Still Sizzlin’ In Old Orchard Beach ~ Has No One Told her Summer’s Over?

And summer did end as we arrived in Old Orchard Beach a few late-Septembers ago. It ran out on us while we driving up route 95 from Boston and broiling in an hour-long traffic jam caused by roadworks just north of Saco. The late summer sun bore down, dust clouds from fleets of excavators blew up, the young woman engineer yelled above the din of men and machinery, and we crawled along, inch by inch, praying for the turn to Ocean Park, our actual destination. Cousin Jan had driven down from her alpaca farm in Richmond, taking a swift ‘time out’ between alpaca babe deliveries. She would be waiting for us at her beach cottage to hand over the keys. We would be staying there for the next week before driving on to the farm.

Praying is of course apt behaviour for Ocean Park. The community has its origins in 1881 when the Free Will Baptists founded a family summer resort there with the object (then and now) of providing “opportunities for spiritual growth and renewal (in) a non-denominational, interfaith setting”.  The Tabernacle Temple meeting hall, among the pines and maples, is still there and much used. And, in keeping with its reflective origins, the surrounding settlement is sedately picturesque: tree-lined lanes, genteel small hotels, boarding houses, and homes, both  holiday and residential. The local people we met there were mostly retired, perhaps a touch eccentric, and often with English connections.

Two miles along the ocean front, Old Orchard Beach could not be more different, the coastal strip lined with down-scale boarding houses, motels and fast food kiosks, all the fun of the pier – a mass of holidaying humanity. Except it wasn’t when we walked there on our first morning. The sky and sea were grey, streets were uncannily empty, tourist shops and the funfair already wrapped up for the winter. So soon! we said.

Summer was definitely done. It was thus a huge relief to find a coffee shop that was still alive and ready to serve us, and it was while we were drinking our take-aways at a table outside that I spotted the header mural on the side of a house wall beside an empty lot. Some of you will have seen it before, but I thought it was just the thing for a pink square reprise – a piece of high summer out of time, a girl forever having fun beside the sea.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

In the Pink #9   Today  Becky’s taken flight – up, up and away.

33 thoughts on “Still Sizzlin’ In Old Orchard Beach ~ Has No One Told her Summer’s Over?

  1. The mural is fabulous! Love the way you reminisce about your late summer holiday. There is always something rather sad about a seaside place that has closed down for the winter.

  2. Summer FEELS over today, but it’s not. It’ll be back in a few days. This is just a brief respite. Even the beach communities stay open later than they used to. The Vineyard used to close completely following Labor Day, but now it’s open all year round. Not every place, but more than half of it.

  3. Love the mural, and that beautiful last shot Tish.
    It wasn’t until T and I moved to England that we began to understand there is a distinction between “the seaside” and “the beach”. We were only familiar with the latter and became endlessly fascinated with exploring the former, usually slightly out of season, and rather in the way that children explore their scabby knees.

    1. That’s v. interesting, Su, the distinction between ‘seaside’ and ‘the beach’. I’d never thought about it before. We have so many seaside resorts that look out of season even when in season. We do a good line in dreary arcades and tat shops. So yes scabby knees image is most apt.

      1. I am smiling at “look out of season even when in season.” That’s exactly what we felt, and I guess it’s true in the sense that changing holiday patterns mean the British seaside has been going out of season since maybe the 1970s.
        The scary thing for me is how NZ beach towns have begun to acquire some of the same characteristics; especially the tat shops ☹️

      2. I agree. I’m discovering totally new beaches in my quest for that mix of exhilaration and peace beaches provide — when they are not invaded with strip malls, huge car parks and gated mansions.

  4. Beautiful capture of the wave in the last photo and the couple rugged up but enjoying the peace of the “seaside” out of season. Like Su says a definite difference between beach and seaside…love how you havecaptured the rather forlorn atmosphere of the seaside out of season

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