Monday, July 13, 2015

Episode 3 - The Beach and Boardwalk

Episode 3 - The Summer of '65 – The Beach and Boardwalk

Act I Episode 3 – The Beach and the Boardwalk

The bikers that were heading to the Ocean City beach and boardwalk were stopped in their tracks and turned away by Ocean City's finest at West Avenue.

While Ninth Street is radically different from what it was then, anyone who was there in the Summer of '65 would recognize the beach and boardwalk today.

Coming into town across the causeway from Somers Point the Ninth Street strip has been totally revamped. Gone are the gas stations, drive-ins and diners, that were replaced by banks and convenience stores.

Familiar landmarks come into play when you get to West Avenue with Voltaco's and the Italian joint on the corner, the Chatterbox and the shops across the street are easily recognizable. But gone are the big old, clapboard hotels – the Lincoln, Strand and Biscayne, where you could get a room for a few dollars a night or cheaper by the week, discounts that appealed to what the mayor called the “transient population,” mostly college kids who didn't spend much time in their rooms anyway.

Before Lauderdale and Cancun there was Ocean City - “Where the Boys Are” was the scene and where the college kids came from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Ohio and West Virginia to line the beaches, wall to wall - beach blanket bingo. 

While the families still populated most of the island, the college kids ruled Ninth Street, the Ninth Street beach and the Fourteenth Street beach, where most of the action took place.

To put things into a proper perspective, especially for those who weren't born yet, in the Summer of '65, LBJ was president, young men were eligible for the draft, the war in Vietnam was quietly raging and Richard J. Hughes was governor of New Jersey, and the governor would come into play before the summer was out.

The transistor radios on the beach blankets and the juke boxes at the Chatterbox, Varsity Inn and Bob's Grill blared out songs by the Supremes, Four Tops, Sony and Cher, the Byrds and Beach Boys as well as a slew of British Invasion bands – the Beatles, Hermans Hermits and the Rolling Stones, who would play the Steel Pier in Atlantic City that summer to make a cameo appearance in the story.

The most popular songs of the summer included Petula Clark's “Downtown,” Righteous Brothers' “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin',” “Gary Lewis & the Playboy's “This Diamond Ring,” the Temps' “My Girl,” “Eight Days A Week,” by the Beatles, “Stop! In The Name of Love” by the Supremes, “Im'm Telling You Now,” by Freddie & the Dreamers” and “The Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders.

As the summer wore on, other songs came into play, including the Herman's Hermits “”Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter,” the Beatles' “Ticket to Ride,” Beach Boys “Help Me Rhonda” and the Four Tops' “I Can't Help Myself.”

The Byrds' cover of Dylan's “Mr. Tamborine Man” and the Stones' “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” were popular in the hippie camp, while “I'm Henry VII, I Am,” Sonny & Cher's “I Got You Babe,” and the Shangri-Las' “Leader of the Pack” were often heard at Fourteenth Street, with that last tune taking on more and more meaning as the summer wore on.

There was a clear social divide among the college kids of the day, with the long haired hippies commandeering the Ninth Street beach and the crew cut jocks and surfers taking up most of the Fourteenth Street beach.

The hippies generally congregated at Shriver's Pavilion, that isn't there anymore, but Shriver's Candy store is still there, as is the retail store where Roger Monroe had his book store, the movie theaters and Mack & Manco pizza, now infamously Manco & Manco's

Walking south on the boardwalk, there's Joe Del's sub shop, Preps Pizza, the arcades and Flanders Hotel, all still there, as well as the Copper Kettle Fudge building on the corner at 12th Street and the pavilion across the street, where the old folks retreated to when the hippies took over Shriver's Pavilion. 

Until he was murdered Harry Anglemehyer lived above his fudge shop in the beautiful second floor apartment overlooking the sea, the beach and boardwalk. That's where the immoral act that got him arrested allegedly occurred. 

The corner building stretches on for half a block and is of the Spanish Revival design in the same style as the Flanders Hotel, the Music Pier, the Chatterbox and the John B. Kelly's family home at Twenty-Seventh Street and Wesley Avenue.

Two blocks further along Fourteenth Street was the surfer's beach and the most popular place for the high school and college kids to hang out, making Bob's Grill and the Varsity Inn two of the hippest hangouts in the Happy Days tradition. Though the Varsity Inn moved to 8th Street Bob's Grill is still there and if Bob Harbough is around he can verify everything I say is true.

There were no beach tags or beach fees at the time, and most people rented an umbrella, beach chair and a raft, and at day's end paid a few dollars for a shower at a boardwalk bath house before hitting the Point.

Besides the hippies and the straights, there was another social divide among the college kids - between the weekend warriors and those who were down for the entire summer. If you were a weekend warrior you were gone by Sunday afternoon, but if you were in for the duration you had a job as a waiter, waitress, bus boy, grill cook or retail clerk and were in a strict daily routine.

The two things the hippies and the straights had in common were music and the routine. Both camps listened to portable transistor radios, played the jukebox, strummed guitars, sang songs and were into the routine – the Groundhog Day that inevitably ended at the Point. .

You worked four to six hours a day and then you went to the beach for an hour and joined friends who were already there. Then you went back to your room for a quick shower and change of clothes and hit the Point between eight and ten. You didn't just go to the point - you hit the Point with a vengeance.

First you went to one of the shot and beer bars – Gregory's, Charlie's, Sullivan's or the Anchorage, tanked up on a a few seven for a dollar draft beers and then go to Tony Marts or Bay Shores, where ever your favorite bands played. Sometimes between sets, you'd walk across the street to see certain bands who rotated on two stages so there was always live music constantly going on. When the music shut down at two in the morning, you went to the diner for something to eat and then to one of the after hour joints and carried on until the sun came up. Then you went to the beach and fell asleep and when you woke up you went for a dip in the ocean and then went to work. '' Then repeat the process.

As Peter Pan put it: “This has all happened before and it will happen again.”

Johnny Caswell – Crystal Mansion
At the Shore

School is out
Come on, let's go
Come on, baby
Let's hit that road

We're going down to the shore
Just like we did once before
Cause there's no school anymore
So, baby, meet me at the shore

Hey, there'll be lots of fun
Yeah, lying in the sun
One the boardwalk, holding hands
Beach parties in the sand

Everybody's gonna be there
The hippies, the conservatives
And even the squares
Dancing til we can't no more
Come on and meet me at the shore

We're gonna swing every single night
Everything's gonna be all right


Hey, there'll be lots of fun
Yeah, lying in the sun
One the boardwalk, holding hands
And beach parties in the sand

Everybody's gonna be there
The hippies, the conservatives
And even the squares
Dancing til we can't no more
Come on and meet me at the shore

(CHORUS) 2X to fade

Johnny Caswell At The Shore Lyrics

Listen to: At the Shore

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