My Jersey shore

I had originally posted this in 2013, but, in honor of hitting a milestone with my newest follower today, the Jersey Shore Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, I am releasing this again.  Thank you to that wonderful organization for honoring me by reading my blog.  I can honestly say, having been all over the world, that the true Jersey Shore has the most beautiful beaches and communities I have ever seen. Here’s why:

 

If you lived in NYC when I was growing up, there were three places you went to get away during the hot summers.  If you were rich, you went to Connecticut or Long Island.  If you were middle class you went to the Jersey shore.

Beach at the Jersey Shore

Beaches and boardwalk stretch from northern to southern New Jersey.

When I was young we would often take trips ‘down the shore’ as NYers say.  We would get up very early on Saturday, pack up the car and take the two hour drive (it was only 70 miles but there was unbelievable ‘shore traffic’) to the beach.  Then we would sit out on the sand, dash around in the waves, eat hot dogs, take a shower outside by pulling a chain and standing on an open wood platform to let the water drain down below, and head back at sundown.  Despite the hot car rides with sand in my bathing suit and sunburn, I really loved those trips.

Asbury park board walk

The Asbury Park board walk with its dated restaurants, amusement park, and shops were a kid’s paradise when I was growing up.

Later on, my parents bought a house at the shore, one block from the beach near Asbury Park.  So I spent a lot of time walking on the Boardwalk, getting all the junky food and trinkets that kids love and  which make a place like Asbury Park or Seaside Heights (just restored and savaged again!) a paradise of fun and mayhem. There was the famous Fralingers Saltwater Taffy shop where the candy was mixed in huge rolling drums, then extruded, pulled by hand, twisted, cut and wrapped in a swift and neat process that you could watch from the window of the store.  James candies (who subsequently purchased Fralingers) was there along with all the memorabilia shops where you could get just about anything made from shells.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  As I have said elsewhere, the mid coastal towns of New Jersey have a long history stemming from the time when Henry Hudson landed and complimented the inlet at Belmar as “a beautiful sight to see”.  There are homes in Red Bank, the main town when I was there, that date to the early 1600s.

Red Bank Broad Street

Broad Street Red Bank – the old town from colonial times that is still the center of life for Navesink, Rumson, Locust and Lincroft.

If you travel around Rumson or Locust on the banks of the Navesink river, you will see rolling estates that were once owned by descendants of the Mayflower and the early Dutch settlers who made fortunes in shipping and rail.

This is the Jersey Shore

Rumson, Navesink and Locust run along the Navesink River, with estates on either side from inland to the ocean.

Home on the Navesink in Rumson

You can pilot your boat from NYC down to the Navesink River, tie it up and eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at one of dozens of dock-side restaurants.

It is truly the epitome of the Garden State.  Both Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi live in the environs of Red Bank, on the river.

Red Bank seating along the river

All along the river, Red Bank has homes, restaurants, even its historic 19th century library where you can read in a window seat overlooking the water. Or take your book down to the river’s edge and read it on the grassy bank.

Red Bank River at Sunrise

People row, sail and motor up and down the river, from the ocean eastward, all the way to its source to the west. I once rowed the whole length with friends, two of us would row while the other bailed, as our old rowboat leaked like a sieve.

Red Bank Library Entrance September 2010 web

The Red Bank public library sits right on the river – there are turret niches where you can curl up with a book and while away a lazy afternoon – they used to serve tea.

Another thing I loved about going ‘down the shore’ was the annual trip to Atlantic City in the fall.  It was just when the air was turning crisp and the leaves were bright that my mother and I would head to the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall hotel on the Boardwalk. There was some sort of New Jersey teachers convention there each fall when I was very young and my mother would take me along.  We would walk among the exhibits and I would get toys and crafts that were being sold as samples for teachers ordering classroom supplies.  I particularly remember buying beads and little tiles to make bracelets on elastic or to glue onto a frame to make a trivet.  I looked forward to that trip every year and the special time with my mother.

Chalfonte-Haddon-hall-hotels

In the ’40s and ’50s Atlantic City was a lovely honeymoon destination.

In those days, Atlantic City still held the atmosphere of the Golden Age – its heyday.  In September, the winds off the ocean were brisk and cold.  You would wake up in the morning and head out onto your balcony to smell the sea.  That is something that for whatever reason does not occur on the Pacific Ocean.  I was so disappointed when I rushed out on the balcony my first day at the beach house in Los Angeles and there was not even the slightest whiff of ocean.  Not so in Atlantic City.  It was a real seaman’s town, old, worn, gracious and genteel.

800px-The_Chalfonte_Hotel,_Atlantic_City,_New_Jersey

The Chalfonte and Haddon Hall were two separate buildings originally. When they were merged to become one hotel, they were connected by a skybridge with huge windows on either side, making it a solarium. We used to have tea on the skybridge and watch the sun set.

I particularly looked forward to the restaurant in the hotel and the quaint, Florida-like coffee shop with that distinctive mint green decor and pink flamingos painted on the walls. Each morning we would head down to the Wedgewood Dining Room for breakfast on beautiful china made especially for the Chalfonte and dinner would be in the Peacock Room that evening.  That was where I learned to love a proper British breakfast of shirred eggs and biscuits with clotted cream to go with finnan haddie or kippers. Afterward, we would walk along the boardwalk amid bicyclists.  In the early 70s it was much like it had always been in Atlantic City from happier, more affluent days.

Boardwalk at the Chalfonte

You could rent bikes, little put-put mobiles and go for miles north or south on the continuous boardwalk that would take you almost to NY if you wanted.

One of the things I loved most was the huge indoor, heated pool – my first.  And the fact that the cavernous bathrooms in the stately guest rooms with their soaring windows on the ocean and elegant moldings and chandeliers, had a tap in the large clawfoot tubs that was marked “Salt Water”. You could fill your bath with warmed sea water that was piped in and filtered, both into the large swimming pool, making you buoyant and swimming a breeze, and turning the bathroom into a spa.

Pool at the Chalfonte

The covered pool was steamy and warm, filled with buoyant sea water. Such a therapeutic swim!

Then it all changed of course when Atlantic City, abandoned and forgotten was taken over by the gambling interests.  I will never forget how upset I was at that change – I knew even then that the city that I loved so much, the resort  where my grandparents had spent their honeymoon, was gone forever.

Chalfonte sun deck

Chalfonte sun deck

The Barnegat Lighthouse with waves dashing on the rocks, the pine barrens with trees and sand that stretch as far as the eye can see, the white dunes, dark steely water, Gulfstream-warm enough for a swim even in October,  the cold salty air, the lobster that you could catch by any pier in clean water.

That is my Jersey Shore.

Red Bank River at Sunset

Dinner on the Navesink is worth the trip.

Images: Americastowns.com, AtlanticCityMemoryLane,Wikimedia Commons, eBay

POST A DAY 2013

20 Comments on “My Jersey shore

  1. Congratulations on having 1000 followers, Beth!
    I saw my babysitter crowned Miss America in Atlantic City in 1963, her name was Jackie Mayer. She first one Miss Sandusky, Ohio, then Miss Ohio and on to winning this title. I was thrilled as an 8 year old girl, that my parents had us stay in the Ambassador Hotel, which seemed very nice compared to the little motels we usually stayed in down in Florida. My father worked with Jackie’s father so she occasionally babysat. Our daily babysitter was Mrs. Boos and her daughter, Diana, was like a big sister to me.
    I remember the beach, the atmosphere of the casinos we would peek into and the Boardwalk. I also remember the delicious aromas and like how you admit the food was ‘junky’ and the souvenirs were ‘trinkets,’ but lots of fun, Beth!
    Anyway, you wrote such a wonderful explanation why people should look at the different parts of the Jersey Shore, would like to see the Red Bank and like how you included the local celebrity singers, too. I would like to step into some of the lovely hotels, like the one you mentioned. The Chalfonte-Haddon sounds beautiful and vintage with flamingo designs. This made me think of how I enjoyed visiting the big hotels in New York City. which we did not stay in a fancy one, but my grandmother had once worked in the Waldorf Astoria, so we had to check it out. Smiles, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a small world it is, Robin!

      Atlantic City was such a lovely place at one time. Now, unfortunately, the chickens have come home to roost there. We will never bring back those golden days for Atlantic City, but the rest of the Shore is gorgeous still. Nothing like the show featuring Brooklynites parodying Brooklyn, not NJ.

      Elegant, old world, quiet, serene and beautiful, that is how I characterize Monmouth County where I lived. But Ocean County is also lovely. Sand that is clean, for the most part, decent water (sometimes polluted by NYC, I am sorry to say).

      The mansions in Elberon, Deal and Long Branch are unaparalleled. Sinatra, Woodrow Wilson — many people who could live anywhere, chose to live there.

      Anyway, Miss America. Wow! What a great connection you had to her.

      I love Florida. My Dad went there often on business and I tagged along. I think Miami is as close to Rio as one can come. Let’s do posts on Florida!

      You are a doll, Robin. Thank you.

      Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very fine post! Yes, the Jersey shore is beautiful. My family never took me there from the Bronx. It was Orchard Beach on the 12 bus. Jones beach was the big car trip, and always worth it. Rockaway, Shelter Island.The beach is always worth it. Even the Pacific is pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How nice of you to say. My parents grew up on Long Island and definitely, Jones Beach was the beach destination. My grandparents also liked Atlantic City. And definitely, Rockaway — all from my childhood. The Pacific is great up north, down here in LA, not so fabulous except for the sunsets, LOL. Love the beach.

      Thank you so much for reminding me of all these great places.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It was you who showed the beaches. And I feel I need to defend the Pacific. After all we have sunsets over the water. And it’s the biggest ocean in the world, and ….

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        • Yes, I definitely get that. I love Big Sur, Monterey, etc. I love LA but the beaches are narrow and coldish. I love Palos Verdes and San Juan Capistrano. Have I partially redeemed myself, LOL?

          Liked by 1 person

            • OK, I will give you Santa Monica and Pismo (why do I think that’s north — oh yeah, San Luis Obispo: you have me there. That whole central coast area is gorgeous. Going to a wedding there in September, so I will have to do a whole photo blog on that. Thank you Stephen!). Yeah, I dig Santa Monica — I have an uncle who lives just a few steps from the beach there and the weather is perfect literally all year long! 😀

              Liked by 1 person

  3. 1,000 followers! Very cool Beth and it speaks to your ability and talent as a writer. Congratulations. The effort you put into each post is evident and I read every one. Thank you for allowing me to be your redneck friend. You pretty much rock 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Boy, you are wonderful to come, say that, let alone read my long, windy rants. I am trying to alternate now, one cranky, one sunny. 😉 I am planning to put up different tabs so those who haven’t had their Wheaties can choose something soft and gentle from me (I can have that quality when I am not thinking about my causes, lol…). You are a champ in my book too, Rick! xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Rebecca. This one was truly from the heart because I feel so nostalgic about New Jersey, which has such an undeserved poor reputation. And of course, the beating the Shore took during Sandy. Unlike what people who haven’t been there much might think, most of New Jersey is truly a garden state.

      I can’t talk about serious things all the time, sometimes I want to be thankful and this was one of “those” kinds of posts.

      You are good to have read it and been so kind! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: My Jersey shore – revisited | Beth Byrnes

  5. A lovely walk down memory lane, Beth. Although worlds apart, some of what you describe here could be from beach holidays taken here when I was a nipper.
    The places certainly change. In the case of holiday destinations once popular here, I’m afraid they have become second best to sunny destinations and, as a result, look forlorn and neglected. We visited one or two during the summer and couldn’t believe how quiet they were, dog walkers only on the beaches. We must have been hardy back in the day to have frollicked in what, I now admit, is cold, cold water!
    Congratulations on your numbers and particularly the new follower. I hope you get lots of tourist boards onboard to appreciate the sterling work and photos showcasing so many great places. They’re a joy to look at and your commentary brings them to life. They really should be paying you! Just sayin’. 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • First of all, Anne-Marie, thank you for being so generous and kind as to make those last comments. I hope this blog has enough variety that I don’t bore people completely. I try to talk about things I love and am passionate about.

      But something in your comment strikes me as very important and I will bring it up and cite you in Part Two of my discussion of Ventura. And that is, people now want to go to warm places. That is true in America too. Why is that? Honestly, these forlorn cold water/weather places will be in high demand as this planet heats up. If I could get back to New Jersey, I would immediately buy a place on the lower Jersey Shore near Philadelphia, Atlantic City, that area. There are exquisite old houses there right on the beach that no one wants now. But I am sure they will be valuable, perhaps just before the shore is swallowed up by rising seas — not likely in my lifetime.

      I love cold weather and wish I could be in upper New York State or Canada but it isn’t likely given the man I married. So the next best thing is finding a similar, if hotter, place in California.

      Decisions, decisions!

      xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your passion is always evident, Beth and you never bore. No matter the subject, you write eloquently and engage. I could certainly do with sun but I haven’t been abroad in years. It was prohibitive when the kids were all so young so we became tourists in our own country. We’ve visited so many places here over the years and I’ve fallen in love with Scotland all over again. I would like more sunshine but it’s not the be all and end all. I think, ideally, I’d retire somewhere like Glencoe – it takes my breath away. I don’t know how practical it would be given its relative isolation but nothing else is really too far from anything else here so a set of wheels solves most of that.
        There’s a lot to be said for getting to know your own country and appreciating it. The size of the US, you could be at it forever and every place so different in climate and in culture. That you’ve been able to narrow it down at all is amazing, Beth. The decision will come. x

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are so right, Anne-Marie. And, we rarely go abroad either for the same reasons as you. I did so much traveling in the past that I am not hankering for it any longer. We did consider Scotland (not that Scotland would have us, mind you) but thought it would be hard to be vegans there. I think Ventura fits the bill now and that is what I am aiming for. 🙂 Thank you for the kind words, too and always being patient to read and comment. xo

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  6. Pingback: Summer Like it Hot | Beth Byrnes

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