Friday, August 12, 2011

The Beach in Me

Let's face it...we all have a favorite beach.  Here lately Folly Beach, SC and Corolla on the OBX are receiving honorable mention votes.  Folly for their incredible bar and music scene and those damn fine Bloody Mary's at the "Lost Dog Cafe." Corolla just has a mood and vibe that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Myrtle Beach is still a favorite among the young crowd, I'm assuming, and I still have fond memories of hanging out there with Trent Palmer and Pete Sill right after High School graduation and I can tell you that if you live in the Wilmington Area, Wrightsvillle and Carolina Beach would be great places to live year round as Wilmington offers a nice distraction during the winter months. 

There are some very exotic beaches I would like to explore also, such as South Beach, Maui, Laguna and day, I hope, my pay scale will be commensurate with my robust imagination and I can just jet on down to these places and order "Brie" and spread "Grey Poupon" on my "samich."  Until then I'm going to settle for a working man's beach.  My favorite is Holden's Beach right here in North Carolina.  It's like a trusty old friend you haven't seen in awhile; instantly upon reacquainting it's like you haven't skipped a beat.

Holden's isn't fancy, heck it can be down right dull if you compare it to any other beach.  It's nicely tucked away at the South end of the North Carolina beaches between the far more popular strands of Long Beach and Ocean Isle and it is approximately thirty miles from both Wilmington and Myrtle Beach.  There's only one way onto the island, it's about eight miles long and it does have it's own fishing pier.  The island is dotted with  your "run of the mill" beach homes; all elevated  with a customary fancy name adorning the abodes such as "Sun of a Beach" or "Wasting Time."  It does have one or two places to eat, a couple of boat launches and a RV camp ground.  That's about it...seriously, it's quaint, and a quiet beach that seems to have been passed by time...Thank God.

It was at this particular RV camp ground where "Growing up Laugisch" was firmly rooted...only back in the late seventies it was just a campground for trailers...RV is just a fancy word for those big rigs used today known as penthouses on wheels.  Call me crazy, but anything being towed by another vehicle is a damn trailer!!  The more opulent "trailers" were actually Airstreams...which we didn't own.  Dad was right proud of the Prowler trailer he purchased in 1977 that, under the right circumstances could sleep 20 people if you lined them up just right.  There were six of us, so plenty of room.

I think the thing that attracted Holden Beach to my parents was the fact that back then you could rent a "trailer" spot at the camp ground for dirt cheap...I'm not exactly sure of the cost...but trust me, my Dad would have known...he took advantage of things like that.  He and Mom would drive it down there the weekend after school let out in June and would keep it there the week before school started in September.  They didn't spend the entire time at the campground as they both still worked and get this...they would leave us boys...sometimes just one or two of us to "sorta mind the store" while they went back up to Fayetteville for the week. 

Your probably asking, "What the hell kind of parents leave their children alone at the beach like that?"  In our defense, we were 13,14, and 15 years old wasn't like when we were younger and we were so bad, Mom was asking our neighbor to come beat us when Dad was in, we had become more refined Laugisch men by our teenage years.  Besides we were sort of shocked  that they actually trusted us...suckers.  I'm going to be honest with you: we were not going to mess up this golden opportunity.

Think seriously about this for a moment...three young teenage brothers left to their own devices on a beach...your probably thinking the "Rock Star" Laugisch boys were living the dream in a MTV video with bikini clad models, parties til dawn and David "Diamond" Lee Roth wanting our autographs?  Yeah...we were too.  Nothing could be further from the truth though...did I mention this was Holden's Beach?  Mom and Dad weren't that crazy and we assumed they strategically chose this beach because it was pretty desolate.  Throw in the fact that we had no car and they only left us about 10 dollars...that's right, 10 friggin dollars to last the three of us all week. To their credit, we had food in the trailer and we all knew how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. The camp ground was also  situated near one end of an EIGHT MILE island that was THREE miles from the damn fishing pier.  It also had a small convenience store(with phone for emergencies) and a men's and women's shower facility.  Everything you needed was situated nicely at that campground.

We didn't need much to keep us occupied.  Our daily routine consisted of swimming at the beach for a couple of hours, maybe fish in the surf...depending on the tide, eat lunch, walk the three miles to the pier and play video games til we ran out of money and then fart around on the pier til we got bored...walk the three miles back...take a nap, play Gin Rummy til we caught Hank cheating, watch the 3 Stooges in the afternoon, play basketball, eat, watch TV and play more Gin Rummy til we caught Hank cheating again...then sleep.  We'd wake up and more or less do this every day. 

This is not to say, that our routine wasn't intermingled with more adventure...please, we were teenagers...raging hormones and all that...yes, we were most definitely occupied with trying to get the attention other teenage girls...when they were there...remember, this was Ice Station Zebra!!  The majority of these girls would stay a week at best and were under the watchful eye of more responsible parents unlike ours who had abandoned us...we were the misfit toys on the island!!  Every now and again there would always be an older guy 17 or 18 who could get beer and we would go drink it on the dunes for fear of being caught and ruining our gig of being at the beach.  Schlitz Light never tasted so good.  Hey,we were desperate and didn't know what "good" beer was...Those were good times.

We did this for a couple of summers til reality set in...we figured out we were teenagers...we wanted all those things associated with being one...which meant you needed money  for a car and clothes and soon, finding a job became more important than perfecting my hook shot and getting tanned.  I recently spent a weekend on Holden's Beach and the flood of memories came roaring back when we drove down to the campground.  The 'ole basketball court is still there and it's still 3 miles back to the pier according to my odometer.  For the life of me though...the one thing that I still can't comprehend is that Mom and Dad trusted us at such a young age...for that I will always be grateful and I can still see clearly in my memory bank the scene of our entire family sitting underneath that awning of that trailer watching The Love Boat on a Saturday night while in the background you could hear the waves pound away at my favorite beach.  Take care everyone and go enjoy the beach.

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