I learned this morning that my sister and my nephew are enjoying a few days down at the Jersey Shore.
That happened to trigger some fairly memories of my own youth. My parents somehow discovered this hotel called the Diamond Beach Resort just south of the city limits of Wildwood Crest, NJ, almost wedged up against a US Coast Guard training center.
We went there a couple times. It had to be in the late 70’s because I remember wearing a Hildebrandt Bros. Star Wars movie poster ringer tee on at least one of the trips. I also recall marveling at the utility of the air conditioning in my parents’ new 1977 Chevrolet Impala station wagon in the humid summer heat, after years of driving in their mid-60’s Oldsmobile F85 station wagon with black vinyl seats that lacked such conveniences.
A series of disjoint experiences come to mind. Walking out into the waves with my Dad. Early morning walks along the beach with my parents, feeling hermit crabs in a sandy tide pool occasionally nip at my toes. Swimming in the hotel pool… possibly going into a hotel pool for the first time ever. Flying a kite on the beach. Collecting shells. Finding a living dinner plate-sized horseshoe crab and bringing it back to the hotel room for a short stay in the sink of the room’s kitchenette. Visiting the boardwalk and being utterly scared by my first rollercoaster ride. Going to dinner down the coast in Cape May, where my Dad (or was it all of us?) got these marvelous looking steamed crabs that he ate on newspaper at the table.
As I have become more interested (or nostalgic) for the architecture and artifacts of the mid-20th Century world into which I was born, one memory sticking out more and more is the motel architecture around Wildwood. Colorful and delightfully different and the same at the same time, it was wholly fitting that I also learned today (coincidentally) that the remaining motels of that type that were somehow saved from re-development are on the National Register of Historic Places and are known as the Doo Wop Motels:
As for the Diamond Beach Resort and its neighboring club/venue the Playpen, they fell to redevelopment wrecking ball sometime in the 80’s, as far as the Internet can tell me. That’s fine. I don’t expect to live life in a museum. It’s nice to have the memories.
Maybe we should take the Peanut to the beach before the summer completely ends. It’s a different ocean, but I’m sure he’ll still have fun.