Taking Auntie Tims on her yearly trip to the Gold Coast was a right-of-passage in the family. Auntie Tims hardly left her home to go to the store but when the glorious May weekend arrived, she was always primped and packed and waiting with her purse on the front porch for her ride.
The Gold Coast – of Africa? No, no, this New Jersey seaside resort was named for its older clientele. Every third weekend in May, just before Memorial Day and the start of the summer season, the place became an over 70 meet and greet. Former beach blanket bingo babes sunned on see-through-thin striped terrycloth towels covering rusted folding vinyl-corded recliners.
The rows of babes stretched the length of the section of the beach, each recliner held a gold nugget tightly wrapped in a woolen blanket to keep the cool breeze and ocean spray from chilling her to the bone. Big flowered beach hats and oversized sunglasses with Coppertone fingerprinted lens covered all but the smallest of skin surface.
The musclemen of old walked in groups, slowly and carefully, down the stretch of beach past the sunning babes. At the end of the row, they stopped to rest and lean on railings before starting back. The men reminisced of younger times and boasted of evening rendezvous they had arranged…in their minds. After a good rest, they began the walk back through the rows, winking and dishing out pick-up lines that had worked back in the day –now, as then, giggling could be heard amongst the blankets.
Smiles were in abundance both tooth-full and tooth-less. They smiled and greeted one another as though it was the first time they had met. Many thought it was the first time they had met, not recalling that they had been coming to this same spot year after year for the last 50 years or so – same time, same people, same towels, same chairs.
Amplified speakers were set up along the beach cruising zone with the music blasting so the patrons could hear. WAGE – a local AM station –the Coast, reverted back to the days when it was called the Gold Coast replaying music-sets all weekend from 50 years before. Even some of the old DJs took their place at the mike.
A well-worn volleyball net, with swag and sag, was set up near the bar…after a beer and an Ensure, the patrons got their second wind and joined in for a rousing game. The volleying was minimal, the laughs abundant, and the EMT station rarely rested.
It was glorious. Time stopped, as well as a heart or two, and by the end of the weekend new memories were made that would last long enough to become new again the next year.
Auntie Tims was driven back home and immediately returned to her daily routine. However, on occasion, faint sounds could be heard drifting from Auntie’s house…sounds of beach tunes and muffled giggles.