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The "Chesapeake Bay at Water's Edge" Story
Chesapeake Bay at Water's Edge
Painted in May, 2010
July is a month of vacations and fun in the water. When I was a child in Virginia, my father would take me on early Sunday mornings to Chesapeake Bay and the beach. It was fun driving to the beach, passing churches with people singing gospel songs; then passing small country convenience stores, where we shopped for picnic supplies and fishing tackle; then passing old weathered grey barns, with tobacco leaves hanging from the ceilings which could be viewed because the side boards of the barn were gone.

Most impressive was the smell of fast growing corn. The corn stalks were already pretty high, and the fields filled with many. I can remember no air-conditioning in my dad’s old 1947 green Hudson with the high ceilings, and wide interior.


There were soft breezes as we drove along. It was the 1950’s, and all thoughts were of the beach and the special parties for July 4th celebrations. I remember the excitement of finally getting to the beach, and seeing so many people. In those days, there were wonderful concession stands selling cotton candy, hot dogs, ice cream, Coca Cola, etc. There was a shaded area with picnic tables, and we quickly rushed to get one and drape a red and white checked table cloth over it. Then the picnic basket, paper plates, plastic spoons, forks, knives, along with napkins, which we had to anchor down with bottle openers. There was always a strong breeze. Soon, dad was instructing us that we should have lunch, wait a half hour, and then go in the water.

When it was time to get in the water there was the ritual of putting a foot in and testing the water temperature. Most of the time it was very cool, but by the end of July, the water was as warm as soup. There was an expanse of ocean that had netting to prevent any sharks from the Atlantic getting into the waters where the public swam. Life Guards were on patrol in motorized boats. Once, my dad swore he saw a shark and told me to swim over to a floating wooden barge, which was placed there, mostly for tired swimmers, for the purpose of escaping disaster. I did this immediately, needless to say. Luckily, I had become a very strong and fast swimmer.

After the beach, dad would drive by places along the Chesapeake Bay where people with buckets picked up clams in the marshes. This would lead to an excellent dinner at a clam bake with the tables stacked high with this fish delight. I would walk along at some points where the Chesapeake Bay opens to the Atlantic Ocean. There were flowers scattered along the edges of the more solid grounds that weren’t sandy. One could see through the high grasses, the vastness of the ocean.

This is what I’ve painted from my memory.

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