When I was a kid, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as we used to call it, was the kickoff to summer. You could wear white shoes and summer dresses. Even though school was still in session, you’d listen closely to the radio for the early morning temperature. I always thought that if it was 70 in the morning, it was going to be a great beach day. I grew up on the Jersey shore, really the beach. Only New Yorkers and North Jerseyites called it the shore. On Decoration Day weekend, we would go to the beach for the first time in the season. From then on we’d go as much as possible. Sometimes we’d go with our mom or someone else’s mom or on special days with our grandmother. We’d check the big chalkboard for the ocean temperature and the tides. Ooh, 68 degrees, really quite swimmable when you are young. It was the season for strawberry twizzlers, yoohoos and hotdogs. And waiting an hour after lunch before you could go in the water again. It was bliss.

Later as a teenager and through college years, it was a place to get tan (or sunburned in my case), listen to your very modern portable radio and try to attract boys. The beach after dark was particularly exciting. Spreading a blanket in the dark with your boyfriend was pretty risqué. Sometimes we’d go down to Asbury Park and ride the circuit calling out to the kids in other cars. Then maybe we’d stop for some of the best pizza in the world in Long Branch. What a great place to grow up.

I know that Memorial Day is a time to remember other young men and women who gave their lives for our country. They made idyllic days like the ones I remember possible.

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