“It looks as though it will be after 7 pm when I arrive,” I told Rosco, the proprietor of the Alamo Motel, via my cell phone. “I’m caught in traffic on Ocean City Beach; its not even moving.”
I had talked to Rosco the day before from upstate NY. Knowing it was high season at the beaches and unlikely I would find a place to stay, I used Google Maps on my iPhone to locate a motel just off the beach on the mainland.
Ocean City is a 10 mile strip from the DE border to the end of the island; I had 3 miles to go before Route 50 would take me over the bay to the mainland. Boxxer was getting hot idling in 3 lanes of traffic going nowhere, so I pulled into a surf shop, found a crab-cakes restaurant across the street, had some with a couple of beers, and cooled my traffic frustrations. Debbie, my waitress, about 6 or 7 months pregnant, moved quickly and efficiently as only a 20s something in her condition could.
“Is the traffic always like this,” I asked.
“It’s bad, but seldom this bad,” Debbie said. “We are at 33rd street. Down on 2nd street, just before the bridge, there was an accident; the traffic has been at a standstill for the last hour.” “How are the crab-cakes?”
“Delicious, I said. “And I really needed this beer; it’s a good one.”
“I’ve owned this place for 17 years,” Rosco explained, as he went on and on about the history and merits of the Alamo. “It was built just after WW II by an officer and a pilot of the Flying Tigers.” He was stationed in San Antonio for a while and was so fascinated by the Alamo that he built a facsimile as a motel when he retired from the Army Air Corp.”
I guessed Rosco was in his early 70s; he had a slight speech impediment and the use of only one arm. He told me the name of the Army Officer who built the motel, but I can’t remember. But I do remember reading about the Flying Tigers squadrons, and their shark-faced Curtiss P-40s that had great success against Japanese Ki-27 Nate fighters before and after Pearl Harbor.
I didn’t realize these post WW II beach motels even existed, much less stayed in business by die-hard proprietors like Rosco. I was struck by the contrast between this place and the multimillion dollar hotels that lined the beach just across the bay; the contrast between the people who must have stayed in the Alamo during its heyday and the people in Hummers and Mercedes next to me a few minutes ago when caught in traffic; and the contrast between the bustle of the Ocean City beach versus the tranquility of Assateague Island National Seashore, separated only by a narrow channel fortuitously cut by some Nor’easter in the past.