I love living in Ocean City and hope those born and raised in this county have felt as blessed as me by being part of the Cape May County family.
Those that have moved here by choice surely realize God’s hands have blessed us to be able to share the joys of living in this marvelous area.
The upside, or maybe downside, depending on the viewpoint, is that most find living in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay brings visitors. My husband and I have friends who never visited us on the West Coast but are happy to see us now. I am sure those born and raised here probably entertain extended family as much as the rest of us.
The county's beaches are lovely, and the ocean is clean. That, alone, brings thousands of tourists but is well known to everyone that lives here – once friends and family (and even the occasional acquaintance) find out there is a guest room available within walking distance or a short drive of the water, they consider it a veritable free vacation.
My husband and I bought a small house when we moved to Ocean City, in the 1980s, which is now our permanent abode. Our house has one bedroom of limited proportions and an even smaller room we use as our home office/reading room. We did not have a separate guest room, so any guests would stay in the tiny room, and we all shared one bathroom.
Both of us come from large families, and of course, everyone wanted to visit us (or was it possibly the beach?) each year. We both worked full time, and early on, our sleep-deprived bodies realized we promptly needed a separate guest room and bath. We had only two spaces that might work, a lean-to built on the back of the house, and a room that came with our stand-alone garage.
When we first viewed our house, the garage appeared as a double-car garage, but only with one garage door and a bay window where the other garage door should be. The door leading from the garage to the adjoining room was locked, as was the exterior door to that space, so we weren’t sure what we were getting, but we bought the house anyway.
It was a tight market, we wanted to live in Ocean City particularly, and my husband is handy with home repairs, so we took our chances. When we finally signed on the dotted line, we found out what was in that space.
Whereas the floor in the garage was slightly cracked cement, the cement floor in the other room was falling into a gap that must have been created by sand and dirt being washed out beneath it. On the plus side, the room came with a cold-water half-bath.
We found out later from an elderly neighbor that a contractor built our house and lived in it with his family. He used the room in the garage as his office.
After our first sleepless summer with too many people in our house coming and going at all hours, my husband set to work creating a guest room. He built a nice wooden floor suspended above the cracked cement, and we freshly painted everything. We furnished the new guest room with terrific finds from end-of-season trash days and garage sale bargains.
We finally had a guest room with its own half-bath and an outdoor shower.
For many years, family and friends would come and go every week from June through September. We kept a calendar, and the guests had to sign up early to get "their" week. They also had to be out by Saturday morning because I was washing the sheets and towels and making food for the next group.
Looking back, I know it was something we could only do with God’s provision because everyone was short of funds at that point in life. No one complained, however, and we made it work.
We ate lots of hotdogs, hamburgers, salads and fresh fruit. We played endless games of dominos, and we still do because the garage guest room still works to this day.
The garage room received a lovely makeover after Superstorm Sandy, as we finally were forced to have the dirt filled in and new cement poured, new flooring on top of the cement, and new walls below the flood line. For the first time, we bought a brand new bed and daybed, too. Of course, I sterilized and kept some of the washable furniture - what would the place be without some nostalgia?
Honestly, I don’t know how we did it. I can’t thank the Lord enough for the strength and perseverance to work full-time jobs and come home to a house full of people waiting to be fed.
Thankfully, we now have friends and relatives for about four weeks during the summer, with enough time in between to enjoy some special time in Ocean City ourselves.
For those still in the process of hosting family and friends each summer, I wish for fond times and memories. I pray God watches over everyone as we share this wonderful life we have in Cape May County with those that can only enjoy it for a week or so each year. I especially enjoy this time of year as we wrap up summer, breathe deeply, and go out and enjoy everything that our area has to offer while the weather still maintains summer's scent.
God’s handiwork is seen everywhere, from the sunrise's multiple colors to the ocean, greenery and flowers through the day until the sun loses its last color-filled ray at sunset. Indeed, we are blessed.
If ever we are feeling blue, go out, sniff the salt air, and take a walk to see our Creator’s great gift to us.
ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City.