The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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Underage at the Beach Club
An Ocean City Girl
by Janet Holland Cherrix
2006

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Janet Holland as a teenager, says the Beach Club was the place to go.
Where does one start in recollecting childhood memories of growing up in Ocean City?

It was a life of freedom, the tang of salt air and day following day of playing on the beach and riding the waves. We lived on the corner of 10th St. and Baltimore Ave. where we could see the ocean from the front porch and the grandeur of the George Washington Hotel. The boardwalk still ended at 15th St. and looking north you saw a series of sand dunes. The boardwalk and beach were like an extension of our yard for my parents could send us up there on our own without fear. The 40's and 50's were an innocent time and with the small population of the town you had the feeling it was like a large family with one looking afterthe other.

In the 50's, two of the liveliest spots on the boardwalk were the Beach Club and Jackson's Casino located between 9th and 10th Streets. Jackson's Casino had slot machines and blackjack tables and featured big band music. The Beach Club was like a big beer hall with a bar running along the length of one wall. My sister, Sandra, and I were in our early teens but with help of considerable makeup we looked older. We had great fun trying to sneak past the doorman, Powell Esham, at the Beach Club who had a wooden leg. We would wait until a crowd accumulated at the door and Powell was distracted and then we would find a way past. The bar, the energy and the raucous feeling emanating from the Club was a powerful draw and if you were lucky you might even see a fight. George Evans, the manager, would eventually spot us in the crowd and get the word out " The Holland girls are here, better call Robe (my father) and tell him to come get them"!

Next to the Beach Club was Jackson's Casino. It was not so easy to get in there but we could peek in the door and see the beautifully dressed crowd and hear the music. Although gambling was not legal then there were slot machines and it was rumored that both places held high stakes card games. My grandmother would give us coins to play the slots.

Yes, it was a glorious time. The beach during the day and the boardwalk at night. In that context I guess times have not changed all that much but the feeling of "family" has gone with the change in population. It seems like only yesterday that one could stand in the middle of Baltimore Ave. in the winter and not see a car or any lights in a house except our own, and the expression said by locals on Labor Day, "The last one leaving town please turn out the lights" really had true meaning.


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