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Old Memories Reborn: Our Trip to Ocean City, NJ

“Daddy, there’s an airplane out my window!  It’s a huge one!” Emily said.  “And, there’s another smaller one.”   I replied, “That’s cool sweetheart. We’re near Philadelphia and they have a big airport, so you’ll probably get to see a lot more.”  Not only did Emily, and her sisters Ashley and Sydney, get to see a lot of airplanes, but they also saw the Philadelphia skyline and Naval Yard as well as Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.  To each of these, Emily would “ooh” and “ahh” from her seat in the back of the van saying how neat everything was.  Of course, Emily is 5 years old and very interested in everything she sees.  Ashley and Sydney, both 2.5 years old, were equally as interested but could not see everything as easily, or as quickly, as we drove down the interstate.

It was a trip my wife and I were looking forward to taking, but weren’t sure if we were going to be able to make it.  The evil stomach bug had ripped through our family Easter weekend and almost upset our plans for a special day with our girls.  Luckily, things worked out well for us and we were able to have a special day together as a family.  So, on the Tuesday after Easter, my wife and I had the opportunity to take our girls to Ocean City, NJ, for the day.  It was a special time for us as we both used to vacation there when we were kids.  My wife and I did not know each other as children, but having vacationed at the same place for our childhood, we have a special bond of memories that we want to share with our children together.

So, there we were, heading over the bridge with the ocean in sight in the foreground.  When we went over the bridges to to the beach, we got to 9th Street and past everything that reminded us of the past.  The gas stations were familiar, the Chatterbox Restaurant was still painted pink and one of the most recognizable buildings when you arrive in Ocean City.  Since it was off-season, we were able to pull right up to the boardwalk and park for free; that’s a double bonus!  As we headed to the boardwalk, Emily was asking, “What’s a boardwalk?” while Ashley was saying “Let’s go to the beach.”  Sydney was just excited to get going.  My wife said just being back here with our kids was going to make her cry.  As we walked up the ramp to the boardwalk, all the old mainstays were still there, from Shrivers Salt Water Taffy and Fudge to Manco & Manco Pizza (formerly Mack & Manco) to Litterer’s freshly made lemonade.  Manco’s Pizza was already on the list for lunch as,after all, Manco’s has the best pizza in the world!  Of course, I managed to get a freshly squeezed lemonade and salt water taffy as well.

We headed straight to the beach to let the girls play in the sand and put their feet in the water, even though it was pretty cold.  It was so fun and memorable to watch them run around, and to watch the, run down the beach with my wife.  Even the 30 mph winds didn’t stop us from having a good time by the water!

Soon, we headed up to Manco’s for lunch.  The smell of it cooking was enough to make you salivate!  The time had come to introduce our girls to the best pizza on the planet.  It did not let us down!  Emily loved it, as did Ash and Syd.  It tasted like a little bit of home.  It was nice to see nothing had changed in all those years.

Next up, it was time for bike ride on the boardwalk.  We found a bike rental shop and rented a surrey for all of us.  Ashley and Sydney sat in the front and had a great time.  We were a little amazed that they didn’t try to get out.  Emily sat with her mom and me as we found out what it is like to peddle a bike for five people, against the wind!

After some more time playing in the sand, looking for shells, it was time for one last walk on the boardwalk and some souvenir shopping.  Among the few stores open at this time of year, we were able to find some cute sweathshirts for all 3 girls.  Emily was excited because she got to pick out her own design from all the iron-on options.  She chose a pink seagull with the words “Ocean City, New Jersey.”  Ashley and Sydney got matching OCBP sweatshirts.  Fitting choices for the day.

So, until we return, my last memory of the day is of my wife with a smile on her face, my tired out little twin girls who finally asked for a stroller, and of my oldest, Emily, standing by the railing of the boardwalk looking at the ocean.

Staring at the water in awe of the beach, something I still find peace in doing myself, I found myself looking at Emily with a Trace Adkin’s song, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” in my head:

Your gonna miss this
Your gonna want this back
Your gonna wish these days
Hadn’t gone by so fast

These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But your gonna miss this

Before we left, I asked all my girls if they had fun and enjoyed the day.  Each of them said they had a good day and, if you were there, you could tell they were telling the truth.  They ran around with smiles on their faces all day.  At one point, Emily told me the beach is always fun, no matter what beach it is.  I can’t help but to agree with her.  But, for her mom and me, this beach is extra special.  Now that we were able to take Emily, Ashley, and Sydney to Ocean City, NJ, too, the special memories are continued, renewed, and passed on to a new generation.