A long, long, time ago on a beach far, far, away, I was three years old and over three feet tall. The days were always sunny, the breeze refreshing, the water chilly enough for adults to notice. Seagulls swooped, squawked and dug for tasty, wiggly sand crabs. Parents happily talked together in ankle high water, with one eye alerted to their children. Children with unlimited energy flew kites and made castles on the beach to protect themselves from the occasional new wave that marked a rising tide and threatened their feudal city. Repeated, urgent trips carrying small red buckets and shovels kept their moats filled, guarding their castle homes for a brief shining moment. This was my Camelot--Ocean City, New Jersey, summer 1950.
My parents continually warned me of imminent danger. Lurking along the shore line were huge, roaring, menacing "five foot waves" known as “Shore Monsters”, that could sneak up on you any second. Although Shore Monsters were a beautiful breed to be admired, they were both feared, and loved. Little did I know that the Shore Monster would become a lover like no other.
As a three year old, even a nice foamy two foot wave could knock me down. Barely able to stand and fight the undercurrent, the two foot water would steal sand right out from under my feet as it rushed back to the sea and my nose and mind would fill with awe and respect. Gasping for air, I'd pick up my sandy body, and wipe the salt water from my eyes. Then with most all my orifices filled, I’d quickly raise my suit back up to dignity level. I'd look for sympathy from my family, gird my loins, and put on my best game face for the next inevitable Shore Monster pounding its way toward me.
My older cousins, aunts and uncles would usually play next to me in the very surf that introduced me to hell and heaven at the same time. Laughing together, my family seemed to enjoy this natural beating, so I would try again and again to conquer the relentless Shore Monster. Soon I became one with the Jersey Shore which had the power to fill all my senses; and as I grew I learned to ride the waves--still in awe of their power, but now we played as partners, even for a few seconds.
Fast forward to 2012 and 62 years later living in Atlanta, GA, the beach is still there, I am a lot taller (6’ 5” to be exact!) and the waves are not as monstrous. But that same feeling of Camelot and pleasure draws me as my wife and I sit and watch small children flying kites, building castles, filling motes and battling their Shore Monsters. Just as a child with Christmas morning, I fell in love with Ocean City Beach in 1950 and in my mind I'll never leave…..Positively yours, Bill (and Sheri) Eppright