Posted to OGR on 02/27/2011
I was fortunate enough to grow up within an hour’s drive of a Florida beach, and that meant many a beach party to attend while I was in high school. We would start at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning; packing the coolers with sodas, ice, hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad - gassing up the car - loading it with chairs, sports equipment, blankets and towels. Off to the beach we go.
Around 10 AM, we would arrive at the beach. Back in those days, driving was allowed on Florida beaches, so down the ramp we would go, turn right and drive until we found our rendezvous point, a place far from houses, stores and adults. Out would come the sports gear. The blankets were spread, and the radios all tuned to the “Big Ape,” WAPE. Soon the beach was filled with laugher, beach-balls, footballs and volleyballs. The fire in the pit was crackling and the air was laden with the smells of all that good food cooking. The day was spent frolicking in and out of the water.
After a couple of these parties, we learned by painful experience that we needed to get out of the sun during the early afternoon. That was easily accomplished by bringing along extra blankets, rope and poles. They made great shade. The “sunburn hours” were spent lying in the shade, listening to the radio and talking with each other. Up and down the beach, you could see other parties with kids from other classes or other schools in the area. Whenever, the “Big Ape” played their famous ape call, you could hear it echo from the other radios up and down the beach. That ape call was a brilliant idea; you could hear it over the wind at the beach or the noise from traffic downtown.
Anyone who ever saw “Beach Blanket Bingo” or another of the myriad of beach party movies, remembers those great scenes of beach parties after dark; bonfire blazing, kids singing and playing guitars and one or more couples sneaking off to “make out.” I hate to break anyone’s images, but that didn’t happen much in Florida back in the day. You see, dusk brought out the mosquitoes! Big time! Dusk was the time to pack up all the gear, put out the fires, carefully put some clothes on over our swimsuits and sunburn, and head for home and showers to get the salt and sand off our bodies. Oh MY!
Copyright 2011 Rick Wrigley