After a dip in the ocean and about an hour of reading on the beach, the best thing to do is walk up to the boardwalk to grab a cold lemonade and something to eat.
That’s why the Jersey shore is my favorite place – not only can you bask in the sunshine on soft sand, but you can also eat pizza, hit an arcade or buy a pair of sleazy booty shorts with words claiming that your ass is “Mike’s property” on them.
So, when I went home last month, I had to make at least one trip to the beach. I based my decision on one thing: Mack’s Pizza. This joint has the best pizza I’ve ever had (and I’ve eaten a lot of pizza) and they serve it with Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer – a soda found only in the Northeast.
During the summer, Mack’s is packed, but on the rainy spring day that I arrived, my aunt and I had Mack’s and most of the boardwalk to ourselves. The dreariness didn’t bother me, though; it just made the marquee lights that line the two-mile wooden boardwalk even brighter.
After enjoying three slices of thin-crust, delicious cheesy goodness, we hit up Ed’s Funcade –the same arcade that my grandfather, Ed, used to go to. I spent a few bucks trying to win a stuffed chicken in the crane machine to no avail (they may be rigged) then went on to check out the merchandise in the surrounding T-shirt, tattoo and henna shops. In a pile higher than my head, I picked up a muscle shirt that read “No permit needed for these guns.” It was only $1, so I bought it for a friend.
Screen-printing is a big thing on the boardwalk. I still have (and wear) black sweatpants with neon skulls printed down the left leg that I bought as a teenager.
The next best thing on the Wildwood Boardwalk after pizza is the rides. There are three piers – Morey’s Piers – that come off the boardwalk facing the ocean and each one has its own rides and games.
That’s where my addiction to roller coasters began. The Great White, a wooden coaster with a 25-foot drop on Adventure Pier, was my first roller coaster. I still remember my brother and his girlfriend coaxing me on. I wanted to go, but I was nervous. Then we hit 50-mph and I was a 10-year-old in love.
My favorite ride, though, is Surfside Pier’s Zoom Phloom, also known as the log flume. If you don’t know what a “log flume” is, it’s a fake log that you sit in as it travels on water around bends and up hills, ideally splashing all occupants as it makes its final crash at the bottom.
Every summer my best friend and I would ride and re-ride the log flume day and night while her parents and grandparents played games in a nearby arcade. We would run back to the front of the line, get back on and then, when we were in the ride’s tunnel, we’d switch seats. Maybe we thought we were going to confuse the ride operators or maybe we thought we were rebels – either way, we did it while “Under the Boardwalk” played in the background. We’d spend the rest of the night soaking wet, eating ice cream and laughing at one another.
I didn’t get to do all these things while I was there, but, like magic, I could relive the memories just by stepping onto the boards.
And that’s why, folks, for me, there’s nothing that compares to the Jersey shore.