The Jersey Shore: A Love Story

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Keith surf Spot Hope

KF paddles out, Normandy Beach, Summer 2011

It’s been a rough couple of days in this area. Hurricane Sandy swept in a did exactly what everyone feared and worse. We were lucky to have little damage to our home other than the loss of power (which in just a few hours brought me to the brink, never mind the 6 days to follow!). In between the milling about, staring at my powerless Kitchen Aid, icing cookies in the dark, dreaming about hot Dunkin Donuts coffee, prepping for the cold, and moving food from the fridge to the freezer to the garbage, I cried. Our beloved Jersey Shore took one of the worst hits of this storm. Just a single glimpse of the Seaside roller coaster in the oceanbrought me to tears. The images we saw after we were powered back up are absolutely devastating.

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Ferris Wheel Seaside

The Ferris Wheel, Seaside Boardwalk, Summer 2009

“It’s the Italian dream.” said Tony Soprano in reference to buying a house “down the shore”. I have been lucky enough to have been part of summertime at the Jersey Shore since birth. Back then our parents and our cousins parents rented a house together in Lavallette, NJ on Pennsylvania Avenue. My Uncle would drive us to pick up “Italian hoagies” while blasting Bruce’s Jersey Girl with the windows down. Years later, as our families grew, my parents would rent in Ortley Beach on the block of Sunny Hunny’s and The Surf Club- which is where they met. For a bunch of years in between we visited beautiful  Long Beach Island and enjoyed their beautiful beaches by day and Fantasy Island Amusement Park by night. When I was old enough to rent on my own, my cousin and I rented a small, dingy, railroad apartment in Point Pleasant Beach. The dinginess of the rental didn’t matter to us- we were still at the beach (and only a 2 block walk!).

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_buying tickets

My brother, KF and I buying tickets for the roller coaster, Seaside Boardwalk, NJ, Summer 2009

KF, “a shore kid”, grew up on the beach (literally) in Sea Bright. After we met, we went back to renting in Lavallette with my brother, and spent so many summers there, they actually might have considered us locals (Not really, but the term “Benny” doesn’t fit us either). Once KF and I married, summers at the beach were a given and we have loved every summer there since, renting in Normandy Beach, Bradley Beach, and most recently, Ocean Grove where the sign on the way out of town reads “May God be with you, until we meet again”.

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Bradley Beach

Family Shot, Bradley Beach, NJ, Summer 2010

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_beach with the Kanes

On the beach with the Kanes in Allenhurst, Summer 2012

One constant of all those summers was visiting the Seaside Boardwalk. Essentially a carnival on a boardwalk next to the ocean, it earned its reputation of being “full of guidos” and a bit “seedy” but I loved it anyway. I have such vivid memories there… As kids my grandmother would give us quarters to spin the wheel at Union Jack’s so we could win cassette tapes of Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen. I can still picture sitting on a Seaside Boardwalk bench as little kiddies with our parents eating Kohr’s ice cream while people watching. Ever since, an ice cream at the Kohr’s stand was a summertime must.

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Kevin and Kohrs

Best “custard” ice cream in the world! Kevin enjoys a vanilla Kohrs, Seaside Boardwalk, Summer 2010

The rides were always my favorite… Bumper cars, the swinging Pirate Ship and THE Roller Coaster on the edge of the boardwalk with rolling sharp turns and a view into the Altantic always made for extra excitement. The haunted house… pretty mild and kind of silly but I still went in every year if I could find a willing companion to join me.

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Bumper Cars

The Bumper Cars that never seemed to change, Seaside Boardwalk, NJ

One of my favorite trips to the Seaside Boardwalk was 2 summers ago… We went with my cousin, Lauren, and her family. That night we took my little cousin Ella on her first “adult” roller coaster ride and her brother on the kiddie coaster. Both were awesome!

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_View from the Pirate Ship

View of the roller coaster from the Pirate Ship! Seaside Boardwalk, NJ, Summer 2011

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Rollercoaster Ella

Finally tall enough for the big Roller Coaster! Us with Ella and Mark, Seaside Boardwalk, NJ, Summer 2011

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Rollercoaster Will

Me with Ella, Lauren and Will on the Kiddie Coaster (which BTW was also really fun!) Seaside Boardwalk, NJ Summer 2011

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Swings ride

We spent a long night on the boardwalk that visit, riding all the rides we could and followed it up with a delicious ice cream from where else? Perfection!

We didn’t make it to seaside this past summer. Had I known it would be my last chance I would have gladly sat in the summer parkway traffic and fended off Snooki seeking fans for parking. Part of the devastation of the loss of Seaside boardwalk is the loss of the nostalgia and the history that went along with it. My parents met at the beach “next door”… Our Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents put their quarters down at those wheels to win prizes… rode that ferris wheel, ate that same ice cream… “Everybody’s” favorite sausage sandwich was from that bright yellow stand that was somewhere in the middle and the pizza was from that one place with the huge slices.
It is so hard not to say goodbye.
SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Funtown Pier Seaside NJ

I entered this photo in a beach photo contest being held by the Asbury Park Press a few years ago. It didn’t win but I still love it. Funtown Pier, Seaside Boardwalk, NJ, Summer 2009

Our Governor has promised to build it all back and the day the new Seaside Boardwalk opens we will be there ready to look onward and upward and build new memories.

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Hope

A message in the sand… Normandy Beach, Summer 2011

To all the people in those beautiful beach towns who lost their homes we feel for you. We have donated to the Red Cross and some of the smaller rebuild organizations like Sea Bright Rising and Soul Kitchen. We are keeping up with Jersey Shore on Facebook and keeping our ears open for ways to help more directly. Through many tears, I even designed a cookie for the cause.

We can’t wait to return to the Jersey Shore next summer and all the summers after that… Someday, we hope to own a house of our own there. Things change but this love story is forever and I know it will eventually have a happy ending.  Xo Dani

SDB Jersey Shore and Funtown_Long Shadows

Walking to dinner at Labrador Lounge, Normandy Beach, NJ, Summer 2011

P.S. Six Ways To Help Out With Hurricane Sandy Relief

 

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