Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Watch the tram car

This has been a whirlwind of a summer and I'm so overdue here. Let me share a rundown ...

The month of July brought: unemployment, birthday-gift trip to Vancouver BC (tour of a television set, hobnobbing with the cast and production crew of Sanctuary), the official "Mattern Cousin Reunion" with the Pacific Northwest Matterns descending on us here in the Berkshires, followed by a three-day August excursion to the Jersey shore. I'll start with the shore trip and blog later about the reunion and Vancouver BC experience.

What great fun to introduce my granddaughters to the Jersey boardwalk! It was a spontaneous decision and Jenn and I jumped at the chance. We found a family motel in North Wildwood, one block from the beach and boards. The first night we initiated Sophie and Hannah into 'walking the boards'. Actually, the Wildwood boardwalk is over two miles long so we also let the girls ride the tram car up and then walked back, checking out the rides and vendors. They were totally in awe and clamoring, "Oh, we love this place!"

If you've never experienced the chaos of a Jersey boardwalk (and three amusement piers), then it would be hard to describe. It's like a county fair on speed. I grew up with trips to Wildwood, Ocean City, Seaside Heights - this was the blue-collar solution to city heat and summer doldrums.

Jenn took her first baby steps in a motel in North Wildwood, just a block or two from where we stayed. Parents, aunts and uncles, cousins all were part of the flashbacks I experienced as I introduced the girls to life at the shore. Heck, I even spent part of my honeymoon in Wildwood! Now that I think of it, Jenn may have had her start in this town. Indeed.

After such a long hard winter, it was so much fun to watch Jenn and the girls as they savored everything. Sophie learned to boogie board and jump the waves; Hannah hit a 'jackpot' slot in the arcade and her eyes nearly popped out as a long line of coupons started spitting out of the game machine. She went on lots of rides but deferred to big sister when it came to the real thrillers - the old-fashioned wooden coasters and the many crazy, stomach-churning specialties that Jenn and Sophie loved. In that, they were so like my mom. I, on the other hand, was perfectly content to take Hannah to the Carousel or Duck Pond instead. The glow of the night lights shined in her eyes as she excitedly absorbed everything and told me, "Babci, I will remember this forever!" The four of us did share a ride on the huge Ferris Wheel and much to my astonishment, the dare-devils, Jenn and Sophie, were more nervous at the top than Hattie and I!

We were making new memories while I relived the old.

Each night we came back from the boards way beyond the kids' normal bedtime and happily exhausted. The girls weathered the entire trip so well, little troopers. Hannah decided that she and Sophie would like to live in Wildwood but how early would they have to get up for school? And could their girlfriends stay over?

I saw myself in their squeals and smiles, knowing that my grandmom, my Babci, was a part of my earliest Wildwood days too.

Summer on the boardwalk ... hearing my daughter laugh out loud and watching her share this wondrous experience with her own daughters for the very first time.

There's nothing quite like it.