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Recalling a time when Haven Beach was a recreation center

Mary Jo Robins of Diggs remembers a time when a walk down to Haven Beach meant not just a dip in the Chesapeake Bay, but also a chance to buy an ice cream or go dancing or bowling in buildings plunked right down on a wide, clean, sandy beach.

Robins and her family lived close to the waterfront, on what is today called Haven Beach Road. A recreation center at the beach provided entertainment for the whole county during the 1920s, so lots of people from outside the neighborhood showed up on Saturday night to take part in the fun.

Nearly 96 years old now, Robins was just a child back then, so she wasn’t allowed to go bowling or dancing, but she remembers seeing people dancing, through the windows, and she’s pretty sure she had an ice cream on occasion. At times, Robins’s church—Salem United Methodist—would have a picnic at the beach, with mothers preparing food as their children played in the sand.

Robins and her three younger brothers lived on their grand...

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