July 11, 2020

Letter to the Editor: ‘The Battle of the Beaches’; Who’s Oldest, How to Resolve it … Annually

To the Editor:

Both Revere Beach in Revere, Massachusetts; and Sound View Beach in Old Lyme proclaim themselves as “America’s oldest public beach”. Sound View history is well-documented in Jim Lampos’ wonderful “Rum Runners …”

Revere’s public beach dates back to 1896, with a rail link that actually began in 1875. Revere remains accessible today via the MBTA’s blue line. Revere was declared a national historic landmark in 2003.

Sound View Beach, on the other hand, claims that its public beach actually began in 1892, subsequent to H. J. Hilliard’s deeding of the beach property to the “unorganized general public for its perpetual use”; thus, making Sound View America’s oldest public beach.

Bad math? I don’t think so. Revere is less than 10 miles (as the drone flies) from both Harvard and M.I.T.

Incompetent Massachusetts historians? I don’t know. Perhaps a team from Yale’s Archaeologic Studies Program can sift through the ruins and ash of the Antique Shanty and corroborate our claim.

I believe that there is an opportunity to settle the issue right on the sand with an annual beach volleyball tournament between Revere and Sound View. In time this might rival both “The Race” between Harvard and Yale’s heavyweight rowers (which began in 1859); and “The Game” between Harvard and Yale’s football teams (which began in 1875). Otherwise, our respective Chambers of Commerce should get involved and resolve the dispute.

Sincerely,

Thomas D. Gotowka,
Old Lyme.

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