wooden boardwalk, looking for saltwater taffy and fudge to take home to neighbors and relatives. We put vinegar and salt on golden fries cooked in peanut oil and sold in cups and tubs.
Big stacks of pancakes covered with fruit toppings, BLTs, toast, soda, and coffee were our daily breakfasts. At night, we ate steamed Maryland blue crabs, fried crab cakes, shrimp, baked potatoes, and salads.
On July 20th, people in the restaurant we chose were riveted by the television screen, waiting with anticipation for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to land the lunar module Eagle on the moon. But just as they did, the television and lights went out! We missed seeing Armstrong walk on the moon, the first person to do so. But we didn’t miss the fun and food in Ocean City!