Vintage beach houses and childhood memories



Ok, so a recent comment about one of our posts on Facebook got me thinking, and since I haven’t written a blog in a long time - like a long, long time - I thought it might be worth writing about. Or at the very least I can finally cross - Write Blog - off of my to-do list. 

I’m originally from a small college town in Western Maryland where, when I was a child, its Main Street was abounding with businesses - mostly family-owned and operated. I very clearly remember on many occasions excitedly walking to Main Street with my Nana, that’s Nana Banana by the way, to get a new dress or a summer outfit from the “fancy” children’s boutique. I thought it was fancy because the store only sold children’s accessories and clothing. I remember thinking the ones hanging in the clear bags must’ve been really special to deserve such treatment. Likewise, I remember walking to the furniture store with Nana (same Nana Banana) and picking out my new bedroom furniture and vanity.
 
I remember going to the hardware store with my Pap (just Pap), which I thought was super cool because it had an escalator. He’d piddle around or talk with random people - who I’m sure he knew but I didn’t care because I just wanted to ride up and down the escalator. I remember the lawn and garden section was in the basement and it smelled of fertilizer. I remember going to G. C. Murphy Five-and-10 store and strolling through row after row of stuff and things...and more stuff - it was like 30 years ago, I can’t remember every detail except that they sold stuff.  I remember the hardwood floors and wooden sorting tables, and I remember it was where my Nana bought me a Flower Patch doll….that’s right a Flower Patch doll. I did not get a Cabbage Patch Kid until Christmas of 1984 when I was 12. 

Sadly, my treasured little town does not exist in that capacity anymore, and it’s been decades since it has. Only a handful of those old family-owned businesses still exist. Fortunately however, many of the old stores and banks are occupied with new businesses. Part of the old G.C. Murphy’s building is an extension of the campus book store for the local university, and the old hardware store with its escalator is now a pizza delivery shop – though I'm sure the escalator is no way involved with the preparation or delivery of the “pizza pie,” as Pap would say. 

When I think about the little Appalachian town as it was when I was growing up with its bustling Main Street, I get nostalgic and often desire a place like that to raise my own children. So when a recent comment about a vintage beach house on our rental program was posted to Facebook I felt sad. Yep for a house, I felt sad for a house. 
 
I felt sad for the little under-appreciated beach house that survived Hugo and spawned decades of fabulous vacation memories for generations of families.  I thought about all the amazing stories and secrets the little beach house with the dark paneled walls and ceilings could tell. I thought about how neat it would be to stay in the little beach house with kitchen counters that remind me of the house my dad grew up in. I thought about sitting in one of the rocking chairs on the screened porch passing away the evening with my children like I use to do with my Nana. Without even stepping inside, this little house has already evoked so many great memories for me that it’s difficult to understand why someone wouldn’t appreciate its charm and character. I mean have a heart...really.

Unlike the Palmetto Bug, that’s a fancy name for roach here in South Carolina, vintage beach homes seem to disappear a little more each year. Vacation rentals with all the comforts of home are replacing the quintessential beach homes of yesterday. As these vintage homes sell, they’re often demolished and replaced with larger, more accommodating homes with all the fancy upgrades. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big beach homes, they truly do offer all of the creature comforts of home. Understandably, I see why a lot of people prefer the newer properties over the older ones - granite counters, stainless steel appliances, spa-like master bathrooms, hugemongous TVs (they’re so big you need huge and humongous to describe them), wine coolers, outdoor kitchens, hardwood floors, swimming pool, hot tub, and on and on. These homes truly offer an all-around fabulous vacation retreat. 

But with my two children, Captain Chaos and Darling Drama, I’m more comfortable in situations where I don’t have to worry about the fancy vase on the mantle getting broken with the beach ball that I’ve told them countless times to take outside, the seashell on the fancy mirror getting chipped off because it’s prettier than the shells on the beach and Darling Drama wants to take it home, or the glass-top table that my son thinks is fun to bang his cup and spoon on - or STAND on - getting broken. 

I mean really glass-top tables? Glass-top tables! Glass-top tables! No glass-top tables! (It’s like wire hangers! Wire hangers!…eh...never mind.) They’re serious torture devices for OCD people like me. Even on vacation I wouldn’t be able to relax knowing there are finger prints and drink rings all over the glass-top table. I would literally keep a bottle of Windex and paper towels on top of the table at all times prepared to clean at moment’s notice. 

Anyway I digress. There’s just something charming about these vintage beach homes that can’t be duplicated with the newer ones. Maybe I’m too sentimental, but I appreciate their distinctiveness and history. I know that just as most of my beloved Main Street in Frostburg has changed, there will be a time when the only vintage beach homes still standing are those that have been family-owned for generations, and just as their great-grandparents were pleased with the way the home functioned when it was built decades ago as will the young contemporaries. 

After all, who comes to the beach to watch TV on a 72-inch flat screen? Isn’t the whole point of coming to the beach…well umm, to go to the beach? That’s like going to Disney World and not leaving your room…seriously.

You really don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t get out and explore this beautiful coast. 


Please note: I have nothing against big TVs or people who watch them...honestly. But glass-top tables do drive me crazy.                       

- Kimberly Raley-Kimes
Advertising & Marketing, Garden City Realty, Inc.

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