SUMMER’S FIRST G&T

Yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s not summer yet but it sure felt like it.  The Memorial Day weekend was mighty fine.  I said to the family that it was as though we had been in a winter time warp;  then someone pulled the switch and we fell out into last August.  Bagels from the Bagel Shack; three trips a day to Murphy’s to get the food items we forgot to get earlier; fisherman and crabbers at the foot of the street;  flip-flops lined up at the beach entrance; surfers and beach walkers; the ice-cream guy’s bells; roller blades on West Avenue…

We enjoyed it while looking anxiously over our shoulders, half expecting the nice weather to be pushed away.  But, it didn’t happen even though we all remember wet, cold, Memorial Days in the past.  Clearly, the season has begun and we’re pleased that neither spring nor summer have forgotton how to do it right.  The Purple Martins know it; they returned to their condos a few weeks ago.

The celebration day was beautifully clear at Beach Haven’s Veterans’ Bicentennial Park, ready for the ceremony at the gazebo. 

The parade was “down-home” with the Mayor, our friend Professor Commissioner Nancy Davis, the Boy Scouts, the antique cars, Missy and John Maschal in their early 20th C., wood-sided Fudge Truck , the fire engines and first-aiders, and a super marching band.

During the service, veterans were invited to gather before the podium.  Feeling inadequate in the presence of those who had been in harm’s way I went up anyway, proud to have served my country.  I never fired a shot in anger but I served, helping to maintain our defense establishment with the Atlantic Fleet Seabees in Morocco, Spain, and Puerto Rico.  Here’s Bergie and his construction company of Seabees in front of a completed vital defense structure (a base commissary ;-))  (For this I had to master navigation and seamanship??)

The Memorial Day Pig Roast was fun and filling.  Fun also to see old friends again to begin the season.

Other signs of the seasonal change are here.  There’s usually a tiki of some sort nailed to the top of a post along the boardwalk from the street to the beach.  Here’s this year’s…whimsical and endearing.

And, just by that walkway are the beach roses, Rosa Rugosa, sometimes called Nantucket Roses, which are most lush and prolific at this time of year:

This is also the season for the exotic, beautiful mountain laurel blossoms.  The reddish cast, a departure from the usual light pink, is rare for the area, and is seen mostly in the nearby pine barrens.

And, finally, the regal,delicate ballerina, the iris.

The G&T?  Oh, yeah, we had a couple.

MEMORIAL DAY – 5/31/2010

No landscapes today.  It has been a day of memories and nostalgia.  My father, LeRoy, served in France during World War I and I have been thinking about him.  Here he is with some of his buddies:

He didn’t waste much time after the November 1918 Armistice as he married my mother-to-be on May 30, 1919. The next day, Memorial Day, ninety-one years ago today, they enjoyed a picnic at Lenape Park at Mays Landing, NJ where the above picture on the right was taken. I’ve always thought he had a cat-swallowed-the-canary smile.

Partly because of that first visit, Lenape Park became a family destination on Memorial Day for a picnic for many years. In my grammer school years the day began with a parade from the Granville Avenue School in Margate to the War Memorial on Ventnor Avenue at Mansfield. Yep, that’s Bergie carrying the flag, all serious, and giving his best side to the photographer.

Then, if the weather were decent and it wasn’t always, off to Lake Lenape for a picnic, swimming, canoeing, and merry-go-round rides. In later years we tried it again, maybe twice after marriage. The scene below was taken at Lenape Park, probably pre-1959 (no kids visible), with Marty Lou, me, my parents and the dog, Snippie.  It wasn’t a nice day as I recall and it certainly doesn’t look like anyone else was there, either.  I almost drove down there today to try and reconnect with the past but I didn’t.

On Memorial Day I also think about my brother, Bill, who, as a marine artillery forward observer, was part of the first waves of most amphibious landings from Guadacanal to Kwajalein.  He had become an atheist in college but during and after the war he said, as did others, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  I spoke with him once, expressing my awe at what he and thousands of others endured, wondering whether or not I could have done it.  I think the answer is that one does what one has to and we’ll think about it later.  In any event he unpredictably wound up as the Reverend Berglund.  He left us in 2005 and I miss him.  My memorial for him is here.

Major John William Berglund, USMC