Port Elgin beach, circa 1953. Two aunts in the back, two cousins in the middle, brother sister and me up front. Bathing beauties all. It’s still a great beach, although the cars have changed. I guess it’s kind of amazing that I never liked the water or learned how to swim. I certainly got good at sun tanning and building sand castles. And even some kind of vague-rules beach football much later, where running around in the sand wearing as little as possible was all that was really expected of you. The water was shallow and warm for a long way out, so wading was fun and pretty much all we were allowed to do under mom’s watchful eye. Digging holes that filled up with water kept us mesmerized for great lengths of time. There were swings and slides and tourists. The hot sand stuck between your toes. Sunscreen was pretty much unheard of, but no one in this picture has yet developed skin cancer. I guess we didn’t stay out in the hot sun long enough – or maybe the sun was kinder way back then. Mom almost always brought some kind of a picnic lunch so that her children could learn the true meaning of the word sandwich. And have you ever tried to brush the sand off yourself so that none gets in your car? It can’t be done.
Isn’t it strange how you don’t truly appreciate something until it’s gone? Those were happy lazy days, having fun in the sun. There sure aren’t beaches like this where we are now. I sure don’t look that good in a bathing suit anymore either, so perhaps it’s just as well.
I couldn’t learn to love the water, but there was never a problem loving the swings. How’s this for a child safety swing seat? And I expect the reason we’re still in our clothes is because, as every mother in the 1950’s knew for a FACT, you would die from severe abdominal cramps if you went into the water even one second before two hours had elapsed following having had something to eat. That rule drove us all so insane, we finally gave it up. I think there was also some kind of rule about not feeding the sea gulls, but such persistence is hard to resist.
So there you have it. The wind, the sand, the sun, the crashing waves, and the cry of the gulls; a little piece of heaven on earth.
Long ago…..long LONG ago, when I was somewhere in my teens, I had a lovely pink flannel nightgown that I loved dearly. It went right up under my chin and right down to the floor, with sleeves that stopped about mid fingertips. My sister and I shared an upstairs corner bedroom in our old farm house where we slept in matching spool beds, covered in layers of quilts so heavy it was hard to roll over underneath them. Winter nights could get chilly and some mornings I was sure I could see my breath in the frigid air. There’s nothing quite like hopping out of a warm snuggly bed and putting your bare feet on a cold linoleum floor. Let’s just say it wakes you up quickly and completely. We all fought over the upstairs bathroom where the heat came up directly from the furnace. It was sort of like going from the deep freeze to the oven. I wonder why we didn’t all have pneumonia. I don’t wonder why I loved that nightgown and wore it every winter start to finish until it was practically threadbare. I had it SO long, in fact, that I took it with me when I got married. W. was aghast. “What the HELL is THAT thing? It looks like something your grandmother would wear!”
Hmmmph. Did I make fun of his favourite hockey long underwear?? Well….yeah I did, but that’s completely different. This was like mocking a person’s emotional connection to a cherished childhood keepsake. I was very hurt. I almost cried when we finally relegated it to the rag bag. Of course by then we had a thermostat and heat and eachother, so justifying hanging onto such a thing didn’t really seem worth the effort. Life goes on. I have fond memories of it – he can’t take that away from me.
Yesterday, completely by accident, (this is usually how the most wonderful things happen to us), I came across a floor length red plaid flannel nightgown with a soft cotton ruffle around the neck, the long sleeves and the bottom edge. It has six round shiny little red buttons down the front. It is unbelievably soft and fuzzy and OMG. What can I say, it was love at first sight. It is warm and comfy and I feel like Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma when I’ve got it on. Absolutely the best feeling I’ve had about an article of clothing in a very long time. I knew W. would hate it, and he does, but I’m at the point in my life where I’m beyond caring what he thinks. HAHA!! Just kidding. When he started to shake his head and roll his eyes, I threatened to try to find him a flannel nightshirt like my grandpa used to wear, so he just said ‘jeeeeezuz’ under his breath and left me alone. I’m a grandma now – I can be eccentric and he can kiss my flannel covered butt, right? And, you know, I do have respect and consideration for his feelings on the matter. So I might not wear it EVERY night for the rest of my life.