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.
“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!).
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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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