Down the Ocean Summer '64

Here is a sample of Michael Wright's novel Down the Ocean Summer '64available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback

Three months can be a life-time of experiences. Baltimore boy Roy Newson is at loose ends: his girlfriend has dumped him, he's quit college to work in a steel mill and the only escape from reality is spending weekends in Ocean City where he longs to find true love--and a good wave to ride. When he meets free-spirit Dina on the beach, Roy begins to believe that his dreams might just come true.


Down the Ocean  (pronounced Downey Owe Shin) — Summertime destination, meaning: “traveling to Ocean City, Maryland.”

Also used to indicate any destination: down the store, down the shore, down the way.

Online source: A brief tutorial — The “Merlin” Dialect

The Merlin Dialect is spoken by a mixed population which inhabits a triangular area on the western littoral of the Chesapeake Bay, bounded roughly by a line commencing at Towson's Toyota, then westward to the Frederick Mall, thence following the western border of the cable TV franchise and the string of McDonald's along Route 50 to the Bay.

Because of the numerous words and phrases common to both Merlin Dialect and modern English, linguists have long postulated that there is some kinship between the two.

Speakers of Merlin Dialect are all able to understand standard English from babyhood, chiefly because of their voracious appetite for television. However, they invariably refuse to speak standard English, even with outsiders who obviously cannot understand a word they say.


  • Ballmer — Our city 
  • Merlin — Our State 
  • Arn — What you do to wrinkled clothes 
  • Bulled Egg — An egg cooked in water 
  • Chest Peak — A large body of water nearby 
  • Colleyflare — A white vegetable


It was all Della’s fault.

If she hadn’t broken up with him like she did, with that “I think we need to see other people” line, things could’ve been completely different.

“We need,” she’d said, meaning she did. He was happy with things just as they were but no amount of reasoning and argument could convince her that she ought to be as content.

This is what Roy was stewing about as he drove on Maryland Route 50 toward Ocean City, going “down the Ocean,” as it was phrased by Marylanders. It was still dark; he’d left Baltimore at three a.m. to be on the beach just after sun up to have a full day of it. He had to be back to work the same night for the 11-7 shift at Sparrows Point, Bethlehem Steel’s vast plant. Every minute was a race.

Jesus, he thought: July 4th weekend and I have to work. Run down the Ocean, race back to the Point.
Dwight, Della’s brother, was in the passenger seat yammering on about his latest theories about why the Orioles weren’t likely to beat the hated Yankees over the weekend. 

“I mean, let’s face it, between Pappas pitching and Boog on a home run streak, you’d think they could be out in front by thirty games, but nope. Not with Bauer managing. He’s one of those guys just can’t finish. You watch. They’re going to need a ammalance by September,” Dwight said, his Baltimore accent mangling “ambulance.”

He proceeded to run through all kinds of statistics to prove his points—statistics Roy knew were at least half made up. Dwight resided on his own little planet and that was fine, but for the moment Roy wished Dwight would go to sleep. Even more, he wished Dwight was Della. But Dwight had sworn up and down he’d figure out how to find Della, so Roy brought him along.

She was down the Ocean for the weekend with her girlfriends, a bunch of crazy females who screamed at and fake-fainted over guys on the street—or flipped them off. Why couldn’t she at least hang out with normal, quiet girls? Roy just knew they were having wild parties, orgiastic riots of unbridled hedonism. It drove him nuts to think of Della with any other male, let alone at the center of a whorl of drooling guys. 

So there he was, driving hell-bent for three hours before sunrise. He was going to track her down, prove his steadfast adoration and win her back.

They’d been together for over a year, having met at the local teen center in Dundalk, the suburban sprawl outside of Baltimore, where Roy lived. Actually, it was her cousin Melissa he was attracted to at the start, but she lived in D.C. and only came to Baltimore every other weekend.

Melissa was petite, blonde all the way down to a tiny bit of unshaven fuzz visible on her thigh just below the hem of her mini-skirt. She was one of those bold girls that Roy and his buddies always leapt toward, hopeful of legendary sex—or any sex, for that matter. 

 Most of the girls at the teen center roosted on the bleachers, giggling and whispering, or dancing only with each other, seemingly indifferent to masculine allure. They were entirely too much work for not much return.

Not so with Melissa—she lofted a smile Roy’s way and in less than thirty seconds they were on the dance floor, shaking it down.

Della was more reserved, old-fashioned in many ways, like her name. She was the plain best-friend-type who often tagged along with an untethered Melissa-type to be her anchor and safeguard. Roy thought she was just okay; nice enough but no Melissa with those caramel candy tanned legs.

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