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.


Jane said...

Aw, very sweet Mater! I've never been to the Jersey Shore but this kind of makes me want to go! Glad you all had so much fun.

nono said...

I remember when I first moved with my family from Michigan to the Philly suburbs in 1981 (I was a freshman in college)new friends that I made would always casually mention "going to the shore". I was so confused, thinking that PA didn't have a shoreline line did it? When I finally got up the nerve to show my ignorance and ask what they meant....the response was "THE JERSEY SHORE!!" I lived and worked in the Philly area for the next 21 years...minus 5-6 years spent working in Boston and Chicago...but my parents house in PA was always "home". My excursions to the "shore" when I was in my early 20's, were some great times and will always hold fondness in my heart. Now I live up in the Boston "burbs" and the Cape is our new "shore"! I'm glad you had such a good time, and started the girls off with some great memories as well.

wayne chapman said...

Cousin E-

I'm really happy to read you, Jen and the girls had a great vacation at the Jersey Shore. I loved the pics. Who knows, maybe they will vacaton there when they are older!

Take care,


Jenny from the cellblock said...

LOVE it. xoxoxo

Becket Kate said...

My Grammy is from New Jersey and I have fond memories of Jersey boardwalks during the summer, also. My favorite ride was always the pirate ship. Once, my cousin and I went on the pirate ship at the end of an amusement pier...when the ship swung over the boardwalk, the side we were sitting on went over the water. It was raining a little and the music was blaring and the lights were all lit because it was past sunset...such a fun memory.