There are a quarter of a million people who come to Ocean City at once in the summertime, and thousands of them walk the 27 blocks of the Boardwalk each day. In “What Are You Doing Here?” we stop a few of them and find out what brought them to our corner of the Eastern Shore.
Charles Churilla was one of the 3,000 people who registered for Cruisin’ Ocean City in May, and he was rolling in style. Mercedes Fairlane 500, 1967, baby blue, top down and ready for cruising.
Instead of joining the throngs of people on the Boardwalk, watching the dozens of cruisers slowly make their way slowly from North Division Street to the inlet. Charles opted to stay where he was in the inlet lot, surrounded by hundreds of old cars, already parked and waiting with hoods popped. The cruisers all drove to him, where he waited next to his big blue.
Charles drove a not-so-great distance from his house in Ocean View, but said he’s been coming out to Cruisin’ for 12 years. Namely he likes coming for the hot wheels that gather down at the inlet parking lot. It’s almost communal, a bunch of guys getting together. It’s bragging about “their babies” and why they were so special compared to the sea of other cars, swigging water bottles and talking about what they’ve learned restoring their cars or driving them.
“Each year, I’m here it’s learning something new from others with similar cars. Exchange tips, looking at each other’s cars,” he said. “That’s the main reason I keep coming back. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about tips, since there’s a breadth cars here every year. But we’ve all got some similar ”
Charles is 71 years old, and spent some time working on his Mercedes, and holds it very dear to his heart. He said he started collecting a few convertibles, perhaps as his way to hold on to his little piece of history.
“Convertibles are just so 50s and 60s, just a hallmark of that era,” Charles said. “In the 1970s, the market demand for them went down. General Motors made their last model in 1967. They just never made them like these again, in terms of look and their engines.”
For Charles, there might be another connection with the convertibles – his own history. When Charles himself was young, learning to drive and exploring the freedom of the wide open roads, maybe he was driving down highways in a 1960s Mercedes of his own.
“Of course, this was the kind of car that was popular when I was growing up,” he said, tracing the door on the Mercedes. “It embodies my life back then, in a sense.”