Summers at the Jersey Shore in the 60s- As Good as it Gets!
My earliest teenage memories of growing up in Ocean City,
New Jersey in the 60s were of getting up early on a summer morning, packing a
thermos with milk, making peanut butter
and jelly crackers and heading down to the beach to beach comb: one who
scavenges along the beach- (Am. Heritage Dictionary). My cousin Susie or a
girlfriend and I would look for tickets
under the boardwalk that might have been dropped from the amusement park, searched
for abandoned buckets, shovels and maybe even some money. This was even before
One summer, I even had a paper route and would fold newspapers
to our 45s to the tunes of the Monster
Mash, Angel of the Morning and The Twist - my Dad's collection from when he
co-owned "The Tuckaway" dance hall in Tuckahoe, NJ.
An afternoon outing on the boardwalk, of course without
parents, would include a quarter for a walk thru the Tahiti "Jungle Fun," the
Glass House or the Spook House, a scary ride in the dark. Then with our other
quarter, we would hit Lazalere's, the penny candy store and maybe even splurge
for a macaroon at George's or salt water taffy at Shriver's. On a special
occasion, we might do a painting with spin-art where you get to choose the
colors by squeezing paints. Having your portrait done in chalk was not in our
price range. But we might splurge for 4
photos at the photo booth- 25 cents as well. (Check out the evidence in the above photos)!
If lucky we might spend a day at the Flander's Hotel salt-water
pool or tan all day at the beach. Those were the days when there were no beach
tags and no SPF on the lotion; baby oil was the lotion of choice.
Then at night, we would head back to the boardwalk for mini-golf,
the Ferris wheel, the Scrambler and Tilt-a-whirl- my favorites. I never liked
the bumping cars, because I thought it quite rude for these young macho boys to
keep ramming their cars into mine while I was still spinning in circles.
If we were daring, we would go into The Bird Cage which was
the local "head shop" for hippie clothing. I also remember the crowds of
hippies who would stand in groups on the boardwalk in their anti-establishment
clothes. All that I dreamed of was to fit in to that group when I got older. In
a few years, I graduated into the worn blue jeans, flannel shirt, afgan shawl, floppy
felt hat and moccasins and listened to the preachers of our day-Jimi Hendrix,
the Beatles and the Who. The Purple Dragon Coffee Shop was off-limits, because
that was where the kids on drugs hung out to be counseled by the adults serving
coffee-an interesting concept!
The food on the boardwalk was awesome from Mack & Mancos
Pizza to Johnson's Popcorn to Kohr Brother's soft serve ice cream. Another
staple was Simm's Restaurant with their famous cinnamon buns. Once I was old
enough, I spent 4 summer's at Chris's Seafood Restaurant on the bay working my
way up from breading girl to payroll
secretary to selling boat tickets for a ride on Chris' famous Flying Saucer or
the Wild Goose. The restaurant was also known for their famous rum buns. Sadly
Simm's and Chris's are no longer there. I only lasted one day trying to swirl
ice cream into cones and one day as a waitress. I could never remember if they
wanted iced tea or soda.
The smells and sounds of summer are still with me...the screams
on the rides, the pizza, the ice cream, the popcorn. What a wonderful childhood
to have grown up in Ocean City... And to pass those memories on to our children
and now our grand children...As good as it gets.