Well, as the July 4th weekend winds down and my brother gets ready to return to Jersey, I couldn’t help thinking about about how the Jersey Shore must be hopping.
Unfortunately, the weather has been less than perfect and today thunderstorms are in the forecast. At 9 AM ET, it looks positively dreary….(Current cams here)
There were many dreary days when I lived in Belmar on 1st Avenue, one block from the boardwalk in a house whose backyard went down to the Shark River. Once winter set in, the weather turned raw and windy and sometimes brutally cold. But in good weather, the fishing and party boats would pass down under my bedroom window in the early morning on the way out for a day a few miles offshore. It was truly a unique way to start my day!
The perfect time for the Belmar boardwalk was right after Labor Day when the crowds went home. The weather in the fall was crisp and clear and the boardwalk was deserted.
I have other great Shore memories. My very first one comes from a visit to Atlantic City when I was a probably about 7 years old. At the time, I wouldn’t eat tomatoes. So, when I was offered a slice of pizza from a place near the Steel Pier, I refused. Can you imagine a kid of 100% Italian heritage passing up pizza? Well, I did that day on the boardwalk at Atlantic City! (If someone reads this post and responds with a request, I will blog about my incredibly easy dough for bread and pizza–no fat, no sugar, very little yeast, and the slow rise which makes the closest thing to the real thing that you will ever taste…and I mean it, because it reminds me of the tomato pie I had in Rome sitting near the Coliseum years ago…)
Another memory comes from years later, when I lived in Red Bank before moving to Belmar. Imagine my surprise one day when one of the E-Street Band walked past me on Front Street! I was in such shock that I just let it happen, without batting an eye.
But my absolute favorite memory is from a New Year’s Eve celebration on the Belmar beach. My best friend had gone to school with John Lyons, later known as Southside Johnny. In fact, they were a couple for quite awhile. She knew Springsteen and all the crowd at the Stone Pony. That had been about 10 years before I met her and I think she still pined for John Lyons. Jean and I spent many a day and evening, cruising up and down the oceanfront, from Belmar to Long Branch. One of our favorite stops was Gaskins in Long Branch where we would stop for fried clams on a bun which cost $1.25 at the time.
On this particular New Year’s Eve. one of the NY rock stations was airing a live concert by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. We decided to commemorate the event with a ceremony on the beach. We carried sandwiches, candles, and a radio and sat there in the freezing temperatures and brutal winds to mark the occasion. The candles wouldn’t stay lit, of course, so we listened to Southside Johnny for only a short time before giving up and going home. (Southside Johnny, by the way, is still making music and still sounds GREAT! He appeared on July 3rd at the Stone Pony! Check out his site where you can download and hear his latest.)
After a few years of Shore life, my jobs took me back up to North Jersey for awhile, where my last market research job landed me in Hoboken. There were no boardwalks there, although the recent redevelopment along the Hudson River on the Jersey side may include something like boardwalks now. When I drive back to Jersey in October, for my first trip back in 8 years, I’ll have to go and see what’s there.
When I moved to New Mexico I figured my boardwalk days were over. But…NOT SO!!
Much to my delight, I found a 19th-century boardwalk in Cloudcroft along Burro Street, complete with original hitching posts.
But even closer to home there is a modern-day boardwalk in the White Sands National monument. The Interdune Boardwalk spans an area with fragile desert life which looks like a crust on the surface of the sand. It’s a fascinating walk.
So, here I am in New Mexico, thinking of the Jersey Shore and the boardwalks and the ocean. But at least my “substitute” boardwalks here in the mountains and desert have their own fantastic surroundings that more than make up for being nearly 2000 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean!
And, today, my adopted boardwalks are probably having a lot better weather than the one in Belmar is having…
Filed under: Life | Tagged: Atlantic City, Belmar NJ, boardwalks, Bruce Springsteen, Burro Street, Cloudcroft NM, E Street Band, Gaskins, Jersey Shore, John Lyons, Long Branch NJ, pizza, Red Bank NJ, Southside Johnny, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, White Sands Interdune boardwalk |