In the summertime, on the East Coast, up North, your family went to the shore, or to the mountains , usually to the same resort, town, hotel, or house.....forever. Some of my girlfriends were Pocono kids, but most of us hung out at the Jersey Shore. In my house, it meant Atlantic City/Brigantine. My Mom had friends who frequented AC, and my family had a house in Brigantine, so that was the destination by rote every summer throughout the 1950's and 1960's. My, how things change. I still love the shore, but the sand gets to me now, so I'm not about lounging on a beach to scope out guys. But, give me a boardwalk, and I'm a happy girl.
The boardwalk in Atlantic City was the most extraordinary place in the 1950's. Impressive hotels, the common ground of Steel Pier (where you had to see the Diving Horse, or your life wasn't complete), the carriages made of rattan that pushed you up and down the length of the boards. Mr. Peanut reigned, huge and inviting over the Planter's Peanut stores. James Salt Water Taffy was best when it was filled AND chocolate covered. Kohr Bros. soft custard (again chocolate, but with marshmallows now) was the junk food of choice, and rainy days were for playing skeetball. I still can see the pink ceramic poodle I got for my grandmother with my tickets.
Atlantic City was the home for musicians, gangsters, and work-a-day vacationers to mingle. Their kids all built sandcastles on those wide sweeps of beach. They all went to the Miss America Pageant Parade on the Boardwalk, and to Convention Hall to see the Pageant itself. they all went to Steel Pier for fudge, or to hear Paul Anka. Jazz clubs filled with NY elite, and the restaurants overflowed .
I don't have one single bad sunburnt memory of Atlantic City, and no matter what it has become today, casino back to back, the flavor is there for me and everyone who ever went during those wonderful innocent years. It remains a mythic draw for many of us from Philadelphia, because we're used to going , and the new slew of slots loving grannies every season keeps it jumping.
Hop on a bus, get in the car, jump on the train and go see if you can piece together some of the past. Maybe Madmen will shoot a few scenes down there, and we can all drift for a sec, and relax in time.