Laura Wood—The Thinking Housewife—has an ongoing series wherein she shares her husband’s boyhood memories of growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her latest post involves Wildwood: “Marx by the Sea.” The entire series is charming—and an interesting glimpse of a lost world. However, I have a connection to Wildwood, and I agree that it is—and remains—a wonderful place, even though it is unfortunately located in New Jersey. (Actually, I like New Jersey, taking after my pro-Jersey father who was stationed there as a youth while stateside in the Navy.)
I first visited Wildwood on a family vacation to Ocean City, New Jersey. I was not fond of Ocean City—it required paid passes to use the public beach! Plus, the town had all sorts of fun-killing regulations that I found appalling, including bans on Frisbee throwing, kite flying, and other beach pastimes. It is as if every disgusting character flaw manifest in the typical suburban Democratte had transubstantiated into the town provisions of Ocean City, New Jersey. Yuck! So, we ventured beyond Ocean City to visit other places in and around Jersey, including excursions to Cape May (lovely), Philadelphia (the patriot places), and Atlantic City. There, my brothers and I insisted on visiting every street on the Monopoly gameboard; this required a second trip because we could not find one of the streets (one of the purple properties, if I remember correctly). After visiting the local library and doing some research (without the internet!), we discovered that the street—Saint Charles, I think—was now under a casino. So, upon our return, we drove onto a closed parking lot next to the casino where the street had been according to some maps that we found. As we were doing this, a police officer drove up to us, and my poor father had to explain what we were doing in a vacant lot. Fun times.
Anyway, my favorite day during that vacation was the visit to Wildwood. The family dropped Adam, Aaron, and me off at Wildwood in the morning, and we had made a rendez-vous appointment for late at night. We would spend the whole day at the beach and amusement parks. I suspect that it was the first outing that we three brothers did together with no other family members. It was a grand time. We ate delicious pizza on the boardwalk (yes, Laura Wood, the pizza industrial complex has overwhelmed even idyllic Wildwood), we rode the Gravitron so many times that even I started to get dizzy, and Aaron braved his first upside-down roller coaster experience. I can still see our finding a huge horseshoe crab under one of the piers. It is odd what one remembers.
When I moved to D.C., I made the trek to Wildwood as many times as I could, and I successfully convinced my Jersey-hating friend Andrew to go against his principles to step foot in that profane land. And he admitted that it was “ok.” Nay, Morey’s Piers are the best way to enjoy the shore—immediate beach access at the end of the piers, surf and turf thrill rides with perfect views, a lazy river to recuperate, but with Jersey Shore edgy options off the main stream (imagine going through a car wash naked), children’s action play areas—all with veritable Mid-Atlantic beach luxuries like private hot showers, changing rooms, cozy cabanas with smores-making fire pits, and hammocks overlooking the waves. The piers are like a beachside resort for the masses. Marx in Wildwood, indeed!