When I was a kid, my mom would tell me about this beach, about Uncle Billie's at the end of the pier, and about the Golden Key Club where the most beautiful women she had ever seen worked (turns out they were drag queens). At the time North Beach was a summer city, full of cottages left vacant during the winter, full of vacationers looking to drink too much and gamble. The beach of her childhood was raucous and a little crass, a giant carnival. There were bars on every corner, hotels sprinkled through the neighborhoods, a bingo hall, places to rent inner tubes, segregated beaches.
By the time I was here as a kid, this beach had quieted down. The little stretch of sand was usually rather empty. The Oasis served bad french fries and scoops of bubble gum flavored ice cream to the few kids braving the jelly fish infested waters, though my mom and aunts didn't call them jelly fish: to them, they will always be sea nettles. There was no longer a net guarding the shores.There was a waterfront IGA that I found any excuse to walk to during the day: a roll of toilet paper, an ingredient needed for dinner, a pack of Bubble Yum.
The beach of my childrens' childhood is an altogether different place still: packed on weekends with day trippers from Northern Virginia and Prince George's County, paying 12 dollars to find a few square feet to lay their beach towels. There is no longer a grocery store, but we walk past the post office where my grandmother was the post master for 22 years on our way to the bakery that made my wedding cakes. And the generations whisper to each other about what was here and what is still to come.