As a kid growing up in the 80s, I spent every single summer “down the shore” with my family. I don’t remember being 7 months old, but there are pictures of me at that age (and every year following) on the beaches of Ocean City, New Jersey. Some of my closest friends will find this post amusing because I will have mentioned New Jersey in the title of a blog post before I ever mentioned Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Abington Township or Roslyn, PA … the native lands upon which I was raised. But I digress…
I think my earliest memories in Ocean City come from making sandcastles by the shoreline; before I knew the high tide would wash them away in a few short hours. I recall riding my bike on the boardwalk in the mornings to get Brown’s Donuts. Among my bike experiences, I ended up breaking off a training wheel in my Aunt and Uncle’s driveway and had to learn the hard way how to ride a two wheeler. Not just ANY two wheeler, either. It was a Knight Rider bike! Complete with a dashboard that resembled the dash in KIT. I loved that bike.
Back to the sandcastles. We made basic sandcastles by filling buckets with sand that wasn’t too wet or too dry, but a good mix. We had to dig down in the sand a bit to find that perfect blend. When we did, we would build a little town of castles. The “we” I am referring to are my cousins, who were all older than me. We have a bunch of fun stories I could share here about our days “down the shore” but before I get carried away with tales of mini-golf, frisbee & horseshoes, I’d like to talk about one thing that I’ve enjoyed every time I visited OCNJ.
MMMMmmmm…. Mack & Manco’s Pizza!! I don’t know their special secret for sure, but my guess is the South Jersey salt air mixed with the dough and the sauce – both of which are made on site daily – has something to do with making their delicious pizza.
If you’ve ever been to Ocean City, New Jersey you’ve most likely driven around the circle at the foot of the 9th Street Bridge. You probably passed The Circle Liquor Store, affectionately referred to as “Church” by my family because OCNJ is a “dry town” meaning there are no bars or alcoholic beverages served or sold on the island. But that’s why The Circle Liquor Store is right there on the other side of the 9th Street Bridge. “Location, Location, Location” right? Well… all of this is in the midst of a change.
The circle no longer exists, the area is now a big intersection resembling a major metro downtown traffic pattern. The bridge I used to ride my bike over is no longer there – don’t worry, they’ve constructed a brand spanking new, much taller and wider bridge in its place. The Mack family and Manco family have respectfully decided to separate. As of January 1, 2012 the greatest pizza place on the island will be known as “Manco & Manco Pizza” – though the locals, and people like me who’ve enjoyed their pizza and friendly service our whole lives, will likely forever refer to it as “Mack & Manco’s”. The good news, the Manco family has stated they will continue to use the same ingredients and methods to make their pizza. Whew! Glad to hear that!
One thing is for sure, I will always have great memories of my childhood in Ocean City, NJ. It was the first beach I ever laid on, played on, walked on, jogged on and ran on. I recorded my first ever mini golf hole-in-one, enjoyed my first surrey ride and bought my first rock t-shirt on the OCNJ Boardwalk. We hung out on the front porch til 3 in the morning and the back deck through sunrise. Speaking of, I took some of my favorite sunrise photos on the beaches of OCNJ. Sometimes walking along the break, climbing a jetty and strumming guitar. That’s something that I’ll always have the ability to experience, too. No matter what more may change on my favorite vacation island, I know the shoreline will always be there, the waves will always crash along the shore and I’ll always be able to enjoy the sunrise on the beach.
Thank you for reading.