Always abuzz, the store was the heart of the park; so full of life, love and conflict. I was as much part of the activities there as part of the audience, and grew to love everything about the place. But then, the board decided to close the store.Memories of the store are still fresh in the minds of the many who loved it too. Although none of our memories or perspectives will be exactly the same, we can feast on some memories again.
It was years ago when we pulled into Bryn Mawr Campground for some fun,
Then walked into the store building where everything was done.
It became our favorite vacation place near the sand,
Where two bridges take us to the main land.
It became known as Ocean Resorts, Co-op later on,
Where memories of the store will never be gone.
When the cold winter hits, we drive to this place,
Where everyone moves at their own pace,
And like a puppy wagging his tail,
The ladies were there to greet us without fail.
"Ding ding," sounds the bell as I open the door,
The air familiarly electrified as many years before.
I glance at the displays and press further in,
It's time for vacation to begin.
The dark-haired lady shouts a greeting and flashes a smile,
"Ker plink," sound the coins as I proceed down an aisle.
I go to our camper and prepare for a walk,
Then step along quickly to beat the clock.
I greet the beach like an old lost friend,
Arms lifted, I take a deep breath in.
The heat of the day has already begun,
My skin now feels a kiss of the sun.
A cool breeze brushes my hair,
Reminding me that nature tries to be fair.
After walking on the beach, my mouth was very dry,
I thought if I wait until I'm home, I'll surely die.
"Ding ding," went the bell as I walked into the store,
Favoring the foot that was so sore.
At the rear of the store I picked up a drink,
Eager to down it to bring me back from the brink.
I pulled the change from my bag,
As I handed it to the lady, a man brushed past me with a flag.
Then sat at a table and joined the other men there;
They were older with little or white hair.
One worked a crossword puzzle while the others swapped stories about the war.
"Ding, ding," a young blond-haired boy stumbled into the store,
Blood dripping from his knee onto the floor.
The old soldier stood and rushed to his side,
Then tended to the boy's wounds before heading back outside.
"Thank you," the boy shouted as he grinned down at the patch,
Then charged outside to play more catch.
Two pony-tailed girls giggle dreamily at the jewelry display;
Their eyes sparkle like water on a sunny day.
Are they imagining themselves as princesses? Who is to say?
They spin around on small sandaled toes before walking away.
A middle-aged man stands at the open window asking for directions to the home of a friend.
The dark-haired lady grills him carefully before letting him in.
"Ding ding," sounds the bell,
A sunburned lady rushes in shouting about another lot owner raising hell,
The dark-haired lady pauses then calmly assures her all will be well.
Fingers click as two women fumble through tee-shirts making plans for their trip on the sea,
While a young man questions the lady about how to buy a gate key.
The short lady spoke, "I don't have a car today and a friend will be stopping by,
I can buy a loaf of bread for lunch; maybe even items for a pie."
The little red-haired boy's eyes shone above sunburned cheeks,
His small hand holds the ice cream he claims he'd wanted for weeks.
Finally, the dark-haired lady sat and pulled a brown bag into her lap,
She wearily bit down into her sandwich and mumbled something about a nap.
Naps aren't possible; this she knows,
Hopefully, she'll get to eat lunch before time to close.
Next, a gray-haired lady walked in,
Then stood next to the mail bin.
As she sat her sandwich down to answer the phone,
The gray-haired lady glared, then began to groan.
So, with one hand in the register and the other on the phone, she hands the older lady change,
And I wanted to get far out of the angry lady's range.
A small crowd mingles in front of the store and laugh at the hairless-man's jokes;
It's normal to find him entertaining the folks.
His teeth flash a grateful grin as his rubbery neck stretches toward the sun,
This, we all know, is his way of having fun.
At this park, the store is the place so vibrant and alive,
Whether here during the day or after five.
There suddenly were rumors about closing the store,
Some folks were saying we couldn't afford it anymore.
I couldn't imagine anyone doing such a thing,
The very thought saddened the core of my being.
After dark, folks would gather there,
Sharing stories about their lives everywhere.
It is the heart of the park where folks joined to laugh and cry,
Yet I learned there are folks that don't go there and would rather it die.
On the mainland groceries are cheaper they implore,
Not truly understanding the entire purpose of the store.
A feisty lady from the board approached me with a frown,
Vowing she'd do all she could to close the place down.
"I don't use it anyway," she beamed up at me.
"But, others do," I countered, "Can't you see?"
Her icy eyes darkened then peered at the ground,
This would be our first round.
Snowflakes had been falling almost every day,
So we made plans to visit our winter hide-a-way.
After many hours on ninety-five,
We finally made it tired, but alive.
On A1A, there stood the store at the side,
Reminding us it was worth the long ride.
I parked the car then walked toward the store;
It looked like it did the year before.
"Ding ding," sounded the bell as I walked in alone,
Shelves are empty, and the cash register is gone.
The smells of food no longer exist,
Gone is the jewelry, toys, and things too many to list.
The hollow sound of my footsteps echo off the walls,
Outside, there is a crying sound of sea gulls.
Where are the ladies who greeted me in the past?
It was unthinkable that this store wouldn't last.
I longed to hear the sound of "ker plink" again,
To hear folks laughing and flashing an easy grin.
Where are all the people that once moved about?
Now they must find another route.
The happy puppy greeting is gone forevermore,
A storm is brewing, and the ocean lets out a roar,
There's nobody coming into the store,
I look down at the bare, cold floor,
My body shivers at the death of the place,
Then hot tears stream down my face.
Below is photo of Paul & Lois's son and
his family enjoying ice cream purchased
at the Store.