Family Revisits Ruskin Place Bench Every Year on Vacation in Seaside

Family Revisits Ruskin Place Bench Every Year on Vacation

Elizabeth Cotton and her husband Marc Cotton have been coming to Seaside on vacation every summer since they got married 20 years ago. And every year, the couple takes a photo on the same bench in Ruskin Place.

couple in park

Now, they have five children – Henry, 18, Ruby, 17, Teddy, 15, Benny, 12 and Annie, 10 – who have grown up visiting Seaside every summer and posing for their sweet family photo. 

Elizabeth and Marc live in Kirkwood, Mo., and first ventured to Seaside on their honeymoon, which Marc planned as a surprise. 

“We had our hands full with wedding plans and preparations and he took care of this aspect all on his own,” Elizabeth remembers. “He told me to pack for the beach, which was all I needed to know. At that time, not many people we knew had heard of Seaside, which is definitely something that has changed in the last 20 years.”

couple in park

family on bench

Elizabeth describes the town as very quiet back then, even in early August, which led to a slow-paced vacation. They spent their time riding bikes, taking pictures and eating at Pickle’s Burger & Shake and Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant. When they stopped at a coffee shop in Ruskin Place, Marc snapped their picture by setting up the timer on the bench across from where they were sitting – which would start a lifelong tradition. The photo ended up being one for their favorites, which reminded them of their honeymoon. 

By their next vacation, Elizabeth and Marc returned with baby Henry. While it was a bit of a less relaxing trip this time around, it was still equally exciting as they revisited some of their favorite spots, including The Chapel at Seaside and the house from “The Truman Show” movie. 

“When we were in Ruskin Place, we saw the bench from the honeymoon photo and thought we should recreate the picture with our little addition, Henry,” Elizabeth recalls. “We thought it would be so nice to come back every year with our kids as they grow, show them Seaside and take a picture on the bench.”

As they returned with their other children, they started planning the trips to include their bench picture – and a visit to Pickle’s. 

“I love looking back through them to see the kids’ growth,” Elizabeth says. “They started on my lap, and then sat alone. They lost teeth, then got braces on and off. The hairstyles and clothing choices remind me of all the little changes they’ve gone through. And the bench shows us how much they’ve grown. 

family on bench

family in ruskin place

“We’ve definitely outgrown that bench, but Marc and I love to load it up every year anyway,” Elizabeth jokes. In 2020, they had a new addition for bench photos – their dog, Maisie. 

Each year, they worry that the bench might be moved and in 2020, it wasn’t exactly where it used to be because of social distancing. Luckily, with some quick thinking they rearranged the bench just for the photograph before moving it back. 

For their 10-year wedding anniversary, Elizabeth collected all of the beach pictures and posted them on Facebook. Elizabeth then started posting the photos yearly, which has become a hit with her Facebook followers. 

people on bench

Now, of course, they can use a phone for a camera instead of painstakingly uploading each photograph. Despite the changes around Seaside, their yearly photo remains a way to remember their trip and see how their family has grown over the years.

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