Wildwood Daze – Gone Fishing

Wildwood, New Jersey – The early 70s

Once my parents had acquired the house at the shore, they quickly fell into the lifestyle. Days at the beach for mom and the girls, and dad taking up surf fishing. I don’t know exactly when he started getting into fishing, but I remember what he normally did when approaching something new. He read several books on the subject and got to know people in the fishing community on the island.

I remember us going up to a tackle store on the corner of New Jersey Avenue and Juniper. We would hang out in the store and he’d chat with the owner, Charlie Glenn. Mr. Glenn was a master angler. Well known on the island as a guy who could”high hook” every other fisherman around. High hook meant if they were ever out fishing Mr. Glenn would usually catch something and everyone else would go home empty-handed.

His store was a classic seashore town bait and tackle shop. All sorts of rods, reels, lures and stuff to send you on your fishing adventures. I remember a sign he had hanging on the wall among the photos of fish he had caught. It read: “Early to bed. Early to rise. Fish like hell, and make up lies.” I always liked it for its clever play on words and the idea that men probably lied all of the time about what they caught and how big the fish was. (Or the big one that got away!)

My father invested in some good surf fishing gear. He purchased a big ten-foot rod with a Garcia reel. Unlike fishing in streams and off boats, you need a long rod to throw the bait beyond the waves to where the fish were. My dad’s goal was to hook and catch a big bluefish. Weakfish and Striped Bass were also popular types that the fisherman sought after.

Bluefish – These suckers get huge and fight like a fish twice their size.

Bluefish - Wikipedia

Weakfish – This guy is actually a sea trout, but his nickname comes from his tender mouth. It’s ‘weak’ so it’s hard to get a hook in him.

Maryland Fish Facts

Striped Bass – The name is pretty obvious.

Atlantic Striped Bass | NOAA Fisheries

My dad wanted to catch one of those big blues because they put up a hell of a fight if you got one on your hook. We started out using bait, like bits of squid, but quickly abandoned that. It was slimy, smelly, gross to handle, and just seemed boring. You’d see guys at the beach sitting in their chairs with their rods standing in spikes that were driven into the sand. They’d be puffing cigars and drinking beer and just waiting and hoping something would come along and hit their bait. Boring!

My dad got into lure fishing. Using steel lures like Hopkins and Castmasters that had reflective surfaces that resembled little fish that the bigger fished liked to dine upon. Those were my favorite!

But to catch the bigger fish, you needed to use a lure called a plug.

12 Great Lures for Chinook Salmon Fishing in Puget Sound - Riptidefish

They resembled the type of fish called mullet that the bigger fish went crazy over. My father gave me books to read on the subject of fishing in general. I could still tie the proper knots to secure the lure to the line if you asked me today.

The key to catching fish in my opinion was pretty simple.

Fish the areas where you think the fish may be feeding. That meant looking to see where the seabirds like gulls were feeding. If you saw the gulls diving down to the water and snatching up little fish, that usually meant there was something bigger beneath the surface driving the little fish to the surface. If you can cast your lure out there, you may get a hit.

It seemed the best fishing was in the fall. My dad would head down to the beach in his waders and cast his heart out trying to catch a big blue. I don’t think most people realize how strong these fish are. The line these fishermen are using is heavy monofilament. A steel leader is tied to it, and then that’s attached to the lure. You have to cast it out as far as you can, and then work that lure through the water so it looks like a little fish doing its thing to fool the bigger fish. It’s truly a skill to be learned.

My dad got me a seven-and-a-half-foot Fenwick glass on glass rod, that had incredible action. On it was a Penn reel. I loved that fishing pole. I had thrown the big ten-footers in the surf without much success, and to a skinny kid like me, they were just too heavy. My older sister had a beautiful blue fishing rod, and she was an avid fisherwoman along with my dad. She put the time and practice in on the beach with dad more than I did. With that dedication came a pretty good-sized weakfish she caught on her own. I was impressed and we have the pictures to prove it. I hadn’t caught anything during any of my fishing endeavors.

As time and practice went by my dad started catching a few bluefish. Which was cool, because he would bring them home, and we’d all dine on them. I think up till then the only fish I had eaten was in the form of fried fish sticks and crab cakes. They were all bought at the supermarket from the frozen food section!

But freshly prepared seafood was delicious! My dad showed me every aspect of the fishing experience. How to hold the fish if you caught one, and how to carefully and mercifully remove the hook from the fish’s mouth.

The fish would be brought home and washed, scaled, and cut into filets. If he had a successful day and had caught more than his share, he’d share his bounty with the neighborhood. Everybody loves free food, especially when it’s absolutely fresh. Another cool thing my dad showed me, was to take the carcasses of the fish and bury them in the garden. So nothing was ever wasted from the catch. As the fish decomposed underground, they served as fertilizer. This yielded terrific, robust Jersey tomatoes. My father seemed to be very pleased with this whole cycle of life program he developed. I imagined him as the Indian warrior and me his little brave.

The filets were cooked in a pan or broiled with a bit of lemon, butter, and pepper. You can really taste the difference when you devour something that was alive and well a few hours ago. Sea to the table! (Just watch out for the bones!)

Dad finally caught a monster bluefish. He was so proud. It was three feet long and probably weighed over 20 lbs. A beast! He showed me photos he had taken.  He also showed me how during that battle to bring the fish to shore, it had beat up his tackle pretty bad. Steel leaders all chewed up and bent, and hooks nearly straightened. I was shocked at the raw power of these sea denizens as they fought their final battle on earth.

My dad became a hardcore fisherman. He and his buddies would get in his VW minibus and drive down the beach in the off-season. You needed a permit to do that, but it was awesome to take the van on the beach. He would drop the bed in the back and you could lay the fishing rods right in there. I remember going with my dad a few times, but I remember not catching anything and freezing my butt off in the van. But I was happy to spend time with my father, just the two of us.

One of the things you had to always watch when you were casting out your lure was to check that the line wasn’t tangled around the end of the pole. If it was and you didn’t notice the twist when you cast out, the line would snap and you basically threw away an eight-dollar steel lure. You’d watch your lure sail through the air and think for a second, “That was an amazing cast!” Then you’d see it disappear beneath the waves and watch as all you had left was a broken line twirling in the wind on the end of your rod. Fun!

I kept plugging away at the fishing without much luck. But one day I was down on the beach casting away with my dad and pro angler sister, and something happened.

“I got one!” I yelled as I felt the sudden tug on my line and the drag on the reel whir in my hand as the line went out of the reel. I had to think quickly and remember what my dad told me. Pull back on the rod, to seat the hook, and as I lower it, reel in like hell. I did this automatically as I did it over and over. I instinctively started to back away from the water hoping to haul out my catch. I saw him break the beach and I had him! I ran over and put my hand down on the small bluefish. I had finally caught one!

This was a father-son moment. An ancient art passed down through the generations. The father teaches his children how to catch and prepare their own food from the wild. It just felt like we were aligned with our ancestors that day on the beach.

Once I got it, I was back to casting away again. I think we caught 14 blues that afternoon. I went from zero to hero in one day! But that can happen in life. You feel like a failure, but if you keep at it, you’ll eventually find some success. This has followed me throughout my entire life.

Here are a few final words about fishing and fish in general.

I once found a three-foot sand shark on the beach one night. It was dead and some fisherman had cut a chunk out of it to use as bait. I found this cruel and unusual. Why not simply throw the elegant animal back in the sea if you didn’t want him? I had never seen a shark close up or ever touched one. Their hide is like sandpaper. Really cool. I decided to keep him. I dragged him home and hid him under the bush out front of our house. Of course, after a few days in the heat of summer, that boy was ripe! My mom was wondering what that horrible smell was coming from the front bush. I told her my shark story and she told me to drag that sucker back to the beach and dispose of it. So, I dragged “stinky” back to the dunes and left his carcass for the seagulls.

Once my dad, sister, and I were out on a little boat doing some fishing. I’ll tell the whole story about my experience in a future post, but this one is worth mentioning here. We’re fishing and dad drives the boat over to where he sees some birds working. I cast out a few times without luck. But at one point I accidentally hooked a seagull. I felt terrible. That’s not what I was out there to catch. My dad told me to gently reel him in and we’d figure something out. The eerie thing was, all of the birds stopped feeding. They all just started hovering and some floating in the water around the boat in some sort of Hitchcockian moment. My dad put on a pair of gloves and when the snagged bird was close, he gently removed the hook from the bird’s wing. He seemed unhurt and flew away to my relief.

But during this whole melee, my sister’s line got tangled and the bucktail lure she had been working sank to the bottom of the bay. While my father worked to untangle her line, I just tried to stay out of the way. Once the line was untangled and my sister could reel in her line from the murky depths, she pulls up the lure, and to our amazement, she’d hooked is a big Flounder!

Fishing Forecast: Flounder season is off to its best start in years - Daily Press

Yea, I try to catch fish and instead hook a bird. My sister is so awesome, she catches fish without even trying! High hooked us all that day!

These stories are just about us being a family and doing things together. Learning new skills and sharing fun-filled days.

In the end… what else is there in life?

 

If you like fishing and fishing stories, check out my buddy George’s site! He even has a show on YouTube!

His link is right here:

Home

I also wrote a piece about George in the Fall of 2020. You can check that out here:

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 1

George – The Rugged Outdoorsman – Part 2

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 3 – Family Vacation

Wildwood Crest, New Jersey – 1960’s

A few years before my parents owned the summer place in North Wildwood, we stayed at a motel called the Villa Nova in Wildwood Crest. They would take a room each summer for 3 days in June, and 3 more in September. There was a restaurant next door to the motel called The Captain’s Table. To me, that was a cool exotic nautical-themed place. Even though we were only a two-hour drive from our home in Philadelphia, going to the shore was traveling to come exotic locale back then.

The world was a bigger package than our little neighborhood in Lawndale.

Wildwood Mid-Century Modern Motels & Hotels | RoadsideArchitecture.com

Villa Nova Motel, Wildwood Crest, NJ - Booking.com

Wildwood, NJ was an amazing wondrous place. We all loved it. I remember I’d be watching TV as a kid and a commercial would come on for Dorney Park. I’d say to my dad, “That place looks fun, why don’t we ever go there?”

“Because that place is a junkyard, son.” my dad would say. (Back then the place was a dump. Nothing like what it is today.

We’d always go to the beach as a family in the morning. It wasn’t as hot then, and not as crowded. By the time lunchtime rolled around we were back at the motel.

I was never a fan of the beach too much when I was little. Big waves, crabs, and deep water were things I didn’t want any part of.  There is old home movie footage of me as a toddler walking back towards the car because I hated the sand.

I remember once I was working on sandcastles with my dad and the backs of my legs got really sunburned. It really hurt and my mom applied some vaseline to take out the sting and soothe the burn. But the best part was when everybody else went back to the beach or the pool in the afternoon, I got to stay behind in the air-conditioned room to lie on the couch and watch TV. (Which is what I preferred to do anyway.)

I think even back then they had cable TV down there, so there were channels and shows I’d never seen before which I found facinating.

But by the time dusk arrived we were all dressed and ready to go to the boardwalk. It was the mid to late 1960s and we’d actually get dressed up nice to go to the boardwalk. Mom and the sisters in dresses, and dad and I in button-down shirts and slacks. It was a different time, but as a family my parents always dressed us up to go anywhere. “I don’t want you all looking like a bunch of slumgullians,” my mother would say.

Wildwood always had the best boardwalk in New Jersey.

Each summer evening, the American dream was played out along the boardwalk’s more than 70,000 wooden planks. Classic rides and old-fashioned amusements stood toe-to-toe with 20st-century innovation and excitement. Five amusement piers boasted more rides than Disneyland, complete with world-class rollercoasters, beachfront waterparks, family-friendly attractions, and cutting-edge thrill rides. In addition, a seemingly endless array of restaurants and shops offer everything from classic boardwalk fare like funnel cakes and homemade fudge to seafood specials, gourmet pizza, and contemporary casual beach fare.

As I said, back then it was like traveling to an exotic wonderland.

The idea of a boardwalk originated when a railroad conductor, Alexander Boardman, got tired of cleaning beach sand from his trains. He suggested constructing a wooden walkway for seaside strolls. Atlantic City dedicated the first boardwalk in 1870. Thirty years later, the City of Wildwood laid its first boardwalk directly on the sand along Atlantic Avenue, from Oak Avenue to Maple Avenue, just 150 yards long.

The world-famous Wildwood Boardwalk is home to a dazzling display of lights, colors, sounds, and smells that awe the senses and offer an unsurpassed level of excitement and energy. As it has for over 100 years, the boardwalk stands as a living, thriving, pulsating celebration of the American imagination.

Hunt’s Pier was pretty much our go-to stop on the boardwalk. It had the best family-oriented rides, and theme park attractions. I’ve gathered a few pieces here to give you an idea of what they had on that concrete pier back then. They’re at the end of this post. Some great videos!

My dad would go on any ride they had. My sister April was fearless, and my sister Janice would go on any ride my dad was willing to venture upon. My mother and I both don’t like heights, things that can make us dizzy, or move too quickly. But there was something for everyone at Hunt’s Pier. I think that’s what set them apart from the other amusement piers. They had the twirly ‘up in the air rides’, and the like, but also had stuff the kids could go on. (Or the scaredy cats)

They had a little classic wooden rollercoaster, called The Flyer. I remember my mom telling me that the ride only lasted 1 minute long. My father and sister Janice would go on that, and also my dad’s favorite ride, the airships.  They were these cool two-seater little jets that went around and around but then you could go high up in the air as the ride spun. (You can see it in this old ad)

That is a lovely glimpse into the past, right?

As I said, I didn’t like rides like that, but one time my dad kind of forced me to go on it with him. He told me it was a wonderful experience. He loved that ride so much. He knew if I went on it with him I’d love it too. I yielded to his wishes and went on it. “Look at that incredible view of the whole boardwalk” he would say as the ride went higher and higher. I would agree with him how great it was, but my eyes were tightly closed the entire ride, so I couldn’t really describe to you here what it was like at all. I just know I was terrified. There are those of us who are brave enough to venture forth in this life and take risks, and those of us who are hard-wired for self-preservation. The same goes for deep water and food for that matter. I spent most of my days growing up trying not to be nauseous or dizzy.

But I loved the boardwalk and Hunt’s Pier. My favorite was the Pirate Ship. The SKUA was built in 1962 and was amazing. A lot of people didn’t know that it actually was built on a hydraulic system that allowed it to rock back and forth while you were walking through it. It was so cool. You walked through it and there were all of these neat pirate-related things inside of it. Galley, and floor effects that would make skeleton hands pop out of a box in front of you, a mirror maze, and even a tilted room, that was insane. It really felt like you were on a big boat out in the sea. You could even go out on the deck and see the whole pier and boardwalk. Not scary at all. Just a really awesome Disneyland-like experience. Thinking back, my favorite part of that attraction was the dungeon. The song, 15 men on a dead man’s chest, yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum, played on a loop in the background. It was really bizarre. It looked like a torture chamber. All animatronic characters that moved. There was this one character in the corner of the room. It was a blonde woman chained to a wall. The only thing she did was breathe. So when she moved you could see her robotic chest heaving through her ripped dress. Strangely erotic, but I was too young to know why I loved her, but I just did. Even as a child I loved the female form.

If a ride wasn’t too wild I would definitely try it. I liked the Whacky Shack and the Keystone Kops. You rode in little cars through them on a track and banged through doors and they had animatronic attractions inside. Based on amusement rides now, it was all very primitive, but we loved it all just the same. Some kids like the wild rides that go fast and high but don’t like rides that had primal scares in them. I had a high tolerance for visually scary rides and always liked horror movies. We all have different fears as children and they all manifest in unique ways.

The Golden Nugget Mine ride was probably the most awesome ride on the pier back then. It was a dark ride, which is sort of an enclosed rollercoaster with cool animatronic attractions inside. It was amazing. Depending on how I was feeling I might go on it.  I loved the southwestern desert, gold prospector theme, but it was a three-story ride that had two hills in it. I liked it because it had so many neat things in it, which were groundbreaking for the time. But that ride wouldn’t come into play until a decade later in my life.

Overall just lovely memories from our childhood. We would sometimes venture down to Sportland Pier and my dad and the girls would go on the Supersonic rollercoaster. Or up to Marine Pier, (Later called: Mariner’s Landing) to ride the Wild Mouse. They were both new German-built steel coasters that would be predecessors of what was to come for all rollercoasters. But like everything else, I wanted nothing to do with any of that stuff. Too afraid I’d throw up on it. I liked the dark ride called The Monster’s Den. It was a spooky ride without any hills or dips. If I remember correctly, you could ride, or walk through the attraction.

I was just happy to be there among all of that visual and audio excitement. It was like nothing else I’d ever seen before. I think my dad may have thought if I didn’t experience all of the things he knew were awesome, I’d somehow be missing out on something. He wanted to offer us all of the joy he felt. But if you don’t have any interest in doing something, there isn’t a loss. You’ll find fun doing something else. I didn’t want to feel the fearful rush of a thrill ride, I’d rather move through an attraction at my own pace and experience different feelings. Something I could control and manage.

It was really a wonderful time for our family. The classic 1960’s experience of piling the kids into the car and taking them to the seashore for a few days in the summer. Escape the heat and pollution of the city, and breathe that sweet sea air. Days frolicking on the beach and building drippy castles in the sand. Watching as the tide rolled in and the ocean once again reclaiming its property.

These fun times continued each summer through the late ’60s and into the ’70s when my dad bought a house at the shore and we got to stay down there all summer.

Hunt’s Pier already loomed large in our collective legend, but the real fun for me would come many years later. 

Take a stroll down memory lane with me and check out these links:

10 Rides You Miss From Hunt’s Pier

And as always, here’s a little song to close out this chapter.

Special thanks to Joe Doyle for his video work

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 2 – Fun Chase

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1938

My father, (Horace) his brother Jack and his mother, (My grandmother) stayed in a house on Rio Grande Avenue in Wildwood, during the summer. I don’t know if his dad visited on the weekends or not.

Here’s an early photo my sister sent me.

Horace, (My dad)  Alice, (Their mom/my grandmother), and Jack. (My favorite uncle)

My dad told me the following story about Ocean Pier. (Fun Chase)

One day, his mom gave him some money to take his little brother up to the boardwalk to enjoy the day on Ocean Pier. It was an enclosed facility, and for one price you could enter and do whatever you wanted for the whole day. They had rides, movies, cartoons, and places to eat inside. As you can see from the photo above, it was an enclosed space so you could play in there rain or shine.

I think my dad was around 9 years old then, and his little brother Jack was a few years younger. My dad didn’t really want to hang out with his little brother all day, but he did it to please his mom. Who wants to be stuck all day with your annoying little sibling?

But my dad was amped for a fun-filled day at Fun Chase. When they got there they paid the cover and entered the little world of fun amusements. Once inside, my dad saw all the fun things to see and do, and having his little brother Jack along wouldn’t be so bad after all.

But then the unthinkable happened.

Little Jackie approached his brother with the following development. He had been suffering from some stomach disorders and had accidentally crapped his pants. (What began as a fart, quickly became a shart.)

This elevated the situation to a crisis level. My father, thinking quickly, was determined to have a fun day no matter what the unexpected, brown circumstances may be. He had been dealt a stinky hand in the game of life and there was no way he was going to let his little brother ruin his fun. Money had been paid, and fun was to be had, not forfeited by the weak bowels of little Jackie.

He took his brother by the hand and led him into the restroom. He took him inside one of the stalls and closed the door. He removed his brother’s shoes, socks and pants. He grabbed a bunch of toilet paper and wet paper towels and proceeded to clean his brother’s dirty butt. He disposed of Jack’s filthy underwear and put him back together.

The day resumed and they had a wonderful time. There was Horace and his brother going on rides and watching movies and having a grand old time together. My father, the savior of the moment, and Jack going commando, free balling his way through the day.

That evening, the boys got home and had dinner with their mom. Sharing with her all of their fun adventures of the day.

Later that night their mom was getting little Jackie ready for bed. She laid out his pajamas and proceeded to remove his clothes for his bath. She got his little trousers off when she made the discovery.

“Jack… what the hell happened to your underwear?”

“Horace flushed them down the toilet at Fun Chase!”

 

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1943

And so begins our rich history with the Hunt’s Corporation. Hunt’s owned all of the movie theaters in Wildwood. As a teenager, my dad worked for Hunt’s theaters as an usher.

I remember him telling me that when he and his coworkers were on break they would step out onto the boardwalk, and chat with girls. Hunt’s was always a classy operation. The ushers wore white shirts with ties. Blue blazers, and trousers with a gold stripe that ran along the outside of each pant leg.

When girls would ask him what was with his uniform, he would tell them that he and his coworkers were Merchant Marines. (It is the early 1940’s and WW II was going on, so this was a pretty sweet lie.)

He would go to the railing on the edge of the boardwalk, and point at the sea at one of the many buoys out in the ocean.

Teen Horace: “See that flashing light way out there?”

Girl: “Yes.”

Teen Horace: “That’s our ship out there.”

Girl: “That’s so neat!”

He and his buddies would maybe later meet the girls down at the big old merry-go-round at Midway pier. It was a big fast ride with a wild, loud calliope. It even had the spot where you could lean out and attempt to catch the brass ring to win a free ride!

Some things never change, no matter when you live. We used to tell girls we were in a band back when I was 14 years old.

Boys. The same everywhere, in every generation.

 

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A Trip to the Orthodontist – Part 1

Wildwood, NJ – Summer – 1974

We spent our summers in Wildwood, since 1970 when my dad bought a house there. On Wednesday nights the old school at 10th and Central Avenues would show cartoons in the playground.

The kids would play on the swings and jungle gyms, etc. I was climbing on the monkey bars and some random girl who appeared to be a little older than me started making fun of my oversized, protruding central incisors.

“Hey, bucky. Look at his buck teeth.”

This would be the first of many times I would be verbally abused in my life as a kid.

While watching the lame cartoons on a small movie screen while a projector ran, I told my mother about it. She said she understood that kids can be mean. My older sister already had braces to fix her naturally crossed front teeth that came in exactly like my father’s. Funny, my father had such a big personality and presence I never really noticed his crossed teeth. It was just how he looked and I never thought it detracted from his looks. He was probably more self-conscious about losing his hair in his twenties. But that’s why he probably never smiled in photographs and thought it was dumb. Because he was self-conscious about his teeth. He could have paid to have his teeth fixed but he spent thousands of dollars in the 70s paying for his kid’s teeth to be straightened. All four kids!

Anyway, I needed help, and when we got back to Philadelphia in the Fall, and I got braces. I remember the whole process as barbaric and bordering on medieval. I suppose technology was so primitive back then. I think dentistry only began to really evolve in the 80s.

I remember when I was 6 I needed to get some fillings in my teeth for cavities. It was a grueling experience. I could smell my teeth burning as the drill vaporized the enamel on my molars. It was such a long and painful process it almost felt as though the dentist was pedaling the machine to make the drill spin.

But braces were going to be a long and painful process. First, I had to go to the dentist and have FOUR perfectly good teeth pulled from my jaw to make room for my teeth to be pulled back by the future braces. I was with my mother, and we had to take the bus to the dentist’s office. They put a mask over my nose and mouth and gave me sleeping gas so they could mutilate me while I was unconscious. I know this was all so I wouldn’t have buck teeth anymore but I didn’t like the idea of any of this. It just didn’t make sense to me. I wondered why they had to take four things from me that were perfectly healthy and functioning just to give me a pretty smile. It didn’t make sense to try to alter my whole mouth and jaws to straighten my teeth. Why rip out good healthy teeth? Why not come up with a different process? Examine some other options. I used to think about things like this, even at 11 years old. What if they could somehow, simply widen my bridge? Figure out a way to widen my mouth so that the front teeth moved back as the bridge expanded. But, when you’re a kid, you don’t question because you’re basically an inmate to your parents and teachers. Adults know best. Sadly, we all know now that simply isn’t true. I knew this could have some long-term effect on my body in general.

But they ripped out four teeth and in an hour or so, the process was over. My mother and I got back on the bus and headed home. I remember when we got off the bus I threw up in the grass at the side of the road. The gas they had given me had made me terribly nauseous.

So then I got braces. The office was up on Castor Avenue in Northeast Philly. Far from the house by today’s standards, but back then we walked everywhere. Everything was in walking or biking distance if you had the time. I was old enough to know where it was and how to get there, so I could go on my own to fulfill my quarterly appointments.

The man that did the work on my sister and me was named Dr. Beiler. I don’t know if he was a good orthodontist or not, but he didn’t seem all that great. But what did I know about dentistry? I do remember him having halitosis though. I used to think if anybody should have healthy oral hygiene, it would be a guy that specialized in matters of the mouth. That’s his job!

I remember he would have two fingers in my mouth and then ask me a question while he walked around the head of the chair. So I would try to answer him, while I choked on his fat fingers that stirred in my mouth while he walked around the chair. It was awkward and dumb.

But what could I do? It was a necessary evil so the kids would have one less thing to make fun of me about my physical appearance. I remember them giving me a little packet of soft wax when I first got the braces. You were to rip off a tiny bit of the wax and put it over the front clasps of braces where they ran the wires through. They were square and had sharp edges, so it hurt the inside of your upper lip. The wax was used to cover them until your inner lip toughened up to adapt to the metal in your mouth.

Metal mouth, tinsel teeth, chrome dome were just some of the delightful taunts from the children in school.

Then they give you a bag of tiny rubber bands you have to wear. top… front to back. Top to bottom, and another pair from front to back on the bottom. So at any given time, you’d have six rubber bands in your mouth. It was like some sort of oral slingshot!

I once yawned in science class and a rubber band shot out of my mouth and hit the blackboard next to my teacher’s head.

It was a tough four years, but it paid off.

To be continued tomorrow!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 1 – History

Before we get into my story with the pier, I thought I’d give you some general history.

Hunt’s Pier was an amusement pier located along the Wildwood, New Jersey, boardwalk from 1957 through 1985. Over its nearly 30 years in operation, Hunt’s was home to many classic dark rides, roller coasters, and other attractions.

Hunt’s Pier dates back to the early 1900s when it was known as Ocean Pier, the first major pier on the boardwalk. Home to ballroom dancing and musical acts, Ocean Pier was purchased by William Hunt in 1935 and converted to an amusement park with rides, including a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and a dark ride.

On Christmas Day 1943, Ocean Pier burned down. Hunt built a new, all-concrete pier in its place. On May 30, 1957, Memorial Day, the revamped Hunt’s Pier opened. The amusement park began with only four rides, though it boasted 10 rides by the time of its grand opening on June 21, 1957.

In 1985 Hunt’s Pier was sold and re-emerged in 1989 as The New Hunt’s Pier, retaining many of the rides operated by the original Hunt’s Pier and adding a steel roller coaster called Kamikaze. In 1988, Conklin Shows bought the pier and renamed it Conko’s Party Pier. This latest incarnation of the pier was short-lived, and by the end of 1992, many of the rides had been disassembled and the New Hunt’s Pier had gone bankrupt. The Kamikaze was sold and currently operates under the name Blue Hawk at Six Flags Over Georgia.

The Cantonoso family, owners of Steel Pier in Atlantic City, bought the defunct pier in 1995. By 1996, the pier had been renamed Dinosaur Beach and had added dinosaur motifs to the classic Golden Nugget Mine Ride, a decision derided by fans as not being in good taste. In addition to a water coaster and an amphitheater, Dinosaur Beach included the first spinning wild mouse, which opened in 1997. The only classic rides operating at Dinosaur Beach were the Golden Nugget, Log Flume, and Rapids, with most of the Hunt’s legacy gone. In 1998 Dinosaur Beach closed, and over the next few years, most of the rides disappeared.

Hunt’s Pier featured many unique rides and attractions, including a classic wooden roller coaster called the Flyer, indoor rides such as Keystone Kops and Whacky Shack, and an outdoor boat ride called Jungleland. For many years, The Golden Nugget had the honor of being the oldest ride on the Wildwood Boardwalk still surviving in its original form and location. The Golden Nugget originally opened in July 1960 on the newly constructed oceanside section of Hunt’s Pier. The Golden Nugget was built three stories high with the top floor designed to imitate a mine car ride through the desert. The classic coaster ride was specially constructed for Hunt’s Pier by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and was engineered by John Allen. It was removed in 2009, and a ceremony commemorating the ride was held in January of that year in anticipation of its removal.

In early 2009, Knoebels’ Amusement Resorts entered into an agreement with Morey’s Piers to acquire the trains, tracks, and ancillary mechanical equipment from the Golden Nugget ride. The equipment was moved to Pennsylvania in early 2009 for a planned reproduction of the Golden Nugget at its Elysburg, Pennsylvania, park. Renamed Black Diamond, it officially opened in October 2011. The original stunts and gags included in the ride were not part of the sale and have been retained by Morey’s Piers for usage elsewhere.

The George Boyer Museum in Wildwood currently houses artifacts from Hunt’s Pier, including Keystone Kops characters and Hunt’s Pier flags. Near Historic Cold Springs Village, Hunt’s abandoned storage and maintenance site still holds signs and parts of former rides, including boats for the Log Flume, trains for the Flyer that is currently under restoration, and letters that were part of the Hunt’s Pier Skyline Golf sign that stood opposite from the pier on top of the Ocean Theater.

The pier is currently owned by Morey’s Piers and is used to house maintenance equipment and the boardwalk tram cars. A grill, beach shop, and Adventure Maze are now on the front of the pier. Morey’s has plans to build a wooden roller coaster that will cross over from the Surfside Pier to the back of Hunt’s Pier.

 

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