Thursday, February 9, 2012

Memories of the Neskowin Beach House

Neskowin Beach House 1962

I would stick my head out the window eager for the sweet smell of ocean air, squirming in my seat, barely under control, and ask for the umpteenth time, “Aren’t we there yet?” 

In the summer of 1958, we were on our way to the beach cabin for three weeks. My younger sister and brother and I, the oldest at ten, sat crammed together in the back seat of the Pontiac amid boxes, books, sacks of food, toys, blankets and other necessary items for our extended stay. 

The weather-worn beach cabin sat at the top of a sand ridge and from there you could hear the dull roar of the ocean and see its blue expanse, but not the waves themselves. A two-block flat section in front, filled with tall skinny stalks of lime-green pokey grass and purple-flowered stinging nettles, had to be trekked before you climbed over the last big dune to the glorious white sand beach and the ocean. We made clever paths around the plants, jumping from rock to sand to driftwood to avoid being poked or stung on our bare legs or feet.

The rugged wooden deck along the back of the cabin faced the road and a golf course across the street. The deck became a source of several major foot splinters, as we were always running and usually without shoes. Dad paid five cents for each golf ball we found and we would take our earned nickels and walk to the country store to buy penny candy from barrels lined up across the front of the counter. The store smelled of cinnamon, and the shiny wood floor felt cool and smooth on our rough bare feet.

“Will it be the licorice, the jaw breaker, or the peppermint today?” the grocer would ask.

The house had a living room with a hide-a-bed and fireplace, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen with an ancient stove that Dad had to light a fire in before Mom could make coffee or breakfast every morning. 

I slept on the hide-a bed in the living room, and one night a bat came down the chimney. I was terrified and hid under the covers while Dad killed it with a broom. The next morning we were amazed to see how far the paper-thin wings spread out and how scary it looked.

Mom would set out a 500-piece jig saw puzzle on a card table and we would add pieces to the picture, finishing it by the end of the vacation. At night we played Hearts or Gin Rummy, or read. Dad always took me to the school library to check out my favorite books, Sue Barton Student Nurse and the Nancy Drew Mysteries to read while I was there. 

The handsome horses from the stables at the end of the street attracted me like the flies around them. Dad would rent the one I picked out and lead us, usually two at a time, around the streets of the small town. When I turned twelve, I could ride the horses on the hour-long tail rides down on the beach and became inevitably smitten by the leader, usually a cute teen-aged boy.

This special time in my life exemplified complete carefree family time. We stayed and played together during trips to that magical cabin for the five years it owned us. In 1963, Dad sold the beach house to build a Sports Camp, and the rest of our summers growing up were spent working there. Ah, yet another memorable story for another time.


  1. You have wonderful memories of summers at the beach!! I can visualize you savoring each and every day you spent carefree, young and happy.

    Thanks for sharing these special moments and what they meant to you. I can't wait to hear about the Sports Camp!

  2. Nice memoir, Parrot Writes. Your descriptive language took me to the beach. ~LJ

  3. Thanks ladies! This memoir became a trip down memory lane for my brother and I as we dug out pictures and talked about what we remembered during those summers at the beach house. It was bittersweet, because we have lost our Dad and Sister, and this past November, Mom. But just this week, my brother has purchased a beach house in another small Oregon coastal town and is excited to start building family memories there with his children (and us-yeah!)

  4. Good morning, Parrot Writes ~ I'm sorry for the loss of your mother and especially for the loss of your sister. The loss of a sibling is a loss I understand all too well. I lost my only brother 20+ years ago. (Ironically, I was at a rented beach house with family members when we learned of his death.) You and your brother are very fortunate to have one another. Cherish one another and the memories you share, as I'm sure you do. Congrats on the new family beach house. ~LJ

  5. Oh grandma - that was wonderful! I can see it in my minds eye. Now I understand a bit more why you like to head to the beach so much. =) Seeing the pictures adds to the landscape of the story. So wonderful, I can just imagine it. I hope you guys had lots of good fun, more memories to add and NO SPLINTERS to your feet for this weekend. =) <3

  6. What a wonderful picture you painted for us! I was TOTALLY there - your descriptions were spot-on and crystal clear.

    Thanks for the mini-vacation.

  7. Oh I love this! It reminds me so much of our family's cabin on Lake Huron. It looks like it was built in the same era as yours & we, too, had so much NATURE to play in. Where we live now is nothing like that & I'm afraid of rattlesnakes so I'd never let my son play in real nature here anyway. Oh, I miss those times!

  8. It was a trend in the Descriptive Writing class I'm taking to write a memoir about appreciating the simpler times of our childhood. Lots of memories came back when I dug out the pictures.

  9. So fun to hear more about your times down at that house! Dad used to drive us down near where that house used to be if we were in that area at the beach. Thanks for sharing :)