Tales of Rock – Wild Stories Of Rock Stars Taking Their Fame Way Too Far – Part 3

21. The Song “Kickstart My Heart” By Motley Crue Was Inspired By Nikki Sixx’s Overdose
We know that rock stars have a bit of a devil may care attitude to their mortality, but rumors such as these really bring the gritty reality of the rock star lifestyle home to those still thinking it’s all glamour and frivolity. Sadly, this rumor is indeed true, and “Kickstart My Heart” was written after Nikki Sixx enjoyed too many hits of heroin.
After the fatal overdose incident, Nikki Sixx had to be revived in the hospital after being declared legally dead for two minutes until the medical staff was able to revive him. The event didn’t put much of a kink in his party plans after Nikki ripped out the tubes attached to him and returned to the party.
22. Keith Richards Snorted His Father’s Ashes
While the rumor of The Outlawz smoking their fallen brother, Tupac’s ashes in a joint are fairly well known, the rumor that Keith Richards snorted his father’s ashes isn’t all that widely circulated. As one of the most iconic Rock Stars of recent history, it’s not all that surprising that it’s true. Even more baffling, he felt no shame after the event.
The Rolling Stones’ legendary guitarist openly admitted the fact that he snorted his father’s ashes mixed with cocaine after his father died in 2002. He unashamedly told an English rock magazine journalist writing for NME the full details of the event. I don’t think there’s anything else left for Keith Richards to snort that would surprise us. In fact, that’s probably one of the safest things he’s snorted.
23. On The Night Of His Death, John Bonham Drank 40 Shots Of Vodka
Considering the earlier stories about Led Zeppelin on this rumor list, mainly involving the mudfish incident, we can’t say we share much sympathy for the fact that the night John Bonham died he ingested 40 shots of vodka. Whilst death by vodka may not be the most extreme collision a rock star has had with their mortality, it’s really not surprising that 40 shots of vodka is enough to finish someone off.
After he passed away on September 25th, 1980 the coroner found 40 shots worth of vodka the day he died, which he had consumed following a rehearsal earlier that day. The official cause of death was determined as inhalation of vomit. Nice. At least the sex charges won’t stand.
24. Frank Zappa Was Attacked Onstage And Almost Killed
As massive Frank Zappa fans, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would feign such hostility towards one of the most ingeniously experimental minds to have ever graced the rock scene. He wasn’t your typical average aggrandized rock stool. We could have understood someone wanting to punch Axl Rose in the face. But not our precious Zappa.
Turns out, the myth is true, and he was verbally attacked quite frequently for his ‘strange’ and experimental musical tastes. But he was also physically attacked on stage during a live performance and ended up being hospitalized after he was thrown off the stage. We don’t think you could call that person Frank Zappa’s biggest fan! We hope after that he increased his stage security. God rest his fabulous soul.
25. Keith Moon Gave Led Zeppelin Their Name
Whilst this isn’t all that extreme or insane, it’s a little bit fascinating. Plus, everyone likes a fun fact every now and again, don’t they? Well, here you have it. It was through a sardonic offhand joke from Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, that gave the iconic band their name that probably won’t be forgotten for as long as music exists.
If the stories are true, the name came about when Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and John Paul Jones were discussing forming a band. The conversation happened in earshot of Keith Moon who said their music would go over like a lead balloon. When the collective decided to commit to the project they later recalled Keith Moon’s witty offering and so Led Zeppelin was born!
26. The Beatles Smoked a Joint In Buckingham Palace
Now, the details around this one are more than a little hazy (pun intended), but given the photographic evidence, we’re going to say that it’s pretty likely that the rumors are true, at least in part. The rumor was denied by George Harrison years later, but why would John Lennon Lie? (John Lennon was always our favorite.)
Whilst it can’t be proven that they blazed up within the walls of Buckingham palace or just enjoyed a sneaky one on the way down to meet the queen, they definitely look as high as kites in the photos that have been in circulation since they met her majesty, the queen of England. More power to them we say, plus, surely, they’re not the first high people the queen has encountered?
27. Bob Dylan And The Beatles Smoked a Joint Together
There’s nothing we love to see more than rock stars hanging out together. We don’t know why, it just makes us a little warm and fuzzy, like we’re all part of one big happy family. If there was one smoke session we would have loved to have witnessed, it would have been one involving Bob Dylan and the legendary pop artists, The Beatles!
The happy communion happened when the Beatles set about their first official US tour and Bob Dylan kindly offered to share his illicit substances with the doe-eyed, innocent appearing pop stars. What’s the best bit you ask? Ringo smoked the entire joint completely oblivious to the fact that he was smoking anything other than tobacco. Didn’t we tell you that they were innocent?
28. Iggy Pop Fought a Heckling Biker And It Was All Caught On Tape
Iggy Pop was known for his extremely short temper, so this story isn’t exactly shocking. Whilst it’s not the most ‘crazy’ addition to the list, it’s 100 percent true and the evidence stacks against Iggy for his slightly reprehensible behavior. But we suppose we can forgive him. The Passenger was an absolute tune.
We’ll cut a long story short and tell you that the fight broke out after the biker heckled Iggy and refused to stop. Unfortunately for Iggy, he didn’t come out on the winning side. The entire fight was caught on tape by another fan and all we have to say is that maybe Iggy better pick on someone his own size next time. With respect to Iggy for the attempted take down attempt.
29. Jim Morrison Told a Cop To “Eat it”
Whilst the quote isn’t the most reprehensible to have come out of a rock star’s mouth in the last few decades, it’s still a little impressive that he threw so much caution to the wind when verbally confronting an officer.
Jim Morrison proved that he doesn’t much care for authority after a police officer walked backstage and caught him getting a little too involved with a female fan. The officer told the couple to put an end to their debauchery, but it seems by his response Morrison wasn’t all too impressed. Who can blame him? And, what the hell was a policeman doing backstage anyway? Everyone knows anything goes down backstage. Surprisingly, the incident didn’t result in Jim Morrison’s arrest. Stick it to ’em, Jim.
30. Keith Moon Used To Blow Stuff Up
You know how you always have that one friend who is an absolute liability? It turns out that Keith Moon was ‘that guy’ to all of his fellow bandmates in The Who. He even managed to snag himself the nickname ‘Moon the Loon’. Whilst it’s not quite as edgy as modern names for Rock Stars, the cap definitely fit.
Alongside filling his drums with water and occasionally dressing like a cat, Moon also had a bit of a penchant for explosives. Which would have been all fine and well if he went off out into a field or desert, but no, Keith Moon’s primary targets were hotel rooms. Sometimes he blew up hotel room furniture and sometimes he threw explosives at windows. What a fabulous liability.

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Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 10 – End of an Era

Philadelphia, PA to Wildwood, NJ – 2009

I awakened in my apartment in Philadelphia with my girlfriend Allison. We had been together for over a year and had moved in together. Christmas was over and it was the end of January.

We got some breakfast, hopped in my car, and drove to Wildwood on that bitter cold January morning. January 30th to be exact.

After the hour and a half drive, we parked on Schellinger Avenue in Wildwood. We bundled up and headed for the boardwalk. Being from Delaware, I don’t think Michelle had ever gone to Wildwood in the summer growing up. 

We trudged up the ramp that led to the boardwalk and a flood of memories came back to me. We stepped onto Hunt’s Pier. It no longer looked like it did back in its heyday. Granted, it was winter and the pier was shut down until summer, but it was a stark model of a once-thriving, living entity. 

The angry cold sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky as we met up with my sister near the back of the pier near what was once a place I described as the greatest job I ever had. It was an emotional day. Nearly 2000 people had gathered to witness the event.

We had long lines of people waiting to get on the ride back in the day, but I wasn’t expecting this.

People gathered in front of, and on the old platform where I held so many rich memories. As I stood looking upon my paragon, I felt like an anachronism. 

The proclamation from the City of Wildwood that officially declared January 30th “Golden Nugget Day” cited the estimated 1.7 million adventure-seekers who enjoyed the landmark over its nearly four decades of operation.

The iconic centerpiece of Hunt’s Pier, the Golden Nugget Mine Ride was a hybrid dark ride/steel roller coaster attraction that changed the landscape of the Jersey Shore’s amusement scene when it debuted in the Spring of 1960.

Designed by John C. Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and produced in conjunction with the renowned outfit and the skilled Hunt’s staff (led by general manager Vince Kostek), the Nugget evolved into a bona fide landmark over time.

It would thrive during the “Oceanic Wonderland” and Wildwood’s glory years of the 60s and 70s, then survive through several post-Hunt’s incarnations and a dinosaur-theme adoption, running for the final time in 1999.

Its impressive frame, built to resemble a western mountain with a mining outpost and shafts built-in, was hollowed out to accommodate a farewell ceremony hosted by the Morey Organization on Saturday, January 31, 2009.

A sad day indeed.

The weathered structure was demolished shortly after. Its track system and trains were acquired by Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, PA, where its legacy lives on in the form of the Black Diamond.

 

Things in this life come and go. Friends, family, and loved ones appear in our lives and eventually, our time here is scattered by the sad wings of destiny.

Hunt’s Pier.

Twilight is upon it now.

Night will fall, and with it… The Golden Nugget Mine Ride.

It seems fitting…

Slipping into oblivion to the lilt of rippling waves.

All that remains are the memories of what once was. It’s really all we have as people. Memories we can wrap ourselves in for the rest of our lives.

But sometimes, you’ll hear that familiar cry of a lone seagull… and as those memories return…

You smile.

 

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

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If you think this is over, it’s not. I have one more thing to say next week.

Hunt’s Pier – Chapter 9 – Aftermath

Wildwood, New Jersey  – 1980

Sadly, at the seashore Autumn approaches. It comes slowly. The sky and the sun look and feel differently. Fewer people are around. It gets to a point where the pier is only open on the weekends in September before it closes for good.

But you’re not going back to your friends at home or at your school in Philly. You’ve finished high school and now live in Wildwood. What was once the most exciting place on Earth has now become a desolate wasteland.

It was as if it was all a dream. But all dreams end and you have to wake up to the reality of life living in a resort town in the winter.

It’s awful.

But Hunt’s liked me and let me work as an Usher in one of the few movie theaters still open in town. Like my father, before me, I would tear tickets in half and show people to their seats in a movie theater.

It was depressing to fall from such a height. The summer sun, now gone. My wings have melted and I hit the hard sand with a thud.

It wasn’t so bad. I saw the movie Dressed to Kill half a dozen times and really became a fan of Brian Depalma and John Lithgow.

Once that was over and the theater closed for the season they offered me a job working maintenance on the pier. I joined the ranks of all of the other flunkies working odd labor jobs on the pier. A far cry from my supernatural existence the month before.

But I learned a few things. Work needed to be done on the Log Flume, and it was 60 feet in the air. The water had obviously been drained from it and it needed to be cleaned, painted, and winterized for the coming winter. Initially, I was terrified to climb the ramp up to the top of the ride. But there were other guys there and I couldn’t look like a scaredy-cat, so up I went. When I was inside the actual tube area of the ride, the sides were high so you couldn’t really see how high off the ground you were. The pier is thirty feet off the beach so you’re almost 100 feet in the air. But after spending a few days up there I was not only comfortable with the height, I was literally running along the little walkway that ran around the perimeter of the ride. That’s a series of metal posts about ten feet apartment strung together by a two-inch-thick rope. The walkway is literally a catwalk made up of three boards. It’s only about 2 and a half feet away. I could run along it on the edge of the ride without fear. Funny what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it. I learned nothing is ever as bad as you imagine. As long as you don’t let the fear in.

There was this one guy who had worked at one of the games of chance at the front of the pier named Mike. He was a heavyset guy from South Philly and one of the funniest people I’d ever met. He and I became friends and even though he seemed like a tough guy, it was all an act. I noticed he was too afraid to go up on top of the log flume. But he and I became friends and I used to give him rides to work. He lived in an apartment with another guy back on Park Blvd. I would pick him up in my VW minibus and it would be cold out. The windows would be rolled up and he would release what I would describe as a Milwaulkee Beer Fart. A silent but deadly emission that was so bad I thought I’d die. He said it was from drinking a bunch of PBRs and eating Chinese food while he watched kung fu movies at night. It was awful, but I liked him because he was a delight to be around. A big ego and personality full of false confidence.

He was supposed to go to California with me to become an actor but it turned out to be all a bunch of careless talk over beers because he hadn’t saved any money. So once the reality of me actually leaving wildwood and going out there, he found some excuse to not hang out with me out of shame. Mike turned out to be what my father called a feather merchant. I think he thought he’d attach himself to me and I’d end up paying for everything. Not happening. Sadly, that would happen to me in the future. People would enter my life and I would love them. They’d bask in the warmth of my sunlight until the money was gone then fade away.

Some memorable things from that time were, once we were cleaning out some old furniture and detritus from the Strand Movie theater and opened a rusted old door and found a hand-carved deer and a sea horse from an old Philadelphia Toboggan Company merry go round. I don’t know if they were from the old classic down on Marine West/Nickels pier but we knew they were rare and original. They weighed a ton so we alerted the manager and he was surprised. I never heard anything about those pieces but I’m sure they were sold for quite a bit of money to a collector somewhere.

Once I was sent to a big warehouse that was underneath the Shore movie theater to get some supplies. I pulled up on the battery car and parked it outside. I unlocked the big wooden door and went inside. It was pitch black inside and I felt the wall for the switch. I found it and flicked it on. The area was suddenly filled with bright light.

Standing before me was a beautiful naked woman.

I was startled by the sight and jumped backward at the sight of this Venus.

But she wasn’t real. She was the animatronic girl prisoner from the dungeon in the Pirate Ship. This motorized beauty had been a prisoner of the ride for over 30 plus years by then. She had been removed from the ride to be painted. I knew the main painter for Hunts. He had done a marvelous job making her beautiful again. Her blonde hair and blue eyes shone brightly in non-life. It wasn’t that there was an anatomically correct life-sized naked lady standing before me in the dead of winter in a warehouse. It was that it was HER. I always loved her from when I was a boy walking through the pirate ship. There she was, her dress torn to rags, her bosom heaving through her ragged clothes. I didn’t even realize it as a little kid but there was something erotic about her. Chained to the wall in the corner. A damsel in distress and all she did was breathe.

But now, here she was completely naked before me and freshly painted. It was as if after all I’d been through on the pier and in the last year she suddenly appeared to me like an angel to say: “Remember me? You always secretly loved me. Well, here I am. Look at me. Because you won’t ever see me again, Chaz.”

And I wouldn’t. Like the rest of the team, we all went on unemployment for the colder months of winter. I made the best of the winters in Wildwood but knew that the sunny beaches of Santa Monica and the bright lights filled with unbridled adult fun were waiting for me in California.

By then it wasn’t so much of starting over in LA and becoming a metal god of rock. It was just more about getting out of this sad, dead town and off this island that only came to life in the summer. It was a terribly depressing place to be in the winter as a teenager. The island was filled with rich kids, drug addicts, and teen pregnancy all rising out of boredom and complacency. Wildwood is a wonderful place to be in the summer as a kid, but the winters are long and cold and it’s nowhere to be for a young person growing up.

Video Thanks to Ralph Grassi

 

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Tales of Rock – Wild Stories Of Rock Stars Taking Their Fame Way Too Far – Part 1

We can’t count the number of times we’ve heard the most outrageous rumors about rock stars, particularly those from the wild 60s and 70s. It’s probably how they wrote so many hits. Get ready to be shocked at what these ridiculous rockers really got up to when they weren’t on stage.
You’ve probably got plenty of images in your head: beautiful groupies, out-of-control backstage parties, crazy road trips, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It was a unique time in history and we’re happy to tell you that these rumors contain all of the above and so much more.
There’s absolutely no doubt about it – some of the craziest rumors definitely aren’t true and some stories have clearly just been fabricated. But a whole bunch of them have been confirmed as fact, and we’re about to reveal every single one! We honestly couldn’t believe how wild number 45 is.
1. Nikki Sixx And Tommy Lee Went Months Without Showering
Given that Motley Crue are a glam rock band, the fact that they went months without showering is slightly ridiculous and not to mention very gross. In fact, it may well be our biggest beef with rock stars and punk musicians. Although, the story behind this rumor is a little funny at least.
The two bandmates decided to wager a bet in 1980 whilst sitting in a hot tub to see who could go the longest without showering or bathing. After months had gone by, neither of them had cracked. That was until Nikki Sixx was receiving oral sex from a female fan who got so nauseated she ended up throwing up her spaghetti dinner in his crotch. We’re assuming he washed after that.
2. Sid Vicious Shot Up Drugs With Random Bodily Fluids
Sid Vicious did a lot of truly despicable things in his relatively short yet raucous life span. We’re not sure which should feature more highly on the list, the fact that he almost definitely killed his girlfriend Nancy or the fact that he shot up heroin from a toilet.
Yes, you heard that right, a toilet. It’s one thing doing heroin, but it’s quite another thing to use toilet water laced with urine and vomit in the syringe, which he later used to shoot up with. Is it any wonder the Sex Pistols bassist didn’t quite make it to old age? Probably not. Witness to the event was none other than Ramones bassist Dee See, who we can imagine was a little bit mortified by Vicious’s abhorrent behavior.
3. Tupac Shakur’s Friends Smoked His Ashes
While Tupac is sadly no longer with us to confirm if this rumor is true or false, we’re going to have to say it’s looking pretty likely that this one will turn out to be true. We can’t say for sure, but we think he would have approved of this rather macabre grieving process. His ashes were smoked by the members of his notorious rap group ‘The Outlawz’ who have willingly confirmed that the rumors are indeed true.
Perhaps they could be cashing in on the notoriety the myth has brought them, however, they were all too happy to confirm that their track “Black Jesus” was inspired by their practice of smoking their fallen friend’s ashes mixed with cannabis. Or perhaps that was how the myth was born and they went along for the ride?
4. Rolling Stones Bassist Bill Wyman Fell for a 13-Year-Old
It wasn’t all too uncommon for rock stars of the 70s to fall in love with teens who hadn’t quite hit the age of consent. The bassist for the rolling stones, Bill Wyman, raised a few eyebrows at the peak of his fame with his courtship of a 13-year old girl.
Wyman was a fixture of the Rolling Stones for over 30 years, so there’s no surprise that he’s had a string of questionable relationships, but this one really makes your stomach churn considering the fact he was 48 years old at the time. How do the Rolling Stones even sell records anymore? Even more absurdly, Wyman married the once 13-year old Mandy Smith on her 18th birthday. It must have been love. Just really creepy, morally wrong, illegal love.
5. Marilyn Manson Rubbed His Genitals On a Security Guard’s Head
Marilyn Manson has been an absolute magnet for ridiculous rumors, however, we can confirm that this one is true, unlike the rib removal rumor which bounced around in the 2000s. He has always been a man of fairly poor taste (e.g. cheating on ex-girlfriend, Dita) but this bold move was a little grotesque, which was a sentiment shared by Marilyn Manson’s attorney.
The incident involved a security guard in Michigan who was unwillingly floored by Manson before he rubbed his crotch on his head and made improper contact with him. Manson got off lightly with the charge of disorderly behavior, assault, and battery. Considering he could have been dubbed a sex offender we’d say he was lucky. He claimed it to be a victory for art’.
6. Charles Manson Wrote a Song for The Beach Boys
In most cases rumors as ridiculous as this isn’t true. but this one has been bouncing around for a while and astonishingly it’s sort of true. Some of the details are a little hazy, but what can be confirmed is that after Charles Manson was released from prison in 1967, he started sharing some of his songs around in LA.
None other than Dennis Wilson from the Beach boys got his hands on one of his songs “Never Learn Not to Love” and eventually got around to releasing it in 1969. Rumor has it that the song was left almost completely intact. After the lyrical exchange, Manson started hanging out at Dennis’s mansion before the ex-convict’s infamous behavior terminated their friendship and got him kicked out.
7. Ozzy Osbourne Bit The Head Off a Bat
Okay, so this one is pretty popular, and it turns out that it’s absolutely true without any question of doubt. There were plenty of witnesses who saw the dazed Rock star making a rather idiotic or desperate move to wow his fans whilst he was on stage.
During a rather raucous performance, one of his fans threw an unconscious bat on stage (where you would find an unconscious bat is another thing entirely). Whilst Ozzy was channeling his Satanic stage presence, he mistook the live rodent for a stage prop – and the rest is history. We’ll spare you the gory details, but he did go to get a rabies shot after his performance. The video is even available on YouTube if you’re brave enough to watch it.
8. Ozzy Osbourne Will Apparently Bite The Head Off Anything With Wings
The heavy metal performer has quite the appetite, doesn’t he? If decapitating a bat wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that’s not the only time that Ozzy Osborne sunk his teeth into an innocent creature.
Even before the bat incident, Ozzy thought he’d take it upon himself to bite the head off a dove to impress a record label. The dove’s demise happened during Ozzy’s first meeting with Columbia Records. He put on quite a show when he released two doves in the office in front of the executives. Instead of releasing one of them, he chose to bite the head off one of them. However, can Ozzy be fully to blame when it was his wife Sharon’s idea in the first place?
9. Jerry Lee Lewis Married His 13-Year-Old Cousin
Jerry Lee Lewis may have once been a much-desired Rock n Roll musical pioneer, but that wasn’t enough to prevent his once-loyal following from ditching him once they found out that he had indeed married his first cousin when she was just 13 years old.
With a blindingly successful music career ahead of him after his competition (Elvis) had been drafted into the army, he was set to become America’s most treasured rock star until in 1958 he married his cousin before going on a European tour. Surprisingly Jerry Lee Lewis did claw back a small fraction of his infamy thanks to his fans that could excuse pedophilia and incest. We would say to this day he is still deserving of the stigma that surrounds him.
10. Van Halen Didn’t Want Any Brown M&Ms In Their Dressing Room
At this point we are breathing a sigh of relief that not all our favorite musicians of all time are sexually perverted or like to sadistically injure innocent animals, so we are thrilled to announce that yes, the Rock band Van Halen were really pedantic enough to request that no brown M&Ms ended up in their dressing room.
Whilst it’s not too uncommon for rock stars to have ridiculous requests, this one is one of the most prolific examples of the ultimate diva rock star behavior. The reason behind it? In 2012 Van Halen explained their strange behavior. The band just wanted to see if the promoters actually read their contracts, if there were brown M&Ms in the dressing room there was trouble.

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 8 – Living The Dream

“Nobody ever says, “Remember that Spring?”

But people do say… “Remember that Summer?”Chaz

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1980

One night we were all working. It was early, maybe 6 pm. Each shift was from 5 pm until 11 pm when the pier closed. As one of the cars came in full of people and they exited the ride, someone left a camera on the ride. Danny brought it to me, and I remembered the guy and his family. I was like, “Wait…there he is over there with his wife and kids. I’ll run over and give him back his camera.” But then an idea came to mind. I went over to Louie and told him what was up and handed him the camera. He gathered the whole staff together on the platform and took a photo of all of us guys with the man’s lost camera. He handed it back to me and I ran down the ramp and tapped the man on the shoulder. “You left this on the ride, sir.” The gentleman was very grateful and relieved.

It was one of those jokes you do where you’ll never see the outcome, but you know when he gets home from vacation and gets his photos developed, he’ll find a mysterious photo of the whole Golden Nugget team among his pictures! Great idea, right?

When the pier closed at 11 pm, they always put up a big wooden fence to close off the area. There were guards and dogs always present at night to protect their assets. But the fence was in large sections and each piece was really heavy. After working all night on our feet and taking care of thousands of tourists, the last thing we wanted to do was carry big sections of fence and set it all up each night. So all the flunkies (as Louie called them) who worked all the rides up at the front of the pier were the first ones called upon to help put up the fence. We at the Nugget and the Log Flume would take our good old time closing our rides and walking up to the front of the pier to help. I can honestly say I have maybe only helped with one small section of fence on only three occasions. We were the elite weasels on that pier.

One of the amazing benefits of working for the Hunt’s Corporation was that they also owned every movie theater on the island. So as a perk for being an employee, each Saturday night at midnight, they would have a private screening of one of the latest movies playing in the theaters.

It was awesome. You’d finish your shift at 11 pm, and then had an hour to get something to eat, hit the liquor store to buy some beer, and then head over to one of the theaters and watch a movie with your coworkers. It was glorious. The cool thing was, you could bring a guest. So I could bring my buddy Wolfie with me and we could check out a cool new movie for free. (And drink beer!) But most of the time if one of the guys and I had met some girls that night on the ride, we’d take them to the movies with us. That was fantastic. Free movie with a new girl. Unless it was something we didn’t want to see, we would go every week all summer long. (Even back then, 40 years ago I was providing the hookup to the ladies in my life!)

Seeing The Empire Strikes Back in an empty theater with just my buddies with me was an unforgettable experience. The film as we all know was a long-awaited blockbuster and seeing it for free for the first time was amazing. I remember taking my buddy Wolfie with me to see the film, Airplane! And at the time it was the funniest film I had ever seen. It’s still in my top five of the funniest most creative and madcap movies I’ve ever seen. The Cannonball Run also comes to mind as one of the more memorable films we saw that summer. Just great times!

I even got my friend Pitchy a job up on Hunt’s working at the Log Flume. He was my summertime best friend who lived around the corner from my house. He and I had been friends since the early ’70s and had a rich history of summers together. He had worked as a stock boy at a local grocery store at 9th and Ocean avenue and was looking to do something different for the summer. I got him a job on the pier. He liked working on the flume and got along with all of the guys over there. One night he started chatting up a really cute little Italian girl from South Philly and later made a date with her. A few years later they kept in touch and he eventually married her and they have three great grown kids now. Met his wife on the Log Flume!

I remember it was the 4th of July weekend which is an enormous time at the shore. The island is packed with tourists and the boardwalk is mobbed every night. I went on my break and walked over to the snack bar across from our ride and got a soft pretzel and a fountain coke. I went back to the Nugget and went in the back and up the fire escape to the top floor of the ride. The ride was obviously going non-stop so you had to be careful up there navigating the tracks so you didn’t get run over and killed by the ride. On the roof, (you’ll see in some of the attached videos) had several dead man’s gulch attractions on it. Tombstones, skeletons, prospectors, etc. There actually was a replica of a gallows up there. I climbed the rickety wooden ladder up to the top of it and had a seat at the hangman’s pole.

There it is. Three stories above the boardwalk. 100 feet up from the beach.

The mine cars full of tourists would actually pass under it. So, I parked myself up there and munched my pretzel, and sipped my soda. The view was incredible and I suddenly felt an incredible level of exhilaration sitting up there. Here I was on the roof of a three-story dark ride I once rode terrified with my father and sisters. I lit a cigarette and looked out at the entire sea of people below me. The pier was packed with people, and that flowed out onto the boardwalk that was in full swing. Amusement rides going, people screaming, laughing, and filled with joy. Happy to be at the seashore and away from the heat of the city and work. They were all on vacation and having the times of their lives here in Wildwood.

The smell of french fries, caramel popcorn, funnel cake, cotton candy, and pizza filled the air. The sights and sounds of summer. I sat under the stars and watched as fireworks exploded in the sky in the distance.

I knew in this perfect moment that I was in the most pristine place in my life. I sat atop my castle as the self-proclaimed King of Wildwood. Finished with high school, tan, fit, clear skin, healthy, and immaculate. My painful past barely visible now. I had game and could talk to girls and they liked me enough to date and kiss me. I was in a rock and roll band, and didn’t have to be anywhere I didn’t want to be.  The island and this ride were mine.

But I could feel as I finished my cigarette I wouldn’t come up here again.

This moment would vanish and never return.

Like a child’s balloon that had escaped their grasp. You watch as it rises higher and higher into the night sky. But you’ll never get it back.

All you can do is make a wish…

The sax solo in this song (4:00 minute mark) by the late, great, Clarence Clemmons, and Bruce’s howl at the end of the song is about as close as I can get to what my heart felt like on any given summer night in Wildwood.

But, even as I write these words, I feel I just can’t do justice to those summers at the seashore.

You had to be there.

Hunt's Pier At Night | "Watch the tram car please!" 1970s Po… | Brian | Flickr

I’ve lived and worked in many places throughout my life.  But I still say to this day, working at Hunt’s Pier on the Golden Nugget Mine Ride was The Greatest Job I Ever Had.

 

This is sort of what it sounded like to be on the boardwalk in Wildwood.

Here are a link and some videos I found to give you an idea of what the Golden Nugget Mine Ride was like:

http://www.funchase.com/Images/GoldenNugget/GoldenNugget.htm

This series is not over yet. There’s more to come every Thursday through July.

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