Posts tagged ‘Seaside Heights’


You can tell my memories of summers spent on Sumner Avenue in Seaside Heights are fond and cherished. I tried to pass some of that fondness on to my kids – didn’t work.

It was shortly before Easter when I drove my wife and two daughters through the pine barrens of New Jersey to visit Seaside Heights for a weekend to renew my love and establish theirs for this beach town. It had been more than twenty years since I last visited the resort. I expected some change, or course, but was not prepared for the amount of change I discovered. I guess Thomas Wolfe was right. Driving down Sumner Avenue I was stunned. Where were all the bungalows, the salt water toffee selling that traditional costal confection, the bakery where daily we purchased rolls for lunch – all gone? The eccentric guy who lived on the corner of Sumner Avenue across the street from the boardwalk whose overgrown yard was the source of fantastic stories – gone. All replace by an endless parking lot surrounded by loud bars. My mind’s eye could see what was once there, but nothing could be shared with my family other than what was now.

But there was still the boardwalk.

Surprisingly, the boardwalk was more or less as I remembered. It was off-season so the only ride open was the indoor merry-go-round. Of course the penny arcade – gone, replace by mindless video games, no chance to claw-up those precious little false teeth. At least my girls got to play skeeball and watch their prize tickets accumulate to be redeemed for useless junk precious to kids their age.

Driving home, I know my family wondered what the big deal was, while I sought to regain the memories dashed by our pilgrimage, trying to erase the reality of our visit. Now, only the boardwalk anchored my memories of what used to be, and that young boy with his pennies and his dreams of the rewards they would win.

Then Sandy came for a visit and the roller-coaster was ocean-bound and the wheel-of-chance booths blown asunder. Rebuilding slowly accomplished only to be erased by fire.

First, all my memories finding no renewal other than that beloved boardwalk, and then the double dose of destruction visited upon the memorial of my youth. I cannot revisit Seaside Heights. That little boy haunting the boards did not survive fire and flood.

Here are some links where you may purchase my work.

Melange Books



Barnes &

November 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment


When I was young, growing up in Newark, New Jersey, a week’s vacation at the shore was rare for our cash-strapped family, but they did occur. When they did take place, it was always at Seaside Heights and always the same bungalow on Sumner Avenue. The event was an extended family affair with my mother’s siblings and always with her oldest sibling, unmarried Auntie Zosia (Polish for Sophie). I have a feeling she contributed a great deal of my family’s share of the cost, she was always helping us out. Perhaps, a future post will be dedicated to Auntie Zosia. She deserves to be remembered.

Another unusual characteristic of our shore vacation was that every night my dad would be handing out cash to us kids to spend while walking the boardwalk while normally little money was available. I think this was Auntie Zosia in action again behind the scenes. Nothing was ever said about the source of this new-found wealth, but that was the way she usually worked.

The bungalow on Sumner Avenue was only half a block from the boardwalk, and because of its close proximity to the ocean, the house was permeated with a constant salt-tinged moistness, not an unpleasant benefit of a life near the ocean.

The week was filled with family bonding and boardwalk adventures. An early morning visit to the beach to claim our piece of sand with an army blanket, in those days everyone had an army blanket, then a patrol exploring the area of the boardwalk under the shooting gallery to harvest the small copper shell casings that would fall through the boards. Why, because we were kids.

The days were spent on the crowded beach with the occasional dip into the frigid ocean jumping the waves. Nights were spent on the boardwalk playing miniature golf and going on rides. The adults would congregate around the spinning wheels of chance hoping to win towels, candy and yes – cigarettes.

Those were also the days of the penny arcade when a pocket full of pennies could entertain you for hours. Investing pennies in claw machines harvesting tiny sets of plastic false teeth along with other plastic junk you kept forever or until your mother cleaned. One of my favorite ways to spend my pennies was at the card machines. For two cents inserted, out would pop a post-card sized picture of a baseball player or airplane, depending on which machine you chose.

Rainy days were not a washout at the shore thanks to the penny arcade. If you wanted to make a slightly larger investment of a nickel, you could play the baseball pinball machine. A steel ball was pitched and the lever you worked was your bat. Depending on your skill, and of course luck, you scored runs. The best part was, as the runs added up, you were rewarded free games. A nickel sometimes brought you an hour’s worth of entertainment if you were ‘hot’ that day.

To be continues…

Here are some links where you may purchase my work.

Melange Books


Barnes &

November 29, 2014 at 9:35 pm Leave a comment


Hurricane Sandy has come and gone,
But its scars and memories still linger on.

We survived the storm with only a short power loss on Monday and internet and cable on Tuesday.
The winds howled and we had quite a bit of rain, but our community fared well with only some minor flooding and loss of power.
What I found interesting was our animals’ reaction to this historic event. We have two cats and a lab mix, Millie. As the storm intensified one of our cats, Sammy, who is slightly insane, climbed onto my lap and watched the trees sway with the wind. I could see fear in her eyes. Millie also watched the storm from her favorite chair and her eyes showed concern. My wife thinks I read too much in the animals’ behavior, but I’m a stay at home writer and spend a great deal of time with them. Perhaps I imagine more than is real, but that’s my job.
Our property is surrounded by mature trees, and I realize now that as long as they don’t fall on the house, they protect us from the wind.
What I have a hard time imagining is the destruction caused by this storm. So many coastal communities devastated. As I watch the coverage of the aftermath, I wonder how and where you begin to recover.
My heart goes out to the small seaside community of Union Beach, west of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. My sister, Judy, and her husband had a small house there. It is a blue-collar community. This isn’t a resort community of summer homes but a town where people settled to raise their families or spend their retirement years. My sister died three weeks ago at the age of 62. Yesterday I found out that their house was destroyed. How much sorrow can people endure? Take that sorrow and multiply if by thousands, tens of thousands. I cannot wrap my mind around the extent of the loss experienced by the coastal communities that have suffered through this storm. Even might New York City bowed to the storm’s might and its flood and fires.
I was raised in Newark and spent vacations ‘down the shore’. I remember the anticipation of leaving the confines of the city and going to Seaside Heights for a week or a few days, the thrill of the first taste of salt air. I would stare at the vastness of the ocean and its limitless freedom. Seaside Heights was all but destroyed. The boardwalk and piers with their amusements, gone. I have my memories but it may be generations until such memories can again be made.

October 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm 2 comments


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