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Looking for Subjects in West O

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on a video feature called “Ocean City Stories” wherein contributor BL and I knock around Ocean City with a camera and a video camera and talk to people. You can see the completed work on our YouTube page. This week we decided to tackle fishing on the bridge, starting in West O.

It turned out to be a mediocre idea (which I can say because it is mine). It wasn’t that we didn’t get good folks to talk to. Actually, we got a few. It is because we parked by the side of the road and I am too old and fat to schlep over the Route 50 Bridge and back in my dress shoes and slacks. My face was a pretty fun-colored red by the end of it.

BL, who is the videographer/director of this video series is young and slim and enthusiastic. It is hard not to despise him as I’m humping along in the sun, but he’s charming and good natured and likely would be missed by his family. I picked him up at the Ocean City Park and Ride and drove to the foot of the bridge. It’s hard to give you a sense of how little space you have out there when you stand between your parked car and the Ocean City bound Route 50 traffic.

Boaters headed out for the evening after dining at Sneaky Pete's. People are always up for a good time when boating in Ocean City.
Boaters headed out for the evening after dining at Sneaky Pete’s. People are always up for a good time when boating in Ocean City.

Biking across the Route 50 Bridge

My hope was, at first, to catch some commuters, those people you see riding their bikes across the bridge after a long shift downtown. The bulk of the bridge bike (and, really, foot) traffic is comprised of people who either live in West O or Ocean Pines or people for whom the West Ocean City convenience stores and groceries are more convenient than those farther uptown. Suffice it to say that none of them were really interested in talking. Most were interested in getting home and showering, I assumed.

After more than a decade as a reporter you can smell the, “Don’t talk to me” that emanates from some people. There was no need to go all Chris Hansen on them for some friendly Ocean City stories, so we let some pass without making our pitch. Others (I assume those who were heading across the bridge to shop rather than to shower and turn in for the night) had a more approachable demeanor, but turned us down flat.

Editor’s note: If you are a bike commuter, reach out. We’d love to chat with you.

Ever the cinematographer, BL noticed a school of rays cruising along in the shallows and I got off a couple of quick, poorly framed photos. As I was taking them I knew they were bad. That’s the level of photographer I’ve risen to. I can tell when I’m doing acceptable work and when I’m not. Hopefully I’m wrong. I haven’t edited the photos yet, so I don’t know. If the following is a photo of a school of rays (or skates, or whatever) then I was able to salvage it.

Skates (or rays) in the Assawoman Bay cruising the bridge.
Skates (or rays) in the Assawoman Bay cruising the bridge.

Route 50 Bridge work

We moved on to the SHA guys who were standing over what, it turned out, was a hole in the bridge sidewalk. It was a stress fracture, or something of that nature, that they had patched. There was no danger to the cars or the structure, but if you were cruising across that bridge on your bike at night you were in for a nasty bump at the least.

I don’t know how often you have the opportunity to try and have impromptu interviews with SHA workers on the job, but let’s just say they weren’t particularly chatty. BL and I had come the the conclusion we were on the wrong side of the bridge. There were people coming and going on the other side. We elected to cross.

If you didn’t know, there is a gateway in the bridge pedestrian walk that allows someone to cross from one side of the bridge to the other. There is a particular horror in trying to use the crosswalk in that, you can’t see around the fence from close up. Your choices are to step back and look both ways or to stick your head out into the road and look both ways. I started by peeking around the corner, super-spy style, until I was comfortable with the generous distance between even the farthest-right diving bridge patrons.

“So, we’re really going to Frogger it?” BL asked, trying not to sound too enthusiastic at the prospect.

What I wanted to say was that I surely was a Frogger champion long before he was born. I have placed a quarter on the “next up” line for Frogger in a video arcade. Of course we would Frogger it.

What I did say was, “Yes.”

This gentleman is a fisherman on the bridge one week every year.
This gentleman is a fisherman on the bridge one week every year.

Getting ready to run is so much more difficult than actually running. It is a choice to commit and to live with your choice and to place your faith as much in your own abilities as in the abilities of drivers to break on the outside chance you were wrong.

I really enjoy doing things that are dangerous for 45-year-old vaguely out of shape white guys. I engage in occasional minor crimes when I’m sure I can get away with them and (and this is the worst, more cliche of all the things) pretending that I’m on par chance-taking-wise with 20 year olds.

We hit the far sidewalk with ease. I wasn’t  certain BL even considered it an effort until we crossed back later and he admitted he hadn’t sprinted with his camera gear over his shoulder since high school.

The rest of the afternoon went as expected. We found a couple of people to talk, we struggled with the audio against the racing cars on the bridge, we Froggered back to my car. I stopped at the Royal Farms on the way home, purchased a gallon of water and drank half of it on my way back home.

Tony Russo
Tony Russohttp://Ossurynot.com
Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies and dailies before joining the team that produces OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com among other destination websites. In addition to having documented everything from zoning changes to art movements on the Delmarva Peninsula, Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer was published in 2014 and Delaware Beer in 2016. He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their two dogs comfortable.

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  1. I have fished off that bridge and it is a very cool experience. You should go to the bridge later at night or early am the people who fish off that bridge have some amazing stories and routines. It’s a great fishing bridge.


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