Last night I went out to dinner with a friend. I had never been to this particular restaurant before, so I was interested in trying it out. It was right on the beach in Surfside Beach, SC. We were seated at a table on the outside deck, overlooking the ocean –a nice setting and beachy atmosphere. The food was a little higher priced than I felt it should have been, but it was enjoyable, nonetheless – fried oysters and flounder.
As we sat there, I couldn’t help noticing all the vacationing families. And I became nostalgic. I was taken back to the late 60’s and early 70’s when my husband, kids and I used to go to Ocean City, NJ. We were living in Pittsburgh at the time and as I recall, it was about an eleven hour drive.
We stayed in a tourist home, one block from the beach and boardwalk, in a basement room with a bath down the hall … for $4 a night! You couldn’t beat the price, even in those days! We continued to go there for several years, but eventually progressed to a room upstairs with it’s own bath for $6 a night. The lady who owned it, Anna, was left the house and the summer income made her able to keep it. It was one of those big, white houses with a wraparound porch, black shutters and wide steps leading up from the sidewalk to the porch … the kind you still see in pictures.
We had our routines and our favorite places to eat. One of our favorites was a German or Pennsylvania Dutch place that always had a long wait for a table. But the food was wonderful. Back then, they had a dish of cut-up celery, carrots, and pickles on the table for you to munch on while waiting to order or to receive you food. Now, that would cost about $6 as an appetizer! My family was partial to the chicken and dumplings. And they always served jello or rice pudding for dessert. There might have been other desserts that you could order at an additional cost, but I don’t remember. We always had something on the boardwalk … a freshly made Belgian waffle ice cream sandwich, saltwater taffy, fudge.
So as I sat there watching these families, I wondered – were they first time visitors to the area or was this a “must go to” place every time they were here. If it was a “must go to” place, it had to be the setting. The food was just average. Or maybe it was just what I chose to order. Would they look back years later and remember eating there?
My family will be coming here in a few days and my granddaughter has her special places to eat. But, we’ve never gone to a restaurant right on the beach. I’ve introduced them to the places that had good food. But, I think I should expand my horizons, so to speak. Give them another sense of being “at the beach”. So, I think I’ll take them to the place we went last night, even though it was a little pricey with average food, all the while knowing full well my granddaughter will want one of the most expensive dinners on the menu (much like her dad always did).
As we were driving back home, passing all the families walking along pushing strollers and such, I was back in time and realizing I’d become a little jaded about the beach. Living here, I forgot how exciting it is for all the tourists. All I see is the traffic, longer waits at restaurants, busier stores, and more crowded beaches. It’s time for an attitude adjustment on my part.