When I was a kid, we'd usually got to the beach every summer. My mom never liked being away from the house for more than a few days at a time, so we were not there long, but just enough to get as much junk food and sugar into us, while playing as many boardwalk arcade games, and rounds of wack-a-mole as possible.
We would go to Rehoboth Beach Delaware, which isn't a huge beach (like Ocean City Maryland, or Wildwood New Jersey), but it wasn't horribly small either.
I recently learned from the internet that the difference between a hotel and a motel is that a hotel opens up into a hallway, while a motel opens up from the outside.
For my money, especially at the beach, I'll take a motel over a hotel any day of the week.
The first time we ever went to Rehoboth was in June of 1987, I was all of 4 years old, ALMOST 5. We stayed at these cottages that at the time were called "Roops Cottages". I couldn't find if these still exist or not, they may or may not be called Bay Road Cottages now. There are infinite cons about staying in a cottage. My mom brought groceries and made lunch and dinner instead of going to McDonalds and Grotto pizza. The pro? She brings those tiny boxes of cereal so it's a new sugary treat every morning.
The following years, we varied our stays between two "motels". The Oceanus, which still exists under that name, and probably hasn't been remodeled since, and the Atlantic Budget Inn, which is now the Atlantis. They each had their own charm to them. The Oceanus has a pool with a slide, and decent vending machines. The Atlantic Budget Inn had a pool on the roof, sick vending machines and shops below including an Aunt Annies pretzels AND a TCBY, which made it super easy to sneak away and get yourself a buttery salty snack or yogurt with three candy bars worth of toppings. (who says gummy bears don't mix well with Oreos, butterfinger, and peanut butter topping?)
Before I was old enough to know what brunch was, we would technically "brunch" at the McDonalds on the main drag. It even had a "walk through" window in it. From my research, I find that the McDonalds is no longer there, but the store that now occupies the building just painted over the classic McDonalds awning. We would go right at the end of breakfast and the start of lunch, so you could kind of get either. It was there where I felt I could risk walking on the wild side of Micky-D's menu. I would order the "Chef's Salad". Remember when they had the famous garden or chef's salad? I was fucking 10 and ordering the Chefs Salad. I also tried their breakfast burrito for the first time there. That was of course if they were not giving away the wonderful McDonalds beach toys in the Happy Meals.
We can all agree the best part of the beach is the boardwalk and as a kid, Rehoboth's never disappointed. As a kid, we'd play wack-a-mole with my dad, which wound up being a tradition that never really ended even as we grew older. When I got older, I'd retreat to the arcade with my little sister and she'd watch me play Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter 2, or we'd play Lethal Enforcers together, or the TMNT Arcade game.
One of the best parts of the boardwalk are the Junk Stores. My favorite was also my namesake "Ryan's Gems and Junk". My research disappointingly tells me it's now just simply called Ryan's Beach Store". It was there where I would buy my favorite treasures as a child. My toy cell phones that looked like the one Zach Morris would use on Saved by the Bell. My cool beach T-shirts and weird knock off action figures. All the greatest junk could be found at Ryan's.
For dinner, we always went to Grotto's pizza, which still exists. My dad would always loosen up and get a beer with dinner. Dinner being a huge delicious pizza for the table to split. Then we'd walk the board walk and get some sort of sugary snack, be it Kohrs Brothers custard or some Salt Water Taffy at Candy Kitchen.
Candy Kitchen is a chain in the area, they sold homemade taffy and other candy, as well as various odd toys. It was there back in 1992 that my parents would buy me this Batman Returns "penguin" doll made by Applause. I'd carry this thing around everywhere and loved it. I recently bought one off Ebay to show off to the world.
Going to the beach was always the most fun a kid could have, and thought I still like it today, I usually hit up the Caribbean over the winter, and maybe a few days at the Jersey shore near the end of summer. I'm going to try and make the drive down to Rehoboth this summer and report back on whats the same and what changed.
What are your best beach memories? Share them in the comments.
Also if you want to listen to us talk about this and more listen to The Rad Years Podcast Episode 31, Summer Memories