The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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Ocean City's Last Bargain
by Judge William W. Wenner

Eleanor and William Wenner on the beach at 5th Street during 1948.
During one summer in the 1940s, my Mother, Eleanor Watkins Wenner and her best friend, Lillian Offutt left Bethesda, Maryland with their children to spend a weeks? vacation at popular Betterton Beach on the Chesapeake Bay. It was my mother, my sister and me in one car and Aunt Lil with her two boys in the other car. Aunt Lil's husband was dead, and my Father, who was a grocer and dairy farmer stayed home. My Dad, William Baker Wenner, was a native of Brunswick, had been in France during World War I, and seldom left home.

When we reached Easton, Mother and Aunt Lil realized that they had missed the turn off to Betterton Beach. They discussed what they should do; one of them said that they had heard of Ocean City, and they decided to go there for a week instead. We arrived in Ocean City by way of a ferry, and the old bridge, and decided to stay at The Caroline Hotel, on Caroline Street. The hotel was owned, and managed by "Pop" Mumford and his family, and the food was excellent.

In those days, Mother and Aunt Lil and we kids would go to Ocean City for three weeks in July, and a week over Labor Day Weekend. Ocean City literally rolled up its sidewalks after Labor Day Week. The season began on Memorial Day and ended on Labor Day.

After we had spent several years at The Caroline Hotel, Mr. Mumford who was also a realtor suggested to Mother that she purchase a duplex house on N. 5th Street, which he knew was for sale, saying that she could reserve time there for her family, rent it throughout the season, and with the rental money pay off the mortgage on the property, which she did.

My Dad still would not come to Ocean City, until one day Pop Mumford said that if Dad would just drive to the ferry, and park his car there, that he would meet us, take us to Ocean City, and return us to the ferry when we were ready to go home. Dad agreed to this. From then, until his dying day in 1959, Ocean City was his place. He and Mother would frequently leave home at four thirty on a Sunday morning, drive to Ocean City, spend the day, and drive home that evening.

We would always go to Ocean City for Easter Sunday weekend. We would often "eat out" at The Regal Restaurant, which was located on Caroline Street, where the Soprano Pizza place is now. That wonderful restaurant advertised "Chicken In the Pan, Eat it With Your Hand."

My mother purchased this duplex on Fifth Street during the 1940s and named it Pic'-A- Wenner, a name that my father hated.
Since there was no heat in the house, we would get in bed at night, Dad would have us pull up our sheets, place news-papers on top of the sheets, pull up our blankets, and we had a warm, good night's sleep. In order to have gas with which to cook, it was necessary to put a coin in a slot machine that hung on the kitchen wall, and the same for water. Mother and Dad rented the property during the season through Dale Ayers, and named it "Pic' -A- Wenner," which Dad hated. Of course, they reserved three weeks in July, and ten days over Labor Day Weekend for themselves.

After Dad died in early '59, Mother remarried and lived in Ocean City from May through September, and rented the properties herself, with the help of John Rolfe, after Dale Ayres had died. Mother later acquired what we knew as the Campbell Property, also at 5th Street and several other properties such as the ugly log houses located on Philadelphia Avenue, adjacent to "Pic'-A- Wenner," which, happily, are now long gone. We were neighbors of Al and Bea Berger.

One of my mother?s new brothers-in-law from her second marriage asked her if she would buy him a nearby rental property and add it to her rentals. She purchased for him what she called The Dale Property, located at 206 N. 5th Street which my wife and I purchased from him after Mom died. We refer to it as Ocean City's "last bargain," because he had paid the Dale Ayres family $11,000 for the property, and we purchased it from him for $14,000.

"Ocean City's "last bargain," sits on a fifty by one-hundred foot lot, contains three bedrooms, is heated and air-conditioned, and we are there at least twice a month.

Although we rented it for several years, only to friends, we soon learned that we made only enough money to pay the local taxes. Consequently, it is now a home, which we love.

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