Staying in Focus: Going “Down the Shore”

We were lucky.  We weathered the effects of hurricane Sandy in Pennsylvania, just on the edge of the storm.  We lost power at the resort we were staying at, but they were able to move us to a sister resort that had power. Downed  trees and lost of power was the worst of it for us.

New Jersey, however, bore the brunt of this one.  The devastation is overwhelming in south jersey.  Many times, in my youth, I strolled the boardwalks of Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant and Atlantic City. To see what remains now is to feel as if a part of your life is lost forever.

Memories of spending a week at Point Pleasant with my family are special ones. Hours spent on the white sands of the beach, building moats around misshapen castles, burying dad in the sand, then sitting at the ocean’s edge,and feeling the cool touch of the water as it swirls and hisses over our legs, leaving us tasting of salt. I remember on rough surf days, trying to stand up to the waves, more often knocked over by them as they rushed to shore.

Then  later, as the sun set, having dinner along the boardwalk, visiting the arcade, screaming as the rides sent us spinning into the night, tilting us upside down, the cool night air soothing our slightly sunburned skin.

When we got our driver’s licenses, my best gal pals and I would spend an occasional weekend at the shore.  Down the Garden State Parkway we would cruise, in whoever’s car was most trustworthy at the time, Beach Boy tunes belting from the tape player.  It was so relaxing to sit on the sand and gaze at the ocean. growing drowsy to the sounds of the surf.  We’d  grab a lunch of steamed clams served in buckets at an outdoor eatery on the boardwalk,  I can still taste that drawn butter, the flavor of the fresh clams, the tang of the salty air. Then we’d return to our somewhat seedy motel and dress for dinner.  Later, we’d cruise the boardwalk, checking out the guys, getting our fortunes told by a gypsy lady in curtained kiosk, trying our hand at games of chance. We  braved the faster rides  which sent us flying through the night sky, the lights on the rides and the boardwalk streaming like ribbons trailing behind us.

Two of these rides, the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Scrambler used centrifugal force to cause the group sitting together to slide down to the inside corner,completely squashing the person sitting there. And the Tilt -a-Whirl tried its best to put its riders in cervical collars, the strain  on the neck was incredible.  Sadly, someone must have sued them somewhere along the line, because after a while these two rides were tamed, and no longer any fun.

I was confused  at first when we moved to North Carolina, because here they refer to visiting the coast as “going to the beach”.  But for us jersey girls,it will always be going “down the shore.”

I know that the people of New Jersey will rise to the challenge and put their lives back together,  and, in time, rebuild their homes and coastal areas .  One day, once again we’ll all be going “down the shore”, flying through the summer sky on carnival rides and memories.

the fury

the beast roams the night
filled with unleashed fury,
spinning, rotating,
lashing the ocean water
which roils and rushes to shore
surges onto land, searching,
seeking with icy fingers,
seeping into houses,
submerging lives;
raindrops fly like projectiles
propelled by its howling cries
piercing, needle sharp,
they sting the flesh
with a roar the beast
exhales great gusts of wind
which snap mighty trees
as if they were match sticks,
tear apart houses, leaving only
piles of splintered remains
scattered on the bruised ground
the shattered lives
the loss and pain
forgotten
as the beast moves on

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