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The Yankee Express

Beaches; and how I added to the ocean’s sea glass


When did all the beaches become so crowded?  My initial memories of visiting Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island with my family was when I was about eight years old and it really didn’t seem that the beach was all that crowded then. We’d be packed into the car by 7:00 a.m. with our bathing suits on under our tee shirts and shorts. My dad drove Route 12 south most of the way through CT and then south on Route 49 (now officially designated by the State of CT as a “scenic route” due to its dramatic views of handsome farms, beautiful tree-lined roads bordered by century-old stonewalls and cornfields that go on forever). To my brother and me, it was a very long and meandering way just to get to the ocean.  Are we there yet, are we there yet? 
Of course, we never knew how mom and dad managed to always pick the sunniest and clearest blue sky day our little eyes could ever imagine. We just thought they must know these things because that’s what parents do. (I think, at this time, the TV weather-people used blackboards to draw their clouds and smiley suns along with an isobar or two….you just knew that Don Kent on WBZ-TV wouldn’t steer you wrong).
Soon, we could smell the salt air and yes! We could see the ocean….couldn’t wait to splash around in that salt water. After parking the car and unloading our beach gear, it was usually the same, no more than five or six families had staked their blanket’s boundaries before our own claim to the most heavenly spot on the sandy shore.  Everything had to be laid out just so with mom. Blanket here, beach chairs on the right and left, round metal food cooler with its red plaid décor placed near the top middle of the blanket covered with extra beach towels to keep it cooler. An insulated Coleman gallon jug filled with ice and water mixed with ZaRex grape or orange flavors.      
The remainder of our supplies included flip-flops, pails & shovels, individual towels of which my brother and I had our own personalized themes, sunglasses, goofy sun hats, and lots of Coppertone suntan lotion.  Come to think of it, those lotions never mentioned anything about sun-blocking qualities, they just touted themselves as helping you get a deep, dark tan. My dad and I were the definite “tanners” in the family and used to compare tans as I became older to determine who had “won the tanning contest” that summer.  These days, having a dark tan is considered an extreme health hazard as well as contributing to the worst wrinkles as we age. But I digress….
Another thing I still don’t understand after all these years is why does a homemade sandwich taste so awesomely delicious while at the beach? Something about that fresh salt air I guess. My mom was the official sandwich-maker for us and a bologna, tomato, and lettuce sandwich on white bread never tasted so good as when you just returned to your blanket after sandcastle-making and body-surfing for an hour or two! We were exhausted from those waves you know ... I think we could’ve eaten two of those wonderful sammies. We were also allowed to have a sandwich bag portion of potato chips, fresh fruit, and, of course, ZaRex.  (Hey! Quit hogging all the ZaRex and leave some for me!)
On this one particular Sunday beach trip, I was wearing my first pair of new eyeglasses----oh m’gosh, I could see stuff I never knew was there before. It was early morning and not too many other families were on the beach yet, as usual. My brother and I searched for shells, starfish, hermit crabs, unusual stones, and even sea glass. As we both bent down to study some new sea life and after a wave had just retreated back to the ocean, my brother turned around quickly and his elbow hit my specs and out popped one of my eyeglass lenses. Realizing immediately that I could not see clearly, I began to shout that my eyeglasses were broken. (Actually more like screeching bloody murder…). Hearing/seeing that I was in distress, my dad came running over. He began a quick sweep of the immediate area only to come up with nothing. The sea had claimed a new piece of glass. Waves began to reach our feet and soon my tears became mixed with the ocean. Dad consoled my little girl self and carried me back to the blanket where mom became my newest grief counselor. My brother apologized for his behavior and soon the sun shone brightly again if only to be seen clearly enough by my one “good” eye. Off in the not-so-distant future, someone was bound to pick up a nice sea glass souvenir ... I wondered if they’d make good use of it like I had ... .
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