My Beach: A Place in the Sun
The beach forges friendships that last for life.
Dougherty and Schnepfe have shared a friendship and a common love for Dewey Beach for more than 60 years. Top photograph by Keith Mosher www.kamproductions.com
Not all friendships last a lifetime. Many fade with the passing days. My childhood friend Bob Schnepfe and I have been lucky. We were able to find a set of friends who have been close, if not always together, since our earliest days in Dewey Beach. Without this town, and all that it is, we may have parted ways. But 62 years later our friendship and our town are thriving.
Our paths first crossed at ages 5 and 10 in 1945 at Dewey. My parents met at the lifesaving station in 1928. They built a summer cottage on Swede Street in the 1930s. In 1945 Rob Schnepfe, Bob’s father, took a suggestion from my father, Dr. Fred Quillen, to rent my aunt’s cottage behind the Bottle and Cork for $235 for the summer. That led the Schnepfes to 20 years of seasonal renting and a lifetime love of Dewey.
At that time, the women and children, sans cars, stayed for the summer. Dads were weekend warriors. The Dewey Beach we came to in the 1940s had fewer than 100 cottages. Four businesses dotted the Bellevue Street area: Dick Seimes’ Dewey Beach Market, Harry and Ginger Shauds’ Bottle and Cork, John Tracey’s Texaco and Dan Simpler’s Dewey Inn at Head of Bay Cove.
The tranquil days of sun and fun seemed to never end. Bob’s friends called themselves the Dewey Beach Rebels. They wandered suntanned and barefoot over the hard clay roads. My circle of friends joined the group as teens.
We swam, crabbed, fished, water-skied, worked, played and partied. Finding driftwood for bonfires and beer to drink was never difficult. We toured town in Bob’s 1956 aqua MGA convertible in a practice we called profiling. The best place to profile was Rehoboth. We made stops at Snyders for chocolate bon-bons and the Robert Lee for cheeseburgers wrapped in waxy paper.
The years have passed, but our friendship and our love of Dewey Beach hasn’t changed. In 1996, we completed our well-received book “Dewey Beach History and Tales,” which spurred a reunion of about 100 friends a year later. The get-together was called the 40th anniversary of the Rebel Reunion.
In 2007 these friends still maintain contact. Some have passed on to the Dewey up above. At ages 71 and 66, Bob and I still share a passion for fishing, beachcombing for sea glass, bird-watching, and photography. Despite many adversities, we have been blessed to be able to go from childhood to senior citizenship with a shared love of our special place in the sun.