My father was always a lover of the sea-faring life.
He looks back upon his days in the Navy during and after WWII with great fondness. The sun porch walls and decor in the home where I grew up – where he still lives – is bedecked with nautical goods and framed reminders of the ship upon which he served, the USS Hermitage, and other seaworthy vessels.
But, returning home after his tour of duty to hometown life, marriage and subsequent children, dad put many of his sea dreams aside and got down to the job of providing for his family.
He worked an 8am-6pm job five days a week until retirement – and still found work in those years, too! Monday night was bowling night – if I remember correctly – and the fireplace mantel filled through the years with league trophies. Dad and mom had a number of friends they enjoyed card playing nights with, while us kids played together in the TV room at whose ever house was hosting the game night.
Weekends were dad’s time for work around the house, projects in the basement and yard duty. We lived in a new neighborhood back in the day when only one house at a time was built and the independent builder planned the lot to save as many trees as possible. Dad built our home along with his father, a career carpenter/builder.
Weekends in the Summer! Saturday!
Perhaps once a month during the summer, dad would pack us all up and we’d drive 45 minutes to the seashore. Living in central South Jersey, we had our pick of three popular vacation destinations: Ocean City, Atlantic City and Sea Isle City. For some reason, dad liked Sea Isle City the best since that’s were we usually went. A day in the sun with sand toys and one piece bathing suits – and Coppertone oil to make sure we baked just right.
How we always came home looking like lobsters instead of that nice golden hue the suntan lotion promised I shall have to chalk up to genetics. Our Italian blood was of Northern Italy – not that Mediterranean olive skin tone that tans so well. Seashells would be gathered and Dad would warn us to stay in view when we ventured into the surf. I also remember being warned of jellyfish that might sting me if I went too far. Yes . . . I kept modestly to the shoreline, safe at Daddy’s bidding.
Sea Isle City had always been a vacation destination for our hometown as it was founded in the late 1800’s by the “father” of our town, Charles K. Landis. He was a visionary developer and after establishing his model town of Vineland, he set about creating a resort town for Vinelanders to enjoy by the sea – Sea Isle City. It boasts a main road through the center of it named Landis Avenue just like Vineland does. Sort of feels like home when you’re there – only the sand and sea sweep you and your hometown cares away.
Perhaps that’s why people have always flocked to the surety of the seaside to de-stress and unwind from the cares of bustling lives. I know Dad loved the sea and would return to the waters throughout his life. Eventually, our Saturdays at Sea Isle City turned into Saturdays crabbing along the Delaware River when Dad finally got a motor boat of his own. There were a couple of years when we’d be out on the boat just about every weekend the weather was with us. Dad had friends who also had boats, so we’d often go out together. Fishing, crabbing, rocking soothingly on the gentle waves under blue skies and sunshine in the summer.
My Daddy blessed me with such memories.
But, I think the greatest pleasure I derived in those years was to see how much HE loved the boating and the seaside. Eventually he became an active officer in the Coast Guard Auxiliary out of Cape May.
We had grown and the motorboat of our childhood remained moored in the yard, as Dad now had opportunities to go on weekend patrols in the Coast Guard boats. He had come full circle from his Navy days – never quite leaving them behind and remaining active in his seafaring hobby all his life – bringing him joy. Bringing me joy to see him so blessed.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
I don’t look upon a boat or the seaside without fondly thinking of you and the memories you made with me as a child enjoying them. Today, as an adult, as soon as I drive within whiff of salt air – my Daddy is there. I celebrate the gift of time and space and shared experiences with my father – delights to the soul bringing comfort and peace.
Sharing Seashore Days with Dad this week at Beverly’s Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound
DELIGHTED to be featured with this post on Eclectic Shorebird’s Pinkspiration Post THIS WEEK!