Memories are interesting things.
Stirred by scents, sounds, pictures or just a name or phrase.
The last few days have been full of so many memories for me.
Asbury Park……where my Mom was born and where my brothers and sisters and I spent such a great part of our life. We walked to the boardwalk to watch fireworks on the beach on the 4th of July. We ice skated on Sunset Lake. My best friend and I rode the train from Belmar to Asbury Park to visit my Granny after we moved to Wall Township. There was a bakery right by the train station and forever the smell I associate with Asbury Park is fresh bread. We went around the block to the little shop on Deal Lake to buy soda or ice cream. We roller skated on the slate sidewalks surrounding her house…which were also great for drawing hopscotch grids. My Uncle Ernie and his wife lived around the corner. We rode the big carousel at the Casino, and ate clams on the half shell at the seafood restaurant across from the Casino where some aunts waited tables. I saw The Sound of Music in the big fancy movie theater there. I had lunch with my Mother once in Steinbachs department store downtown. I was too young to be hanging around the Stone Pony but obviously missed a big part of Rock and Roll history due to my age! And, sadly, my sister passed away nearby at only 17. I wish I could see that house again and walk around the block once more.
Long Branch……..where my dear Aunt Mary lived with her family. My Granny’s sister with the most beautiful cotton candy pure white hair. I babysat for her grandchildren once or twice. She was so special to me. Her house was a low, modern style…..so different from my Granny’s three story Craftsman style. Aunt Mary was slender and lovely…smoking cigarettes with her long red fingernails and drinking endless cups of tea with my Granny and me. I loved being with them and listening to their stories. Her husband, Uncle Sonny, owned a Shell station and would give my Mom free fill ups….which we surely needed. He had big dark circles under his eyes and I thought he looked like a gangster.
Neptune……..where my Uncle Ernie and his family lived. I lived with them for two summers because he was a single Dad (pretty unusual in the 60’s) and needed a sitter for his three girls while he worked. We played baseball in the street, hide and seek in the evening and canasta at the kitchen table. I caught some grease on fire in the kitchen trying to make dinner one night. He lived in a split level and the lower level was my heaven sent spot. Cool during the day (in the days before central AC) and wall to wall books. I spent hours reading there. On the weekends it became a den of card sharks with Uncle Ernie, cousin Mary Jane (Aunt Mary’s daughter), her husband Ritchie (whom I had a crush on), and the single guy from across the street ( who I think had a crush on my uncle) playing pinochle or bridge for hours. We were tasked with keeping drinks and snacks coming and generally not bothering the adults.
Those were two wonderful, relaxing summers away from the chaos that was my family.
Absecon……the small town where I met my husband. Just outside Atlantic City on “the mainland”. My Mom moved us into an apartment over a gift shop….just down the street from my future father-in-law’s TV store. One of my first dates with my husband was going to the famous Steel Pier. He told stories of going to Blatt’s department store with his grandmother and having lunch on the mezzanine…..not a common event these days. I took my sister, before she died, to lunch on the mezzanine to do something special with her. I was already married by then and didn’t see her much. But, she was living in Asbury Park and rode the bus up to spend the weekend with me. It was the last time I saw her. Absecon was the first place I became involved in school activities, due to my husband and his friends. I went to basketball games, helped decorate for dances, went on double dates with his friends and went ice skating on Lily Lake. When I became pregnant, not having money for a doctor, I drove into Atlantic City to go to the free clinic. Both my girls were born in Atlantic City Hospital. There are many memories of graduations, marriages, births and deaths. We still have friends and family there and are glad that they are safe.
There are so many other familiar names…Red Bank, Point Pleasant, Ocean City, Belmar, Wildwood, Manasquan, Cape May…..and many more.
I lived equally as long in Florida but those memories are less strong because we simply moved around various parts of Fl and never had an established place to create memories. My brothers and sisters have much stronger ties because they ended up staying there for the majority of their lives. Most of them still live there.
This week…seeing the familiar names in the news has brought back a flood of memories…good and not so good.
But, I’m happy that those I know and care about are safe.
I pray that some of the things that gave us these memories can be rebuilt and help make new memories for those that follow.