Beach Week Sunrise – The Back Story

Beach Week Sunrise

I’ve shared this picture before – Debbie, me, and our friend Jim Christopher watching the sun rise during one of our final days at Ocean City MD during Beach Week ’78.  But what I haven’t shared before is the series of events that came together to make this memorable scene possible.

By this time Debbie and I had spent many, many hours together over a couple of evenings talking (yes, just talking) and discovering we had quite a bit in common.  But by the latter part of the week, I decided to head back to Rockville with another friend (Mitch Franklin, RM class of ’77).  The rest of our friends (including Debbie) were staying another day or so in OC.  So Mitch and I piled our stuff in his car and headed west out of town.

However, when we reached Salisbury (about 45 min west of OC), Mitch’s car started making weird, knocking noises and before long the engine stopped altogether.  We were able to coast to the side of the road where we discovered the engine seized because it ran out of oil.  We quickly decided to hitchhike back to OC where we hoped to find our friends and figure out what to do next.  Fortunately we were soon picked up by some benevolent (although very sketchy) guys heading to OC who speedily (90 mph the whole way) delivered us to OC.

After our rescuers dropped us off across the Rt 50 bridge, Mitch and I started walking and wondering how we were going to find/contact any of our friends.  But within minutes, who should drive by but Jim Christopher and a few folks (to include Debbie!) on their way to see the movie “Jaws”.  Luckily they saw us and stopped, and off to the movie we went!  Debbie and I sat next to each other in the theater, and after the movie we spent the rest of the night hanging out with each other talking (yes, just talking).  At sunrise, we reconnected with Jim on the beach outside the hotel where this picture was taken.  I can’t remember who took the picture, nor do I recall how Mitch reconnected with his car or how I got back to Rockville.  But I do know that because Mitch’s car “just happened” to break down, and those weird dudes “just happened” to pick us up and drop us off at just the right time/place so Jim and our friends (including Debbie) “just happened” to drive by and see us. . . all these “coincidences” conspired to make it possible for Debbie and I to spend more time together and enjoy our first sunrise together.

Don’t you just love coincidences?  Debbie didn’t believe in coincidences, instead referring to them as “God-incidences”.  Me, too 🙂

“But I trust in you, LORD; I say ‘You are my God.’  My times are in your hands.” (Psalms 31:14-15)



Glad She Turned Out To Be My Type

Version 2Part of my high school yearbook treasure hunt yielded this gem from our junior year (’77). This was a full year before our serious friendship began.  Debbie and I took a typing class together for which I recall three highlights:

1.  While the rest of the class used sleek, new “IBM Selectric” typewriters, Debbie used an ancient dinosaur of a machine in the back of the class, the size of the original Gutenberg printing press (see photo below).  When I asked her one time why she insisted on using that monster, she replied (in typical Debbie fashion), “I think its fun!”.  That probably contributed to her lack of progress in the class and why she wrote, “. . .you were in my typing class (even though I never learned to type).”

2.  Ms. Thompson (our teacher) would begin each timed typing test the exact same way by saying, “Fingers in position. . .eyes on copy. . .ready. . .BEGIN!”.

3. And upon Ms. Thompson’s “BEGIN!”, I  would occasionally reach under my desk with my foot and unplug John Sherlock’s typewriter which resulted in some sailor language from him in my direction.  I believe he returned the favor to me several times. But no hard feelings!  John and I ended up as roommates for four years at James Madison University, he was the best man at our wedding, and he’s one of my closest and best friends to this day.

Deb GutenbergAnd speaking of friends, I like how Debbie concluded her entry, “I’m glad you are my friend.  Have a good time over the summer & next year”.

Yes, I’m glad we were friends in ’77 and shared this class.  But reading her words written almost 40 years ago floods my heart with gratitude that God would bring us together a year later during Beach Week ’78 and enroll us in His class, “How To Find Your Soul Mate 101”.  And the first lesson was, “She may not type, but she’s your type”.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” (Ps 106:1)

June 1978 – The Fun Begins!

Deb Senior Year Book   I thought it would be cool to find some memorabilia associated with the start of my relationship with Debbie. That led to an archeological dig in the basement looking for our high school year books, specifically our senior year (1978).  You can read here about how our friendship started the week after graduation in June ’78 during “Beach Week” at Ocean City, MD. After several hours of searching, and finding every other year book EXCEPT 1978, I finally stumbled on both of our copies.  I couldn’t wait to see what we had written in each other’s books, and honestly couldn’t recall if we wrote anything.

The picture below shows how my curiosity was rewarded.  This is what Debbie wrote in my yearbook, probably during Beach Week or shortly thereafter.

My Year Book Debs Entry   She wrote very kind and sweet words, indicative of her own kindness and how our friendship was quickly becoming something special. But what caught my eye today and took my breath away was the “P.S. I Love You”.  This is the first time I saw that, which means she inserted it some time later either during our courtship or marriage, intending it to be a nice surprise for me.  Mission accomplished – what a wonderful blessing!

The picture below shows what I wrote in Debbie’s yearbook, again probably during Beach Week in ’78:

Version 2 I really love the yearbook picture of Deb in her “RM Class of ’78” t-shirt because it wonderfully captures Deb’s sense of humor and zeal for life.  I also love the caption, “Debbie Gifford hopes to be discovered by a talent scout.”  I don’t know if I qualify as a talent scout, but I’m sure glad I discovered in June 1978 what an amazing person Debbie was.  Our lifelong adventure was just beginning, and I look forward to sharing other great stories with you.  Rather than be chronological, the stories will jump around based on what other treasures I uncover during my labor of love going through our 36 years of memorabilia.  I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are as well!