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the hotel verandahs, most overnight guests strolled on the boardwalks bordering the beach. It may come as a surprise to some that the boardwalk was an invention of the British. In the early 19th century, boardwalks were erected along the English Channel where spectators spent the day watching passing ships. In the early days, boardwalks were built in sections so that they could be taken up at the end of the summer to prevent damage from the winter weather. The boardwalk was the focus of the resort’s public social life. Promenading on the walks in the late afternoon or evening, the ladies displayed their elegant dresses and frilly hats. Some carried parasols to keep the sun from blinding the eyes or tanning the skin. Men wore suits, ties, and hats while strolling the planked walkways. People paraded on the boardwalks to see and be seen, as well as to catch a breath of fresh air. There were both an air of relaxation and an aura of formality as the vacationers took their daily constitutional. Bathing in the surf in those days bore no resemblance to modernday swimming at the beach. For most people, bathing meant tiptoeing into the ocean until water reached the elbows. Most women and older people tightly clung to the ropes provided for their safety and convenience. There was little real swimming.

The Hotel Henelopen today. and fruit for dessert. Suppers were “lighter� and usually consisted of chicken, cold ham, oysters, grilled apples, and other fruit. No doubt, the renowned Delaware peaches were offered in season. Music was sometimes played during the meals at some hotels. In July of 1895 it was announced that the Baltimore Orchestra was performing at the Hotel Henelopen. The good cooking at some of these hotels and boarding houses can partially be attributed to the fact that many of these places were owned and managed by women. At one time 19 of the 29 hostelries possessed female managers or owners. The Plimhimmon Hotel in Ocean City, named for the Tilghman estate in Oxford, MD, with the same title, was founded and operated by Mrs. Rosalie Tilghman Shreve. She had a passionate interest in the hotel menu. When not eating or sitting on 76

September 2013 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times September 2013