With a boat we could get out to the breakwater where Waquoit Bay emptied into Martha’s Vineyard Sound. Here was a pristine beach where we were in our own world with people on passing boats the only other humans for miles. We’d pitch a tent and spend idyllic weekends swimming in those warm, crystal clear waters, fishing off the jetty, playing with hermit crabs, rowing out to the sand bars to explore, taking an occasional boat trip along the coast as far as Cotuit and on really calm days, even venturing over to the Vineyard. We didn’t even have sleeping bags but slept on blankets spread out on the sand, wiggling around to make depressions to fit our bodies. A morning ritual was a dip before breakfast with only the terns and seagulls for companions.
Dad did all the cooking right out on the beach on a Coleman stove. Blueberries and strawberries purchased from roadside stands on our Friday trips down were a welcome addition to our meals that usually featured Prudence Corned Beef Hash and Dinty Moore’s Stew. Another gourmet addition to our diet was blue claw crabs that abounded in the rivers and ponds. We would balance ourselves precariously in the skiff and armed with a dip net, pole silently along until we spotted our wily prey and then make a wild lunge for it. Our success rate was about 25% but the few we caught were well worth the effort. I still prefer those succulent crabs to lobster!
My mother—a Massachusetts native and an old-fashioned lady who only wore dresses until the day she died at age 92—was not a camper and did not swim. She often chose not to accompany us on those Spartan trips. She was subject to motion sickness and claimed she could get seasick standing on the dock. After Dad built the cottage, she loved rocking on the porch and watching the boats go by. Always a great cook, our meals were far superior to our camping diet when she was around.