Jan 21, 2011

Wildwood, NJ The Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore, she ain't what she used to be.
I spent my entire childhood going to the Jersey Shore for a weeklong family vacation every summer. A random variety of aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors would go with us each year. We'd spend all day long on the beach and all night on the boardwalk, pictured above. The 1970's Jersey boardwalk is something everyone should experience.

Flashing lights, the smell of pizza, popcorn, cotton candy and hoagies.
Carnies charming you into a game. Sounds of the tram beeping and the thump, thump, thump of bicycle tires on the boards.

The breeze, always a warm breeze. Invisible dogs, anybody remember them? One year everyone was walking their "invisible dogs."

We always stayed at the Sea Edge Motel. The Wildwood beach was big and getting bigger each year. The walk from the motel down to the surf was long and hot, how well I remember that horrible walk, loaded down with chairs, umbrellas, coolers.
And one year when I was very small, I got lost. I had taken something to the trash can and had gotten turned about somehow. A couple lifeguards in a red jeep picked me up and drove me around until my frantic, wild-eyed mom saw me and flagged them down. I was leaning against the tailgate chugging an icy coke and thus began a very strong subconscious attraction to lifeguards.
Wildwoodians will remember on that huge expanse of beach, as you lay roasting and toasting, the little guys would come by, papers slung over their back, yelling "Philadelphia. Daily News. Daily News. Here!" Over & Over & Over with a pause between words. We never once bought a paper.
The Sea Edge was a lot of fun. We had several rooms blocked for family. After all day on the beach, we'd drag back in to shower and change, one at a time, taking turns swimming or playing shuffleboard while waiting.
My cousin and BFF Julie went with us a few times. I can remember cousin Terry being there some, playing the carnival games on the boardwalk, flirting with the carnies. Aunt Becky one year came out on the balcony in a two-piece. Aunt Becky was the shyest, quietest person on the planet, I don't know who got her to wear that bikini for 5 minutes. She and Uncle Harold were usually there, he always wanting a hoagie at the nearest hoagie shop. Wheelocks went at least one time because I remember her cleaning - even vacuuming - the room before leaving, despite maid service. And one time we just got in the car and drove down for a spontaneous girls weekend - I think that was the Jones girls, mom, and someone else, maybe Barb? Looking back, it was an odd combination. I don't know how it came about.
That, my friend, is what "The Jersey Shore" means. Good, old fashioned pure Americana. None of this 2010 Jersey Shore tv show trash. Things sure ain't what they used to be.


Ruth said...

No one had to talk Jim's mom into the bikini thing. It was all her idea! She worked hard to keep it quiet, trying to find a bathing suit to borrow. She sure didn't tell dad! He was probably the most stunned person there.

And then there was the time we had a fake fashion show at a mother's day dinner at church. Mom was one of the models; she was to model a slipover sweater. She came slinking out in a pink sweater and a jazzy black full slip over the sweater, wearing a Cleopatra wig. The ladies had no clue who she was!

Mom said...

Those were the days my friend I thought they'd never end da da da da da da da da da da!!! Sure miss those days but the memories are great. I remember Aunt Beck got that suit from Jackie Carroll and how well I remember Uncle Harold's "grin" amid the shock!