Rushing out of the front door I knew I was going to be late for my shift, as usual. He was sitting on the weather-beaten beach chair engrossed in a novel most likely found among the knick- knacks, magazines, and other items innocently tossed on the front table in the shared hallway. In my version I quickly introduced myself and casually mentioned that he could watch television in our unit, since I knew his had no such luxury.  In his version, I looked toward him, slowly leaned over and longingly looked into his deep blue eyes.  Then catching my breath, I seductively suggested he watch tv in my larger and much nicer apartment until I got home from work that evening.  Yet here we are some 20+ years, 2 children, 12+ houses and countless house renovations later, still together. But I am pretty sure my version more closely resembles the truth.

The beach house surprisingly still stands on the corner of 38th and Landis.  The grand old lady is perched proudly on the corner with part of her wrap around porch now converted into extra bedrooms.  In the early 90’s it had been purchased and divided into 3 units with the ability to house what seemed to be more bodies than could ever fit into one clown car.  But, times were different then.  Most summers the units were filled with whichever college students could scrounge together the $700 fee for the full share of the summer rental, or $350 fee to be a “weekender.”  No land line, no cell phones, limited basic cable channels, no video game consoles and no air conditioning forced us all to gather on the front porch evening after evening.  Some of the inhabitants were friends from school, some friends of friends, and some perfect strangers. Most guests who stopped over to join us for a night on the porch were complimentary and not surprised at my summer living situation, my parents were horrified.  To date, we really can’t remember how many people lived there and who in fact actually had paid to live there.  Yet somehow it doesn’t matter, we all had one thing in common: our love of the beach and the summer beach lifestyle.

SIC House 2.4

Love stories happen in towns all over the world. However, when asked where we met we have found there are so many people who have had chance meetings that blossomed into long term relationships in Sea Isle City.  We were two college students on summer hiatus, and that summer we were the waitress and the trash man.  An unlikely couple, me with dark hair and eyes, and him blonde with blue eyes and the pinkest skin I have ever seen.  I would talk to anyone while he preferred to quietly observe and stay off of the radar.  But what drew me in was that he was always looking for fun, and seemingly never let the grass grow under his feet.  He encouraged me to do the same, to always be doing what I loved, to experience life to its fullest and never ever be afraid to take a chance.  So, I took a chance on him.

We spent lazy days basking in the sun on 38th Street beach while attempting to dodge the beach tagger, and just as many late nights walking along the moonlit beaches talking until the sun came up.  We couldn’t wait for the no-shower happy hour at the Carousel Bar, to dance under the low ceilings in the Ocean Drive, to grab a slice at Phil’s pizza, to kayak in the back bay, to squeeze into the sweaty confines of LaCosta lounge, to enjoy a basket of Seafood on Mike’s Dock, or to walk the promenade in the early mornings.

We still talk about that summer, and each year drive our kids past the house to check that she is still there. Most summers there are college age kids gathered on that same porch.  I secretly hope there is a love story in the making, two unlikely people innocently running into each other for the first time on her well-worn porch steps.  I believe these old houses have so many stories to tell, I wish I knew them all. In the end my love of the beach led me to the love of my life and I found him in Sea Isle City.

Picture courtesy of
Picture courtesy of

Tell me why you love Sea Isle City…

Maureen is the principal at Finley & Associates, an Ocean City based design firm specializing in beach house restorations and renovations. She can be reached at (This is an encore posting of this article.)