“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon …. the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 

Henry James, 1843-1916

Of course it’s a wonderful time and  I know that; I’m on my seventy-ninth.  I began summers growing up on the beaches of Absecon Island.  As a bonus my parents rented our Margate home to Philadelphians and we moved to a boat house on pilings on the thorofare in Ventnor.  I spent hot and hazy summer days catching minnows to sell to fishermen for twenty-five cents a dozen.

Yes, warm breezes on hot sand; the sound of waves breaking, lulling one to sleep; the cries of the gulls; and maybe even a gin and tonic with sunset.  But for a photographer there is a paucity of pixel possibilities.  The soporific days make me reluctant to take up the camera and click a shutter.  Pearl’s got it right.

Please, I’m napping.

The scenes of a summer afternoon abound, enjoyable just watching others enjoy them.

The clouds in the above scene reminded me of  N.C. Wyeth’s beach giant, pictured below, a favorite of mine since my friends, Buz and Dave, gave us a print years ago.  For me it evokes memories of  childhood on the beach and fantasies in the clouds.  Wyeth painted the scene here in my summer hometown, Beach Haven, in 1923 and the original hangs at the Westtown School for whose class of 1910 Wyeth created the painting.  The five children on the right are N.C.’s children, including the blond headed Andrew.  The child on the left is thought to be William Engle, a close friend of Wyeth’s who tragically succumbed to tuberculosis as a young man.  Engle’s uncle, Robert, built the long-gone Engleside Hotel in Beach Haven in 1876, and young William worked there several summers.

I’m frequently struck by the gathering of flip-flops, left here as their owners walk on to the beach.  I’ve always felt sorry for the flip-flops never actually getting onto the beach.  The occurrence of single “flops” is also interesting.

Make sure you pick out your own pair.

If they did make it to the beach here’s what they’d get to enjoy.

A flag-snapping afternoon.

13 Responses to “SOME SUMMER SCENES”

  1. Kathleen Lapergola Says:

    Love all of these images Ralph. I was born with my toes in the Sand. These bring back great childhood memories. Thanks for sharing.

  2. John Giatropoulos Says:

    Your marvelous commentary (esp liked the single flip flop rumination!) enhanced my appreciation of your images which clearly hold wonderful meaning for you…and the combination of words and pics conveys that perfectly. Very nice!

  3. Mike Pillows Says:

    My summer memories were of my mother and father packing us and the giant metal cooler for a day at Island Beach St. Park. Surfing the waves on rafts until we were sunburnt and bruised. Thanks for the memories 🙂

  4. Denise Bush Says:

    Nice post Ralph. Sounds like you are having a good summer.

  5. Jane Weston Says:

    Enjoyed learning the history of “the giant”–thanks for sharing this message!

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Jane. Yep, that’s one of those Quaker things. Buz and Dave dined under the original in the Westtown dining room and gave us the print for our first shore house in O.C. The connection to the Engelside Hotel is interesting also as that was known as a destination for Mount Holly, Burlington and Philadelphia Quakers here at Beach Haven, and is a subject I cover on my weekly walking tour of historic Beach Haven. The hotel fell on hard times, became delinquent on its taxes and was torn down by the borough in 1943. Sic Transit Gloria.

  6. Ralph Berglund Says:

    Thanks, Mike, Kathy, John and Denise. See you all in September if not at the Smithville show.

  7. Dave and Buz Says:

    Thanks for the plug, Ralph. The Giant is magnificent, both for real and for imagination. Dave and Buz

  8. NANCY Says:

    I’d never seen Wyeth’s Giant. Thanks for combining him with your wonderful pictures and flowing phrases.

  9. Joanna Patterson Says:

    The Jersey Shore: Great place, and wonderful photos to give us flash-backs to our earlier years.
    I was surprised and delighted to see the image of “The Giant”, which most Westtonians cherish including my father, his brother and sister and all seven of my mother’s siblings. I took a photo of my aunt and uncle (on my father’s side) in front of this image five years ago when they were 92 and 90. They loved having this reminder of their high school days at Westtown.
    Thanks, Ralph

  10. Jan Says:

    Wonderful photos Ralph. I love the shore in the summer. If you like NC Wyeth, you would like Jamie. His “Farm Work” paintings will be on display at the Brandywine River Museum through Sept 11.
    And of course his famous “Pig” will be there.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Jan. Yes, N.C. and Andrew have always been favorites of mine as well as N.C.’s contemporaries including Howard Pyle (N.C.’s mentor), and Maxfield Parrish, both of whom studied at PAFA and Drexel. N.C. studied under Pyle; I don’t know whether Parrish did. N.C.’s work and Pyle’s work have a kind of common denominator; Parrish’s work is different. I don’t know that much about Jamie but I’ve seen and been impressed by The Pig on occasion at the Brandywine Museum.

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