I’m not here to write about those idiots from the reality show by the same name. They’re just manufactured stereotypes invented by MTV for consumption to a voyeuristic bunch of like minded viewers. They’ve had their fifteen minute of fame. In five to ten years they’ll be nothing but a distant memory, destined for the scrap heap like so many others things that masquerade as entertainment these days.
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in the mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the street tonight
In an everlasting kiss
No, I’m here to write about the real Jersey Shore. A stretch of what was once prime real estate that wasn’t dominated by high rise hotels and fancy resorts. In place of those monstrosities there were quaint small amusement parks and small family owned businesses and bed and breakfast places that dotted the boardwalks and coastline. A place where you could eat some homemade salt water taffy and gulp down a few cold ones while listening to some good old fashioned rock and roll made by local bands without all the fanfare that accompanies major acts or tours.
A place where you could land a charter boat and kill an entire day going deep sea fishing. One of my favorite memories was when me and bunch of my friends went out on the ocean for the first time. One of my buddies couldn’t get his sea legs under him and got really bad case of seasickness. Since those boats don’t have any place to drop you off you had to ride out the storm. After hours of puking up every bit of food in him he finally passed out on deck in the midday sun. Unfortunately for him he did so with his hand covering half of his face. The next day his sunburn revealed a perfect imprint of his where his hand had been and it remained that way for weeks. In my minds eye, I can still see that imprint and a smile still crosses my face.
Beside the familiar hotspots like Atlantic City and Asbury Park the real Jersey Shore is also a place with small towns with heavenly sounding names such as Avon By The Sea, Belmar, Sandy Hook, Spring Lake, Beach Haven, Avalon, Point Pleasant, Surf City, Ocean City, Seaside Heights, Sea Girt, Manasquan, Cape May, Loveladies (best name ever!) and Wildwood. Each one of them had their own personalities and idiosyncrasies and they all seemed to come alive during the summer. For a city boy like me, to spend a week or so going up and down the Jersey Shore and escape the heat, humidity and hustle and bustle of New York City was like being in a state of nirvana.
Everything dies, baby that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City
If you’ve been following the news as of late, you’ve probably heard something about this little thing called Hurricane Sandy. It took dead aim at the Jersey Shore and wreaked havoc on many of the towns that I mentioned earlier. Some of those towns will recover, others will not. Either way, it will probably take many years for the after effects to be fully realized and unlike the cast members of the Jersey Shore won’t fade so quickly with the passage of time. In the meantime, many people have had their childhood homes and memories washed out to sea as the flood waters slowly subside and help and rescue efforts continue.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to have an entire lifetime washed away over the span of a few hours or days.
On a side note, a big thumbs up to Republican Governor Chris Christie from the State of New Jersey. Even though I differ from him on many issues he had this to say a day or so after Sandy hit when questioned about the upcoming presidential election.
“I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
To hear him say that in his thick Jersey accent and full of sincerity all I can say is “Bravo sir, bravo.”
Selected lyrics lifted from Bruce Springsteen, a native of the Jersey Shore, from his fine tunes Born to Run and Atlantic City.
Submitted in conjunction with Up My Street (A Quest for Local Knowledge)