Bethany Beach is a strange mix of timeless history and new tradition. Each year, the beach community swells as more and more people escape their previously hectic city lives for a taste of seaside serenity. And for many who have been taken in by Bethany’s charm, it all started with childhood trips to the seashore. Year after year, this summer pilgrimage was repeated, and now those memories compel many to share their love of Bethany with new generations.
Carol Psaros was lured in by Bethany’s siren song and has recently written a work of historical fiction, “Come Back to Bethany,” about the awesome power of this quiet community.
“I’ve been coming to Bethany since the ’50s,” noted Psaros, who now lives in the neighboring Sussex Shores community. “I was an educator for 34 years. I started out teaching English, physical education and health at Dover High School, and finished my career as Assistant Secretary of Education for the state of Delaware.
“In the time period between teaching and administration, I did a number of things; including teaching at colleges, and counseling, but in the end I wanted to come back to Bethany,” she said. “When I retired, my husband and I built a house next to my parents’ beach cottage, which is now used by my sister and family.”
“I wrote a book about my favorite place in the world, Bethany Beach,” explained Psaros. “It’s a story about families who live in Bethany, and of life near the seashore. I really wanted to tell the story in a way that would honor all the people who have lived here.”
“The first part of the story is about a Native American family,” Psaros noted. “Beth-ani, the heroine, is a 10-year-old Lenni-Lenape girl who lives near the Salt Pond in 1681, struggling to overcome the recent death of her mother.”
“The second portion of the book is based around the turn of the century,” she continued. “The Chambers family comes to Bethany in 1908, from Pittsburg. Their daughter is 13 years old and is in a leg brace from a trolley-car accident.”
“The third section,” added Psaros with a smile, “takes place in 2004 and is about a family from Wilmington, the Psaros family. For the modern section of the book, I drew heavily on personal recollections from when my parents first drove my twin sister and me to Bethany. The book is all about how the lives of these people connect. It is historical fiction; but I tried to be authentic for each time period.”
“I really wrote the book for middle-school children;” Psaros noted, “but grandparents have read and enjoyed it as well. I wanted to write a book that would capture some of the things that are unfortunately disappearing, such as the beach plum bush. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, we used to make beach plum jelly every day, but now you can only find beach plums in the state parks.
“It’s just a short book,” she noted, “but I really hope people will enjoy it.”
The book, which is full of familiar names, locations and snippets of trivia from around the town, is available in local book stores, as well as being sold at Shorty’s Woodcrafts and Old Inlet Bait and Tackle, for $12.95.
“Looking back over the history has reconfirmed my belief that Bethany is a place where families can come and have an enriching time at the seashore.” Psaros added. “You have the marshes and the ocean. You can windsurf, or canoe, or kayak or fish. Bethany is really a jewel.”