West Wharf Rock Contest Entries
We've received many wonderful submissions! Click on the previews below to see the whole photo and story.
Be sure to submit your own story and/or photos here.
After the death of my father, I decided I would take my mother on vacation every summer. I live in Indianapolis, IN and she lives in Reading, PA. I wanted time alone with her and not have to share with my siblings for the short time I had with her. My intern found this hotel and my mother and I fell in love with it. We just spent our 14th summer there and had our 14th picture on the rock taken. This is the one from this year. She is now 85 and I will always treasure this time I have had with her. We sit on the porch and talk, read, and enjoy each others company. We have visited all the sites to see, but enjoy the porch and weddings the most. I have photos of every wedding we watch. We both have albums from each year of our excursions. Hopefully with God's good grace, we will have many more times on the porch! One more thing, the people we have met over the years that work at the hotel are spectacular. They have become our friends. Thank you for the special time I have spent with my mother at the Madison Beach Hotel.
The beginning of our new life together...photo taken by AKD Photography
Wedding day...beautiful day on the rocks for pictures
Ryan and Erika Carbray
My husband and I stayed at the Madison Beach Hotel on our wedding night, Sept 2, 2012. The entire day and night was magical. It was everything we had dreamed about, minus actual fireworks which were not going to happen. Being completely overjoyed, we walked into our oceanfront suite (still wearing the wedding gown and tux) and to our surprise, the first thing we saw was an amazing fireworks show over the West Wharf rocks!!! It was unbelievable, beautiful, and something my husband and I still get chills thinking about. It was our VERY first moment being alone as husband and wife. It really felt like our own personal fireworks show celebrating our marriage. We both stood there, on the balcony, enjoying the moment while being slightly in awe. The rocks were lit up by the fireworks and glimmering in the ocean. It was such an amazing way to begin our marriage. I had always wished I got photos of the fireworks that night. One night, while staying at the hotel months later, I was browsing in the store at the artwork. Right in front of me was a painting of fireworks over, none other than the West Wharf rocks. I immediately purchased it and forever have that memory. Thank you West Wharf rocks, for starting our marriage off as a fairy tale. Love Ryan and Erika
This is a picture of my daughter Lauren enjoying a late afternoon on the rocks. It was 2009 and she was 4 years old. This year, as a 7-year old, she returned to the remodeled Madison Beach Hotel for a Father-Daughter dance. She's a young girl with already so many nice memories of Madison.
I was at the rocks shortly after the movie Jaws came out. A group of children were playing at the shoreline when a man, who was fishing from the rocks, caught a Sand Shark. As he reeled the fish in all of the children started running and screaming JAWS, JAWS, JAWS.The adults all had a good laugh over that scene.
I was born and raised in Texas. However, my parents were from CT. My grandmother, her sisters and numerous cousins lived in Madison. My brothers, sister and I spent every childhood summer in Madison at my Grandmother's house on Bradley road. And almost every afternoon at West Wharf beach. When I was very small, my oldest cousins told me the rock (in my picture) was a real whale and of course I believed them. As I got older I would sit on it and sunbathe or think. It was always MY whale rock. I remember when Surf Club opened and we went there - no boats in the way and a snack bar (no more waiting on the Good Humor man). I still rode my bike to West Wharf to sit on the rocks. As I grew older the visits to CT became further apart. Everytime I do manage a trip, I visit the rocks and let the sea bring peace and relaxation. The rocks are my heaven on earth.
In April 2014, it will be 20 years since we had our first date at The Wharf restaurant and began our story at the rocks. My now husband proposed on the rocks and it's a small wonder the ring did not fall into the LI Sound. In October 1997, we had our wedding reception at The Wharf and all of our photos were taken on the rocks. We have now lived in Madison for 15 years and have shared many more memories and a few skinned knees with our 2 children at the West Wharf rocks. The rocks hold special meaning for my husband and myself and they always will.
In the late eighties I was employed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). I did a survey of marine recreational fishermen. One of my favorite places to do the survey was on the "Rocks" at West Wharf. I found a nice fishing knife there, which I still have.
I once lived in Beacon Falls, CT and being new to the area, was hoping to find something redeeming about the CT shoreline. Visiting the town of Madison and more specifically, the Madison Beach Hotel, with its picturesque shoreline and signature rocks, have now carved a vision in my memory for one of the most enjoyable places I've had in New England to spend time. This photo was taken Aug 8 2013 preceding The Fixx concert, so I could show a friend who lived about 3 hours away, how beautiful the area really is.
I spent my first twelve summers, from 1948 to 1960, with my parents and 4 siblings in the frame cottage which sits directly next door to your hotel to the west. They were the most blissful moments of my life and the West Wharf Rocks were the center of those summers. They were the first thing I saw every morning when I woke up to the wonderful smell and sound of outboard motors. Actually, my friends and I thought the Rocks belonged to us. We knew every inch and crevice of them. We had names for many of the natural shapes and formations in them. There was the "Grand Staircase", the" easy chair", the" sofa", and the" Grand Canyon." And below the high tide line at the perimeter of the Rocks was" Treacherous Territory" which we explored and studied from our inflatable rafts with the view windows. That's how I sustained the worst sunburn, on my back ,of my life to date. I remember checking out the cunners, sea robins and even blowfish which were caught and put into tidal pools by grownup anglers whom we "tolerated" on our Rocks. During my last summer there Jonathan and I made a daring "rescue" of a young couple who were foundering off "Land's End" in their Sailfish. Boy did I feel grown up. I don't live in Madison any more, but I did visit the Rocks a few years ago with my daughter the summer before she went off to college. It was to view the Forth of July fireworks, and I couldn't believe it-we found seats on the "Sofa".
I came to the Madison Hotel Beach Hotel for a retreat to recharge. I couldn't have picked a better in state location. The rocks were beckoning me and I waited until I would not have share my time with them. Being out there was not only refreshing but gave me a sense of liberation and triumphant feelings. Although I set out to take this journey alone it didn't feel that way. I am grateful that I found a place of peace in the Madison Beach Hotel wharf rocks!! A memory I will cherish for a long time to come!
I grew up in Madison, but had cousins from Pennsylvania. I'll never forget standing on those rocks (around 1964)when I was about 5 years old with my father. My cousins were visiting and the first thing they wanted to see was the beach. I asked my father why they were so excited to see the beach. He replied "Bonnie, they don't have beaches in Pennsylvania." I was in shock. At that age, I just assumed everyone had a beach! Incidentally, my father was a chef at the Madison Beach Hotel in the early 70s. Elwood "Frenchy" Reider. Many great memories of the hotel and the wharf.
Madison is my husband's hometown and we've enjoyed West Wharf with our family for over 40 years. Here's a picture of early March visitors to the famous rocks.
We celebrated our granddaughter's 8th birthday at Madison Beach Hotel. She loved climbing on the rocks.
One summer day, many years ago (about 1947), a young Brooklyn boy was magically swept away by a good fairy on a magic carpet (his aunt & the Pennsy R.R.) to a place called Madison. There was grass & sand & water but most of all there was a mountain to climb---THE ROCK!
We were going to spend three weeks at the Madison Beach Hotel. We were met at the station by a young man driving a gleaming wood sided station wagon. He took us to this place right on the beach! Wow, was I dreaming---I saw the water but then I saw the waves crashing on THE ROCK. I knew I would have to explore every part, right out to the very ends.
For the next 7 or 8 years this was my summer away from Flatbush! Each year my feet got tougher & I could run---really run barefoot over the rock. Knowing when I had to jump over or around a tidal pool full of snails & crabs. Run right to the end where on a windy day the waves would almost knock you off, but they wouldn’t dare I had conquered THE ROCK.
My uncle, a NYC Detective had somehow found Madison & the Hotel. He was a friend of the owner at the time (Phil Decker—I think). His name was Charlie & he knew lots of jokes. Everyone there seemed to know & like him. He even got involved when the waitresses put on their Saturday night Musical on the front porch. I still remember their holding candles as they sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as the waves lapped the beach. WOW!!
After a few years I sadly learned we weren’t going to the Hotel any more. Seems Uncle Charlie had an argument with Mr. Decker and we were going to the Dolly Madison instead. So that became my hangout for the next few years---at least I still had my ROCK! Some time about 1955 Uncle Charlie found Cape Cod & it was Goodbye to Madison---Hello Hyannis, but I never forgot THE ROCK.
Fast Forward----2009--- I just cracked “70” Living now in Chicago. I got an invite to visit a cousin at his summer place on Cape Cod. My wife, a Chicago girl, had never been there---Lets Go!---but---Idea-- lets go via Madison (to see my ROCK).
We arrived on a cloudy Saturday afternoon. Checked in at The Dolly—(Beach Hotel booked---convention). We walked to the ROCK. Just as I remembered, I guess it’s hard to change a ROCK.
As we now CAREFULLY walked out on the ROCK, I noticed 3 little boys looking for snails in a tidal pool & an older gentleman standing nearby. I said “Wow I used to play in that pool 50 some years ago!” He surprised me by saying they were his great grand kids & that he played here 60 years ago!! I said I used stay at the Beach Hotel when I was young. He said he had worked at the Hotel as a young man!! He was a bell hop & picked up people at the train station in a wooden sided wagon!
I said we moved to the Dolly when my uncle a NYC detective had a fight with Mr. Decker. He said, “ a lot of people did”, who is your Uncle? I said Charlie Stapleton. He YELLED “Charlie Stapleton!! I knew your Uncle---we were good friends---He was always a lot of fun. We used to play jokes on some of the guests”
He said some nights after dinner people walked down to the wharf to watch the sunset & Charlie, who was also a ventriloquist, would stand near some ladies and shout “Help, help!” seemingly coming from the water & really shake them up!!
END OF STORY----We all had dinner together that night & talked of Charlie and the Good times. And how could it be possible that on a chilly Saturday afternoon 55 or so years after my last boyhood view of the ROCK I would stop and talk to someone who may have taken me from the train to the ROCK the very first time.
The gentleman is Gene Kelly and last I heard he still goes to the Madison Beach Hotel with his Family!!
We were married at the Madison Beach Hotel seven years ago this month, August 12. The day was absolutely perfect and the staff, food and accommodations could not have been any better. Thank you for making our day unforgettable. We go there every year on our anniversary at the same time we got married to celebrate with champagne on the beach, walk on our favorite rock which takes us back to our special day and ending with a fabulous dinner which always includes lobster! Our day there every year is always perfect like the day we were married...it is always magical.
My husband Richard and I planned our 25th. wedding anniversary celebration for a long time and the winner was the Madison Beach Hotel. We had two unforgettable days there on a balmy September week.The rocks in this picture are one of the many sights that felt me with wonder during our stay in that fabulous place.
We had our wedding reception at the Madison Beach Hotel Sept 1, 2012. It was a perfect day from the weather to the food and at the perfect location. I grew up playing on these rocks so it brought back many wonderful memories of my childhood.
In 1952 my mother and father built a small cottage at Tuttles Point, not far from the Madison Hotel, over looking the Long Island Sound, and the adventure began. Year after year we would visit during the summer and while my father would work to improve the cottage I would explore the marshes, tidal pools and all that this beautiful area would offer a young boy. I sailed with new friends and learned to water ski and clam. Even low tide held secrets waiting to be discovered. Bare feet became the acceptable foot wear for all the kids on the point. Years later my parents would sell their cottage, for it had been part of their plan to use the profits to supplement their retirement. I have, over the years returned many time to smell the salt air and gaze longingly at Faulkner's Island, that welcoming icon of the rocky shore. In 1990 I brought my dear wife to the Madison Hotel for our honey moon and she too fell in love with New England and specifically your rocky tidal pools, the invigorating water and the view. We've been back since then to the Madison Hotel to be reacquainted with an old friend. What is about the sea that draws us back again and again and again? As I now gaze into the eyes of my grand daughter I see another generation waiting to look under the rocks at low tide and search the tidal pools for calling cards that say hello to a new child and welcome back to an old friend.
I've enjoyed many sunsets from these rocks, and look forward to many more.
The second picture was taken sometime in the 1950's. I have not been to the MBH since it was redone. But my family and I have fond memories of the original one.
The third photo is a picture of me, my mom and my grandma about 1955. Our entire family went to the original hotel every summer for years. I have very fond memories of the rocks, the beach and the famous people who used to eat in the dining room. Loved staying in the cottages!
This is a photo of my son Marc Augustine when he was 19. We had been at the Wharf that day to take photos for his modeling portfolio. He was taking some pictures of me too and people were asking us if we were taking photos for a magazine. I explained what we were doing. When he got to the agent's office the next week they asked who his photographer was he said shyly, "My mom." They asked me if I was a professional. I retorted, "No I am not. Those photos were taken with a new camera I had just gotten that day and I didn't even know how to use it correctly." This photo is one of my favorites of him.
On October 31, 1992 (Halloween!) our daughter was married on the lawn of The Wharf just in front of the rocks. It was a dreary day and threatening rain but the young couple, both hikers, rock climbers, and dancers, really wanted the ceremony to be outside. It was chilly but the rain held off through the wedding and picture taking. The pictures - all by non-professional friends and family were taken on the rocks. Such a beautiful location and the backdrop of the Sound made every photo a prize. A reception was held inside with a delicious buffet luncheon, beautiful flower centerpieces on the tables arranged by friends, and dancing to music taped by our son. Over the years the wedding guests still remember the day and proclaim it to be "the most fun wedding" they have ever attended. Attached is our favorite photo of the happy couple.
IRENE ON THE ROCKS
Hurricane Irene was just beginning to say “goodnight” when I arrived at West Wharf with my canvas and paints. Waves were crashing and huge globs of foam were blowing through the air, coating the rocks. As I lashed my canvas into the back of my car, under the slim protection of the tailgate, the wind buffeted the car and tried repeatedly to steal my palette. The waves were roiling and crashing and the light and color was truly exciting. For a painter who loves to work from life whether figure, still life or landscape, the thrill of painting storm Irene was exhilarating. Although the storm caused extensive damage to the Madison shoreline and the wharf itself, these famous rocks remained intact, as they have forever. Fortunately, the hotel architect had the foresight to allow for potential flooding! Through the two days and night process of working on my painting, I finished with a much increased respect for mother nature and the satisfaction of standing my ground on these remarkable rocks.
Emotions were rocky, finances were tough, energies were low.A walk,talk,lots of hugs and nice kisses--on the Rocks pointed out marriage in an nicer loving place.
Pete Ward - the “Hotel Manager” – picked up some of us at the New Haven train station one late Spring afternoon and drove us to the old Madison Beach Hotel in the back of a black, round-fendered Ford pickup truck. That first night we went out on the rocks and had what we called a hottenanny. Pete was a good guitar player and he knew a lot of Dylan songs. Kenneth Decker owned the hotel back then. Every summer he hired twenty-five college girls and twenty-five college guys. Not a bad plan if you think about it. Mostly we came from states east of the Mississipi River. I didn't know destiny from a house cat, but my future wife Jane, from Ohio, sat back to back on the rocks behind me. We exchanged wisecracks and sang about freedom and how This Land is Your Land and There Ain't no Use to Sit and Wonder Why, Babe. The next morning I realized that I didn't know what Jane looked like. I was from North Carolina and I was the pot washer, also known as the Kitchen Manager because, for another ten dollars a week I got to peel the potatoes. I asked around and found out that Jane was a waitress. I finally got up my nerve and asked her out, me kneeling over a dust pan in the kitchen and her sweeping the kitchen floor. On our first date we walked into Madison and sat for a long time just talking on the town green. Early the next summer we sat on the stone wall looking up Wharf Street and I said how I thought our religions were so different, and she said that she didn't think that was so important. I still have a clear memory of me at that moment not falling over backward off the wall. On Thursday nights we put on hootenannies in the dining room for the guests. Jane played a four string tenor guitar and I loved how she sang, I Know Where I'm Going, and I Know Who's Going With Me. Two sons and four grandchildren later we still come back, usually with our friends Dale (dishwasher), and his bride Margaret. We sit on the beach and eventually get around to, Do you remember?
Jen and Steve Colon
We got married at the Madison Beach Hotel on September 9, 2012. The forecast for over a week had predicted a storm that day, but the storm came a day early. I remember the beautiful sight of watching the waves crash over the rocks (due to the storm) from my room and listening to the fierce sound the evening before our wedding. And then waking up to calm waters and dry rocks. Before and after our ceremony, we took many pictures on those rocks and they came out beautifully. A perfect and unique setting for wedding photos. At sunset we took a few last photos and found a small boy fishing with his family on the rocks. He had just caught a baby shark and was running around squeezing it to death showing everyone. We begged him to put it back in the water and let it live, and could only convince him to do so by telling him it was our only wedding wish for the baby shark to live, and I told him he could have one of our wedding cupcakes if he put it back in the water. He reluctantly agreed, but not before showing off for our photographer.
Our wedding at Madison Beach Hotel. The only requirement "feet in the sand". Libby Rutty made it happen!
Jan and Peter Underhill
My parents started visiting the Madison Beach Hotel in the early fifties. They had an oil painting of the West Wharf Rocks done in 1952 which now hangs in my house. My wife and I began our visits in the eighties with her birthday in 1986, and this past August I celebrated my 75th with this view of the rocks from our third floor balcony. Over sixty years of wonderful memories of " West Wharf Rocks " and the Madison Beach Hotel, then and now!
My fondest childhood and teenage reminiscences are of skipping through the West Wharf rocks and jumping off of them into the tides. I would fish with my brother on furthest most rocks. The unrelenting, unceasing crashing of surfs upon the rocks, yet almost inaudible, unnoticeable, placid waves-so unpredictable. It made us crave the ever-changing milieu and long for more. Bright and early we would head down in the mornings-some of the first people to hit the rocks. We would be one of the last shadows there in the evenings. While attending college in New Haven I ran the beach weekly-never missing the chance to sit atop the rock formation that I spent so much of my youthful days carousing upon. It became a place to rest, reflect and contemplate gazing west, bathing in warm summer evenings' sun fading radiance. Fast forward 22 years. My fiance and I visited Madison together and while walking over the rocks that stretched out into the sea, we could think of no better place to marry. On 9/29/07 we wed on the Madison Beach Hotel beach with the West Wharf rocks so endearing and harmonious in the background. These intimidating, yet consenting masses, silently witnessed our declarations, accepting our vows of love with unwavering infallibility. My husband and I were sure we had chosen the perfect location for such a monumental and memorable time in our lives. These rocks hold memories from my youth, through my adult years and there are many more to be created! They have been a perpetual and protective presence in my life. They remind me of a more carefree and relaxed time in my life. Even today they provide security and a safe harbor in a world that can be so ruthless and unforgiving. Into their welcoming, accepting and familiar arms I will find myself drawn inexplicably back for years to come. For me, they hold memories too numerous to mention. Only now I bring another generation to embrace the tranquility and pacifying serenity never matched anywhere.
These are my two children enjoying a little music on the beach - courtesy of the hotel! They don't need a dance floor - just an open space to cut some moves!
Arlene and Tony Sciarretta
Tony and I were married on October 9, 2011 on the beach of the newly renovated hotel. In fact, it was so new, the facility was not open to the public as yet, we had the Madison Beach Hotel all to ourselves.
It was during the afternoon on September 26, 2012, my boyfriend calls me at work and asks me if I'd like to have dinner that evening, something romantic before he deploys off to Afghanistan. How could a girl say no to that. I was very suspicious as to what he was up to. I come home from work and he had a nice suit on and tells me to put on something nice. We arrive for dinner at the Madison Beach Hotel. Dinner was perfect. We shared a bottle of wine and the food was amazing. After desert of course my boyfriend asks if I'd like to talk a walk with him on the beach. So we stepped outside, took off our shoes and enjoyed a beautiful stroll hand in hand. He then stopped by the rocks and had asked me to make a promise on the promise ring I had bought him before he departed over seas. Once I was finished he pulls a ring out of his pocket and says I don't have to make a promise on your promise ring again because I got you a new ring to make a new promise on. He places the engagement ring on my finger and asked me to be his wife. It's a moment I'll never forgot, and we look forward to visiting those rocks each year on our anniversary to remember that amazing moment in our life.
Back in October 1994 I taking care of a gentleman that had Lou Gehrig's Disease. Him and his wife belong to this group of friends that once a year would get together for a weekend at the Madison beach hotel. They stopped going when he was confined to a wheelchair because it was to hard for his wife to handle him.So one day he asked if I would like to go for the weekend and help out.So off we went for the weekend in Oct.This was his last wish before he passed away. He was so happy to be with friends the the place he loved. I was happy that I could give him his last wish and I know why he loved this place so much. About two months later he passed on. Thank you...Oscar
I'm just a new visitor from Pennsylvania to Madison now that family lives there. The West Wharf Rocks, are an absolute stop with camera in hand. They have so much personality and atmosphere. | Now that I have family in Madison, I have to visit the rocks at each visit to explore their many moods and atmosphere.
Family Reunion August 2013 with my parents and my kids. Having come to Madison for years, we know it's spellbinding beauty but had never before stayed at MBH. We enjoyed several gorgeous days on the beach, biking, paddling and walking and it worked for all three generations, including allowing my handicapped mother, who is in a wheelchair to have a lovely, pristine room with a beachfront balcony that was fully accessible to the restaurant and hotel. My youngest loved the climbing on the rocks and pilings on the beach. Thank you.
Andrea and Tony Scarlett
We got married at Madison beach hotel last august. It was a beautiful wedding! The beach/rocks at Madison beach hotel will always hold a special place in our heart!
We moved to Madison 12 years ago,our first impression of the town was the beaches and rocks. Every visitor we have over the years we bring to the the beaches so they can make their own Madison lasting impression.
I don't have a specific story about the Rocks. I just love visiting them!
Whether it's viewing from afar the solid, grey rock formations that bravely hold back the watery stage of dancing diamond sun rays; sitting or standing upon their smooth, cool surface; or just walking on the soft, sandy beach spread out before it....there is a peaceful energy that is felt there. The gathering of many joyous, loving memories that is enjoyed by anyone willing to quiet the mind and listen. I come often to this special place to rejuvenate and reflect but also to experience this wonder of expansion felt by the spirit that resides within. What a wonderful gift this place has become and is still providing me and so many others throughout the years. Thank you! May it continue it's loving purpose. The world so needs it...especially now.
my family had only moved to madison from st. louis but a month earlier...we were happily awaiting the birth of our 2nd child, who would end up being a boy (and a week late!). the day this photo was taken was my due date: i took my mom, who was visiting in anticipation of his arrival on a walk along the water. we reached west wharf, and did yoga and stretched and breathed in the amazing air for a few special moments. i knew then, what an amazing place my family had settled into...
I spent every June at 69 Seaview getting our cottage ready for the renters. Mornings we cleaned or painted BUT by 11:30am we were free to hit the beach! As soon as I was old enough to go alone (10?) with my best friend Suzzanne we walked or rode our bikes for donuts, pizza or the West Wharf to play on the rocks. We sold the cottage in 1985 but when I was able to come back we stayed at the Madison Beach Hotel to "Stir up those memories"! I brought a friend from Ohio up in 2002 to "experience Madison while our husbands stayed home to work. It was a great time. Now its 2013...TOO MANY YEARS HAVE PASSED. Suzzane has a family, our lives got busy BUT we finally planned a reunion...18 years since we were last together! Madison is not just a place....its and experience...the sounds of the seagulls and crashing of the waves. The salt air, and beachroses that refresh you the minute you wake up. Like I never left home. Im not the same silly kid that loved climbing the rocks, jumping waves and catching fidler crabs from the rocks....I'm a 46 year old kid who did the SAME THINGS I did as a child on the rocks of the West Wharf..just alittle slower and with a greater appreciation for its beauty. A trip is aready planned for next year!
Our house is only a bike ride away from the hotel. My parents, sister and I have done many rides to come enjoy the view, food and drinks. The area is full of happy family memories.
My husband and I grew up on Lake Erie. Access to the water has been essential to both of us and we both miss it living in central Connecticut. We moved here about 20 years ago and live at least an hour from the shore or any significant body of water. Recently we are “blessed” with an empty nest as the last of our three children got jobs and moved away. We are enjoying the freedom to take a drive for lunch or dinner and the Madison Beach Hotel has been a fun destination for us. Mike snapped these photos on a perfect Saturday last weekend after we enjoyed a drink on the veranda at the Hotel. It's our new favorite spot.
We discovered the MBH in September 2012. After that weekend, it became our retreat, and has become our Thanksgiving family tradition. This was taken last winter, in January when we were hit with an unexpected, but exciting and relaxing snow storm! MBH made us love the water, beach, and snow, all in one place! What an amazing trip - we will never forget it!
Lindsey and Kevin Kossluk
Kevin and I were one of the first to get married at the newly renovated hotel. It was June 23 2012 and a beautiful day. This pic was taken on the rocks by Carla Ten Eyck photography.
25 years of contemplation, relaxation and sunsets! A true gem <3
I've visited the Rocks year round - this past winter, The Whale was frozen and never looked more real to me :)
Sharon and Doug Shoemaker
20 years ago today, on Oct 9th, 1993. I said I do, on the grassy patch between the Madison Beach Hotel & Long Island Sound. 2 years later we purchased our home on Neck Road. If you had told me the day I was married that we'd be living 2 miles from there and raising a family in Madison... I would have said "In my dreams"! 4 years ago today, the last of the old Madison Beach Hotel was demolished, I watched from the beach. I sweet-talked a demolition worker into giving me a board from the old hotel, I gave it to my husband as an anniversary gift later in the day... 20 years later I have absolutely no regrets, I married a wonderful man in a wonderful location. And both are 'home'.
ff I hear the rhythmic waves crash on the shore…I am a little baby, not much older than a few months old being cradled in my parents arms. I see the rocks for the first time and it’s as if they are saying, “Welcome to the world little one.” Madison is where my Dad grew up and asked my Mom to marry him. This year, they celebrate 40 years together.I smell the salty air as I search for “boat shells” and little creatures.I feel the warm sunlight upon my face and my toes are coated with sand.I am a little girl playing on the rocks after visiting my Grandparents on Copse Road.It’s a cool and crisp Thanksgiving Day.The rocks are saying, “Wow! You got so big!We’re thankful for people visiting us in the fall.”I sit on the little rock chair and watch the waves.I am a college freshman and I feel my boyfriend’s arms around my shoulders as we sit on the rocks and watch the fireworks.There are people surrounding me watching the sky light up.The rocks “smile,”as they love watching people come together with family and friends.They say, “Oooh and ahhh.”The next six years, my boyfriend and I visit the rocks a lot. Breathtaking sunsets,hot summer days,cool evenings, and even right before a big storm.One day in October 2003,my boyfriend gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him.There is a sparkly diamond in a clam shell.I say,“yes,”and the rocks seem to say…”We are so happy for you. Congratulations!”We go to the Warf Hotel and are served Red Diamond wine.We are married and expecting our first child.Our son, Aidan is born and we bring him to the rocks when he is a few months old.The rocks seem to say, “Welcome to the world little one.”I smile and hold my son close.Two years later, Little Baby Madison is born and she also visits the rocks as a baby.Her name is not a coincidence.She is named after this very special place.If the West Warf Rocks could talk, they would say just how special they are.They would have so many stories to tell.I love ours.
There was a strong beautiful rock.... The rock loved the little children. Each day or each summer the children would come to play. They were excited to look at the the tidal pools by turning over a rock in a small pool of water or watch the waves crash on the edge of the small beautiful rock. The children took for granted the strong, special granite below them but loved it each day they were able to be close with their special friend. As the children grew older, the rock still remained standing strong and always there for those who needed it. Young children continued to play, young boys and girls fished with their parents, young teenagers sat and held hands watching the waves experiencing "puppy love" and everyone continued to turn over rocks and watch the waves crash on the edge of the strong, beautiful rock. As they all grew older, the rock was just an extraordinary place to enjoy and marvel over, Young adults got engaged and married on the majestic rock. The one thing that never was forgotten was the turning over of the rocks in the tidal pools and the waves crashing on the edge of the strong beautiful rock. Years go by and the Rock is still there. Strong, beautiful and beckoning the children, young teenagers, young adults, and calling those who have aged to come play. The older husband and wife sit on the grass gazing at the rock or venture to timidly walk out hand-in-hand to their friend and sit. They smell the cool air, taste the misty spray in their mouths and feel it upon their faces. They remember turning over the rocks in the warm shallow tidal pools and watch the waves crash on the edge of the beautiful rock. The Rock weathered; aged with love and continues to beckon its children. Hand-in-hand they sit marveled at their life-long forever friend.
I visit the Madison Beach Hotel at least once a month for planning for my upcoming wedding in May. Here is a picture with my maid of honor and 2 of my junior bridesmaids. We are from Clinton and Madison. We had the most magical time on the rocks this perfect summer afternoon, daydreaming about how the wedding photos will look in a few months.
We first visited the rocks when relocating our family from Maryland to the shoreline. I remember my children, then in fourth and seventh grade, playing on the rocks. We used it as a icebreaker for them as a fun place associated with our relocation. I have always had a love for being near the water. Now sixteen years later our daughter is engaged to be married. She will have her reception at the Madison Beach Hotel so we can share the lovely spot with all of our family and friends.
Through the years, the rocks have been such a source of wonder as the tides come and go, revealing and covering all sorts of mysteries. My daughter and some new friends enjoyed exploring all the nooks and ponds and creatures that day. The rocks bring people together, through conversation and discovery. My daughter especially loved that her Grampa did the exact same thing when he vacationed at the hotel with his family so many years before. ------ The perfect summer afternoon as seen from our balcony at the new MBH. This view always takes my breath away as the water sparkles, the beach beckons and the rocks are filled with so many memories of exploration, tides and love. My family has been visiting Madison for years - renting homes or staying at the hotel. Those magical rocks will always remain part of the landscape of my life story.
View from West Wharf Rocks, September 2006
Splash! On the rocks, September 2006
Rob and Lori Kovi
dgfdfBefore we both met, my wife and I have each shared experiences at West Wharf with family and friends. When we first met a year and a half ago it was the kind of perfectly warm day in early May that beckons winter wearied inlanders to the shore. We found ourselves on the rocks at West Wharf where the still cool but light spring sea breeze gave an unneeded excuse to cuddle on the rocks. We talked and laughed, cuddled and held hands as the sun set, serenaded by the energetic cacophony flowing through the lights on the decks of Wharf Restaurant and the Madison Beach Hotel. For us this night is a touchstone in the development of our relationship. Little did we know at the time that we would some day be married here at the Madison Beach Hotel. Fast forward a year, my wife and I are now engaged and standing in the lobby of the Madison Beach Hotel. While waiting for the planners we stood looking through the french doors out across the rocks. It was another beautiful spring day and there it was, the magic of the place and the memories we’ve already shared there. It was clear that our choice was already made. This would we be the place we would get married.Two weeks ago Lori and I “tied the knot” at our Friday night nautical themed wedding. The wedding was exactly what we both wanted and envisioned. West Wharf and the Madison Beach Hotel were the perfect location and perfect venue for what became our perfect wedding. The following day we stood at wall on the wharf looking out once more on the rocks before we left. We were comforted knowing that we have this special place. We will always be able to visit again and again for anniversaries or special occasions. We will always be able to sit and reflect beside the tidal pools in the rocks and enjoy our memories and the lifetime of memories to come.
In the late spring of 1994 I was responsible for creating a Swimsuit Calendar as part of my job working for a National Beer Company. The girls were chosen by winning local swimsuit contests held in bars and restaurants. throughout the area. Twelve girls were picked - one representing each calendar month. As a brand new resident of Madison & having enjoyed & spent much of my first few months in town at the Madison Beach Hotel and the West Wharf Rocks I thought to myself what better place to do a photo shoot of the calendar than in my new hometown. So.. a professional photograhy crew was hired, I reserved the honeymoon suite at the hotel where the girls could get dressed & have their hair/make-up done, eat & hang out in until they were called down. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early summer we began the shoot. I would walk all the girls down from the suite in their bikinis to the rock/beach area and there the photo shoot began. After parading our 8th girl(Miss August)down from the suite through the lobby & past all the people enjoying their brunch/lunch on the outside deck I heard a somewhat familar voice yell down to me inquiring "what the heck I was doing & if my wife knew where I was that afternoon?". It was my wife's boss who was very concerned about me parading all of these scantily clad beatuiful girls around the hotel property that day. Well.. the photo shoot ended late that afternoon with Miss December much to the dismay of the large male crowd that had descended upon the rocks & we packed up all of our props and called it a day. The calendar was printed out a few months later & was a big hit with our customers especially those along the shoreline. So..whenever I'm enjoying a meal or cocktail at the Wharf Rest. or just enjoying some quite time on the rocks I'm always reminded of that magical afternoon when that beautiful area of our town was transformed into a Sports Illustrated / Venus Magazine like photo opp. Oohh.. if those rocks could talk.
Sue and I have been together for many years, and it was finally time that I asked her to marry me. I wanted to go someplace that was perfect. The thought of getting married again was anxious and exciting. Finding the right place was making me crazy, and not being able to discuss it with Sue was even worse. I wanted somewhere driving distance from NYC that had a beach, and was fancy but not overpriced. I looked all over Long Island and the Jersey Shore, and came up empty. Then, I got an email from Sue (as any great partner, she let me think I was doing all the work, while gently putting in her two cents) with a link to the Madison Beach Hotel. "What about this place?" From the moment we walked through the door there was something magical. We introduced ourselves to the concierge, Trish, who was lovely. It was like we were old friend after only a few minutes. We checked in and stopped by the cocktail reception, and were greeting by Mrs. Duques who charmed us and introduced us to the family. Even though I was nervous, everyone was just so nice it put me at ease. That night, after dinner, it was time for the big moment. I asked Sue to take a walk on the beach. It was dark, but the moon was out, and there was a steady breeze off the water. We took off our shoes, and wandered down the beach. I still had no idea where I would give her the ring. I was also afraid of dropping it in the sand in the dark. We started back to the hotel. When we got closer, we both looked over and saw a pile of rocks. The moon shining down on a place that looked absolutely perfect for a couple to share a kiss. I knew I had my spot. So on August 16th, I asked Sue to marry me on the rocks at the Madison Beach Hotel. The rest of the weekend was wonderful. The entire hotel adopted us as the "couple that just got engaged” and made us feel very special. The photo is not the actual event - we took it later. But it shows two of the happiest people on earth on a very special night at a very special place.
We were married at The Madison Beach Hotel in July of 2009, and one of our best friends, Eric Langlois of Raw Photo Design, was our photographer. He tragically died in an accident at Lover's Leap this past June, and we will forever treasure the photos that he took of us and the memories that we made at The Madison Beach Hotel.
My sister, who's also truly my best friend, lives in Arizona, and I don't get to see her as often as I'd like. She's an incredibly warm, generous person, and when she came out for a cousin's wedding October of last year, afterwards she took me on a "Sister's Adventure," which ended at the Madison Beach Hotel. I have so many wonderful memories of that weekend - watching the sun set, having drinks and dinner at the restaurant (and being interviewed and photographed by someone from the New York Times!) - but the best part of our stay, in my opinion, was the view. Here's a photo I took from our room right after we unpacked. We both loved it there, and hope to return for another "adventure" soon!
Linda and Andy, by Karie Peterson
I shot this image of Linda and Andy on their wedding back in August at The Madison Beach Hotel. Their wedding was so special, and filled with so much love! Dinner had just been served and I happened to look out on the grand deck to the beautiful sunset and West Warf Rocks and just had to get my bride and groom out there. They loved the idea so much that they sacrificed eating their dinner right away to embrace the beauty that God had given us that day. What a glorious sunset and an amazing location! I feel honored to have captured such a special moment for them and of the historic West Warf Rocks!
We are getting married at Madison Beach Hotel in May 2014. Looking forward to the beautiful location and exciting event!
My fiance and my daughter at the Madison Surf Club, the Rocks, and the Beach.
I knew that all my early childhood my grandfather would rent our whole family rooms each summer at the Madison Beach Hotel. My brother, sister and I were able to stay all week while our parents went back and forth to work each day. Our days where filled from morning to night with wonderful food, time at the beach and my favorite...playing on the rocks. When we were younger, Dad taught us how to find mussels to use as bait for our homemade crab lines. We would spend the whole day catching crabs. Swimming and hanging out on the beach was how we spent most of our time during the day with our grandparents. Then exhausted, sleeping like a rock in the old beach hotel room. I will never forget the smells, the creaky floors with the imbedded sand. My Grandfather passed away when I was 13 but the memories of all those summers never left me. One of the first drives I took when I got my driver's license at 16 was to Madison to lay eyes on my special place. From then on, there hasn't been a year that has passed that I haven't taken at least 3 or 4 trips down to just sit on "my" rock. This rock has become to me the most constant, most relaxing, inspiring place I know. Once old enough to frequent bars, the Wharf was my place to go for those special nights of great food and fun. Many, many birthday lunches and dinners over the years continued until the day I visited, with no warning it was CLOSED!! One night, I took a ritual drive down to "my rock" and to my joyful amazement, it was the grand opening night of the hotel. The building was a lit up like a festival of lights and the music from the band on the grassy knoll was filling the night. It was April 15th 2013, when I surprised my mom, her sister and best friend with a 70th BD lunch at the new hotel restaurant. We spent a wonderful afternoon of story sharing. It was then that I learned that my very first visit to the Madison Beach Hotel was when I was in the womb!!!!
Very Sincerely with Gratitude, Lisa Catherine
My woman friend, her 2 children and my son and I have been coming to the Madison Beach Hotel since 2000. Even when the new hotel was being constructed, we rented a house in town and came to the West Wharf every day of our week vacation. Now that the "kids" are in their 20's they still vacation with us at the Madison Beach Hotel. They would spend hours and hours exploring every crevice of the rock. We would enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sunset as often as possible. The memories kept us warm and happy all year long.
All of us Spence, Hoffmann and Boyd kids know all the stories by heart. My mom, Barbara Hoffmann, her sister Joan and brother Charlie all worked at the hotel in the 1940s. My mom and Joan met their spouses there, and Uncle Charlie met his future bride at a party down the beach.
Here are some of the legends:
Every new waiter or waitress began their time in the dining room by serving the hotel’s owners, the Deckers. On Uncle Charlie’s first day, he carried the food tray (not quite level) on his shoulder and left a trail of creamed onions all the way across the dining room.
The guys “borrowed” the Woody Wagon after hours by pushing it up West Wharf Road past the Dolly Madison before everyone piled in and they started the engine. On one of these jaunts, someone side-swiped the car and my dad had to fess up that he had been driving. One of their favorite destinations on these joy rides was a grinder shop in Clinton.
At summer’s end, they parked a dump truck next to the hotel and threw the summer’s beer cans out the third floor window of the attic (The Pullman) where all the guys roomed. This was apparently quite an event as the cans were piled in every nook and cranny and eave of that attic.
The waitresses lived in the Harem – a group of stifling hot rooms over the kitchen. The girls went skinny dipping one night and left their bathing suits on the rocks. When they returned, the guys had taken their suits. They never told us how they got back to the Harem!
The girls awoke one night to find the guys surfing down the Harem hallway on a mixture of soap flakes and beer!
Aunt Joan waited on Art Carney who was a guest. His brother Phil was the Desk Clerk and led weekly “song fests” on the rocks where staff and guests alike would sing Over There, I’ll Be Seeing You, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, and college fight songs.
It cost $112 per week to stay in the hotel and that included food (and great service, according to my aunt!). Many guests stayed for the entire summer. Some wives stayed and their husbands came up on the weekends. Guests were assigned a table in the dining room for their entire stay.
My mom waited on the Boyds and they told her “Just wait till Jocko comes home from the war. We can’t wait for you to meet him!”
My mom and dad rushed my aunt to a Madison doctor when she passed out in the dining room with severe stomach pain. The doctor told her to massage the area and she would be fine. She didn’t buy that and took a bus home to West Haven to see her doctor who sent her to the hospital (via trolley!) for an emergency appendectomy.
The waitresses practiced their Esther Williams water-ballet moves in what they called the Aquacades.
When my aunt became engaged, a woman she had waited on all summer invited her up to her room and gave her a whopping check for an engagement present.
The gang often rowed out to Tuxis Island for parties, and had bonfires and more sing-alongs down the beach in a vacant lot that would become the Surf Club.
Here are some of my own “rocks stories”:
When I visited Grandma Spence, we would always go to the Wharf for lunch and sat by the window overlooking the rocks in the downstairs dining room. When I turned 21, she ordered a Sherry for me, because “ladies drink Sherry.” I tried not to gag as I obediently sipped it.
On one of those visits, she pulled out of her driveway in her gigantic Chevy Impala and T-boned my little Toyota that was parked across the street. We laughed all through lunch over that one.
I still go to the rocks whenever there is a meteor shower or impending weather event. There is no better place to see what’s going on in the skies!
Speaking of the skies, on a mild, very cloudy January night in 1991, two days after Operation Desert Storm began, I went for a late night walk with my boyfriend. We sat on the rocks talking when the clouds lit up to the east of us and the light traveled over our heads and westward down the coast. We looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Did you see that??” We thought it might be a search light from a boat or headlights from a car but it was the middle of the night in the dead of winter and there were no boats or cars anywhere. There was no sound of a plane. It was absolutely silent. I still have no idea what we witnessed.
I spent many a wonderful Saturday afternoon on the deck of the Crow’s Nest eating lobster rolls and watching the scene on the rocks and the wharf. One of my all-time favorites was when two guys tried to bring their boat engine to their dinghy in an inflatable raft. The boat folded up like a clam with them inside.
But all of these stories pale in comparison to what happened on an August day in 1945. My mom was nineteen and waiting tables in the dining room. She had no idea that the couple she had waited on for three summers would soon be her in-laws, and that they would buy a home in Madison just one street away from her family’s cottage. Nor did she know that Jocko would come home – and marry her sister! She didn’t know that her first date with my dad would be at the Woodlawn, and for years her kids would yell “That’s where you had your first date!” every time we drove by it.
It was just another hot summer day in the dining room. The radio was on at the front desk when someone ran into the dining room screaming “It’s over! Japan surrendered! The war is over!” After a second of silence, chaos reigned as everyone stood and cheered and hugged and cried. Staff from all over the hotel rushed to the dining room when they heard the commotion. Meals were forgotten as guests, chefs, waitresses, bell hops, beach boys, dishwashers and chambermaids joined the conga line that grew longer as it exited the hotel. It wound its way onto the wharf, down the beach and continued up onto the rocks. The boys were coming home!