Saltwater in My Veins

The beach life has been good to me, but the true joy is passing it on to our kids.

In 1970 our family moved from Rockville, Maryland, to little Fenwick Island, Delaware. I was 9 or 10 years old—and I’ve never looked back.

Surf fishing in the fall and spring was my passion. I spent days at school dreaming about getting to the beach and casting for a hungry bluefish, and memories of afternoons fishing with my mother will be with me for the remainder of my days on earth.

But most of my memories are of the summers, for one simple reason: Summer is when life began, when sleepy Fenwick came alive. I would look forward to friends visiting on their vacations, and I formed friendships that have stayed with me ever since.

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Days were spent mostly in the water. Early morning was for surfing. Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., we rode inflatable rafts and, later, Boogie boards. The day’s end found us on our surfboards again.

As teens, my brothers and I became lifeguards, and in the evenings we worked in local restaurants. It wasn’t an easy life, but it was a simple one. The worries were few. The rewards were many.

Perhaps the best is watching our children live the same life. Several years ago my wife, Dorian, and our children Matthew and Mark, and I purchased a cottage on the street I grew up on. We spend our summers there, moving south from our home in Bethany. I cannot tell you the joy of teaching our one son to surf. Now I take great pride in watching him drop in on waves I would never have dared at his age.

Myself, I still long to be on the water. Much of my spare time is spent fishing offshore, and seldom does a day go by, while fishing, that I do not picture my Mother with a rod in her hand. Sometimes I hear her laugh as she reels in a big one.

The beach life has been good to me. It is my hope that it will be good to our children, too—and that they in turn can pass the joy on to theirs.  

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John Kleinstuber is a longtime Fenwick resident who, with his sister, owns John F. Kleinstuber and Assoc. Real Estate, in business since 1977.

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