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Ocean Pines 45th Anniversary: The memories of childhood

Ocean Pines as a new community was an adventure land for swimming, biking, skateboarding and exploring
the surrounding woodlands to the small band
children who first came to the area, including Tom and Dan O’Hare who grew up in the Pines. They shared a few of their memories with us in interviews on July 25 and

As many of the Pines’ earliest residents with children tended to do, their
family purchased lots near other families, on Crows Nest Lane near White Horse Park.  As Dan
recalled, only about 12 children
lived in the Pines year-round when the community first
developed. “Almost of them were centered in that spot,” he said. “Our block
actually had a bunch of

Tom, now 39, was two and Dan, now 37,
the first baby born to
Ocean   Pines’   year-round   parents.
Their parents are Sharyn
 and  Matt

The new community
was safe and tight knit, giving the youngsters
the freedom to spend their early years on
pursuits only limited by their  own imaginations. “We were very safe,”
Dan said. “We spent every day out of the house.” To hear the accounts from Tom and Dan’s childhood in Ocean Pines was
more Mark Twain
than modern helicopter parents could conceive without an anxiety attack, or three.

According to Dan and Tom, the children’s   days   were   spent   hacking through the woods with $5 machetes
purchased at a local flea market,
picking blackberries and lilacs that surrounded some of the old farmhouses
nearby, building forts  “all
over the woods for no good reason,” playing lots
of basketball, tramping through the nearby marshes and getting as dirty as
possible, heading
to the boat dock and
taking a raft or small boat out for the day, or separating into teams to play kickball.

Tom said he learned
how to spot and grab soft-shell crabs off the pilings
the boat piers by watching older
children do it.

There was a lot of wildlife to chase
and examine, like lizards, turtles,
snakes, raccoons, opossums and osprey, according to Dan, although he

said, “We almost never saw a deer.” The children always had dogs in tow, and
while there were plenty of feral cats in the area, he did not recall seeing foxes. But with that many children
out searching for them, one would suspect
no self-respecting fox could live up to
their reputation for being “sly” if they allowed
themselves to be spotted.

Then there was that bit of family lore: the unfortunate campfire caper. As
Tom recalled,
it  went
 like  this:
Some friends built
a small campfire
to toast s’mores and hot dogs, only to have the police show up, having spot- ted
 the  smoke  and
 put  an  end
 to things. Unscathed, the children went on with other pursuits with the incident
seemingly behind them— no harm, no foul. That was until their parents were sitting in a routine community meeting later that year listening to
a routine incident report when the
officer gave the report of an “arson” incident involving
a group of 9 and 10 year

They were busted;
what’s more, little brother
Dan had been there in the
with the s’mores and hot dogs, Tom chuckled.

Dan told of the time he was walking
by the lagoon by the boat docks with
his babysitter when he stepped into a hole where yellow jacket
wasps had built a  hive.  He said the
babysitter rushed him to safety,
but not before he had
 been  stung  15
 times  and  the
babysitter 25 times.

So on it went, each outing ending with a parent’s
call for the children to come home covered with
 the  mud,
leaves, grime or briars from the day’s activities, for baths, dinner and bed.

To listen to the brothers,
it seems remarkable they survived childhood.
But it was clear those early years
left a lot of fun memories
for the two. “You never know how great you have it until
you move somewhere
else,” Tom said, adding “I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.”

Dan said he was not a nostalgic type, but also said that Ocean Pines “was a
great place to grow up.” He added that he was grateful that “I never chopped my leg off.”

Both have long since moved away to attend college
explored Europe before settling
in New York City where they now reside. Tom is
a freelance casting director for film, television and commercials, and Dan is married to a writer and produces advertisements.
Both Dan and his wife
work for MTV.

Dan returns
home for visits. He and his wife purchased a small farm in Salisbury, a retreat from their busy lives and the stresses and
annoyances of Times Square.
Tom said he visits
once during the summer and on Thanksgiving to see his mom and friends.

Asked to summarize
life as a child in Ocean Pines, Dan said in the first years
of the Pines there were no organized

“We used to just go fishing,”
he said. “We would just get together and play ball.”

He said of
 the  area,  “There
 was nothing
but green and sand and forest, all around.”