A Poor Man’s Asbury Park

I suppose we could Keansburg, New Jersey a pre port of Call.  On the 20th we went to Brick, New Jersey for a cousins’ reunion at the Tuscany restaurant, the scene of several earlier reunions.  The 6 surviving first cousins, descendants of Willard McClear shared a meal and stories.  We meet at 1 in the afternoon and broke up at around 4.  Brian apologized to the waitress for us lingering so long,  “It’s better than thirty years ago when they threw food at each other.”  We were a raucous family.  But this time we drank more coffee and fruit juice than whiskey.  I think we had a sum total of two glasses of wine among us. Pictures of the reunion will go on a family site.

But the kids were very well behaved and patient and, on the way home I thought they needed a treat so we took them to Keansburg, New Jersey.  It is a truly tacky boardwalk town, except the boardwalk has been taken out by a number of hurricanes, the lates being Super Storm Sandy, so it is now sand dunes and a macadam walk with amusements games and food stands. 

The beach is better than I remember, wider and cleaner.  The amusements, well some of them are EXACTLY the same as the ones I first rode 75 years ago.  The attendant tells me that they have new electric motors and they have painted, but they have survived the boardwalk being leveled by hurricanes and the allure of newer and classier rides.  I gave the attendant two tickets and asked her to fire up the train.  I couldn’t ride the train, much too big, as were the grand kids.  Just wanted to hear ti.  It was run by a one lung, two stroke engine that made a peculiar sound.  I wanted to hear that sound because as we walked from the rented bungalow on BayView Avenue when I heard that sound as a kid I got excited knowing the rides were close.  Unfortunately the train was broken down.  “That is the one motor that was never replaced, it is LOUD with the sound of screeching metal on the tracks.” The attendant said. 

“Exactly, that is the sound I want to hear.!”  Too late,  It and the rocket ship ride were just there for show, although the other rides still ran, and the car ride actually had an Alaska plate attached to it.

Another ride that was gone was the boat ride that went through a “tunnel” not of love but of horrors.  The biggest horror was at the very end.  Stalin’s picture framed in a toilet seat lit by a red light.  My parents loved that.  When I worked at WOR I would take mom to Keansburg for an afternoon.  She loved me the penny pitch.  Inflation had ended that.  She asked me to win her something.  This was in 1967.  I pitched well and won a Stereo LP!  Surrealistic Pillow by the Jefferson Airplane.  Mom like the jacket, she didn’t like the music, it is still in my vinal collection.

The kids enjoyed some of the bigger kids ride, especially the “oter.”  When I rode it it was the scooter but three letter seem to have blown away in some storm and were never replaced.  They are dodgem cars and I wanted to ride.  Suzi said no, my I needed to protect my knees, but I loved watching Brian and the kids.

In the arcade Liam and I played Skee Ball and Air Hockey, an innovation since I was a kid.  And Brian joined us.  But for a finale, we went to the food stand that changed my life.  My mother was allergic to cheese so we didn’t have it at home.  My uncle Billy and Cousin Nick, Pop and I were in Keansburg when I was about 5 and Nick (who was at the Cousins’ Club a few hours earlier) wanted “Pizza Pie.”   I knew about apple pie and cherry pie but pizza pie.  Uncle Billy bought us each a slice.  It changed my life, I have never been the same.  There was a pizza stand at the same corner and I had to ask if they made it from scratch.  “You ain’t from Jersey if you ask that question.  Jersey pizza is better than New York pizza.”  We each had a slice.

2 thoughts on “A Poor Man’s Asbury Park

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.