Summer at the Jersey Shore is my favorite. I realized today that my family has been coming to the shore since it was the shore. My great grandmother had a house in Wildwood in the early 1900s; my Aunt Thelma spent the late 40s and early 50s waitressing at the all you can eat pancake restaurant. My dad loved to tell me about taking his brothers there to torture Thelma—eating until they could not breathe and running Thelma over and over again for short stacks. My Dad also used to tell me how many tires it took to drive to the shore when he was a kid (three)—his family was one of the first in his neighborhood to have a car, which they mostly used for trips to the shore to see his maternal grandmother.
My mother has her own shore memories. She didn’t move to Cherry Hill until elementary school; so she was not original Jersey. But they still would to Avalon and Loveladies to soak up the summer.
When I was a kid, I remember my parents taking us under the Ocean City boardwalk for shade. We’d eat breakfast at the Chatterbox when we stayed over; shower at the bathhouse at 13th street when we were just here for the day.
I loved days spent in Wildwood shopping in the giant seashell store with my Mom near the bridge out of town. When we’d spend several weeks in Wildwood Crest; I remember our “fancy” dinner nights at Urie’s Waterfront, complete with the virgin pina coladas for my brother and I. I loved the haunted house at Morey’s Pier; it was all I talked about.
And I adored the afternoons with my Dad—my mom and my brother would be beach tired and settle in for an afternoon nap. My Dad and I would sit outside on the porch and reading together, drinking cans of soda and occasionally, sharing bits of our books we enjoyed. When I was young, it was my Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley Twins to his mysteries by Dick Francis and Tom Clancy. Then when I got older, we’d swap beach reads and hold any discussion until we both finished.
And of course, I always spent hours jumping waves and seated right at the surf, soaking up the salt water until it felt like I belonged to the shore.
My kids are making the same memories and have since they had days to remember. Pizza from Mancos; salt water taffy and soft serve from Kohrs. Hours and hours in the ocean and the sand, jumping waves and digging for crabs and laughing and being together, in the way I hope they always will be—someday with families and people of their own in this wondeful place.
Days that are long and full and sunny and breezy and exhausting; because beach tired is the best tired in the entire world.