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Memories of a Seaside Summer

Summertime. Beaches, school hiatuses, long-awaited vacations and lengthened days encompass this fun and engaging season. I am a summer baby, as my birthday falls at the end of June. Back in my day school usually ended a few days before my birthday so I never had the opportunity to have cupcakes or other special treats to mark the event, but it was okay because the end of school meant other enjoyable and entertaining activities for the next two-and-a-half months.

I grew up (and still reside) in a town near a resort area known as Seaside Heights. There are other towns all along the Barrier Island, but Seaside Heights was known for its incredible boardwalk. When I was a young child, my family and I spent a lot of time at the boardwalk. My grandmother often accompanied us and even went on some of the rides with me and my older sibling. One of my favorite memories of her is when she and I were going on an indoor scrambler ride called the Poltergeist. It was an awesome ride and I was so excited to have someone join me on it. When the ride attendant took a look at my grandmother, I could tell he was skeptical. He said to her, “Lady, you know this isn’t a movie, right?” My grandmother handed her ticket over to him and stated, “I know” and stepped right inside. She had an absolute blast with the loud music blaring, lights flashing all over and laughing hysterically as we were thrown around in our scrambler car. Never judge by age!

We had a favorite restaurant that we always ate at, and we all had our favorite meals. My mother and I loved their cheesesteaks. I looked forward to them every year. We also fell in love with Kohrs Ice Cream, and to this day, I still purchase a soft chocolate and vanilla twist cone. Summer is never complete without a boardwalk ice cream cone challenge where you have to be faster with the licking before the humidity melts it to oblivion all over yourself. Awesome times!

My mother and I recently visited the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey and were so stoked to see rides from my childhood. One was the Tilt-A-Whirl. I can’t remember a ride that made me laugh as much as that one did. I am sure it had to do with the G-force and being spun around like I was. It still is one of my most cherished rides. As an adult, I can still fit on it!

Another special memory of the Seaside Heights boardwalk was the carousel on the Funtown Pier. I could ride that all day. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was just something very special about that particular carousel. I admired one distinct horse and always tried to grab that one if it was available. The horses and other mechanical animals just sparkled with all of the adornments and that feeling of going up and down and seeing the boardwalk and ocean from all different vantage points was just breathtaking.

Our boardwalk was unfortunately ravaged by two major disasters, one being Superstorm Sandy and the other by a devastating fire during the past decade. The boardwalk as I knew it from childhood is no more, but some of it did survive and rebuilding took place. Even though a lot of what was part of my life back then is gone, the memories are always with me. When I visit the boardwalk, the familiar sights, sounds and smells are just as alive in my mind and heart as they were back then.

As summer approaches, an inner excitement is shaping up inside me because those memories resurrect themselves around this time of year. Change is not always easy. Feelings of grief and loss can often accompany major changes, but life can still be good even if it looks different than what we were used to. Over the years we have found new places to eat at and take tremendous joy in, including Maruca’s Pizza and the Sawmill Restaurant. Some of the awesome arcades are still present, especially Lucky Leo’s. I still love to play Skeeball and other games. There is a fantastic skyride to take in the spectacular sunsets. There are concerts and movies on the beach to have fun with. There are plenty of opportunities to make new and delightful memories with. Memories keep those special places alive in our hearts even if they are not physically present anymore.

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