Jersey Shore Journal

Jersey Shore Journal - Life and Times at the Jersey Shore

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Growing up in Ocean City, NJ

Growing up in Ocean City, NJ

Hello! My life has been busy to say the least and I am finally getting time to blog….The snow is gone!!

This weekend we raked, put lime and Halts…and pulled out ivy! This is the first time ivy got in the yard and it is choking out my plants….major!

This past week was spring break so my daughter and her 3 kids came for a visit.

We enjoyed some good meals and playing and shopping. So lovely to see spring clothes and decorations @ Target & TJ Maxx. We had fun!

I grew up on one of the oldest streets in Ocean City, NJ filled with lots of trees, cedars and holly. We had an old Victorian 3 story house and my sister Jessica and I shared a bedroom on the 3rd floor. (see our house below) We had 5 kids in our family. I have an older brother and 2 younger brothers. My sister is 5 years younger. She is a great wife and mom and even a Civil Engineer!

We were in walking distance to the beach and boardwalk. When we were kids we took a sailing vacation to the Chesapeake Bay. We saw the Chincoteague ponies and went to Assateague Island before they had a bridge. We collected hundreds of beautiful conch shells. They were very happy times. My Dad was a lawyer and judge and had a busy life so our sailing times were always special to me. My Dad and dear friend Tom Heist, Sr. built the 32 foot boat.

Here is a story I wrote about growing up at the Jersey Shore, endless beach days of summer. Suntan, warm sand, popsicles, sand castles, the Ferris wheel, Kool Aid, hanging clothes out to dry…I love seeing my grandkids enjoy the beach like I did!

Summers at the Jersey Shore in the 60s- As Good as it Gets!

My earliest teenage memories of growing up in Ocean City, New Jersey in the 60s were of getting up early on a summer morning, packing a thermos with milk, making peanut butter and jelly crackers and heading down to the beach to beach comb: one who scavenges along the beach- (Am. Heritage Dictionary). My cousin Susie or a girlfriend and I would look for tickets under the boardwalk that might have been dropped from the amusement park, searched for abandoned buckets, shovels and maybe even some money. This was even before metal detectors!

One summer, I even had a paper route and would fold newspapers to our 45s to the tunes of the Monster Mash, Angel of the Morning and The Twist – my Dad’s collection from when he co-owned “The Tuckaway” dance hall in Tuckahoe, NJ.

An afternoon outing on the boardwalk, of course without parents, would include a quarter for a walk thru the Tahiti “Jungle Fun,” the Glass House or the Spook House, a scary ride in the dark. Then with our other quarter, we would hit Lazalere’s, the penny candy store and maybe even splurge for a macaroon at George’s or salt water taffy at Shriver’s. On a special occasion, we might do a painting with spin-art where you get to choose the colors by squeezing paints. Having your portrait done in chalk was not in our price range. But we might splurge for 4 photos at the photo booth- 25 cents as well.

If lucky we might spend a day at the Flander’s Hotel salt-water pool or tan all day at the beach. Those were the days when there were no beach tags and no SPF on the lotion; baby oil was the lotion of choice.

Then at night, we would head back to the boardwalk for mini-golf, the Ferris wheel, the Scrambler and Tilt-a-whirl- my favorites. I never liked the bumping cars, because I thought it quite rude for these young macho boys to keep ramming their cars into mine while I was still spinning in circles.

If we were daring, we would go into The Bird Cage which was the local “head shop” for hippie clothing. I also remember the crowds of hippies who would stand in groups on the boardwalk in their anti-establishment clothes. All that I dreamed of was to fit in to that group when I got older. In a few years, I graduated into the worn blue jeans, flannel shirt, afgan shawl, floppy felt hat and moccasins and listened to the preachers of our day-Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles and the Who. The Purple Dragon Coffee Shop was off-limits, because that was where the kids on drugs hung out to be counseled by the adults serving coffee-an interesting concept!

The food on the boardwalk was awesome from Mack & Mancos Pizza to Johnson’s Popcorn to Kohr Brother’s soft serve ice cream. Another staple was Simm’s Restaurant with their famous cinnamon buns. Once I was old enough, I spent 4 summer’s at Chris’s Seafood Restaurant (below)on the bay working my way up from breading girl to payroll secretary to selling boat tickets for a ride on Chris’ famous Flying Saucer or the Wild Goose. The restaurant was also known for their famous rum buns. Sadly Simm’s and Chris’s are no longer there. I only lasted one day trying to swirl ice cream into cones and one day as a waitress. I could never remember if they wanted iced tea or soda.

The smells and sounds of summer are still with me…the screams on the rides, the pizza, the ice cream, the popcorn. What a wonderful childhood to have grown up in Ocean City… And to pass those memories on to our children and now our grand children…As good as it gets.

Jennifer and Jessica, my sister

I also want to tell you about the lovely blog with links below…. The Entertaining House. In a recent post she tells about growing up in Manhattan on 5th Avenue and meeting Robert Redford and more... She inspired me to write about my childhood. Also checkout her cheese giveaway and read her great stories!

Have a fabulous week! Jennifer aka Gigi


  1. So nice to "meet" you Gigi :)
    I grew up a little further down, the Wildwoods and Cape May. Your memories prompted a few of my own, nothing better than living at the beach year round. Last year I found a lot of Shells on the north end of OC. I SO enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to lots more, and the music made my whole day! (thanks for the email :)


  2. Thanks for the link! I had so much fun looking at your old photos and the house you grew up in. I love old photographs. Not only do they tell a story, they capture a moment in history and they are works of art!

    I summered on the Jersey shore for a while before we had children in the Spring Lake/Manasquan area... we had so much fun!

  3. Thanks...yes, old photos do tell a story. I remember those sailing pics like it was yesterday! Sheer joy before my turbulent teens. I'd like to visit the beaches up there. My cousin & I visiting cemeteries in Middleton & Shrewsbury, but we didnt get to the beach.So happy to hear it is warm in Conn today too!