Lake Arrowhead, a campground in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was our home away from home. Daddy would set us up in our large stand-up Sears tent, leave us with supplies and cash, then leave his wife and three girls to explore, nap, swim, play volleyball, read, and love taking showers at the bath house, coming out in the cool of the evening, refreshed by the bath and ready for the cricket serenade lulling us to sleep. Daddy returned each weekend with watermelons, other goodies, and his favorite Dunkin’ Stix. He loved those, my sisters and I had so many during the summer we groaned as he brought out yet another box of those doughnut-like rectangles meant for dunking in coffee. He loved them so, we forgot the groans, and bought them Daddy’s last 14 days in the hospital. They took on a new flavor; it was the last bite or two Daddy ever ate on this Earth. I still think Dunkin’ Stix have a peculiar taste, but, I’d love one right now. Daddy, you want one, too?
We lived in blue work shirts and blue bell-bottom jeans; we wore holes in the hem where our heels had worn through. The dry powdery gray sand of the dirt paths I can feel to this day; no matter how many baths, our feet stayed covered in this fine dust.
In the evenings we pulled out our guitars and soon boys with their guitars gathered at our campsite. Mother, thrilled her girls were home safe by the fire; her protective eyes relaxed enough for her to enjoy, The Sounds of Silence, and many other songs we learned and kept in a spiral notebook accompanied by chords; we have the notebook to this day. We played, trying to keep up with the guys who played twelve string guitars, the preferred guitar in those days; we practiced till our fingers, bloody from the steel strings, built up calluses that still serve us well, as hands, long since busy with adult responsibilities still remember those familiar songs; chords played automatically, words and melodies forever part of us.
Ship-wrecked sailboats, moon-lit walks along the beach, arms linked, legs entwined with each step, we’d sing the current hit, Hey, Hey We’re the Monkeys!” We’d hang out at the Putt-Putt, as we called it, a peninsula filled with young teens, again visible by Mother, as it was directly across the lake from our campsite. We all timidly tried to meet friends of the opposite sex, gauging the cute-factor of those lingering around us, who were also checking out their counterparts. One particular young man caught our attention. He was walking, dragging, a clay brick around by a rope leash, whistling and calling his name as the sea of teens parted, girls admiring his originality and creativity. I don’t know if his ‘dog’ won him female friends for that warm summer evening; I do know I’m not the only one who remembers him to this day.
Our campground was turned into a condo-villa-hotel complex over thirty years ago. Blessedly, the architects preserved as many of the twisted live oak trees as they possibly could. I wonder if they kept the trees on which we used to secure our Pawley’s Island Rope Hammock. I’ll never know.
Parts of the lake remain, though reshaped and altered to enhance the new surroundings. Another memory was a sky-diving event along the strand in our area. I’ll always remember Steve, landing in the lake right beside our campsite; as he came dripping and dragging his parachute behind him, we calmly asked if he wanted to join us for our lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He did, and befriended our family for the rest of the week. We girls, crushes in tact, felt so special.
After several summers, our guitar playing and natural-born leader personalities, later utilized in our teaching profession, resulted in singalongs we planned on our own. Riding our bikes all over the campsite, we posted paper plates announcing our singalongs’ date and time. We sat on the log stage in the valley by the lake, and thrilled to see the campers gather with their colorful weaved lawn chairs. We sang all the songs we knew and then some; we were joined by our fellow campers, all ages, a good time had by all.
The last six months of his life, Daddy set us up once again at Lake Arrowhead. This time he was to leave for heaven, but not before he made sure we had a sweet Villa, supplies, and our beloved Grand Strand. Thank you, Daddy.
Sadly, in a matter of weeks, this Villa will be sold. With Mother gone, and one of our sisters as well, my surviving sister and I, five hours away, are letting go. I am okay with this; though my heart longs to hold on a little longer. Time passes and so do we. I hope my Daddy, Mother, and sister understand. I know they are seeing seas of cerulean blue-not cloudy and gray-walking hand-in-hand under cloudless skies; waves crashing and gulls crying overhead.
As Bob Hope crooned, Thanks for the Memories! Memories that never die, but will stay with me throughout eternity.
Dear Lord, life has been Grand along the Strand! Thank you for providing us with the funds and the time to be together as a family weeks at a time. We were and still are blessed to consider our coast a second home. Your Magnificent sandy beaches, shells of all shapes and sizes, sand pools at low tide deep and warm from the sun, gulls welcoming all to linger, breezes washing away the winter’s chill, and yes even the Dunkin’ Stix, their taste now acquired, for these and all the many blessed family times there, I give thanks! You were the one providing, I know that, but thank You for helping Daddy give his girls what he could and couldn’t afford. Your Goodness poured over and through us each summer. We learned, we laughed, we loved. Bless You and thank You for Your tender Fatherly care! I am most grateful. I truly am! Amen
By the Beautiful Sea
From the musical “For Me and My Gal”
by Harold Atteridge and Harry Carroll 1914
Joe and Jane were always together.
Said Joe to Jane,
“I love summer weather,
So let’s go to that beautiful sea,
Say you’re with me!”
Anything that Joe would suggest to her
Jane would always think it was best for her.
So he’d get his Ford, (in our case a ’67 Volkswagen Beetle)
Gosh, I want to be:
By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea!
You and me, you and me, oh how happy we’ll be!
When each wave comes a-rolling in
We will duck or swim,
And we’ll float and fool around the water.
Over and under, and then up for air,
Pa is rich, Ma is rich, so now what do we care?
I love to be beside your side, beside the sea,
Beside the seaside, by the beautiful sea!
Proverbs 30:4-5 God’s Word Translation
“Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of his hand?
Who has wrapped water in a garment?
Who has set up the earth from one end to the other?
What is his name or the name of his son?
Certainly, you must know!
“All of God’s words have proven to be true.
He is a shield to those who come to him for protection.
Quotes about the camping and the sea.
What I like about camping is you can get really dirty. Either you’re all by yourself, so no one else sees you, or everyone you’re with is just as dirty as you are, so nobody cares. Anonymous former Boy Scout
How is it that one match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box of matches to start a campfire? Christy Whitehead
The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul. Robert Wyland
Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard. Psyche Roxas-Mendoza
The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. Kate Chopin
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.
Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.