Friday, December 31

Coney Island: Where the Magic Began

The Jersey Shore at the turn of the 20th century was an exciting place to be, a real piece of Americana.
Inspiring the Jersey Shore run, just outside the area, was the Grand-Daddy of all shore amusements: Coney Island -- buildings aglow, circus animals, freaks (sorry, it was an acceptable term and amusement back then), high-divers, even Venetian-type canals. What I would have loved: Midget City. I am such a fan of the Little People shows on TLC, I'm sure I would have enjoyed Midget City.
Just before Coney Island began to deteriorate in the mid 1900s, there lived a young lady named Patti Van Note. Patti grew up in a nearby NJ neighborhood. The highlight of her summers were, of course, trips to Coney Island. The most memorable trip happened circa 1949, in the Truman days and the brand new VW Punchbug days and the Red Scare days, when Patti's good friend Nancy Katmeyer told Patti there was a bus heading to Coney Island that weekend, did Patti want to go? Patti knew her parents would let her go because she had just earned $25 working two weeks at the town hall, filling in for Aunt Peggy.
The weekend arrived. Patti saw Nancy and her boyfriend approaching the bus with an odd fellow tagging along, a fellow in a maroon shirt and red sweater. Patti never would forget that maroon shirt and red sweater, what was up with that?
They boarded the bus for Coney Island. Nancy sat in a seat with her boyfriend, leaving Patti in a seat with the odd fellow. A funny thing happened on that trip to Coney Island with the odd fellow in a maroon shirt and red sweater. Little Patti fell in love. By the end of the night, Patti knew she wanted to marry that boy someday and have bunches of well-dressed children. The odd fellow? Jim Sliker.
(photo: thier children Marilyn, Glenn, Nancy, Bobby and little Tommy in front. Missing: Kathleen)
Jim passed away in October, 2010. This coming Monday would be Jim and Pat's 60th anniversary.
On my first visit to Jim's house when Jim no longer lived there, I got to hear Pat tell me about the day they met and now I never will forget that maroon shirt and red sweater. We love you, Papa. Your house is not the same without you.

1 comment:

mom said...

Jim was one of the nicest men I ever met. 'tho I can't imagine that impeccably dressed man in maroon and red!!