On such an occasion, we children would usually get the word at dinner on Monday night that dad was thinking about a weekend at the beach. The ultimate decision was, of course, dependent upon many different factors, one of which would be the weather. I can remember every evening after school, tuning in to the local news and listening to Joe Foulkes. our long-time weatherman with the deep voice, showing fronts and systems moving across the country and the impact they might have for the next weekend. By Thursday with the weather looking good, it was now up to whatever else might have impacted Mom and Dad before finalizing things. If it was a go, we would be told on Friday morning the trip was on and we would leave right after school. Such a Friday was difficult, for it was tough to focus on school even though I found the teacher glaring at me for she likely knew what was on my mind. But I got through the day and then we were off.
Arriving at the beach in the dark, Mom would issue each of us our bed linens with an added blanket. Since most cottages in those days were unheated, on occasion there would be a chilly night. But we didn't care, we thought we were camping. But unlike camping, we were glad that Uncle Hal turned on the power and filled the water tank when we got up in the morning. The rise and shine was early, for it was up at dawn to take a walk at sunrise. It was beautiful, serene and the beach was empty, excepting a few early birds doing the same thing as well as lots of flying ones. The sea was calm and the sky was crystal clear and watching the sun rise out of the ocean made it very clear that someone truly special created everything on this earth. Walking out to wade in the early morning ocean, I was heartened to feel how warm it was. That meant swimming would be in order later int he day.
After breakfast, we walked down the beach to Jockey's Ridge, having it all to ourselves. Trying to run down the dune when we were ready to leave, we invariably took the head first tumble and then, covered head to toe in damp sand, we couldn't wait to take a dip in the ocean to both clean off and cool down. It was wonderful and crystal clear, looking like an advertisement for some exotic tropical beach. Hungry again by the time we got home, Mom fed us sandwiches and then we were off to Wanchese for a short surprise visit to Mom's relatives. It was always a light and humorous time and I listened intently to learn as much as I could about my Outer Banks relatives. On the way home, we made a quick drive through Manteo, stopping at Fearing's Drug Store for the best fountain coke in town and then it was back to the beach to build a bonfire for the evening. We didn't want to miss a minute on the beach and the weather was perfect for the fire, complete with smores in abundance. Anyone passing on the beach, usually walking with a lantern, dropped by for a visit as they likely knew us. Even if not, it was a friendly and peaceful time with all being neighborly to one another.
After a late turn in because of staying up too late by the fire, it was up again early morning Sunday for another beautiful sunrise. Then, we had a light breakfast and attended and early Sunday service. What else? Well, we were then granted two hours on the beach before we had to get ready and go home. By the time we were packed and ready, we were starved but Mom, wise as she was, told us we were eating out on the way home. I can remember enjoying an adult seafood platter at the Point Harbor restaurant, amazing my mom and making dad laugh as he watched me devour the whole thing. One thing was for sure, I wasn't hungry when I got home.
At school the next morning, at the beginning of class our teacher asked what we did for the weekend and she went around the room getting responses. When my turn came, I stood up and said that I went to the beach. She wanted to know if it was Buckroe or Grand View, two local Chesapeake Bay beaches that were popular into the fall if the water was still warm. I proudly told her no, that I had been to Nags Head. She looked at me and told me I was one lucky young man and I agreed wholeheartedly. Now, all these years later, I still know how fortunate I was. It was the greatest childhood a boy could have and it can never be repeated. But, as Bob Hope used to say, "Thanks for the memories."