It’s like a second or rather third home to me. My parents and grandparents hometown is my second home. The beaches of the Grand Strand on the coast of South Carolina is where I spent my summers … my third home.
I know the highways and byways in and around the coastal regions from Georgetown north to Little River, the community on the North Carolina, South Carolina border. Sunday after church we were a mere hours drive from Calabash, a well-known small community on Little River where the best seafood you’ve ever tasted is deep-fried so lightly you can see the light pink of the shrimp and taste its salty sweetness. My family has been going to this area for seafood since my sisters, eighteen months younger than me, were in high chairs, and to get there you traveled down a dirt road.
There was a juke box in the center of the dining room; it always fascinated me. The young folk would put their money in on occasion. Usually the only sound was the swinging door opening and closing with a swish which let out whiffs of fried shrimp, oysters, flounder, and hush puppies, a deep-fried cornbread, shaped like crescent moons, that came out piping hot, in a basket all their own.
You see the salty smell of the ocean breeze was always accompanied by the smell of hot fried seafood. We’d make sure our windows were rolled down as we neared the restaurant town; we followed our noses, the only appetizer needed.
In the early years a house on stilts was rented by us and our cousins. I vaguely remember those times, waking from a nap to the music of an ice cream truck as it slowly motored closer to our stilt house. Another time I distinctly remember being awakened in the night by a deer next to my bed. Mother sat there with me and I described it to her. She counted to three and said it would disappear; it did; she went to the refrigerator and got me a drink of Pepsi Cola to put me back to sleep. I’m surprised I didn’t have the deer dream more often … just to get some Pepsi.
My clearer and dearest memories of the beach were the weeks we spent camping every summer. A large Sears tent big enough to stand up in and house three sets of bunk style cots … in other words, room to sleep six with a walking area in the center. I’m not sure if they make tents that large anymore. It’s a shame if they don’t.
My sisters were twins, and the three of us taught ourselves to play the guitar during those summers. Around the campfire our single guitar would accompany us as we sang; other guitars and singers drifted to our campsite and we soon had a nice gathering.
These lazy days were during the late sixties and early seventies. The only outfits needed were a bathing suit, bell-bottomed jeans, and a blue work shirt. Walking barefoot wherever we went, our heels soon rubbed holes along the edge of our jeans; freedom from school and home chores were gratefully left behind.
Summers of my youth can never be recaptured; but, oh, they are stowed away with tender loving care; treasures to pull out and replay.
Dear Lord, I thank You for all my beach memories enjoying some of Your Magnificent Creations, the ocean, waves, sand, salty breezes, shells washed ashore, crabs, gulls, minnows, yes, and even the potential pain of jellyfish in the water and sand spurs edging the dunes. Summer pleasures still there for all to enjoy, ponder, breathe in, and let go. Here I contemplate the wonder of how vast You are and it is humbling. May I always remember Your Creation so good and pleasing. Amen
Psalm 96:11-12 Easy-to-Read Version
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be happy!
Let the sea and everything in it shout for joy!
Let the fields and everything in them be happy!
Let the trees in the forest sing for joy.
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