In these texts, Amy describes a family tradition of gathering at a Beach House in North Carolina every year.
My whole life, my family has gotten together for one week Beach Week, uh, at Topsail Beach which is on the south, um, the southern coast of North Carolina where the South Carolina-North Carolina border is.
Now, the beach itself is like any beach, I guess, in North Carolina. It’s, it’s really nice sandy, large, you know, beach. But the house that we stay in- it’s the same one that we’ve stayed in every year – and it’s not just my mom, dad, my brother and I. It’s, it’s actually my father’s side of the family. It’s my extended family. My father and his three sisters. And, um, and my cousins, and sometimes other family members will come and stay, but…but essentially, it’s, it’s those four families and their kids.
Now, at this beach house there’s no, there’s no air conditioning, um, so it’s always pretty hot, but there’s also no, um, TV, um, or really any contact with the outside world, um, we didn’t have a telephone for a long time, though there is one, there is a telephone there now. And so as kids, we really had to ?nd things to do to entertain ourselves, and not just as kids, I think that my parents and my aunts and their husbands – we all, we all had to ?nd things to do to entertain ourselves.
Now, my father has a hard time sitting still, and h… so.. from the – as…as long as I can remember, he’s always been a collector. He’s gone out and collected, um, speci?cally shark’s teeth. And on this particular beach is a place where there…there’s always shark’s teeth that have come up,…washed up on the beach with shells – little pieces of shells and stuff. And so he just pace…will pace up and down the beach, uh, in order to ?nd sharks’ teeth.
Now, in order to make it exciting, it’s become a family competition. Uh, it’s either…two different competitions I guess. We’ve added different ones, depending on what type of teeth we’ve found, but.. um, one would be who can ?nd the most teeth, and the other one is who can ?nd the most unique teeth – or tooth. And , uh, my father always wins. I should tell you that. Because he, um, is a little stubborn.
He’s also not very smart. Um, every year he gets sunburned. Now, you might think, yeah, so what, people get sunburned at the beach, but my father only gets sunburned on his feet because he…the sharks’ teeth are right at where the water breaks or not at where it breaks, but where it hits the sand. And, so he has to walk back and forth, and the lotion that he’s already put, the suntan…the sunblock that he’s put on his feet, gets washed off by the, the waves, and he doesn’t re-coat his feet often enough, and so by the middle of the week, he can’t even walk, but he’s determined to win this competition of whose gonna get the most teeth or the most unique tooth. And so he’s out there, and you know, grimacing, and he can’t…can’t walk like he wants to and so he gets really upset, and it’s just ridiculous. But it’s become the family joke. We’re all laughing about it. “Well, how long is it going to take Barney to – to burn his feet this year?” you know. And, so, but he always wins. You know, I think that’s his little tradition, and he has to keep it up, so… But he never learns from year to year, he’s just always going to have burnt feet every year at the Beach Week.
Now the other thing that happens in order to amuse the family and keep us entertained is that we put together a puzzle. Now, I have no idea how many pieces are in this puzzle. I just know that it’s huge and it covers the whole table that we have. Now, the table, it’s not the coffee table, it’s the table that we eat at, the kitchen table. And (laughs) I don’t know, maybe we’re just, I guess the whole family’s not really smart. We haven’t quite ?gured this out after many years. But we sit at the table and the pieces get put together – and oftentimes while we’re eating, someone’s putting pieces together – “Ah, there it is” you know – and sticking the pieces together while we’re eating. Um, inevitably, someone will put their elbows up on the table and because of the humidity, and not having air conditioning in the house, um, a piece will stick to their elbow, you know, usually along here and they’ll get up and walk away, and not realize that they’ve heisted a piece. It’s gone with them, you know.
And, um, so we get to the end of the week. We have to clean up the house, we have to be out of there, and we’re rushing to get all the puzzle pieces together because we have to complete the puzzle before we leave. But there’s always that one piece that’s missing. So, it’s mad dash-cleaning, looking, cleaning, looking, cleaning, looking. I think that, oh, probably 99 per cent of the time we actually found that piece and completed the puzzle in order for us to take it back a part before we left.
But, I don’t know, it just seems like maybe we could come up with a better way to put the puzzle together. Maybe put a table cloth on top of the puzzle while we’re eating, um, maybe bring a special table for the puzzle. I don’t know. We have Beach Week coming up pretty soon, so, I dunno, maybe, maybe we’ll rethink some of these things, and maybe it will be my job to remind my dad that he needs to put lotion on his feet.