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Bill and Sheri Cook, Ocean City Stories #82

Bill and Sheri Cook could be having Happy Hour anywhere and in fact they still might. They stopped by Buxy’s Salty Dog Tavern to say goodbye as they prepared to move to their winter home. It wouldn’t be right to call them snow birds because when they’re done packing up in Ocean City they head over to Cumberland, which, to be fair, is no Miami Beach.

Still, they are comfortable in the valley and, Sheri says, mostly protected from the snow there. Bill added that they had less snow there than here last winter, and Sheri agreed with his agreement for emphasis. The pair doesn’t so much finish one another’s sentences as take turns providing color commentary on the other’s stories.

Enjoying the beach and the bars

The picture they put together is one of a couple who have reached maximum comfort. He loves the beach, if not more than she does at least differently than she. He minds the cold less. Bill usually stays on much later than Sheri, who had never been in Ocean City as late as November for some time, but Bill persuaded her to hang on because the first week of November was absolutely spectacular.

He was, in fact, lobbying for another week but Sheri already was planning her weekend in Cumberland. Bill would stick it out for a couple more days, maybe a little longer. His decision had to do with the practical weather, as did hers, but their different tolerances for cold and wind were the deciding factors.

The couple walks on the beach in the morning pretty much every day. Once the weather begins to turn they use the morning walk as a barometer for anticipating their departure date.

Bill has been coming down since the 1970s.

“I fell in love with this place the first time I came down,” he said. He bought his place in 1987 and since then has spent the better part of his year at the beach. Sheri says it is their primary residence, but makes a pitch for how beautiful Cumberland is, with the steeples and all, Bill agrees, shakes a little salt into his beer, and continues his brief history.

Buxy’s Salty Dog

He’s a fan of Buxy, whom he remembers from the days when the current owner of Buxy’s was a bartender at Bull on the Beach. Ocean City remains the kind of place where people have a thumbnail biographical sketch of their favorite places and bartenders. If you hang around long enough it becomes part of your lexicon.

Buxy had long-ago dubbed Mr. Cook “Wild Bill” and still refers to him that way.

“There were days when I would run up and down this block catching all the Happy Hours,” Bill said, reaching around and waving his finger horizontally and repeatedly at the space where Coastal Highway would be if Buxy’s didn’t have a wall.

He turns back and shrugs. There are a lot more people (and rules) here, even in the off season and, for him, it’s easier to pick one place closer to his house for Happy Hour. Still, he makes it a point to treat himself occasionally to a snort at Buxy’s, as much to say hello to the owner when he’s around as to remind them that Wild Bill still knows a good bar when he sees one.

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