Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Episode 8 - Infiltrating Bay Shore

Episode 8 - Infiltrating Bay Shores
SUMMER OF '65 REVISITED – EPISODE EIGHT – Infiltrating Bay Shores at the Peak of the Heydays – From the Mayor's Daughter's Perspective -

 Image result for Bay Shores Somers Point

Photo by Roger Evoy

Ocean City Mayor Tom Waldman had two daughters, Kate Lynn aka “Katie” who was to be eighteen years old on July 28, 1965, and me,  Christine, also known as “Chris,” all of fourteen and one of your humble narrators. Although it has been fifty years since then, and I'm much older and wiser now, I still look back at what happened then through the eyes of a teenager, and don't factor in many of the things I have learned since then.

Ah, if we only knew then what we know now - Hey, there's a song there.

While my older sister looked older and was more sophisticated, she could put on her make up easily be 21, I was fourteen and looked like a twelve year old Tomboy. So there was no way I was going to experience the likes of Tony Marts  or Bay Shores, but Katie was there all the time - it was part of her routine, when she wasn't working as a waitress at the Chatterbox, la de ta!, where I also worked part time as a busboy.

But I knew from Katie, and dad – Mister Mayor – did I tell you my dad was Mayor of Ocean City? Well that helped Katie a lot, and she got in the nightclubs all the time, though she had to pace herself so as not to run into dad, whose favorite band was led by Mike Pedicin, Jr., one of the house bands at Bay Shores.

Pedicin had a hit song - “Shake a Hand” and played the main stage at Bay Shores, where his son Michael would play a toy saxophone at his knees, and later become the popular jazz man. Pedicin appealed to the older crowd, who came up in the early days of Rock & Roll with Bill Haley and the Comets (“Shake, Rattle and Roll”), Charlie Gracie (“Butterfly”) and the JoDiMars (“Now Dig This!”), all good friends who played together at one time or another the Point.

Katie preferred the bands on the back stage where they played a newer, louder, more danceable rock and roll that appealed to the younger College Kid crowd –  bands like he Carroll Brothers, Bobby Duke and the Dukes and Johnny Caswell and Rocco and the Saints.

Katie likes the drummer in the Saints – Bobby Ridarelli because he's only fourteen years old and she can relate to him.

Then something happened, though it didn't happen all at once. The house bands that started at the begining of the summer didn't all stay in one place, and moved around the stages, and some didn't last the summer and moved on to other gigs at juke joints in Margate, Wildwood, Atlantic City or Asbury Park.

Bay Shores noticed and acted on it first, realizing that money receipts don't lie – the hip younger crowd were spending more money than the older crowd. Now the difference here is between those in their late teens and early twenties and those who were in their late twenties and early thirties. The kids were drinking and even though they tipped better, Pedicin and the older crowd were moved with much consternation, from the main stage to the back stage and the new age rock & rollers were given the spotlight.

By mid-summer Pedicin was gone for good, and took his crowd across the street to Steel's Ship Bar and then later to DiOrio's, on the other side of the circle.

The new age rock & rollers kept the main stage and a completely new element came in, led by Tido Mambo, but he was quickly followed by the hipster Magic Mushrooms and the Monkey Men, a group of bikers who performed in a cage, and the college kids went wild.

Or so my sister says. With dad – Mister Mayor now comfortable across the street at Steel's Ship Bar – that had a bar that is actually shaped like a ship, Katie now had more opportunities to get into Tony Marts and Bay Shores, and hit the Point as much as she could.

Even though she was only eighteen, if she was wearing a dress and was with a guy in a suit and tie, she was in. Or if she knew the doorman or one of the bouncers she was in. If she wasn’t on a date and didn't have somebody on the inside, Katie would team up with her sidekick Rosie and they would put their makeup on and dress to kill and waltz around the Point as if they owned it.  It would be more likely they would be asked for their phone numbers than it would be for them to be carded or asked how old they were.

My image of the debauchery I thought went on at Tony Marts and Bay Shores was totally shattered when I finally got the chance to experience it first hand, and it was even better than I imagined.

It was a Sunday afternoon, so the boardwalk crowd was small, and it started to rain, so everybody left the beach and boardwalk. So after working breakfast and lunch shifts with my sister at the Chatterbox, she “hit the Point” while I went back into my routine – skateboarding to the boardwalk arcade - “Hey, it’s illegal to ride a skateboard on the boardwalk! Fuck you pal.”

Bay Shores didn't have an afternoon matinee show every day, only when it rains, so all the college kids get off the beach and boardwalk and take in the rainy afternoon “Moon Dog” Matinee at Bay Shore, and if the bands gets really hot things can get kinda crazy, even more crazy than a typical Saturday night.

So while she was dancing and partying at the Point I was spending my tip money playing pin ball machines and games at the boardwalk arcade. And then my routine requires a slice of pizza at Mack & Manco's, where Duncan was one of the pie makers.

Duncan was a lot older than me – going on twenty, but he was a Marine, just got out of flight school, and had six weeks off before joining his unit. He was leaving to fly helicopters in Vietnam on the day after Labor Day.

Besides being a slow Sunday afternoon, it continued to rain, just a drizzle, but that was enough, so everyone left the beach and the boards were empty, except for small groups of college kids playing in the rain. I was the only person at the counter, and Duncan didn't have anyone to make pizza for so he took out three pie-to-go cardboard boxes, slipped a pie into each box, closed them, stacked them up in front of me.

 “Bring these and follow me.” I picked them up and we went out the back of the 9th street store, down some steps and under the boardwalk where, without opening the door, he jumped into the seat of a brand new white 1965 Mustang convertible. Get in, he motioned me into the passenger seat. While it was a brand new car, I was a little quizzical about all of the dents, scratches, scrape and broken window, but it quickly became apparent where those nicks had come from as the engine sprung to life and we pulled out from under the boardwalk onto Ninth Street.

Duncan drove fast like a madman, and we whipped around people and past cars and through a red light. We did come to a stop, but when nobody was coming the other way he just took off, like a bat out a hell. Whoopee!

We were on the causeway in no time, and I'm glad the bridges didn't open 'cause I knew he would try to fly over it. We passed an Ocean City patrol car just after we ran the red light, but the cop just waved, and Duncan waved back. All of the cops have stopped Duncan at one time or another in the past few weeks, and because he's a Marine he gets a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. I think they actually admire him.

So with the AM radio blaring the Stones' “I Can't Get No Satisfaction,” the wind blowing in my hair and Duncan behind the wheel we drove across the bay causeway with the top down through the drizzling rain and pulled up at Bay Shore's front door before the song was even over. There was a No Parking sign but Duncan ignored it and jumped out of the car as soon the car stopped.

“Follow me,” he instructed, and at the front door of Bay Shores he took the pizza off the top and gave it to the doorman and club manager Jack Murray, who was collecting the $2 cover. “Thanks Dunk,” he said waving us in.

The second pizza went to the bartender behind the first big rectangle bar by the door – who I later learned was the legendary “Buddy” Tweill – six foot four and beach boy tan – he flipped the caps off  two long neck Budweisers and handed them to Duncan who passed one to me - my first beer in a bar, one I couldn't tell anyone about or Mister Mayor would get wind of it and ground me for the rest of the summer, like he once did with Katie.

Duncan and Buddy didn't have to talk, and actually couldn't because the band was so loud.

Johnny Caswell was terrific, and firmly engraved in my memory as the first band I caught at Bay Shores. They later went from straight to hip and changed the band's name to the Crystal Mansion, but when I first saw them they played songs that I knew from the Chatterbox juke box - “The Thought of Loving You,” “Carolina On My Mind,” - there were others too.

A half hour later, as Johnny Caswell's band finished their first set, another band on the other side of the room kicked in, and the energy shifted to the back of the room, and it wasn't so loud, at least you could talk.

The third pizza went to Johnny Caswell, who jumped off the stage and greeted Duncan with a solid handshake and a shoulder hug, as Johnny took a slice of pizza and passed the box  back to his drummer on stage.

The bar was still packed wall to wall, and I stood back against the wall, standing out like a sore thumb in my Chatterbox uniform dress, afraid I would run into my sister, but at the same time I wanted to explore the club and walk around a bit. The dance floors were full and everybody was just dancing where ever they were, some dancing in their stools, others on their seats, one girtl got up on the bar to dance and the whole room was rockin'.

As I scanned the room I saw a lot of kids I knew from the beach and boardwalk and the Chatterbox, some of them in disguise, as they too were underage too, and some of them saw me and just laughed and pointed at me, but then it happened.

I had walked over to the wall by the front door where they listed the dozens of the bands that had played there – Billy Duke and the Dukes, Pete Carroll and the Carroll Brothers, Sam the Band, Malcolm and Hereafter, Ruby Falls,.....I had just read a few when I was  totally startled.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!” Katie screamed into my right ear, blindsiding me from behind.

“If dad finds out you're here you are grounded for the rest of the summer – you know that, don't you?”

“Well what about you?” I countered, without much punch.

Then Duncan turned around and smiled and Katie melted. I introduced them, and she introduced us all to Bobby, the drummer with the Saints, who I could identify with because he was so young.

“Gee,” I tried to placate her, “Duncan's not twenty one yet, you're almost eighteen, I'll be fifteen soon, and how old are you Bobby? Hell, none of us are twenty-one,” and it went unsaid that when we looked around the rockin’ room, nobody seemed to notice or care.

'But dad still can't find out” - me and my sister both said in unison. .

When it came to being under age, it wasn't so much as wanting to drink as it was the total experience, especially the music, and we felt pretty much invisible when we were out on the dance floor, where we had the most fun and was pretty much where we spent most of the afternoon. I still felt a little out of place because pretty much everybody was in their bathing suits and I was still in my Chatterbox uniform.

Dad was none too pleased a few hours later when Duncan dropped me off. He was sitting on the front porch reading the paper and Duncan's reputation had preceded him, even though he was the perfect gentleman.

As I tried to run past him he put the paper down so I could see his face and said, “Isn't that the young man whose in the Marines? The helicopter pilot whose going to Vietnam next month?”

“Yes daddy.”

“Well he's too old for you.”

“He just gave me a ride home from work,” I lied as I slipped past him into the house.

The hardest thing about the best day of my life up to that point in time was that I couldn't tell anybody about it, not anybody at work, not anybody from school, nobody, or dad would find out. He has spies everywhere. But sis kept my secret, though she sometimes used it as a blackmail threat when nothing else worked.

So I lived at the shore during its hey days, experienced Bay Shores as it was at its peak at the Point, and would look back at the Summer of '65 as the pivotal turning point in my life, but you know, we didn't realize how really special it was at the time. We were just living our daily routines and things went back to normal for awhile.

We forgot about the bikers and the Barbarians, and went back to concentrating on what was really important at the time – the music, and there was much anticipation for the new band that was coming in to Tony Marts though no one seemed to know their name, just that they were really, really good.


THE SUMMER OF '65 REVISITED – Episode Nine – The Hawks Hit the Point

 Image result for Bay Shores Somers Point

Sketch by Marion Talese 

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