Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beach Club Memories

Beach Club Memories, 2005

Many of the good memories I have as a child took place at the Cavalier Beach Club.

During the mid-1940s, my parents operated a small beachfront hotel. After the guests had been fed and sent out for the evening to find their own fun, my parents dressed up and rushed up the street to dance on the Beach Club’s oceanfront dance floor.

They weren’t the only ones to appreciate the allure of dancing under the moonlight. The Cavalier Hotel was a resort destination for many of the country’s elite. F. Scott and Zelda danced here. My parents heard Sinatra sing there, and danced to the Dorsey Band and Glenn Miller. My sister learned to swim in the hotel’s indoor saltwater pool.

Me, 15 months, at the Cavalier Beach Club, 1953

When I came along, a decade later, summers were spent in a cabana on the upper deck just behind the band shell. We spent Saturday’s at the beach. We’d return home for dinner, after which my parents would dress up and return for a night of dancing under the stars. People really dressed up to go out in those days. On Sunday afternoons, the kids were allowed to hang out at the cabana while the adults dressed in their best linen dresses and sport coats and did the tango and the rumba and bunny hopped across the dance floor at tea dances. To this day I can’t walk down the beach past the old club without hearing Perez Prado’s trombone playing “Cherry Blossom Pink, Apple Green” and remembering parents, arm in arm, cha-cha-ing across the dance floor.

My Parents at the Cavalier Beach Club, 1952

This was a charmed life that didn’t last long. My parents’ marriage ended when I was still a child. The Beach Club became the victim of changing entertainment tastes. The famous dance floor and much of the two levels of tables and chairs that flanked its ocean side were washed away during a storm in the 1960s. What remains today is a tacky artificial deck masquerading as a dance floor and a lot of memories.


  1. Great photos! Your parents made a handsome couple, and what an adorable photo of you as a toddler. I could almost hear the music from your descriptions of it here. It must've been quite the place in its heyday.

  2. Someone sent me a link to this post because they though I might enjoy it, and I do! I have eerily similar memories from my childhood in Corpus Christi, on the gulf coast of Texas. There were so many similar places from that same era that I can recall. And like the Cavalier, they were all destroyed by Hurricane Celia in 1970. It's so sad to think of how wonderful those places were, and what a golden era that was for our parents. Thanks for bringing back such great memories.

  3. People had forgotten what real quality was. "Cheap" was the operative word.