Friday, August 7, 2009

The Islander



Anyone who visited, resided in or otherwise came into contact with Mathews County in the 1970's - 1980's knows about the wonderland called the Islander, shown above from the vantage point of a Gwynn's Island bridge opening.

Perched on the most perfect spot of prime waterfront ever created by a higher being, the Islander was a destination in and of itself--even for residents of Mathews.

This Oz of Gwynn's Island consisted of a marina (shown above, still in use); a two-story motel (no longer available to the general public, but which had the best water views this side of Serenity); a restaurant (closed, but had the best water views this side of Heaven); and an upstairs lounge (a distant yet fond memory, with the best water views on the Eastern seaboard and more than a few colorful characters).

Every summer of my youth was spent here poolside, since the Islander served as our babysitter since the owners were generous enough to offer pool memberships to us locals who weren't there for the motel or the marina.

Actually, a part of the charm of the Islander--in addition to its perfect waterfront location--was all the tourists and transients it attracted. Those of us who grew up in Mathews had very limited contact with Whatever Else was going on outside our community, and here in one central location we had a good restaurant, a great pool in the summertime and contact...with the outside world.

An entire website could be devoted to the memories the Islander generates for so many people. Since it's late and I need some sleep, I'll wrap this up rather quickly by saying that the fondest memories of my youth involve the Islander and what a dream come true it would be if it could be revived to its original splendor.

For anyone who ever visited Oz the Islander, please leave a comment about your memories. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, tell me about a place which evokes pleasant memories from your youth.

Or just say whatever you want. Tell me what you had for dinner last night. Or say nothing and wonder when this roller coaster is ever coming to a stop.

We have now reached a complete stop. Please lift the safety bar and exit to your left without stampeding.

22 comments:

Country Girl said...

Last night we had pasta with sausage. It went right to my hips.

Seriously, though . . . when I was young we had a pool membership at a club that was at the end of our block. It was a very very long block, but the pool at the end was an oasis and served as our babysitter. The eldest of 7, I'd take whichever children my mother wanted to get rid of that day and we'd spend the entire day there. It brings back such fun memories! So thanks for that.

Daryl said...

Have you had Fage yogurt? Fabulous with fresh berries ... Fridaycation again today .. and amazingly right now its cool enough outside (64) to open the windows and turn off the AC .. ahhhhh ....

Maybe we can buy Oz and return it to its former glory with the $$ we make off the BF movie and book .. I am thinking a book too .. and all sort of licensed doodads .. like a miniature of the trailer thing you slept in ... maybe McDonald's will want to use it and a mini Gustav and the tractor as Happy Meal toys

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

We had a community pool we would all go to. It was five cents for the whole day.

Ann Marie said...

Daryl.. I am with you.. LETS BUY IT.

Many many summers as a child that place was my baby sitter... yea we had memberships. I find it quite odd that at the ripe old age of roughly 10 if not a bit younger my mother would calmly pull up to the entrance way of the pool area and request that we exit her vehicle then with the hand she wasn't holding the cup in.. (I still wonder to this day why she kept drinking our lemonade but refused us a sip out of her glass) wave to us as she squealed tires out of the parking lot. Now at the age of 15 almost 16 she has to know my daughters every move have times change THAT much.. or she is now just seeing the world through unlemonade colored glasses?

I am wondering if I should mention here that the waterman and I were probably what could be considered "colorful characters" of the lounge back in the day. I was the underage bus girl who worked up there .. not drinking.. not having a good time.. not serving alcohol.. I cleared tables as people left. (I also have some ocean front property in AZ for ya too) the husband was the local bad boy who when I allowed him took care of my honor and what not when I was really busy bussing tables.

I guess you can say I practically grew up at the islander... from a child to a woman all in the same place.. swimming the summer away rubbing zinc on my nose straight to dancing all night and wondering how I got home the next morning.

YES let's buy it!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Oh yes indeed, Daryl, great ideas for the movie and book. Gustav could also spin off and do his own kid's show. Well, if he learned proper social skills and manners, that is. The possibilities are endless.

Ann Marie - I spend far too much time thinking about how my mother--and even my grandmother--just let us do whatever we wanted, unsupervised, dropping us off at the Islander first thing in the morning, picking us up at dinner time. We had no food, no money, no water, nothing yet somehow came out OK. I think.... but you're right they would never do that today.

It's Friday. Hallelujah.

Ann Marie said...

funny you should mention Friday... go visit me over yonder...

big hair envy said...

I like the way Daryl thinks...:)

Dinner last night? London Broil, mashed potatoes and salad. Now? Off to yoga class to burn it off. GAH!

Mental P Mama said...

I had two slices of sausage and mushroom pizza and two glasses of shiraz. Then I went to sleep;) I could live on Gwynn's Island if my brick house doesn't work out....

Caution Flag said...

We ate Johnny Marzetti. It's true. My children asked me to cook the school's lunch special.

Living on the Spit said...

We had veggie lasagna and cake...well, I had cake.

Everytime, I cross the HRBT...I still look at the Strawberry Banks Motel and remember days of long ago.

I am so on board for buying it and restoring it to it's glory days.

Lynne M. said...

I used to go to the Islander as a kid. My father was part of the Gideons way back when... I loved that place!! I was very young, but I remember one time it was storming, and the water was splashing up in the pool area! It was very cool!

foolery said...

There was a time not so long ago that my chef brother and his wife (and children) were actually in the market for a B&B. She was raised in one and knows top-down how to run one, and he can run ANY restaurant. I told them about the Islander. I told them I'd be a bus girl there if they bought it. I might even empty ashtrays if they asked real nice.

They laughed. *sigh*

Breezeway said...

I LOVE the Islander! My sisters and I have talked for several years of getting some sort of massive loan and renovating the entire property. (Total pipe dream so don't get excited!) We spent quite a few summers in and around that "little bit of Heaven" and both of my sisters waitressed in the restaurant during the summers in High School. Makes me sad to see it in such disrepair. We decided it would make an amazing spot for a Tiki Bar establishment such as the one on the Eastern Shore. What do you think?

Breezeway said...

Ann Marie - is your mother related to my mother? Because I had almost the same experiences as a child, except my mom's drink (read: mixer) of choice was orange juice.

Audrey at Barking Mad said...

When I was 12 my dad took his troop of boy scouts up to Mt. Baldy (in Southern California, where I grew up) to pick pine cones and gather pine boughs.

Dad took me along with him as I was forever making tiny little Christmas trees out of pine cones - I'd paint them green and then glue tiny little brightly colored balls all over them, or spray them with a bit of Christmas tree flocking so it looked like they had a bit of snow on them.

I'd had a crush on a 13 year old member of his troop for a long time. "Tommy" also attended the same church we did and I had ample opportunity to daydream about him for a long long time. I don't know if it was by chance or by design but I ended up hiking up the side of a small switchback with Tommy to pick up some gloriously fat pine cones. Once the grocery sack was full we sat down and shared a Coke.

Out of nowhere Tommy leaned over and kissed me. I remember it was soft and sweet and his lips were cool and tasted like sweet cherry Chapstick and Coca Cola.

We sort of "hung out" together the rest of the school year, going to school and church dances together, having dinner at one another's home until it was obvious, with him being a year ahead of me, that high school held bigger and better things for him the following fall.

I'd have many a chance to visit Mt. Baldy again whether it was to innertube or snowboard in the winter or enjoy the cool springs in the summer, and every time I'd visit and would drive past that same switchback, I'd instantly be transported back to that autumn afternoon sitting next to Tommy and sharing a cold Coca Cola and the sweetest first kiss a girl could ever have.

Every time I see a picture of the Southern California San Gabriel Mountain range I think back to that day and wonder where Tommy is and wonder if he still likes cherry Chapstick and Coca Cola.

Grandma J said...

Anything on, under or near the Huntington Beach pier was magical to me growing up, and most of my adult life. It was basically my backyard. I saw it ripped apart and rebuild stronger and better twice. I've seen it closed due to huge waves breaking over it. The memories are many.

AverettLadyNana said...

Many fond memories there back in the early 70's. Broke my heart the last time I was down there and saw it had gone downhill.

Margaret Cloud said...

We had a favorite pool we spent lots of time in the summer. We were blondes when kids, the point to this is, our hair was always green by end of summer, due to the clorine. Very interesting post, I enjoyed reading it. Hope your weekend is a great one.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late catching up with your posts! My husband and I had our wedding night dinner in February 1979 at the Islander, and "honeymooned" in Moon. A week later there was a terrible murder at the Islander! We couldn't believe such violence happened at such a lovely spot. We used to take our children "sightseeing" at the slips to look at the huge boats, both the sail boats and the stink pots - but as comeheres we never had the nerve to actually get on one!

Phyl said...

**sigh** I used to ride my bike there all the time. Loved it.

I would love to buy it. Lottery tickets anyone? It's an amazing place. Such a beautiful spot, it's a crying shame that it's not used.

Joshua Carbone said...

Good news. It is currently under re-construction. :). Tell everyone you know because it's going to be better than before!

Joshua Carbone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.