Quick, where’s “Children’s Beach?”
If you’re a local from Chatham and you had trouble answering that question, you’re not alone. Having covered the town for nearly 60 combined years, our Chatham reporters didn’t know. A couple of lifelong residents we spoke with were stumped. The parks and recreation department doesn’t use the name, nor does the chamber of commerce. Aside from a few sparse references in our archives dating back to 1969, that name for the swimming area at the Oyster Pond seems to have been all but swallowed up by history.
What’s the difference? Language matters.
The first we’d heard of Children’s Beach were in calls for the town to protect swimmers from seals and sharks; town officials are now exploring various options that might provide a safety barrier for bathers at the Oyster Pond. For those who believe such steps are necessary, referring to the beach as Children’s Beach makes the argument seem more compelling. That’s even though it’s likely that far more children are using Harding’s Beach on a busy summer’s day, and Harding’s Beach is located closer to areas where sharks and seals are regularly found.
It’s just a reminder of the importance, and influence, that our language holds.