THIS PLACE WE CALL HOME
By Barbara Doran Dumbar
It was probably around the eighth day of Creation, when the Good Lord looked around and thought, "Something is missing! I had better create something special for all those old hard working human beings who have labored so long throughout their lives -- A place where oceans and sun would be plentiful - a place where they could rest their weary bodies. There would be warmth from the sun, a climate to take the chill out of their bones. FLORIDA was born.
Many millenniums later, a group of people from all walks of life and all different places, seeking out all the promised land offered, journeyed to Florida - and found a little spot of Paradise.
And oh, what a group of characters who decided that of all the places they could find to rest their creaky bones in Florida, Ocean Resorts was the place. So the idea of a Co-op was born. Now, if a producer were to cast a movie or a TV show, imagine what material we could offer. We have street walkers in all sizes and all shapes, parading up and down our streets dressed in shorts in January, or in bathrobes or bathing suits, sweat suits, but thankfully, no birthday suits! We have bike riders pedaling up and down the streets on rusty old bikes. If these people were back North, they would die first before letting anyone see them on such old bikes. We have three wheelers whose owners carry all their goodies in their baskets - maneuvering the corners like Evil Knievel - but thankfully able to take their hands off the handle bars to wave Hi!
Our Park is blessed with tons of bathing beauties. Some of our more talented swimmers put the rest of us to shame by their endurance in swimming, rain or shine, some thirty or forty laps a day. Most of us though, get into our Olympic size heated pool and wiggle our arms and legs. We breathe hard and think - great, I got across the pool. But now I'm in 12 feet of water and can I wiggle back without drowning?
Then, of course, there is the tennis "bug". -- Probably the worse virus that hits Ocean Resorts. Think about it - what person in their right mind leaves a perfectly good bed at the crack of dawn to get up and hit balls across a net? Then when the weather gets hotter than Hades, plays and sweats through three or more hours a day of the enjoyable torture. An onlooker passing by looks in at the tennis players all dressed in their ace bandages, wrist supports, knee, arm and elbow braces - all having a wonderful time, while the Orthopedic Doctor patiently waits with his arthroscope.
More afghans, sweaters and slippers have been made on our beach than probably most knit shops up North. Of course, our climate being what it is, our knitters and crocheters set aside their masterpieces for possibly a cold, winter here. The circle of women coming out to sun bathe, knowing that idle hands are the devil's workshop, sometimes set aside their clicking needles to lather up with sunscreen and frolic in the ocean surf - laughing, falling, giggling. Shades of being like children again!
We also have our card sharks, our bingo addicts, and our men who come home to the heating pad and couch after using those unused muscles trying to play baseball as they did years ago. We have horseshoe champion ringers and golfers patiently waiting to hit a ball down the fairway, waiting some times for two hours to tee off, then embarrassing themselves to have all the other waiters see you hit what should be a "Mulligan"!
We have wash baskets being carried to the laundry by some man who probably has never washed a shirt or sock or even a dish in all of his working life. There he is, trading stories with the man using the next washer - not talking about the stock market, but the advantages of using dry bleach over liquid.
At 9:00 AM sharp on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Richard Simmons controls and shapes our bodies while all the time the conversation dwells on the latest restaurant find or the tasty donuts sold at the donut shop on Rt. 1. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the aerobic exercisers are battling their clogged arteries and pushing their hearts to the max - only dreaming of the tasty donuts. At 12:30 PM, if the weather allows, the girls enter the pool to begin aquatics. Their torture session begins with the stern taskmaster, who for one hour tries to whip their bodies into shape. Constantly having to remind her students they are there for exercise and not to chat. Their half gallon bottles filled with water and their resistance begins. One wonders if the resistance is against the water or the teacher!
There's another group whose therapy consists of meeting together for show and tell. The craft ladies meet and create all those wonderful crafts they just can't live without, but can't live with as there just isn't enough room to store them. So, their lucky children and grandchildren inherit most of the treasures.
We have boaters, all sizes - big ones and little ones. We have fishermen, those who catch and those who waste the bait. - All out there seeking the next catch that all the onlookers in the marina will marvel at and be secretly jealous of. Unfortunately, most of the fish caught is not so secretly admired, by a captive audience of pelicans.
Of course, our real claim to fame is the people - and what a cast of characters. We have accents from the mountains of Virginia to the hills of Tennessee. Our New Yorkers and New Jerseys find the Midwesterners speaking very strangely. And of course, we Midwesterners know it's those East Coast people who talk so funny. We have a Board of Directors whose meeting must make our shareholders feel bored, if you count the number who attend the Board Meetings. -- Unless you count the dog people. Nothing will fill the Rec Hall faster than a so called "dog meeting". Own a dog in Ocean Resorts and soon everyone will know you.
We have the Do-ers and oh, how they Do! -- The volunteers who have given their time, talents, sweat and tears. Blessed are the Do-er's for they shall live in beauty. We have those who don't do and oh, what fun they miss by not giving of themselves. We have the happy people and the not so happy. Pity the poor unhappy ones. Again, they just don't know how to enjoy life. The happy people radiate something that's catching. We have weed pickers, ditch diggers, sausage fryers, popcorn makers, turkey cookers, cake mixers and now kitchen builders. We have so many talents and gifts freely given. We can't forget to mention our almost ready for prime time tap dancing grannies. Sometimes the talent in our place is dangerous.
We have the snoop sisters who aren't even related - and sisters who are! We have mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, brothers and sisters. Why the fickle finger of fate ever led us to this place - we all have a story to tell! Somehow, as you take your two hour bike ride or your morning walk for exercise, have you ever met such a group of people? We're a cross between Gilligan's Island and Cocoon! We are just a bunch of old bodies with young minds and a zest for living. We are family to each other, sharing our tears and joys. We are friends for each other - and, by God, we are blessed!