Growing up in Philadelphia and New York meant that you spent your summers at the Jersey Shore or “Down the Shore”. There is truly no place in America like the Jersey Shore (I am not talking about the television show).
I spent my early years in Wildwood Crest, and it was great. It was home-town Americana – 4th of July fireworks, The Crest Pier, parades, Diamond Beach, and baseball – I was on a Little League team sponsored by Woolworth’s. I had friends who lived in Wildwood year round and friends that came down in the summer. The Crest was a family-type place, it was dry – no bars or liquor stores, but there were miles of very wide beaches and dunes, surfer’s beach, and Sunset Lake known as “the bay” to go crabbing or fishing. I was a life guard on the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol in ’66-67… absolutely the best job in the world.
If we wanted excitement we would ride bikes, buses or ultimately cars two miles north to Wildwood, where there was always plenty of action going on. Tons of nightlife with bars (taprooms) like the Shamrock a.k.a. the Shammy that offered 7 Drafts for a Dollar; nightclubs with big-name acts like Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, etc., The Starlight Ballroom had a rock-n-roll dance party every night. And of course there was the boardwalk, which was a few miles long with lots of amusement piers, rides, roller coasters, games, hot dogs 2 for $.25, cheesesteaks, Kohr’s frozen custard, even alligator wrestling… kids loved it… parents loved it. There was something for everybody, rich, poor or middle-class. It was generally known as pretty rowdy town, but it was fun.
I also spent quite a lot of time in beautiful Avalon and Stone Harbor, both of which were a lot more reserved, with kind of preppy-type crowd. I used to go to a coffee house in SH, where I sang folk songs while wearing a beret (in the summer)… how embarrassing. I frequently visited friends in Ocean City, Sea Isle, Atlantic City, Brigantine, LBI, Lavallette, Sea Girt, and Manasquan, each a variation on Jersey Shore theme.
In 1985, we bought a small house in Cape May Point, a wonderful place at the southern tip of the state. We had 6 great summers at the Point. Cape May proper, two miles north, is a beautiful Victorian town that was completely rebuilt in the 1880s, so it’s mostly High Victorian architecture with distinctive rooflines, and ornate gingerbread moldings and trims that are painted in authentic period colors, 5-7 colors for each house. It was and is a very special place with excellent restaurants that serve gourmet food in a relaxing laid-back atmosphere.
Nowadays we spend quite a bit of time in Point Pleasant and Bay Head. They have a little different vibe than South Jersey, but are 110% Jersey Shore. My children and grandchildren live there, and thankfully everyone is okay. But it’s really heartbreaking to see the devastation in these shore towns; it’s so difficult not to get emotional when I see the pictures and videos. There’s no doubt that the good part of the shore will be rebuilt, but there will be some things that are lost forever.
Even though I am a Miamian for the last 17 years, a big part of me is still Down the Shore. To all my family and friends up there, I am certain you are getting your Jersey attitudes back in gear… no friggin’ Hurricane Sandy is going to keep you down.
Share your Jersey Shore memories and photos in the comments section below.
Ray is a Community Newspapers columnist and writes Ray on Real Estate
The following pictures are of some of the destruction that took place in Point Pleasant, NJ and Brielle, NJ. Please upload your own and they will be added to this gallery.