Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Maryland, My Maryland, Part 4

One of my earliest memories of Ocean City is the pier. However, when I was a child (oh so many years ago), the pier was not as long — because the beach was not so wide. Later, they built jetties to capture sand which resulted in a wider beach — wide enough to lay down asphalt for a huge parking lot. Parking has long been at a premium on this sand bar of an island and that certainly helped. Of course, the increase in population came faster than parking expansion so it is still a problem. Sorry, back to the pier, after the beach grew, the pier had to be lengthened just so the far end would stretch out over the ocean.

Also, when I was a kid, the pier was just that — a pier that people could walk on all the way to the end. A few people might fish here too — but access was free.

After my family moved to Florida during my high school years, it was a long time before I returned — only to discover that the access was now by paid admission only. It may be different now but since much was closed, we did not check it out.

The other big change came with the building of the Jolly Roger Amusement Park on the beach side of the pier. Years ago, most of the rides were on the west side of the boardwalk — but now they are on both sides.

I love the little side streets. Here one finds the cute little shops, bars, restaurants and coffee shops that cannot afford the high rent on the boardwalk. Notice the sign for the fortune teller and the Segway rental shop.

This monument was new to me. Dedicated to Ocean City Firefighters, past and present, living and deceased who gave their all to keep the buildings intact and people safe. This really meant something to us because my middle sister's son-in-law is a firefighter as were two of our uncles (albeit with a volunteer fire department).

Of course every tourist area needs a Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. As best I recall, this was not here during my youth. However, I loved reading the Ripley's Believe It or Not books — probably helped me both learn to read and learn to love reading. So it still brings back memories — although of a slightly different sort.

I do love the shark protruding from the boardwalk side of the building. You cannot tell from the still photos but the shark swings in and out of the building — very eye-catching.

Speaking of eye-catching, we just spotted Dolle's — as you'll recall, last week I mentioned Fisher's and Dolle's in the same paragraph as the ultimate places to purchase popcorn, specially caramel popcorn. It is impressive that Dolle's as been at this very spot since 1910 — over a hundred years and run by the fourth generation of this candy and popcorn family.

In addition to caramel popcorn, they offer other treats such as salt water taffy, caramel apples (plain or with nuts), fudge, chocolates, gummy candies and on and on.

Of course, we had to buy some to share. It did not last long with the five of us Baby Boomers reviving their childhood memories.

After devouring the caramel popcorn, we had to share some Thrasher's french fries. Their website includes customer quotes such as "best french fries on the planet" and "We've been coming here since we were kids...Thrashers are the best french fries ever.” They are definitely tasty.

Next door is Boog's Bar-B-Q — which brings back more childhood memories. During my youth, living just outside Baltimore, my dad was a great fan of the Baltimore Orioles and that got me to like them as well. During their glory years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Boog Powell was the all-star first baseman for the team. Kids now will remember him as the guy who brought the "Bar-B-Que of Camden Yards" to Ocean City — I guess that is not a bad thing to be remembered for. However, I must confess that I have not yet sampled Boog's BBQ — one item still on my bucket list.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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