By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea.
You and I, you and I, oh, how happy we’ll be.
When I was a very little girl, I had some particular favorites among my parents’ friends. There was a crowd that congregated at the Beach each summer, and because all their children were so much older, the adults made a great fuss over my little brother and me.
One of Daddy’s friends was a lawyer who loved to perform. He sang songs for me and performed impromptu soft-shoe routines. I came to call him By the Sea, after the song he sang so often.
Daddy was one of the people who urged him to pursue the law long ago, eschewing the stage as other than an avocation. But when he retired from his legal career, By the Sea became a professional actor, a member of Equity and SAG. You may have seen him in small parts in Gods and Generals or Crimes of the Heart, or as a judge in Mississippi Burning. He took a great interest in #1 Son and wrote long letters to me after my father died with advice about colleges and the pursuit of an acting career.
Last night my brother called to say that By the Sea had died. Although I know he had become increasingly frail, and although I know he had a more than satisfactory and satisfying life, I grieve today for the amusing friend who paid attention to a little girl at Bar Association meetings, brought her Ethel Merman records and made a dull awards dinners more interesting by commenting on the head table as if we were at the Academy Awards, "interviewing" her with a rolled-up napkin as his microphone.
I like to be beside your side,
beside the sea, beside the seaside
by the beautiful sea…