The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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A Local Perspective
Growing Up in Ocean City
by Bruce Gibbs
July 2016

Bruce Gibbs circa 1960
“Paper Boy” for The Baltimore Sun
Growing up in a small seaside resort was a unique experience by today’s standards.  I was fortunate to have been born in 1948 when Ocean City was a very different place, sort of like a “Mayberry by the Sea.” You knew everyone, and it was a very close-knit community, tied together by your school and church.  I was baptized in the Episcopal Church by Father Dewees, who also confirmed and married me. I attended elementary school where City Hall is today.  My class was the last to graduate from the sixth grade in 1960. The elementary school was moved to West Ocean City, and the school became City Hall.
In those days you could not get into too much trouble because if you had done something wrong, your parents knew all about it before you ever got home. Everyone watched out for each other’s children, good and bad.  
In the summer, the living conditions changed for many of us locals. Our homes were turned into rooming houses so our folks could earn some extra money.  In my family, all of us kids were moved to the sun porch and my parents moved to the dining room. We just hung up curtains to separate the rooms for privacy.  The bedrooms upstairs were rented out to boarders for the season.  It was always fun in the beginning, but by Labor Day we wanted our rooms back. In the spring we had to get the apartments that my parents rented ready for the summer.  One of my jobs was painting the white picket fence every summer. Oh, how I hated that job! Many hours were spent painting, repairing, and trying to hurry up so we could get to the ball field. We played at the 3rd Street ball field and we could hear the kids practicing. 
I got my first job when I was six years old from Ciss and Ted Lauer. They introduced a lot of us local boys to the working world. I sold The Baltimore Sun newspaper. The papers were 5 cents and I got 2 cents for every one I sold. I had my regular customers and sometimes I would get tips.  At six years old, I thought I was rich. My route was from 3rd Street to the inlet, and the fishing docks down on the bay. My father’s family were boat captains and owned the docks and restaurants, so I was a familiar sight down there.  I walked many a mile hawking The Baltimore Sun.
As I got older, it was time to move up in the world and become a beach boy. Many of us local boys worked for Lionel Massey – 3rd Street was my block. You had to get your umbrellas and chairs all set up for the folks that were here for the week, and then you just sat up by the boardwalk and rented out the rest of your stuff by the day. Rates were a bit cheaper then: umbrellas were $1.25, chairs were 75 cents and surf mats were 50 cents.  It was hard work in the hot sun and sand, but the perks were all the pretty girls in bathing suits.

The Ocean City Baseball Team circa 1960.
Coaches Bill Gibbs, Bob Jackson and Jack Mumford.
Players (L to R): Chip Gordy, Guy Ayres, Gordon Wilkins, Darrell Nottingham, Gary Lewis, Jack Mumford, unidentified, Tom Gibbs, unidentified,
Bruce Gibbs, Jimmy Fisher, Billy Gibbs.
Photograph taken on the Baseball Field at 3rd Street and Baltimore Avenue
Courtesy of Bruce and Theresa Gibbs

My next two jobs were at Dolle’s Candyland and Lombardi’s Pizza.  When I worked for Mr. Dolle I learned about the importance of brushing your teeth.  I really like turtles and salt water taffy and ate more than my fair share.  By summer’s end when I went to the dentist, I was in for quite a surprise. I had 13 cavities, and my Dad made me pay my dentist bill … lesson learned!  I then moved on to making pizzas for Mr. & Mrs. Lombardi.  By now I was driving and dating, so I needed gas money and courting money. Once again, not too much money was saved.  Pizzas, as I remember, were 35 cents a slice and drinks were 15 cents.
I married my childhood sweetheart right out of high school and then enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserves.  I had different jobs for a few years before I went to work for the town of Ocean City, where I was employed for 39 years.  I was an ambulance driver with the Fire Department, a police officer, and then transferred to the Department of Public Works.  Over the years I have seen many changes as the town grew from a tiny seaside community to the major resort it has become today. I wish I could turn the clock back to a time when you didn’t have to lock your doors and you knew everyone. I miss Laws’ Store, the Bandshell, walking under the boardwalk looking for money, the old Firemen’s Parade, and the grand old hotels with the rocking chairs and the wonderful dining rooms, when Ocean City stopped at 15th Street, and when the season was only three months long.
Growing up in Ocean City was a special time. We had the small town life for nine months and the city life for three months.  I am retired now and enjoying “the good life” with my wife. Memories are wonderful things. I am blessed to have so many of them and to be able to share them with my grandchildren to give them a glimpse of Ocean City through the eyes of a “good old local boy.”

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