Vacation Memories of a Certain Mark Spitz Speedo

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Mark Spitz, 1969 Wikipedia


Corona has cancelled a lot of things this summer: parties, weddings, tournaments, travel. Vacation plans have been changed or postponed.  But today I’d like to take you on a vacation from both the 60s and 70s – both involving my brother, John Dromey. 

Let’s sit in front of the slide projector and click.

The first vacation was in 1967 in Nantasket, Mass.  John was six, I was four and there was gum, Dubble Bubble, about 20 individually wrapped pieces. The beach was hot; the gum was sticky, it was a sweaty 90 degrees. 

Susan Dromey Heeter, Joyful Musings

And, John, being six, decided to make a necklace out of his gum. I was enthralled, watching the creativity behind this early jewelry making. He rolled it out, attached it to his chest.  It was stunning – I believe it even had a big medallion, undoubtedly a tribute to his pride of transforming something that had been in his mouth only moments before into a pink, sticky, glorious accessory.  

I believe that gum necklace stayed on John’s little six-year-old chest for weeks; the melting of the pink embedded around his neck.  

To this day, I cannot eat a piece of Dubble Bubble without thinking of transforming it into jewelry, perhaps an ankle bracelet, a ring.

In 1973, there is another John Dromey vacation story told far better by John himself.

“It was Gloucester. It was 1973 after the ‘72 Olympics. I had a Mark Spitz Stars and Stripes Speedo. Walking down the beach one day, I puffed up my chest and walked by four local 16-year old girls on a blanket.  I thought I looked so cool.  

As I walked by, one of them said, ‘Hey, it’s Mark Spitz!’ They all started cracking up.” 

“I ran home to the cottage and threw it away.”

Today, John’s job is in Gloucester and he shared, “I work with a local woman who is about three years older than me and has been going to that beach since she was a kid.  She is Italian. I always tell her, ‘I know it was you and your friends.’ She always says, ‘Most likely.’

“They always made fun of the tourists, especially pasty white Irish kids wearing Speedos.”

It’s challenging in these COVID times to think of cancellations, to postpone, to mourn vacations not taken. 

Alas, dear Joyful Musers, sometimes it’s glorious to take a vacation to Dubble Bubble necklaces, Mark Spitz speedos, and John on the beach. 

Do share any stories you may have; I’d love to hear from you.

Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.

The opinions expressed are those of the writer. takes no position on politics, but welcomes diverse opinions. email

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