YORK, Maine — Sixty years ago, the Hathaways packed up and headed for York Beach to celebrate their honeymoon, just 20 years old.
This week the couple, now both 80, returned for their diamond anniversary Tuesday, staying at the Lynwood Inn on Broadway just a block away from a view of Long Sands Beach. The beach has changed, and it is Patricia Hathaway’s opinion there are fewer people on the beach today than there were in the past, but the peace and tranquility remain the same.
“We love it up here,” said Patricia, who with her husband Richard brought their Maltese named Bridget from their home in Huntington, Massachusetts. They say they have come to York almost every year of their marriage, preferring York Beach to all the beaches they could visit elsewhere in New England.
“There’s a different quality about York Beach than there is in Connecticut beaches or Massachusetts beaches,” Patricia said.
“There’s not any rowdy people,” said Richard. “It’s cleaner here, too,” Patricia added.
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Love at first sight
Patricia and Richard met when they were in high school growing up in the towns of South Hampton and Worthington.
“I chased after her one night at a Halloween party,” Richard explained. Patricia said she was visiting Worthington and was not prepared for the kinds of “pranks” that kids were playing at the party there. Richard was there to watch out for her when the police showed up and everyone else scattered.
“I’m standing there, and he pulled me behind a house because the cops were coming,” she recalled. “That’s how it began.”
Patricia and Richard visited York on a day trip once while dating, two years before they actually got married. Patricia was familiar with York from visiting with her parents as a kid to stay at Russ Cabins where the Grand View Hotel is now located. She loved going in the water at Long Sands Beach.
“You couldn’t keep me out of the water,” Patricia said. Back then, the tide would also get low enough for people to walk across the gut separating the mainland from the Nubble Lighthouse. She walked across one time as a little girl and was stopped by a caretaker who warned she better head back, or she would be trapped by the water.
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After their 1962 wedding in Easthampton, Massachusetts, the couple set out for a trip to York Beach to celebrate their honeymoon. They arrived at the tail-end of a hurricane. The couple still has a photo slideshow from that trip, including photos Richard took of Patricia trying to run up the rocks at the Nubble as waves chased after her.
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Fond memories at York Beach
What proceeded after that trip was a nearly annual visit to York Beach, the Hathaways bringing their four children to enjoy attractions like the local amusement park and zoo that eventually became York Wild Kingdom and regular visits to the Goldenrod to enjoy candy and watch them make the taffy.
Most of their time was spent on the beach itself. For several years the couple brought their camper to stay at Camp Eaton in York Harbor. On one occasion they stayed in Wells but still made sure to visit York.
Memories from over the years came to mind as Patricia and Richard recalled their time at York Beach. A camera was once lost to the ocean as their friend turned too quickly to snap a photo on a boat trip, Richard said.
“But you have to tell the whole story, dear,” Patricia said. They had been sitting at Barnacle Billy’s with their friends enjoying Barnacle Billy punch bowls.
“It must have hit her hard,” Patricia said of their friend, who was acting giddy when the camera went flying into the water.
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Patricia also remembers when her sister and brother-in-law brought her parents up to York, and Patricia and Richard decided to surprise them by driving at 2 a.m. to the beach and waiting on the rocks outside for her mother and father to see.
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Today, Patricia and Richard are a little less mobile than they once were. Richard has fended off lung cancer twice and now finds it difficult to manage the camper that has since been sold. Patricia, who now uses a cane, wishes she could still comfortably enter the water.
“I don’t think the cane would handle the sand,” she said, “And I don’t know about the cold water anymore.”
The visits are still important to the Hathaways, who say they have lasted all these years through strong communication.
“Trying to listen to each other, which some people don’t always,” said Patricia, sitting in a lawn chair overlooking Short Sands Beach. Looking at the water, she says, “It’s just where I want to come all the time.”