Hello Friends and Family,

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Maryland, My Maryland, Part 3

When my sisters, their spouses and I gathered in Maryland in April, we booked accommodations at the Sleep Inn in Ocean City. When I made the reservations, many of the hotels indicated "no rooms available". I initially panicked thinking that everything was booked up — but then was ecstatic when I found availability here. It turns out that April is before "the season" starts in Ocean City and those other hotels were just not opening until closer to Memorial Day. But this turned out to be a very nice place to stay — and, because it was preseason and few guests were booked, we were upgraded to suites. Cool! This photo shows the balcony outside my room.

The view was quite nice, especially at night. This is looking north on Baltimore Avenue which parallels the beach.

Looking east is 1st Street which runs toward the ocean, which is just on the other size of the Ocean 1 Hotel.

The morning after our ceremony with the Coast Guard, we decided to explore the Boardwalk and refresh old memories. Except for my baby sister, we all grew up outside Baltimore but came to Ocean City often during the summers when we visited our grandmother, great-grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins.

During the day, we would swim. In the evening, we would ride the rides, play the games and eat the treats sold all along the boardwalk.

On a couple of occasions our extended family would camp on the beach on the northern side of Ocean City past the end of the boardwalk where it was totally undeveloped. We would gather driftwood and build a bonfire, roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Later, we kids would play hide-and-seek among the sand dunes.

Kids today can no longer enjoy such activities because the beachfront is developed all the way up into Delaware, mostly with high-rise hotels and condos.

Although, it has changed, much that we remember still exists. Note that it is a real "board" "walk". Some years ago, they removed the wood because, I presume, the maintenance cost was too high and replaced it with concrete. In fact, I still have a small stool made from a board from that version of the boardwalk.

Later, probably due to popular demand, they installed new planks on top of the concrete giving it that old boardwalk feel. Personally, I am so glad they did.

It was quite cool that morning with a steady wind and thus we often sought refuge in a shop or just a part of a wall that blocked the wind a bit. Even with the chilly temps, Lisa (baby sister) and Connie (oldest sister, two years younger than me) managed smiles for the camera.

Because it was "preseason" many of the vendors that we recall were closed. No problem here since it was a bit chilly to be enjoying ice cream. But it still brought back fond memories of hot summer days relieved by a soft ice cream cone.

Ah, wonderful! Fisher's is open. We always enjoyed either Fisher's or Dollie's — some folks favored one over the other — I could go with either. We usually got caramel corn — loved it.

I recall lots of candy and fudge shops but I don't recall Candy Kitchen specifically. However, it is probably my ancient memory — according to their website, they have been in business throughout the Delmarva beaches since 1937. This day, we had to get some fudge in memory of our mom.

Tony's Pizza reminded me that Ocean City was the first place that I tried pizza. It was described to me as a "tomato pie" and since, at the time, I did not like tomatoes I was reluctant to try it. But my Aunt Betty Ann assured me that it was delicious so I tried it — and began a life-long love of pizza.

BTW, one cold night during this visit, we did try to have dinner at Tony's but it was so cold inside that we could not stand it. I would have thought that the pizza ovens might warm the place a bit — but no such luck. So we had Mexican instead.

Here my sisters and brother-in-law (Danny) are browsing past one of the tee shirt and sweatshirt outlets. There were a bunch of them — I bought a sweatshirt for myself (an absolute necessity) and a tee shirt as a gift for Johnny.

Ah, such wonderful nostalgia — and there is still so much more to share in the coming weeks.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com