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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