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Packing for the Shore

By Jane Kelly

When I was a very small child in the fifties, each summer my parents moved their household to the Jersey Shore for the summer.

I don't remember much about the houses we slept in or the beaches we played on. No, my clearest memories are not of being rescued by handsome lifeguards but of being trapped by oversized boxes on the yearly ride to the shore.

I still see families today pulling up in much larger cars packed to the roof with many more things for much shorter stays. But modern families have an
excuse. They have a lot more to bring. Things that didn't even exist in the 1950's.

More sports equipment. More toys. And don't even mention electronics.

I will admit that back in the day, rental properties were not so well equipped. I am sure my mother brought along many more household items than a modern mother brings on vacation.

But none of this explains why my family rode across New Jersey crammed together like commuters on a
rush hour subway. That phenomenon is explained by one sentence -- my father's favorite: "You can't get that at the shore."

I don't know the truth from that era but I suspect that there were clothes and toiletries available in every shore town.

I never knew. We packed enough for three seasons.

Perhaps that is why each year when I return to the shore for the first time, I am amazed by all the stores on the approach to every beach town.

Every year more and more conveniences pop up. I really shouldn't be surprised. It's been a long time since visitors packed for a trip to the beach with the same zeal that explorers demonstrated when preparing for a safari in19th century Africa. I love that I can pick up anything I need from toothpaste to a new sofa to an SUV while on vacation.

But while I love the convenience, I am a bit nostalgic for the days when the shore seemed so exotic, so different from our house in the city. Yep, I’m nostalgic right up until the moment I realize that I failed to pack my favorite conditioner or an extra ink jet or a top to match my flowered skirt. Or, until the moment a coworker suggests an impromptu visit to the beach. No longer do I have to run home and pack. Times have changed. No matter what I need, I can get that at the shore."

Jane Kelly is the author of three mysteries with a humorous twist set at the Jersey shore.

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