Jenkinson’s and the Jersey Shore

Posted on May 30, 2013 by


President Obama’s stroll on the Point Pleasant boardwalk this week lulled me back six decades to lazy summer days when I walked the boards there myself, enjoying Jenkinson’s and the Jersey Shore.

The President challenged Gov. Christie to an arcade game, one that Christie won and then gave the prize to Obama.

That simple gesture reminded me of ski-ball, our favorite game each summer that my sisters and I played with a vengeance, wracking up points for tickets and finally earning enough to bring some stuffed treasure home for ourselves.

We always went for the brass ring on the merry-go-round, too. Do today’s carousels offer such a challenge? Not likely, since it’s too much liability for the ride’s owners, if someone fell off.

We had no such worries in the 1950s. We’d mount an outside steed, or boldly stand on the revolving platform, holding on to a pole and grabbing for rings as the ride passed the dispenser. The boldest riders even pulled a few rings out each time they rode by, risking a fall for the thrill of the challenge.

Excitement reigned if we got the coveted brass one, then picked up the free ticket for another ride. It didn’t matter that our rides were always free. Elmo, the owner, refused money from dad even though he always tried to shove a few dollars through the window of the ticket box, where she sat beside the colorful carousel. Elmo was my mother’s classmate. They were friends. And friends didn’t pay for rides on her merry-go-round, she always told us.

More memories flourish — eating frozen custard, not ice cream and Frank’s caramel corn, the best I’ve ever tasted, sweet and crunchy and crafted by another of mom’s childhood pals.  Riding the beach train from Jenkinson’s north to south pavilion down by the inlet. The rocking chairs at Jenkinson’s situated on a pavilion that jutted out over the ocean so you could see waves lapping at the beach through the boards below the rockers. Savory Manhattan-style clam chowder, made with chewy clams, tomatoes, celery and carrots, not cream. Lazy, hot days on the beach. The smell of Coppertone and riding the waves. Colorful beach tags pinned to our suits. Being buried in the sand. Sitting naked in a tub outside mom’s childhood home, rinsing the sand off, since Aunt Jane, our maiden aunt who owned the old homestead, had decreed that no sand should be tracked into her home.

These are the Point Pleasant memories I treasure. And seeing the people and the President enjoying Jenkinson’s this week made me happy that my Jersey Shore is back and summer can begin again.

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