Ballfields and Beaches

By Ray McAllister | June 29th, 2015

Editor Ray McAllister talks about what he loves so much about summer

Summers were great when we were kids. Warm weather, no school, plenty of play.


For our group, it meant full days on the baseball field. This was back when kids played pickup games outdoors. (Really. There weren’t even video games. Look it up.) True, by August, we were out of our minds with boredom. We could not wait to be back in school.


Somewhere along the way, probably in college, fall supplanted summer as my favorite season. Possibly it was the cooler weather. More likely, it was the allure of college itself – and college football.


But in recent years, it’s again summer I look forward to. Maybe it has to do with vacations at the beach and family get-togethers.( On the other hand, it could just be prelude to retiring in Sarasota and wearing white shoes. I mean, isn’t that inevitable?)


I’m fortunate in being able to combine work and play often enough. By writing books on the North Carolina coast, I’m down at the beach for research or book sales and signings every so often. (Yes, yes, I know: It’s brutal.)


Moreover, I also get to work on this issue of BOOMER, the de facto Summer Issue. Our cover story this year focuses on five drivable destinations for summer getaways – Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Washington, the Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach.


More than that, this year I had the chance to talk with summer beach artist Patrick Reid O’Brien  who provided the cover itself.


I met O’Brien a few years back at Richmond’s Bizarre Bazaar, where we both sign and sell our wares every December. I began noticing some of my customers had also bought his colorful posters. The locations they trumpeted matched those of my books.


I bought three copies of one of his posters of our family’s favorite beach, later having them framed for Christmas gifts.


We talked then and a little more last December, and I found our approaches were quite similar. (Of course, he has real talent and I don’t. Other than that, we’re identical.) We had both found places we loved, explored them in our individual ways and found others loved them as well. Our works became mementos for them, explorations of places they loved, memories of times well spent.


As we talked again recently for the story, discussion moved to BOOMER’s cover.


O’Brien’s art would be perfect. It’s colorful, attention-grabbing and conveys emotion. Peter Max had created the cover for the October/November 2013 issue; it proved one of our fastest-moving and most-remembered issues. Max had asked us what we’d like for the cover and we suggested Richmond’s Main Street Station clock tower. (Though, honestly, if PETER MAX had said he would give us a cover painting of his toilet, we would have taken it.)


O’Brien has a wonderful piece featuring that same tower. Still, we wanted a cover not of a specific locale this time but one that spoke to summers, the beach, memories. O’Brien’s idea, then: altering his best-selling piece to make it a BOOMER cover. That would be of an old Adirondack-style beach chair, sitting on the surf line.


It sounded great. And indeed, it proved to be the perfect representation of summer and memories.


Hope you enjoy it – and hope you spend a summer making memories.



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