POPULAR RESORT TOWNS, PAST AND PRESENT,
TAKE CENTER STAGE IN TWO NEW BOOKS
Playland: Greetings From Ocean City, Maryland
There is a world-famous amusement park in Rye, NY, called Playland, but sure as the salty goodness of Thrasher’s fries or a hole-in-one at Old Pro Golf, it’s not the only Playland worth writing about. And just like those Ocean City Boardwalk icons, writer Earl Shores captures the exquisite nostalgia of Playland on 65th Street, one of OC’s original family-fun amusements destination. Shores recounts, both fictionally and factually, his unforgettable summer of 1980, during which the then young college student worked at the park as a ride operator. It was a time when rides like the Paratrooper, Loop-O-Plane and Octopus carried the day, and beach-house roommates filled the air with the smell of Old Bay, left over from sweaty, crustacean-filled shifts at Phillips. Even if you’re not a four-generation OC vacationer, like Shores’ family is, the gossamer tales of surfing and suntan lotion spread over young muscles with hair the color of wheat, of pretty girls in bikinis in the daytime and equally nubile name-patch servers in the restaurants at night, it will, somehow, feel all-too-familiar to you. Along the way, you will revisit some of Ocean City’s most legendary people and places while learning more about the intricacies of this historic venue than you ever thought possible.
A YEAR ON THE TUMP
Poet Rachel Field wrote: “If once you have slept on an island, you’ll never be quite the same.” That sententious truth is enchantingly explored by Daniel P.T. Thomas in his new, ironically titled book, A Year on the Tump (Tump is an Irish word meaning “an insignificant, uninhabitable chunk of land in the shape of a hill or mound sticking out of the water”), yet there is nothing insignificant about Thomas’ book or its subject, the ethereal Chincoteague Island. Plying straightforward, unadorned prose with the precision of a surgeon, this retired educator and artist elegantly chronicles a year on Chincoteague — including the island’s 37 square miles (only 10 of which are dry) and all three traffic lights — broken down by season, from when he and his spouse first put a downpayment on their island house, through the marshes’ springtime rebirth, the annual summertime Pony Penning and a memorable pontoon excursion with the colorful Captain Barry, to the autumn shift of the island’s zeitgeist, and on to Christmas and New Year Chincoteague-style. For Shore dwellers, the book (featuring Thomas’ beautiful artwork) will provide nourishing reassurance; for everyone else, it is a loving epistle of a bewitching place that is sure to inspire a legion of converts.