When I arrived to work at the Narragansett by the Sea hotel in 1954, I was already smitten with the ocean, the beach, the whole Kennebunk-Kennebunkport area. At age 14, I’d been a babysitter for a couple of weeks in the ‘Port. I lived in Rumford at the time and I arrived at this sparkling seaside village feeling like I had stepped into paradise.

Through college and for one summer after graduation, I worked at the ‘Gansett. We worked long hours, had no days off, but were happy being part of a gregarious and fun-loving crew with time for sun bathing, shrieking in and out of the frigid water, sharing forbidden bottles of beer (Kennebunk was a dry town) at beach parties and falling in and out of summer love.

Soon after college, I married a chef and arranged for him to meet the ‘Gansett owners who quickly hired him. We settled in for 13 glorious summers by the sea.

Even with a growing family, I managed to spend time on my beloved Gooch’s Beach across from the hotel.

My son Todd, born in July, made his first quick visit to the beach in a wicker fruit basket with a diaper thrown over it as a sun shade. My son, Glenn, born in August should have been named Sandy because moments before a quick trip to the hospital, I was on the beach playing in the sand with his siblings.

The hotel is now condominiums but Gooch’s Beach, still a long, gorgeous stretch of sand, pulls me to it. The breakwater where I whiled away long-ago hours watching the lobster boats chug back down the river and fishermen hoping to land a big stripper, stands strong waiting for my return.

On perfect Maine summer days with incredibly blue skies, startling white clouds for contrast, and a soft breeze ruffling flowers, Gooch’s Beach is where I long to be.

I want to set up my beach chair, spread my towel on the sand, plunk my picnic lunch beside me and give in to the pure joy of being here, in Maine, on this beach, on this day.

Sadly, I can’t do that.

Parking along my beach requires a $20-a-day parking pass between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Even with that pass, there is no place to park unless you arrive just after sun-up and troll the area for hours.

If I were to sneak down before 6 a.m. or after 11 p.m. (yea, right …), no parking at all is allowed then.

My special beach, the one I loved for so many summers, is out of reach for this tax-paying Mainer who can’t afford to live near it.

Oh sure, I can visit other ocean beaches with more and less-costly parking places, but those beaches don’t bring back special memories.


But wait! If summer and I can just hold on until September 16, no parking pass is needed! Crowds will have thinned and Gooch’s can be mine again. Thank heaven for fall!